MONTREAL (AP):The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Chinese officials have signed an agreement to crack down on the manufacture and supply of performance-enhancing drugs in China.WADA announced the memo-randum of understanding yesterday with the General Administration of Sport of China.WADA says the agreement “signifies a significant break-through” in clamping down on illegal production of doping products in China “which are then exported to the outside world and all too often reach the hands of athletes”.The agency says the deal follows a recent US Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that led to a large amount of doping products being seized, much of it obtained over the Internet from Chinese companies and laboratories.WADA and Interpol, the international police organisation, will provide information to Chinese law-enforcement organi-sations for targeting illegal suppliers.
CRYSTAL PALACEVS WEST HAMCrystal Palace have 15 points, their best points haul after eight games in the top-flight since the 1990-91 campaign, when they had 16. West Ham, though, are one of only four teams yet to lose away from home in this season’s Barclays Premier League. Palace are still without Kwesi Appiah. West Ham miss winger Enner Valencia and midfielder Alex Song.SOUTHAMPTONVS LEICESTERThe most common result between these teams at Southampton in the Premier League is 2-2. Four of the nine games there have ended in draws, and three were 2-2. Saints won four of the others while Leicester’s only victory at Southampton was 2-1, in April 2000. They miss Fraser Forster and Florin Gardos. Leicester may recall Riyad Mahrez to midfield.TOTTENHAM VS LIVERPOOLJurgen Klopp begins life as Liverpool manager following the shock sacking of Brendan Rodgers. But his new team is 10th with three wins, their fewest after eight games for three years. Spurs are without the banned Eric Dier after five cautions while recent arrival Heung-Min Son is absent with a foot problem.WEST BROM VS SUNDERLANDA new era begins at The Hawthorns where Sam Allardyce takes charge of Sunderland for the first time, just two days before his 61st birthday. Allardyce has replaced Dick Advocaat after the Dutchman resigned following the 2-2 draw with West Ham last time out. Sunderland last won in the Premier League at The Hawthorns, in January 2006.NEWCASTLE VS NORWICH CITYNewcastle have just three draws; it is their worse haul from their first eight games for 117 years. And they are now without goalkeeper Tim Krul. Norwich have never won at St James’ Park in the Premier League. In six visits, they have lost five and drawn one. The Canaries are missing Lewis Grabban and Gary Hooper while Youssuf Mulumbu is also absent.SWANSEA CITYVS STOKE CITYStoke have won their last two, against Bournemouth and Aston Villa, and are bidding to win three in a row for the first time since March. Swansea’s home record against Stoke is good; in four Premier League clashes in Wales between the teams the home side is unbeaten, winning three and drawing one. And Stoke’s last win at Swansea was back in March 1993.
SATURDAY, APRIL 23BOURNEMOUTH 1CHELSEA 4GOALS: BOURNEMOUTH: ELPHICK 36. CHELSEA: PEDRO 5; HAZARD 34, 90; WILLIAN 71.Last season’s Footballer of the Year, Eden Hazard, scored his first Barclays Premier League goals of the season at Bournemouth. Cesc Fabregas assisted in the first three goals, with Pedro and Hazard giving Chelsea a two-goal lead. Tommy Elphick’s header gave the Cherries hope but Fabregas set up Willian for the Blues before Hazard, who scored 19 goals last season, added his second.LIVERPOOL 2NEWCASTLE UNITED 2GOALS: LIVERPOOL: STURRIDGE 2; LALLANA 30. NEWCASTLE: CISSE 48; COLBACK 66.Newcastle boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation from the Barclays Premier League by coming back from 2-0 down to claim a point at in-form Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge’s goal after 76 seconds and Adam Lallana’s finish meant the Reds were cruising at the break. But Papiss Cisse headed United back into contention early inthe second half before Jack Colback pulled them level with a deflected shot.MANCHESTER CITY 4STOKE CITY 0GOALS: MAN CITY: FERNANDO 35; AG¸ERO PEN 43; IHEANACHO 64, 74.Manchester City prepared for their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid with an impressive win over shabby Stoke. Fernando headed the hosts in front from a corner before a Sergio Ag¸ero penalty, awarded for Ryan Shawcross’s foul on Kelechi Iheanacho,doubled the lead. Iheanacho, just 19, added the third from close range, then the teenager added his second.ASTON VILLA 2SOUTHAMPTON 4GOALS: VILLA: WESTWOOD 45, 85. SOUTHAMPTON: LONG 15; TADIC 