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Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Francisco Conceicao celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Euro 2024 Group F match against the Czech Republic at the Leipzig Stadium in Leipzig on Tuesday. (AFP)

Conceicao snatches Portugal comeback win over Czechs

Youngster Francisco Conceicao snatched Portugal a last-gasp 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in their Euro 2024 Group F opener on Tuesday just minutes after coming off the bench.The 21-year-old Porto winger capitalised from close range after the Czechs were unable to clear a cross, completing his team’s comeback.The Czechs went ahead against the run of play through Lukas Provod’s fine strike from the edge of the box after the hour mark.Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal did not shine but dug just deep enough to claim victory, with Robin Hranac’s own goal pulling them level before Conceicao’s dramatic winner.Ronaldo, 39, playing at a record-extending sixth European Championship, was denied by Stanek on three occasions as Portugal constantly looked to find the competition’s all-time top goalscorer.The striker hit the post with the score tied and Diogo Jota nodded in the rebound but the goal was disallowed for offside against Ronaldo.“We showed all our coolness and resilience,” said Portugal midfielder Vitinha.“We remained calm, got the draw and always believed until the end to get the win.“Luckily we managed to do it with the help of the players who came on...we are truly a team.”Portugal coach Roberto Martinez selected 41-year-old defender Pepe, who became the oldest player in Euros history, beating the record set by Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly aged 40 in 2016, as part of a three centre-back defence.Portugal won that tournament in 2016 to claim the trophy for the first time and captain Ronaldo said they deserve another, although they got off to a stuttering start in Germany.In coach Ivan Hasek’s first competitive game after taking over in January, the Czech Republic largely frustrated Martinez’s side, who qualified unbeaten while scoring more goals than any other team.Ronaldo sent an effort wide with his shoulder after Rafael Leao cut inside with menace early on, as the Portuguese controlled the ball.Bruno Fernandes’ deflected dipping effort had some Portugal fans out of their seats and Leao was inches away from connecting with a low cross from the Manchester United playmaker.Czech goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek thwarted Ronaldo twice in the first half of his record 26th Euros appearance, but on both occasions the striker appeared marginally offside.The Al Nassr hitman’s brightest moment came with a clever backheel which played in Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Vitinha, but the Czech defence swarmed around him quickly and blocked his shot.Debate over whether Ronaldo should still be a starter or not has rumbled on since the 2022 World Cup and at times Portugal looked short on ideas beyond slinging crosses in towards him.Stanek comfortably saved a Ronaldo free-kick from distance before the Czechs made their breakthrough.Slavia Prague midfielder Provod whipped a superb strike past Diogo Costa from the edge of the box after Portugal failed to fully clear a cross just past the hour mark.However Portugal were quickly level when Hranac unfortunately turned the ball into his own net, after Stanek palmed Nuno Mendes’ header straight at him from point-blank range.Ronaldo and Czech Republic striker Patrik Schick finished as joint top scorers at Euro 2020 with five goals each but neither was at their lethal best in Leipzig.Jota thought he had grabbed a last-gasp winner after Ronaldo’s header bounced off the woodwork into his path, but VAR showed the veteran forward was offside.It didn’t matter for Martinez’s men though after Conceicao came on to fire them to the three points, putting Portugal level with Turkey at the top of Group F.“Of course it hurts extremely (badly), although nobody completely thought we would prevail today,” Provod told Czech national television.“The goals we conceded did not come after well put together attacks, but we have to acknowledge Portugal’s quality. The (goals) came from the enormous pressure.”


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Damage in Israeli air base after Iran attack

Israeli army footage of what it says is the damage caused by the Iranian attack on the Nevatim Air Base, which was launched late Saturday in retaliation for a deadly air strike widely blamed on Israel that destroyed its consular building in Syria's capital early this month. AFP

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Six months of bloodshed: The toll on Gaza’s children

The bloodiest ever Gaza war which broke out over six months ago has taken an appalling toll on children. NGO Save the Children estimates that some 26,000 children have been killed or injured in the war, 17,000 have been orphaned, according to UNICEF, and 1 in 3 children under two years old in northern Gaza is suffering from acute malnutrition. In total, at least 33,207 people have been killed in the besieged Palestinian territory in Israel's retaliatory campaign for the October 7 attack, according to Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry. The unprecedented Hamas raid on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,170 Israelis and foreigners, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures. AFP

