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Brazil beats Spain 3-0 to win Confederations Cup

Sunday, 30 June 2013 21:19 Published in Sports

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Brazil won a heated matchup of past and present soccer powers, boosting its confidence as it prepares to host next year's World Cup.

Fred scored two goals, Neymar added another and Brazil defeated world champion Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup final on Sunday night as protesters clashed with riot police outside Maracana Stadium.

Brazil, a five-time world champion, beat the reigning world and European champion and ended Spain's 29-game, three-year winning streak in competitive matches.

"We beat the world champions today, but we know that the tournament that we will be playing next year will be a lot more difficult," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "Now we have more confidence. That's what we needed."

Fred put Brazil ahead in the second minute, Neymar doubled the lead in the 44th with his fourth goal of the tournament and Fred added his fifth in the 47th.

Brazil, which won its third straight Confederations Cup, has not lost a competitive home match since 1975.

Spain, which had not lost a competitive game since its 2010 World Cup opener against Switzerland, had a miserable night. Sergio Ramos sent a penalty kick wide in the 55th and defender Gerard Pique was ejected by Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers with a straight red card for fouling Neymar in the 68th.

"They were superior on every way," Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said. "They scored early. This is not an excuse but they had pressure on us all the time."

Eliminated in the quarterfinals of the last two World Cups, the Selecao entered the tournament having not played a competitive match since the 2011 Copa America, Brazil had slipped to 22nd in the FIFA rankings, between Ghana and Mali.

Spain, ranked first for the past 20 months, is the most accomplished national team of the 21st century, winning its first World Cup in 2010 between titles in the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

But in the stadium that will host the World Cup final on July 14 next year, Brazil dominated La Furia Roja.

"The champion is back," chanted the crowd of more than 73,000 people at the renovated Maracana.

It also didn't take long before the fans - in a sea of yellow jerseys - started teasing the Spaniards, chanting "Wanna play, wanna play!? Brazil will teach you."

Spain had been unbeaten in 26 matches overall, including friendlies, since a 1-0 loss to England in London in 2011 and had outscored opponents 69-11 in competitive matches since the loss to Switzerland in South Africa.

But Spain had not played Brazil since a 1999 exhibition, and they hadn't met in a competitive match since the Selecao's 1-0 win in the first round of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Fred opened the scoring after a cross into the area by Hulk in the second minute. The ball bounced off Neymar near the far post and Fred, who had fallen while trying to reach for the cross, shot with his right foot while still on the ground.

Brazil added to the lead after Neymar exchanged passes with Oscar and then sent a powerful left-footed shot over goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Fred got the final goal from just inside the area, sending a low shot to the far corner. Hulk started the move with a pass to Neymar, but the striker let it go as Fred came running behind him.

Spain was awarded the penalty kick after Marcelo fouled Jesus Navas inside the area. Ramos, who skied a penalty kick for Real Madrid against Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League semifinals, sent this one wide.

Spain's best chance before the penalty came with Pedro Rodriguez in the 41st, when he entered the area clear from defenders on a breakaway. His low shot beat goalkeeper Julio Cesar, but David Luiz came rushing in and slid in front of the goal line just in time to deflect the ball over the crossbar.

There were protests outside the stadium during the match, with police using rubber bullets and tear gas to keep demonstrators from getting too close. A wave of anti-government protests has swept across Brazil in recent weeks, and many affected the Confederations Cup host cities as demonstrators complained of the costs of hosting the World Cup.

On the field, it was a heated match from the start, with players from both teams pushing and shoving each other a few times. Even the substitutes got into a shouting match.

Wainwright wins 11th game, Adams homers twice

Saturday, 29 June 2013 22:09 Published in Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Adam Wainwright pitched a five-hitter to become the NL's second 11-game winner, Matt Adams had his first two-homer game and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Oakland Athletics 7-1 Saturday.

Wainwright (11-5) tied Washington's Jordan Zimmerman for most wins in the NL. He struck out eight and walked two in a 112-pitch performance for his fourth complete game this year and 15th of his career.

What appeared a pitcher's duel in the making changed quickly when A's starter Jarrod Parker left in the fourth inning with tightness in his right hamstring on an unusually hot Bay Area afternoon.

Adams hit a three-run homer to highlight a four-run sixth and a solo shot in the eighth.

Josh Reddick's RBI single in the eighth provided the lone A's run on a dominant day by Wainwright.

Daniel Descalso broke a scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and the Cardinals gave Wainwright plenty of support to take sole possession of the team lead in wins ahead of Lance Lynn's 10.

Wainwright appeared to have no issues this time after objecting to manager Mike Matheny's decision to pull him after 6 2-3 innings in a loss to Texas last Sunday.