39, 71; MANE 90.Dusan Tadic scored twiceas Southampton eased past relegated Aston Villa to keep alive their faint hopes of European football. Shane Long headed Saints’ opener before Tadicdoubled the lead. Ashley Westwood pulled one back for Villa, before Long again set up Tadic for the third. Westwood swept in his second before Sadio Mane headed in in injury time.SUNDAY, 24 APRILLEICESTER CITY 4SWANSEA 0GOALS: LEICESTER: MAHREZ 10; ULLOA 30, 60; ALBRIGHTON 85.Leicester registered their best win of the Barclays Premier League to extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points. Second-place Spurs face WBA at home on Monday night; if they don’t win, Leicester can win the title at Manchester United next weekend. Leonardo Ulloa, in for suspended Jamie Vardy, headed in after Riyad Mahrez’s near-post finish before poking home. Marc Albrighton wrapped up the win by driving in a fourth.SUNDERLAND 0ARSENAL 0Sunderland climbed out of the relegation zone with a deserved point against an uninspiring Arsenal. Both sides had penalty appeals for handball denied and Patrick van Aanholt struck Arsenal’s post with a free kick. Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone had to be sharp to keep out Mesut Ozil’s free kick and Alex Iwobi’s follow-up.
“Some afternoons, I did up to 10 rounds in addition to my bag work and speed work and a lot of rounds with the pads. I am feeling real good” he added. The upper limit for the super featherweight division is 130 pounds, and he said that his weight is on target, which is promising news for his fans considering that he lost his World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight super title on the scale in June last year because he was not able to make the 126-pound limit. His fight against Miguel Marriaga on June 11 went on as a non title fight for him, and he won by unanimous decision. Since then he has had a draw against Jason Sosa in New York on December 19 last year and that was his last fight. It will, therefore, be nearly a year since he last fought, but he does not think that this will be a problem. His record is now 26-0-1. Lomachenko, who is a unique champion, has had only seven professional fights, and a 6-1 record. He is regarded as a boxing phenomenon. As an amateur, he had 397 fights and lost only one, and won gold medals in the Olympics twice. He has also had six, semi professional fights in the AIBA World Series of Boxing contest, all victories. He won the WBO featherweight title in only his fourth fight, and stepped up to win the super featherweight title on June 11 by knocking out the champion Roman Martinez in five rounds. He will be a handful for Walters. With just a couple days remaining before he challenges World Boxing Organization (WBO) Super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko for his title at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Jamaica’s Nicholas ‘Axeman’ Walters says he is ready to get going. “I am fit and ready, and very anxious to get into the ring on November 26 with Vasyl, so that I can beat him and take away his title,” said Walters from his training base in Panama. Oozing confidence, the ‘Axeman’, who earned his nickname because of the way he has cut down opponents, (21 of 26), told The Gleaner that he has been training very hard for the past two months, under the guidance of his lead trainer, Celso Chavez, and his assistant trainer, father Job. “I am actually reducing my training schedule now, so as to peak at the right time” added Walters who has been sparring with boxers from Panama, Venezuela and Guatemala. ON TARGET
Wolmer’s had the better of the action in the second half, but could not get the all-important equaliser. Xavion Crosdale struck a low, hard shot, which headed straight for the JC net, but goalkeeper Kajay Johnson made a good save. Goalscorer Gooden had a lively second half, but was also guilty of a few bad decisions inside the 18-yard box JC coach Miguel Coley said his team came to win the game from the first whistle. “We put them on the back foot from early, so hats off to my guys,” he outlined. Meanwhile, team manager Ian Forbes said, “This very special win is for our new principal, Mr Wayne Robinson. We are always hungry to win and we have done a great job. ” Yesterday’s defeat was tough for Wolmer’s to take. It was the second time in fours years that they were losing to the Hope Road-based school. In 2013, they were defeated in extra time. Wolmer’s coach Vassell Reynolds called it “a very tough loss”, bemoaning his team’s failure to win a final in 22 years. Jamaica College (JC) finished off another ISSA-FLOW Manning Cup schoolboy football season unbeaten, crowning themselves 