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Gazans struggle to secure flour for daily bread

"I spent the night on Kuwait Roundabout to secure this bag of flour", says a Palestinian in Gaza City carrying a bag of flour he managed to get from an aid truck. A UN-backed report warned that half of Gazans are experiencing "catastrophic" hunger, with famine projected to hit the north of the territory unless there is urgent intervention. AFP

Australia’s Mitch Marsh (left) and Travis Head during their T20 World Cup match against Scotland on Sunday. Right: West Indies’ Akeal Hosein (right) celebrates after dismissing Afghanistan’s Azmatullah Omarzai (out of frame) with teammates Brandon King (left) and captain Rovman Powell (centre) during the ICC Twenty20 World Cup match at Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in Gros Islet, St Lucia, on Tuesday. (@CricketAus/AFP)

Austrralia in ominous form, West Indies look dangerous

In what now has become almost a ritual in any cricket showpiece, Australia have swaggered into the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup, while West Indies have revelled in home conditions as the race for the semi-finals begins today.Having won the World Test Championship and the 50-overs World Cup in 2023, Australia are hoping to be the first team to hold the global titles in all three formats simultaneously.Four comprehensive victories in the group matches suggest the Mitchell Marsh-led squad have the form and personnel to achieve that.In what has been a low-scoring tournament, Australia are the only team to have posted two 175-plus totals and one of the three teams to hit the 200-mark.They have looked largely unperturbed by the conditions which other teams have found difficult to master.Familiarity with the slow pitches has served West Indies particularly well as the Rovman Powell-led side also won all four group matches to breeze into the Super Eight.The Caribbean team did not qualify for last year’s 50-overs World Cup in India but look determined to do well in a format that is their strong suit.Daren Sammy captained West Indies to T20 World Cup titles in 2012 and 2016 and the former all-rounder has transformed the side since taking over the coaching reins.The Caribbean team have found the right mix of youth and experience.“We have been playing our entire career on these pitches. We’re not surprised that it’s slow, it’s low, it’s low-scoring,” batter Nicholas Pooran said.“The reason why most of our averages are 20-25 is because we bat on pitches like this.“But we know for a fact as a group, whenever we get good pitches, we are very dangerous team and that is an advantage to us.”South Africa and India have advanced as the two other teams unbeaten in the group stage though both had their struggles in the United States leg of the tournament.India have not won a global title since the 2013 Champions Trophy and are naturally keen to end the drought.“There is real keenness in the group to go and do something special,” India captain Rohit Sharma said on Tuesday.“That’s a good way to start the second stage of the tournament.”India will play three Group 1 matches in five days but Rohit, playing what is probably his and team mate Virat Kohli’s last T20 World Cup, was not worried.“It is going to be a little hectic but we are used to all of this,” he said.Defending champions England limped into the Super Eight and Jos Buttler’s team will need vastly-improved performances to grab a semi-final spot ahead of teams like Afghanistan.The United States have been the story of the tournament after the tier-two nation stunned former champions Pakistan.It may be a tall order for Monank Patel and his team mates in the Super Eight but the exposure against the top teams should prove invaluable in their growth.They play South Africa in a Group 2 match in Antigua to kick off the Super Eight stage of the tournament.Super Eight fixtures(All times are in GMT)June 19At Antigua: South Africa v USA (14:30)At Saint Lucia: West Indies v England (00:30 Thursday)June 20At Barbados: Afghanistan v India (14:30)At Antigua: Australia v Bangladesh (0030 Friday)June 21At Saint Lucia: England v South Africa (14:30)At Barbados: West Indies v USA (00:30 Saturday)June 22At Antigua: India v Bangladesh (14:30)Afghanistan v Australia (00:30 Sunday)June 23At Barbados: England v USA (14:30)At Antigua: West Indies v South Africa (00:30 Monday)June 24At Saint Lucia: Australia v India (14:30)At Saint Vincent: Afghanistan v Bangladesh (00:30 Tuesday)Semi-finalsJune 26At Trinidad (00:30 Thursday)June 27At Guyana (14:30)FinalJune 29At Barbados (14:30)

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