After a 1-2-3 first inning on nine pitches, Wainwright was on his way. A's No. 9 hitter Derek Norris singled with two outs in the third for the first hit off Wainwright, who snapped a two-start skid.

Wainwright got through the seventh on seven pitches. The right-hander faced the A's for just the second time in his career after beating Oakland on June 19, 2010, in St. Louis while allowing one earned run in eight innings.

He had a career-high five complete games in 2010, and is now one away from that.

A sold-out Coliseum crowd of 35,067 braved the hot temperatures to watch Wainwright keep the A's batters off balance - they didn't get a three-ball count until Coco Crisp walked in the eighth as the 28th hitter of the game. Wainwright threw 21 of his pitches that inning.

While the first-pitch temperature was an A's season-high 84 degrees, Matheny is loving the lively atmosphere this series.

"It reminds me of the Dominican and Puerto Rico, a lot of drums and excitement," he said.

Parker went down after grabbing his right hamstring and stretching for several minutes with athletic trainer Nick Paparesta before throwing some warmup pitches. Jesse Chavez relieved.

Chavez (1-2), who pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings of relief for victory in an 18-inning win against the Yankees on June 13, was done after 1 1-3 innings this time. Carlos Beltran doubled starting the sixth, and Allen Craig followed with a single to chase Chavez.

Jerry Blevins surrendered an RBI single to Matt Holliday, then Adams' first-pitch homer that broke open the game.

Holliday faced repeated boos while in left field and at the plate from his former fans. He briefly played for the A's in 2009, all of 93 games.

NOTES: The Cardinals are sticking with rookie Shelby Miller on schedule despite his struggles. "He's going to go back out there and do what he was doing," Matheny said. ... A's C John Jaso missed his seventh straight start with a cut on his left hand but was available off the bench. Manager Bob Melvin had hoped to get him back Friday night, but the concern is that he still can't catch or hit through a full game. ... A's C Stephen Vogt received 100-plus text messages in addition to greetings on Facebook and Twitter after his first major league hit - and home run - Friday night ended an 0-for-33 start. "It's really neat to get everybody's support," he said. ... Umpires received water between innings. ... Wainwright is 8-5 in interleague play. ... LHP Tommy Milone looks to snap a four-start winless stretch with his first win since June 3 in Sunday's finale against St. Louis RHP Jake Westbrook.

Williams, Djokovic show who's No. 1 at Wimbledon

Saturday, 29 June 2013 22:07 Published in Sports

LONDON (AP) -- As the sun set on the opening week of Wimbledon, just about the only seeding that truly signified something was No. 1.

That's the number beside the names of Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, who turned in nearly perfect performances back-to-back Saturday on Centre Court to cap nearly perfect runs to the fourth round at the All England Club, while chaos reigned all around them.

In the final match of the fortnight's first half, played with the roof closed and lights glowing to make sure it would get done as darkness approached, defending champion Williams used eight aces and 11 return winners to power past 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan 6-2, 6-0 in 61 minutes.

"She didn't lose energy, and her game, I think, is getting better, day after day. Not better in general, but adapting to the surface. Everything is getting better," said French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who has been working with Williams over the past year, when she is 77-3. "So now let's enter into the most important part of the tournament. ... Now the matches are going to get tougher and tougher."

Might not necessarily have been a fair fight, considering that Date-Krumm is ranked 84th and was the oldest woman to reach the third round at Wimbledon in the 45-year Open era. Never better than a semifinalist at a Grand Slam tournament, she played Williams evenly for about three games, before the 16-time major champion took over.

"She has so much power, speed," Date-Krumm said. "She has everything."

Williams' easy win followed the 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over 28th-seeded Jeremy Chardy of France turned in by 2011 champion Djokovic, who compiled a remarkable ratio of 38 winners to three unforced errors. The Serb's initial miscue of his own doing did not come until the third set's sixth game, when he double-faulted while ahead 4-1, 40-love.

"Everything went my way," Djokovic said. "I did everything I wanted to do."

Both he and Williams could say that about the way they handled matters throughout Week 1.

Williams has won all six sets she's played, allowing her opponents a total of 11 games. Djokovic has won all of his nine sets, dropping 29 games.

"You don't want to play your best tennis in the first round and continue to go down. I feel like I try to play better as each match goes on," said Williams, whose 34-match winning streak is the longest for a woman since older sister Venus had a run of 35 in 2000. "I try to find out something I can improve on from each match so I can do it better in the next round."

In other words: Look out, Sabine Lisicki, the 23rd-seeded German who will meet Williams on Monday for a quarterfinal berth.