28-time champions with a 2-1 win over Wolmer’s Boys’ in yesterday’s final at the National Stadium. The ‘Dark Blues’ just will not surrender the schoolboy football title, winning the championship four times in a row. They are now unbeaten in the Manning Cup game since 2012. The irrepressible Tyreke Magee did the early damage for JC, powering home low and hard past Shamar Jemison in goal in the 16th minute. Their lead was doubled when the tried-and-proven Donovan Dawkins scored his second goal in as many finals, curling a beautiful into the Wolmer’s net in the 25th minute. “It feels so good to score the winning goal in a final again. I didn’t score many in the season, but I am happy with this one,” Dawkins said. Besides the all-important goal, he netted five times in the season. Teammate Ronaldo Brown, one of few JC players to win four Championships in a row, said he “was happy to end his Manning Cup career and final game with a win”. Wolmer’s were handed a lifeline on the stroke of half-time, with Alphanso Gooden powering home a Mickel Graham pass in the last kick of the first half (45 plus two minutes). COULD NOT FIND EQUALISER
Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 03: Jon Jones (C) yells out after defeating Daniel Comier in a light heavyweight title fight at the MGM GrandGarden Arena on January 3, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jones retained his title by unanimous decision. Steve Marcus/Getty Images/AFPANAHEIM, Calif. — Jon Jones reclaimed his UFC light heavyweight title Saturday night, stopping Daniel Cormier in the third round with a vicious head kick and a finish on the ground at UFC 214.Jones (23-1) completed his rocky journey back to the top after a yearlong suspension with his 14th consecutive victory. He fended off a stiff challenge from Cormier (19-2), who held the belt for most of the past two years while Jones dealt with self-inflicted setbacks outside the cage.ADVERTISEMENT McGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC return Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LeBron James scores 31 points, Lakers beat Rockets End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite After 2 1/2 rounds of even, high-level striking, Jones landed a head kick that caught Cormier leaning in. The champion staggered backward and then around the cage with Jones in pursuit, and Jones finished the fight on the ground with a series of merciless strikes.Right after Jones stopped Daniel Cormier in the third round at UFC 214 on Saturday, he reignited his growing rivalry with Lesnar, the former UFC heavyweight champion.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’“Brock Lesnar, if you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by a guy who weighs 40 pounds less than you, meet me in the octagon,” Jones said on the pay-per-view broadcast. 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano ‘I’m out!’: PewDiePie releases last video before taking break from YouTube MOST READ Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ Kawhi Leonard, Clippers rally to beat Pelicans Indian national gunned down in Camarines Sur LATEST STORIES Galanza hungry for wins after Adamson’s dismal PVL stint
787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ And this early, the results have been promising, with the Road Warriors stringing a six-game winning streak which dates back to the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup.“Guys are not keeping the ball in their hands. When a guy’s open in the break, we’re giving it up, we’re finding each other in the open court, and everyone’s unselfish right now,” said Mallari, who has forged a solid backcourt partnership with Kevin Alas and Lastimosa.Mallari even noted that the troika of guards, whom he regarded as a “three-headed monster,” could strike fears in the opposing backcourt in the games to come, a lesson the Fuel Masters learned the hard way.“We can use the pick-and-roll, so I think they were in trouble with that a little bit. We just tried to take advantage of the pick-and-roll,” he said as they paired perfectly with import Aaron Fuller.Still, Mallari said that the Road Warriors should know better to not celebrate their early success.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend Alex Mallari. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netAlmost three months since Kia traded Alex Mallari away, the 30-year-old swingman is making his old team look like fools as he has found a home in NLEX.Averaging 7.