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Chelsea stayed top of the Premier League with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Watford on Wednesday in a match that was halted for 32 minutes in the first half after a spectator suffered cardiac arrest.

Substitute Hakim Ziyech grabbed the winner for the leaders in the 72nd minute, converting a cross from Mason Mount — the England midfielder who had put Chelsea in front in the 29th.

By then, the teams had been taken off by the referee because of the medical emergency in the stands that happened after about 13 minutes. The incident happened on the side of the field where Chelsea left back Marcos Alonso was stationed and he appeared to alert the referee and the medical staff on the touchline.

The spectator was stabilized and taken away on a stretcher to applause from the crowd.

Emmanuel Dennis equalized for Watford in the 43rd after Ruben Loftus-Cheek — one of a number of fringe players handed a start by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel because of injuries — was dispossessed in the center circle by Moussa Sissoko, who drove forward and set up his teammate to score.

Chelsea remained a point ahead of Manchester City and two clear of Liverpool on a night when all three teams won.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said his weakened team was “lucky” to come away with all three points
“That’s not us. We were absolutely not ready today for this match,” said Tuchel, who was without Reece James, N’Golo Kante, Ben Chilwell, Mateo Kovacic because of injury while Timo Werner and Jorginho started on the bench because they needed a rest.

“I missed maybe to find the right approach to make my team ready. We had the break due to very sad circumstances – hopefully the person is better — but even this break after the first (13) minutes did not change our approach. We did not cope with the pressure, with the first ball, second ball.”

Tuchel said all his team did was “hang in there.”

“I see this totally as an exception from the rule,” he said. “I will not insist too long on this match because it’s so unusual for us to play like this.”

Tuchel said he was concerned about an injury sustained by defender Trevoh Chalobah in the second half.

“The doctor was on the pitch 20 times today it felt like,” he said. “It’s a big loss, Trev. I’m a bit worried.”

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Murray falls in Washington opener while Halep, Pegula win

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray of Britain crashed out in the opening round of the ATP and WTA Washington Open on Monday, falling to Sweden’s Mikael Ymer.

The 35-year-old Scotsman fell to 115th-ranked Ymer 7-6 (10/8), 4-6, 6-1 after two hours and 50 minutes at the US Open tuneup tournament.

“I’m excited,” said Ymer, who saved four set points in the first set. “A lot left to do but it’s a very good start of the American swing.”

World number 50 Murray, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion, is trying to earn a seeding at the US Open, which he won a decade ago.

“It’s still possible,” Murray said. “I would just need to have a good run in Canada or Cincinnati really. It’s pretty straightforward if I was to make a quarterfinal or a semifinal, which right now — after a loss like that — doesn’t seem realistic.

“I do feel like if I play very well that I could do that. But I’ll need to certainly play better than I did today.”

Ymer, who lost his only career ATP final last August in Winston-Salem, will next face 15th seed Aslan Karatsev.

Ymer won 75 percent of his first-serve points, 49-of-65, and smashed 37 winners past Murray, who made only 25 with 35 unforced errors, five more than Ymer.

Murray had a set point in the 12th game of the first set but sent a backhand wide and Ymer held into a tiebreaker.

Murray had three more set points in the tiebreak but Ymer smashed two forehand winners and a forehand volley winner to pull level at 7-7, prompting Murray to toss his racquet in frustration. Ymer, 23, took the set on a backhand volley winner.

“Had chances in the first set to close that out,” Murray said. “Didn’t get it. Yeah, frustrating.”

While Murray clawed back to force a third set, Ymer raced to a 4-0 lead, they exchanged breaks on double faults and Ymer ended the match on a backhand crosscourt winner.

Murray said he will explore why he has had cramping issues in his past two matches when he often thrives in heat and humidity.

“I started cramping at the end of the first set, Murray said. “After that you’re just trying to find a way to get through the match.

“Need to have a little look at that with my team and maybe see why that is, make a few changes.”

Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep, coming off a Wimbledon semifinal run, beat Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa 6-3, 7-5.

Simona Halep of Romania plays a shot against Cristina Bucsa of Spain during Day 3 of the Citi Open at Rock Creek Tennis Center on August 01, 2022 in Washington, DC. (AFP)

“Always the first round is difficult when you change the surface,” third seed Halep said. “I know it’s going to take time to make the game more solid.”

US top seed Jessica Pegula cruised 6-2, 6-2, over US wildcard Hailey Baptiste.

Pegula won the most recent WTA Washington event in 2019 after two missed years due to Covid-19.

