Romelu Lukaku continued his fast start to life in a Roma shirt with a brace in Sunday’s 4-1 win at Serie A’s bottom side Cagliari which took his all-competitions goal tally to seven.
Belgium forward Lukaku chested Roma two ahead in the 20th minute, seconds after Houssem Aouar had swept the away side into the lead against a Cagliari team yet to register a win since being promoted.
And he completed the scoring for Roma, who sit 10th on 11 points, just before the hour mark in a simple win in Sardinia with a lovely finish from Leandro Paredes’ first-time pass, his fifth league strike of the campaign so far.
Lukaku signed for Roma on loan from Chelsea at the end of the summer transfer window and he has made an instant impact, even if Roma’s inconsistent results had led to speculation that Jose Mourinho could be sacked.
“I’m a professional. I worked during the summer,” said Lukaku to DAZN.
“People talk about me but I don’t talk, I show on the pitch what I can do for the team.”
On Saturday, the Corriere Dello Sport reported that Mourinho would be shown the door if his team failed to win at Cagliari, although a source denied to AFP that Roma were thinking of firing their coach or had spoken to former Germany and Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick.
In any case Sunday’s victory was their third in three games since the 4-1 hammering at Genoa late last month which enraged supporters, and their first away win in Italy’s top flight this season.
Andrea Belotti netted Roma’s other, brilliant goal eight minutes before Lukaku’s second when he collected Paredes’ lofted pass and skinned Gabriele Zappa before drilling home a fine low finish.
Belotti had replaced Paulo Dybala five minutes before half-time as the Argentina forward left the field in tears following a heavy challenge with Matteo Prati, who thwacked a tackle into his knee.
Mourinho will now be sweating on the condition of star man Dybala, even if Lukaku and Belotti have shown themselves to be a more than capable strike partnership.
“I’ve had the good fortune to play with some great players since I came to Italy… I hope he can come back soon because he’s our most important player,” said Lukaku.
Lazio are a point behind their local rivals Roma in 13th after Matias Vecino struck late to secure a 3-2 win for Lazio over Atalanta.
Uruguay midfielder Vecino lashed in a superb volley from Valentin Castellanos’ knockdown in the 83rd minute in Rome, his second goal in as many games after also scoring in Wednesday’s Champions League win at Celtic.
The substitute’s strike saved Lazio’s blushes as they had thrown away a two-goal lead established by Charles De Ketelaere’s early own goal and Castellanos’ first goal for the club in the 11th minute.
Two free headers either side of half-time from Ederson and Sead Kolasinac drew Atalanta level but Vecino made sure of Lazio’s third win of the Serie A season and 12th spot on 10 points, six away from the bottom three.
Lazio finished second behind runaway league winners Napoli last term but have had a bad start to the campaign which has been marked by tensions between coach Maurizio Sarri and owner Claudio Lotito.
“Vecino is scoring big goals and solving problems,” said Sarri.
“He played really well midweek and even though I thought it was best to only give him some of the game today he made a big impact.”
Atalanta sit sixth on 13 points, a single point ahead of surprise packages Monza and Frosinone, who respectively beat Salernitana 3-0 and Verona 2-1.
Later, champions Napoli try to stay in touch with leaders AC Milan, when they host high-flying Fiorentina.
Rudi Garcia’s side sit fourth, level on 14 points with Sunday’s opponents and need a win over the Tuscans in order to keep the gap between them and Milan at four points.
Sabalenka to play in Brisbane
Aryna Sabalenka will launch preparations for the defence of her Australian Open crown by playing at the Brisbane International, organisers said on Tuesday.
Elena Rybakina – beaten by Sabalenka in the final in Melbourne at the start of this year – will also play at the December 31-January 7 Brisbane event.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was already named in the field as she returns to tennis.
“I’m excited about starting my 2024 Australian season in Brisbane,” world number two Sabalenka said in a statement released by organisers.
“Australia holds a special place in my heart after winning my first Grand Slam there.”
Tournament director Cam Pearson said he was looking forward to welcoming the Belarusian Sabalenka and Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, who is fourth in the world.
“We all remember the exciting Australian Open final the girls played at the start of the year,” he told a news conference.
“That has really kicked off what is a pretty exciting rivalry between the two players.”
On the men’s side, fast-rising world number 17 Ben Shelton of the United States will join a draw that also includes three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray.
Pearson said he would welcome Australian Nick Kyrgios to the tournament if he recovers from injury in time.
