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Panama president declares World Cup national holiday

PANAMA CITY  – Panama president Juan Carlos Varela declared a national holiday in celebration at the central American country s first ever qualification for the World Cup. “It s a historic day for the country. Tomorrow (Thursday) will be a national holiday for public and private sector workers,” Varela said on Twitter ...

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Football: Messi hat-trick fires Argentina into World Cup

QUITO  – Lionel Messi scored a brilliant hat-trick as Argentina sealed their place at the 2018 World Cup with a 3-1 victory over Ecuador here Tuesday. Barcelona superstar Messi single-handedly rescued Argentina s World Cup hopes as the South American giants came from behind to win in Quito. Romario Ibarra had ...

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Football: Ronaldo, Portugal lock down World Cup berth

LISBON – Cristiano Ronaldo s Portugal defeated Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon on Tuesday to earn a place at the 2018 World Cup and consign their opponents to next month s play-offs. An own goal from Johan Djourou handed the European champions the lead on 41 minutes and Andre Silva netted a second ...

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Football: France pass test to clinch World Cup spot

PARIS  – France clinched qualification for the World Cup thanks to goals from Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud in a hard-fought 2-1 win over Belarus on Tuesday. Didier Deschamps s side successfully completed their tricky challenge of beating Bulgaria and Belarus in their final two qualifiers. The victory meant they avoided ...

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Football: Netherlands fail to reach World Cup finals

AMSTERDAM – The Netherlands failed to reach the 2018 World Cup finals as they could only beat Sweden 2-0 on Tuesday when they needed an unlikely 7-0 victory. Elimination is fresh humiliation for the nation that reached the 2010 World Cup final and the semi-finals four years later, after they ...

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Tennis: Rampant Wozniacki blasts past slumping Bouchard

HONG KONG  – In-form Caroline Wozniacki started the defence of her WTA Hong Kong Open title in rampant style by blowing away Eugenie Bouchard 6-1, 6-1 on Tuesday. Wozniacki, seeded three and a recent winner of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, dominated the first-round match as Bouchard was forced ...

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Xavi open to being Qatar World Cup 2022 coach

DOHA – Xavi Hernandez said he s open to being Qatar s coach when it hosts the 2022 World Cup and rebuffed his critics by claiming he is “very proud” to be in Doha. The Barcelona great, 37, who currently plays in Qatar for Al Sadd, told AFP he is “90 percent” ...

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Football: Moment of truth as Argentina seek World Cup berth

MONTEVIDEO  – The once unfathomable prospect of a World Cup without Lionel Messi and Argentina could become reality on Tuesday as South America’s thrilling 2018 qualification battle reaches its climax. Two years after Argentina kicked off their troubled campaign with a 2-0 defeat at home to Ecuador, Jorge Sampaoli’s side ...

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Tennis: China Open needs Chinese stars, says co-director

BEIJING  – The China Open is finally getting the international recognition it deserves but it also needs successful Chinese players to make an impact, the co-tournament director says. Thomas Ross, a veteran of the tennis scene in the United States, was brought in this year to help boost the overseas ...

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