Mechelen fall to defeat
Taiwan international Xavier Chen played the full 90 minutes as KV Mechelen fell to 10th in the Belgian Jupiler League after a 1-0 away defeat to Cercle Bruge KSV at the Jan Breydel Stadium on Saturday. Substitute Amido Balde scored for the hosts in the 70th minute to put them in sixth position on 40 points, while Mechelen remain on 31 points, still 14 points clear of the relegation places. RSC Anderlecht lead the league by seven points with a game in hand.
Mali finish third
Mali finished third at the Africa Cup of Nations after two goals from Cheick Tidiane Diabate delivered a 2-0 win over 10-man Ghana on Saturday in Malabo. The giant France-based striker scored both from close range as Mali ensured a second successive crushing defeat for Ghana, upset by Zambia in Wednesday’s semi-finals, in four days. Ghana’s misery included the dismissal of central defender Isaac Vorsah for a second yellow card just past the hour mark. Diabate put Mali ahead when he was first to react after goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey could only palm out a long-range shot in the 23rd minute, sliding the ball into the net. He added the second with 10 minutes left after a breakaway ended with a pinpoint cross from fullback Adama Tamboura. A dispirited Ghana saw Vorsah become their third player to be sent off at this year’s finals. Ghana, who had beaten Mali 2-0 in the group phase last month, thought they had scored just after halftime, but Sulley Muntari’s effort was ruled offside.
Milan defeat Udinese
AC Milan produced a storming comeback with goals by Maxi Lopez and Stephan El Shaarawy to win 2-1 at title rivals Udinese on Saturday and move top of Serie A as their strikers made light of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence. Lopez, signed from Catania last month after Milan failed to land Carlos Tevez from Manchester City, netted his first goal for the champions when he scored on the rebound 12 minutes from time after coming on as a substitute. Teenager El Shaarawy, starting in place of the suspended Ibrahimovic, had a hand in Lopez’s goal and then sealed the win himself when he combined with the Argentine again five minutes from time. “I’m not just content, I’m really happy because scoring for this team has always been my dream,” Lopez told reporters. “El Shaarawy is young, but he’s growing a lot. This group is strong. Everyone gives their all when they get on the pitch.” Cagliari beat fellow mid-table side Palermo 2-1 in Saturday’s other game in Sardinia.
Kostelic defends title
Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic won the last men’s super-combined race of the season to defend his World Cup title in the discipline on the 2014 Sochi Olympic course yesterday. Kostelic, who was 1.52 seconds behind downhill section winner Beat Feuz, produced a flawless performance in the deciding slalom to eventually finish 1.16 seconds ahead of the Swiss. Frenchman Thomas Mermillod Blondin was third, finishing 1.77 seconds behind.
Worley wins giant slalom
France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s World Cup giant slalom event yesterday in Soldeu, Andorra. Slovenia’s Tina Maze was 0.16 seconds to finish second, while Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch was third at 0.75 back.
Bartoli beats Zakopalova
Marion Bartoli beat Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (3), 6-0 to reach the Open GDF Suez final against Angelique Kerber of Germany in Paris on Saturday. Kerber edged Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4 in the other semi-final. Zakopalova took a 4-2 lead in the first set, but the second-seeded Bartoli saved two set points in the eighth game and broke back in the ninth with a forehand return winner to force a tiebreaker. The second set was all one way. Bartoli reached her first WTA final since winning the Japan Open in October last year. In the second semi-final, Kerber broke for a 4-3 lead in the last set on an unforced error from Wickmayer. Wickmayer saved four match points at 5-3, but Kerber clinched victory in the next game when the Belgian netted a backhand return.