Hard work's done, watch Daniel score

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McIlroy opts out of Olympics over Zika fears

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Record breaker

Messi overtakes Batistuta as Argentina's 
all-time leading scorer with stunning 
free-kick

SCORE AND SUPPLY: Besides scoring a superb free-kick, Lionel Messi also provided two assists for Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain in the 4-0 demolition of the United States.
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Poland coach unfazed by Lewandowski's goal drought

GROUP C

UKRAINE 0

POLAND 1

After Poland secured a last-16 slot with a 1-0 win over Ukraine, coach Adam Nawalka said star striker Robert Lewandowski's third straight blank at Euro 2016 is not a concern.

"The fact that Lewandowski has not scored a goal yet is not a problem," said Nawalka. "It is a matter of time, I think he will score in the next game."

The Poles, who had also beaten Northern Ireland 1-0 and drawn 0-0 with Germany, finish second in Group C on goal difference and play Switzerland in the last 16.

- AFP.

Tipping's no piece of cake

ADDING ICING: A confectioner preparing Euro 2016-themed cakes in Munich.

A Munich confectioner is scoring with Euro 2016-themed cakes, although some of the patisserie predictions are proving a little off target.

Muncher Freiheit is making more than 60 football-pitch cakes a week, complete with marzipan replicas of their favourite players and often score predictions written in icing.

One such sweet tip predicted Germany would beat Northern Ireland 2-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time), but the world champions could only win 1-0.

- Reuters.

Goal-shy Mueller pines for his scoring boots

Goal-shy forward says Germany cannot afford to be wasteful in knockout rounds

Germany and their normally prolific strker Thomas Mueller bemoaned missed chances at Euro 2016 as the world champions scored just one goal against Northern Ireland yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Germans had 21 attempts on goal at the Parc des Princes to just two for their opponents, but only Mario Gomez was able to beat inspired Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern or the woodwork.

Germany won Group C and head to a last-16 match in Lille on Sunday against Albania, Slovakia or the third-placed team in Portugal's Group F.

But Mueller (inset) admitted Die Mannschaft must be more clinical in future rounds.

"The goals were lacking. 
I alone could have drawn level in the scorers' list. We were greedy," Mueller said.

"There were improvements in our play but, of course, we weren't 100 per cent happy. We had more chances than in the last eight games."

The Bayern Munich star combined with Gomez to create the goal on 30 minutes. He also hit the post and the crossbar in the first half. Germany could not increase their goal margin, despite a lively performance from Gomez and Mario Goetze.

Mueller has scored 10 goals at World Cup Finals but has yet to find the net in a European Championship Finals.

With a potential quarter-final against Italy or title holders Spain looming, defender Mat Hummels said Germany cannot afford to be so wasteful as the tournament progresses.

"We played well and we were convincing, but we didn't score nearly enough. That was really lacking today," said Hummels.

GIVE MORE

"When we play against the really top teams, we'll have to give it that little bit more."

Coach Joachim Loew also bemoaned the missed opportunities.

"We created some very good chances, but also squandered a few. They had no chances, but we needed to have had more purpose and consistency in front of goal," Loew said.

"It was good in terms of the football we played, but we should have been more dominant."

- AFP.

Northern Ireland unafraid of anyone in last 16: Lafferty

With such a tight backline, Lafferty says Northern Ireland unafraid of anyone in last 16

GOALKEEPER Michael McGoVern Club: Hamilton Age: 31
WE'RE THROUGH: Kyle Lafferty (second from left) and other Northern Ireland players celebrating after learning of their qualification for the last 16, following Turkey's 2-0 win over Czech Republic. They were in an airport bus to their plane at Charles de Gaulle Airport, where they flew back 
to Lyon.

Kyle Lafferty claims Northern Ireland have one of Euro 2016's best defences and believes they will be tough opponents in the knockout stages.

Michael O'Neill's men booked a last-16 meeting with hosts France or neighbours Wales after keeping a rampant Germany to a 1-0 win at Parc des Princes yesterday morning (Singapore time), enough to progress in third place with three points.

That was made possible by their neutral goal difference, having scored two and conceded two in a tough group containing Ukraine and Poland as well as the world champions.

Much of Northern Ireland's squad is sourced from the second-tier English Championship or Scotland, but their back four contains Premier League regulars Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart as well as 102-cap veteran Aaron Hughes, whose former clubs include Newcastle, Fulham and Aston Villa.

Behind them is goalkeeper Michael McGovern, who turned in a career-best performance to repeatedly deny Germany yesterday morning, and Lafferty is confident that can be the basis of an underdog success story.

"We've probably got one of the best defences in the tournament," said Lafferty.

RIGHT BACK Aaron Hughes (No club) Age: 36
 
CENTRE BACK Gareth Mcauley Club: WBA Age: 36
 
CENTRE BACK Craig Cathcart Club: Watford Age: 27
 
LEFT BACK Jonny Evans Club: WBA Age: 28

"We've come up against world-class players and kept them relatively quiet. We've conceded only two goals in three games which isn't bad considering the players we've been up against.