“We would love to have him here, he’s a past champion and a fan favourite but he needs to do what’s best for him and his recovery,” he said.
“If that means he’s playing in January, fantastic.”
Kyrgios had knee surgery in January and then aborted comeback plans at Wimbledon after tearing a ligament in his wrist.
Giro fail to reclaim top La Liga spot
Surprise package Girona failed to return to the top of La Liga on Monday after they were held 1-1 at home by Athletic Bilbao.
Winger Viktor Tsygankov put the hosts ahead 10 minutes after half time but Inaki Williams scored 12 minutes later to claim a point for the away side.
Girona trail league leaders Real Madrid on goal difference after dropping points for just the third time this season, while Athletic climbed to fifth spot.
Athletic had the better of the first half and their best chance fell to Gorka Guruzeta but the striker poked his shot straight at Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
Girona had early chances of their own including an Aleix Garcia volley, which he skied over the crossbar, but did not find the rhythm they have found so often this season.
After the break, the hosts broke the deadlock when Tsygankov rifled home.
Williams, who started on the opposite wing from his brother Nico, equalised from a counter-attacking move that started in Athletic’s own box.
The wide man finished smoothly for his sixth league goal of the season as the Basques went looking for their third straight win.
With 10 minutes left, Inaki Williams came close to finding the winner as he cut in from the left but his shot was parried by Gazzaniga.
Inaki Williams was replaced in the final minute of normal time for youngster Adu Ares, but both sides were forced to settle for a point.
On Sunday, Rodrygo sent Real Madrid top with a double in 3-0 win at Cadiz.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid are four points clear of fourth-placed Barcelona, who drew 1-1 at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
PCB announces Pakistan team management for Australia tour
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have announced the Team Management for the upcoming Test tour to Australia, which is scheduled to take place from December 2023 to January 2024. They will be playing three Test matches in Australia.
Former England cricketer Adam Hollioake has been hired as the batting coach. Hollioake played four Tests and 35 ODIs for England. The 52-year-old transitioned into coaching, contributing his expertise to the England Lions team. His coaching abilities were further recognized when he was enlisted to join England’s coaching staff for the final two Ashes Tests during the 2021-22 series.
Meanwhile, Simon Grant Helmot will serve as the high performance coach on the tour. Helmot is an Australian cricket coach, who was formerly the coach of the Melbourne Renegades in Big Bash League.
Last week, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal were announced as fast-bowling and spin bowling coaches, respectively, for the Pakistan team.
Naveed Akram Cheema (Team manager), Mohammad Hafeez (Director – Pakistan men’s cricket team), Adam Hollioake (batting coach), Simon Grant Helmot (high performance coach), Umar Gul (fast bowling coach), Saeed Ajmal (spin bowling coach), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Mansoor Rana (assistant team manager), Shahid Aslam (assistant batting coach), Drikus Saaiman (strength and conditioning coach/Trainer), Cliffe Deacon (physiotherapist), Talha Ejaz (team analyst), Lt Col (Rtd) Akhtar Hussain (security manager), Raza Rashid Kitchlew (media manager), Ammar Ahsan (videographer), Dr Sohail Saleem (team doctor) and Malang Ali (team masseur).
The Pakistan cricket team will play their first Test match against Australia in Perth from 14 to 18 December, followed by a Test match in Melbourne, from 26 to 30 December. Sydney will host the last game of the tour from 3 to 7 January, 2024.
The squad is set to depart from Lahore on 30 November.
Pakistan squad for Australia Tests: Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi.
SC urges accountability of martial law-endorsing judges
Father of girl killed for ‘honour’ arrested in Kohistan
PM Kakar arrives in Kuwait on two-day official visit
Pakistan team finally issued visas for World Cup in India
Regional players to meet in Russia on Afghanistan
Attack plots the norm since Danish cartoon crisis: experts
World4 weeks ago
Lebanon’s Hezbollah works to curb hefty losses in Israel clashes
Business4 weeks ago
With larger fall, rupee near 1-month low
Business4 weeks ago
Potential sectors for revenue
Technology4 weeks ago
Apple revamps Mac lineup and pricing with new family of chips
Pakistan4 weeks ago
Thousands rally in Islamabad for Gaza
Technology4 weeks ago
Four ways Google Analytics helps with data-driven decision making
World3 weeks ago
Israel intensifies brutal Gaza strikes despite ceasefire calls
World4 weeks ago
US says no ceasefire ‘at this time’, Hamas battles Israeli forces