“It definitely feels weird,” Pegula said. “It’s great to be back.”

Britain’s Kyle Edmund made a triumphant return to ATP singles after three left knee surgeries and a 20-month layoff by defeating Japanese qualifier Yosuke Watanuki 6-4, 7-6 (10/8).

Edmund, who next faces British 16th seed Daniel Evans, played in his first tour-level singles match since October 2020 at Vienna, a month before his first operation.

“I didn’t find it easy today,” said Edmund. “I hung in there and I got my reward in the end.”

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Man City, Liverpool renew title fight as Premier League clubs flex financial muscle

Premier League clubs have splashed an estimated £1 billion ($1.2 billion) in the arms race for new talent ahead of the start to the 2022/23 season on Friday, but champions Manchester City remain the side to beat.

After winning four league titles in five years, Pep Guardiola’s squad has been bolstered by the biggest name arrival of the summer in Erling Haaland.

The Norwegian had his choice of Europe’s top clubs after scoring 85 goals in 88 games for Borussia Dortmund and followed in the footsteps of his father Alf Inge — a former City captain — to the blue side of Manchester.

Haaland may have had a debut to forget as he missed a glaring opportunity toward the end of City’s 3-1 Community Shield defeat to Liverpool on Saturday, but Guardiola warned the pretenders to his side’s throne that “the goals will come.”

“There is no reason not to be confident,” added Guardiola. “What these guys have done, not just in the Premier League, but in the cups, the steps we have made in Europe and in many things.”

In a window of significant change at the Etihad, Argentine forward Julian Alvarez and England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips have also arrived.

But Guardiola has let plenty of experience go to Premier League rivals with Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko heading to Arsenal and Raheem Sterling joining Chelsea.

Liverpool are best placed to pounce on any slipping of City’s standards.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were denied a historic quadruple by the finest of margins last season as they were pipped to the title by a point and lost the Champions League final 1-0 to Real Madrid after winning the League and FA Cup.

The Reds have also refreshed their front line with the imposing presence of Darwin Nunez coming in to compensate for the loss of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich.

Nunez did make an immediate impact in the Community Shield, winning a penalty and scoring to turn the game in Liverpool’s favor late in the game.

City and Liverpool have dominated English football for the past five years, but if there is to be a challenge from the chasing pack, it could come from Tottenham.

Ahead of Antonio Conte’s first full season in charge, the Italian has been heavily backed by the normally thrifty Spurs board with the signings of Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perisic, Djed Spence, Clement Lenglet and Fraser Forster.

Crucially, Tottenham have also retained the star duo of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as they aim for a first league title in 62 years.

Arsenal have been in blistering pre-season form with Jesus on fire in thrashings of Chelsea and Sevilla.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel blasted his side as “not competitive” after losing 4-0 to the Gunners in Orlando and the Blues are a team in transition following Todd Boehly’s takeover.

There is also plenty of work ahead for new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag with the uncertain future of Cristiano Ronaldo hanging over start of a new era for the Red Devils.

Amid the scale of big spending from English clubs, Newcastle have been surprisingly quiet in their first summer window since a takeover from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

The Magpies have spent just short of £60 million on Dutch defender Sven Botman, England goalkeeper Nick Pope and a permanent deal for left-back Matt Targett.

New boys Nottingham Forest have splashed over £70 million on 12 new signings in the two-time European champions’ first season back in the top flight for 23 years.

That sum does not even include a one-year deal for Jesse Lingard worth a reported £200,000-a-week after he joined on a free transfer from Manchester United.

Aston Villa’s transfer business is arguably the best example of the growing financial gulf between the Premier League and the rest of Europe.

French international midfielder Boubacar Kamara and Brazilian center-back Diego Carlos have turned their backs on Champions League football with Marseille and Sevilla respectively to join Steven Gerrard’s side, who finished 14th in the English top flight last season.

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Saudi Arabia is among the countries interested in hosting the 2026 Asian Cup for Women

The Asian Football Confederation said today, Monday, that Saudi Arabia, Australia, Jordan and Uzbekistan have expressed their interest in hosting the Asian Women’s Cup in 2026.
The AFC will now work with all competing member associations to deliver the necessary bid documents in accordance with established procedures.
Next year, the file of the winning country will be announced to organize the women’s championship, which the Asian Football Confederation praised for its increasing popularity, according to Agence France-Presse.
Previously, India hosted the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which China won by expanding to 12 teams, up from just 8 before.
The AFC said the 2026 edition “is expected to build on the strong foundations of the tournament’s famous legacy”.

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