"No matter who we come up against, we'll fancy our chances. It's a one-off game now and I'm sure we'll go into it thinking we can get a victory.

"We kept going until the 93rd minute against Germany because we knew 1-0 wasn't a bad result and it had a massive say in our goal difference. To leave with that result is something we can take a lot of positives from."

DESERVING

O'Neill believes his Northern Ireland side fully deserve their place in the knockout stage.

At full-time in Paris yesterday morning, they knew they had a good chance of seeing further action. Three hours later, Turkey's 2-0 triumph over the Czech Republic in Group D confirmed it.

O'Neill was never content simply to be a sideshow at the tournament and is now looking forward to a tie against Wales or hosts France.

"The nature of the competition is such that small teams deserve the opportunity and we earned our right to be here," he said.

"We've earned a right to be in the Round of 16. I think our players deserve the opportunity, they've done magnificently well.

"It (the next round) becomes a cup tie, a different scenario. We have to hope we produce an upset in a cup-tie format.

"We're a very small nation with a very small group of players. I'm immensely proud to be here."

They might have been on the receiving end of a German bashing had goalkeeper McGovern not produced the performance of a lifetime.

The soon to be out-of-contract Hamilton stopper, representing his country for only the 14th time at the age of 31, defied the world champions with a string of wonderful saves and was rewarded with a standing ovation in the dressing room.

"It was a phenomenal performance and up there probably with the great goalkeeping performances we've had in the past from the likes of Pat Jennings, Tommy Wright, Maik Taylor," said O'Neill. "He's an exceptional goalkeeper."

Germany coach Joachim Loew also had his say.

When it was suggested McGovern might be a new name to him, Loew said: "Of course, I have heard of him before, we have analysed the opponent.

"I have to compliment him. He has kept goal brilliantly and shown great reflexes.

"Three of four times he was completely alone in his goal, he put in a great effort."

- PA Sport.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Michael McGovern, Aaron Hughes, Gareth McAuley, Craig Cathcart, jonny evans, jamie Ward (josh Magennis 70), Corry evans (niall McGinn 84), Steven Davis, oliver norwood, Stuart Dallas, Conor Washington (Kyle lafferty 59)

GERMANY: Manuel neuer, joshua Kimmich, jerome Boateng (Benedikt Hoewedes 76), Mats Hummels, jonas Hector, Sami Khedira (Bastian Schweinsteiger 69), toni Kroos, Mesut oezil, thomas Mueller, Mario Goetze (Andre Schuerrle 55), Mario Gomez

 

GROUP C

NORTHERN IRELAND 0

GERMANY 1
(Mario Gomez 30)

Croatia coach tells fans: Be like my players

Croatian coach Ante Cacic had a message for his country's fans after the team's 2-1 Euro 2016 Group D win over Spain yesterday morning (Singapore time) - follow the example of his players.

Flares thrown by Croatian fans halted their side's momentum in a 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic last Saturday and saw the country's football federation fined 100,000 euros ($151,000).

However, despite threats of a repeat in Bordeaux, the Croatian fans were on their best behaviour to celebrate a glorious night.

Said Cacic: "We had great support from Croats all over the world. We have to fight to make all Croatian people happy.

"These players are showing how you have to represent and play for your country and how you have to behave."

- Wire Services.

Split loyalties? I'll have to explain to my (Spanish) wife what's happened.

— Ivan Rakitic on helping Croatia beat Spain

Turkey boss: If we qualify, we’ll go far

GROUP D

CZECH REPUBLIC 0

TURKEY 2

(Burak Yilmaz 10, Ozan Tufan 65)

Triumphant Turkey coach Fatih Terim says his side can go far in the tournament if they manage to qualify for the Euro 2016 knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams.

After limp defeats by Croatia and Spain, the Turks delivered a stunning performance full of fire and passion to defeat the Czech Republic 2-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time) and finish third in Group D on three points.

They now face a wait until the other groups are concluded to see if they qualify.

Turkey have a better record than Albania, also on three points, but need one more team from the remaining two groups to finish third with an inferior record.

If they do make it, Terim says they could repeat their performance at the 2008 tournament, where they made it to the semi-finals only to lose to a last-minute goal as Germany won a thriller 3-2.

CONFIDENCE

He said: "If we advance, we can do what we did in Euro 2008, because our confidence is growing.

"We still have some problems, but now it's easier to find solutions.

"We have a good side and now we have our team spirit back.

"If we advance, I think we will go a long way."

Goals from Burak Yilmaz and Ozan Tufan gave the Turks a victory few had predicted beforehand, with Yilmaz winning the Man-of-the- Match award for his tireless display.

"I'm very happy, I scored an important goal in a very decisive game, and everything worked very well," he said. "It's been a good night, a good goal for me."

Czech coach Pavel Vrba was disappointed with his side's exit but said the young players in his squad had learned some valuable lessons.

He said: "I'm not going to say that our performance here was any good... (But) this has been a great lesson for our young players, and I hope they will use it in the next qualifiers."

- Reuters.

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