Up next for Djokovic after the middle Sunday's traditional day of rest is another German, 13th-seeded Tommy Haas, the 35-year-old who is enjoying a career renaissance and eliminated Feliciano Lopez of Spain 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

How certain was Lisicki that she would be dealing with Williams and not Date-Krumm? Lisicki tweeted a photo of her with Haas early in the second set of Williams' match, writing: "Last Germans standing" and "We both play the no1's next."

Take a glance around, and a high seeding has mattered very little, with the notable exception of No. 2 Andy Murray, Djokovic's potential foe in the final. Indeed, in many cases, any seeding at all has guaranteed nothing whatsoever. The men's Nos. 3, 5, 6, 9 and 10 are all gone, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with their 29 combined Grand Slam titles. The women's Nos. 2, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 10 are out, too, including four-time major champion Maria Sharapova and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka.

Even during a pair of victories Saturday, both No. 4-seeded players, David Ferrer and Agnieszka Rawdwanska, looked shaky. Ferrer, the French Open runner-up this month, was treated for blisters on his right foot while coming back to beat No. 26 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-7 (6), 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. Radwanska, who lost to Williams in last year's Wimbledon final, was pushed to three sets by 18-year-old American Madison Keys before winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

"I'm very happy to be a little bit better," Radwanska said. "It was really close. Every set was really tight."

The highest-seeded man other than Murray on his half of the field is No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny, who will play the 2012 U.S. Open champion and Wimbledon runner-up after defeating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.

Otherwise, Saturday's winners on that side of the men's draw were 130th-ranked Lukasz Kubot of Poland, who beat No. 25 Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-3, 6-4; 80th-ranked Kenny de Schepper of France, who defeated No. 22 Juan Monaco 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-4; and 54th-ranked Fernando Verdasco of Spain, a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 winner against Ernests Gulbis.

Things have generally been less hectic on Djokovic's portion of the tournament, but No. 9 Richard Gasquet lost 7-6 (7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5) to 20-year-old Bernard Tomic, whose father has been barred from tournaments after being accused of head-butting Tomic's hitting partner. No. 23 Andreas Seppi of Italy, meanwhile, won his seventh consecutive five-setter, edging No. 12 Kei Nishikori 3-6, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-4, and 49th-ranked Ivan Dodig of Croatia moved on when Igor Sijsling retired while trailing 6-0, 6-1, 1-0, the 13th player to stop mid-match or withdraw before one, equaling a tournament high.

For a moment, it looked as if there might be a 14th when No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro hyperextended his left knee as chased a ball late in his 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-0 defeat of Grega Zemlja. The 2009 U.S. Open went champion sprawling face-forward into the players' chairs and racket bags on the sideline.

"It was really painful," del Potro said. "I was a little scared."

Del Potro and Murray each own one Grand Slam title, the only two of the last 33 not claimed by Federer, Nadal or Djokovic.

There isn't a lot of company for Williams in the major championship department, either. Two women with one apiece advanced Saturday, though: 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and 2011 French Open winner Li Na.

Otherwise, just as with the men, there are some fresh faces among the women. That includes 19-year-old Laura Robson, the first British woman to reach Wimbledon's fourth round since 1998; 19-year-old Monica Puig of Puerto Rico; and 20-year-old Sloane Stephens of the U.S., who'll face Puig on Monday.

That matchup prompted this question for Stephens from a reporter: Is there pressure for you when you're playing someone in the next round who you're older than?

"Like a year, OK," Stephens said. "No, not really."

At 31, Williams is the oldest No. 1 in WTA rankings history, but she's still more than a decade Date-Krumm's junior.

"I honestly never thought I would play until my 30s, to be honest. I don't see my stopping any time soon," she said. "However, I don't see myself playing into my 40s. That's why I have so much respect for Kimiko."

They spent a good chunk of the early evening wondering where and when they would play, because their match was scheduled to be last on Court 1, where Ferrer and Dolgopolov went to a fifth set. It wasn't until 7:59 p.m., minutes after Djokovic's match ended, that the Wimbledon referee's office announced it was shifting Williams' match to Centre Court, with the roof shut and lights on.

Williams was rather dominant serving and receiving. In the first set, she delivered seven aces at up to 116 mph, at least one in each of her four services game, and hit nine return winners, at least one in each of Date-Krumm's four service games.

When it was over, Williams wagged an index finger in the air, as if to remind all she is No. 1, then exchanged high-fives with some fans.

"Every time I go out there, I tell you, I feel like anything can happen. I don't feel invincible. I feel like anything can happen," she said. "More than anything, that keeps me completely motivated."

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