World Sports News in Brief

Real frustrated by Villarreal as Cazorla strikes twice

Friday, 2019-01-04 07:38:21
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Villarreal's Santi Cazorla celebrates scoring their second goal. (Photo: Reuters)
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Real Madrid endured a frustrating start to the new year as they drew 2-2 at struggling Villarreal on Thursday and were left seven points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Midfielder Santi Cazorla gave the home side the lead in the fourth minute of the game, but the European champions struck back three minutes later with a headed goal from Karim Benzema. Raphael Varane gave the visitors the lead in the 20th with a header from a free kick but it was former Arsenal midfielder Cazorla ghosted into the box undetected to nod home in the 82nd minute and give his side a deserved point.

* Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher turned 50 on Thursday with Formula One and his fans paying tribute to the sport's most successful driver with a mixture of celebration and sorrow. The German great has not been seen in public since he suffered severe brain injuries in a recreational skiing accident in the French Alps five years ago.

* Naomi Osaka said the confidence of starting a year as a Grand Slam champion helped her pass a tricky test against Latvian Anastasija Sevastova and reach the semi-finals of the Brisbane International on Thursday. In the men's competition, Osaka's compatriot Kei Nishikori battled past Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 7-5 in a rematch of the 2017 title clash in Brisbane.

* Tennis champion Serena Williams will star in a year-long marketing campaign for the Bumble social networking app that will kick off with a message of women's empowerment during the Feb 3 Super Bowl.

* Korean forward Son Heung-min believes a break from international duty in November helped him avoid a mid-season burnout. Son was part of the Korea Republic side which won the Asian Games soccer gold in August but he was sluggish on his return to action with Tottenham Hotspur. It was only after he skipped international friendlies against Australia and Uzbekistan in November that Son found his goalscoring touch, finding the net nine times for Spurs over 12 appearances in all competitions.

* India captain Sunil Chhetri backs the squad's young core to play out of their skins and test their Asian Cup opponents when they kick-start their campaign on Sunday. Coach Stephen Constantine has selected a 23-man squad whose average age is below 25 as India look to improve on their last appearance in 2011 when they were knocked out in the group stage.

* Struggling Ligue 1 side Monaco on Thursday announced the signing of Brazilian veteren defender Naldo from Schalke 04 until June 2020. Naldo, born in 1982, played three seasons for Schalke 04 following his stint at Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg. In 13 seasons in the Bundesliga, he participated in more than 500 matches, including 90 in European competitions.

* Iran's national soccer team coach Carlos Queiroz said on Thursday that Iran's first game in AFC Asian Cup against Yemen is an important match.

* World No. 1 Novak Djokovic won another gruelling battle in Doha on Thursday to continue his unbeaten start to the year and progress to the Qatar Open semifinals. The Serb came from a set down, just like in his previous match, to beat Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match lasting almost two hours.

Reuters, Xinhua