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in the Road Warriors’ first three games this 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup, the Fil-Am forward has found his niche in coach Yeng Guiao’s system as a pivotal piece in the team’s turnaround this season-ending conference.ADVERTISEMENT Indian national gunned down in Camarines Sur McGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC return Fabio Fognini wins fifth ATP title in Gstaad MOST READ LeBron James scores 31 points, Lakers beat Rockets “I’ve seen many teams – and I’m sure coach Yeng have seen more teams than me – start strong and then probably fade a bit in the end. Going 4-0 sounds good and feels good, the best start in NLEX franchise, I think. But we’re not gonna rest our laurels on that and we’ll feed off it,” he said.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ And that was the case again on Sunday, as Mallari partnered with Carlo Lastimosa to help NLEX come away with a 95-91 victory over Phoenix to hike its record to 4-0.Asked what he thinks is the biggest change after two conferences of languishing at the bottom of the standings, the fifth-year forward didn’t hold back and cited the player transactions as the turning point for the squad.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’“I guess it’s the trade,” he said. “I didn’t really keep track of [NLEX] before that, but coach said we’ve looked a lot better than the past, so I guess it’s the trade.”NLEX went on a trading spree late last conference, netting high-quality players much to Guiao’s liking. Mallari was part of that wave as he found himself joining a new squad together with reliable veterans in JR Quiñahan and Larry Fonacier. Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite ‘I’m out!’: PewDiePie releases last video before taking break from YouTube Kawhi Leonard, Clippers rally to beat Pelicans View comments
Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ Like mother, like daughter: Kaitlin wins SEA Games gold, repeats mom’s feat MOST READ OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Teen gunned down in Masbate LATEST STORIES 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next National Historical team rescues Amorsolos, artifacts from Taal Vilma Santos, Luis Manzano warn public of fake account posing as her Albay to send off disaster response team to Batangas Wong’s gold medal win came just a day after bagging the silver in the taijijian event.She registered a score of 9.66, besting Basma Lachkar of Brunei (9.54) and Lin Ying Ho of Singapore (9.44).FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’It was the first gold of the Philippines in wushu after Daniel Parantac, who won the gold in the last two editions of the regional games, faltered in all of his events this year. View comments Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:11SEA GAMES 2019: PH’s Nesthy Petecio boxing featherweight final (HIGHLIGHTS)08:07Athletes treated to a spectacle as SEA Games 2019 officially ends06:27SEA Games 2019: No surprises as Gilas Pilipinas cruises to basketball gold05:02SEA Games 2019: Philippines clinches historic gold in women’s basketball05:21Drama in karate: Tsukii ‘very sad’ over coach’s bullying, cold shoulder03:24PH’s James Palicte boxing light welterweight final (HIGHLIGHTS) Agatha Chrystenzen Wong delivered the Philippines’ sixth gold medal in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games after ruling the women’s taijiquan event Tuesday.READ: PH salvages silver in women’s wushu event ADVERTISEMENT 2 nabbed in Bicol drug stings
Coach: Boy SablanLast Season: 3-11 (8th Place)Holdovers: Marvin Lee, Jeepy FaundoAdditions: Steve Akomo, Christian Garcia, Jordan Sta. AnaKey Losses: Louie Vigil, Jon Sheriff, Renzo Subido, Mario BonleonCoach Boy Sablan acknowledges that after last year’s disastrous run, the UAAP Season 80 campaign will be make or break for him in University of Santo Tomas.ADVERTISEMENT Hotdog’s Dennis Garcia dies Hotdog’s Dennis Garcia dies Redemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie Thompson Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to give up royal titles Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ Chief Justice Peralta on upcoming UAAP game: UP has no match against UST PLAY LIST 01:00Chief Justice Peralta on upcoming UAAP game: UP has no match against UST02:13UAAP Season 80 preview: UST Growling Tigers00:50Trending Articles01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson MOST READ Gilas Pilipinas joins Fiba Asia Champions Cup in China LATEST STORIES For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. With key figures from last season’s campaign gone, the Growling Tigers will lean on veterans Marvin Lee and Jeepy Faundo to carry the fight.But Sablan believes that UST’s unpredictability makes it dangerous, as he expects several players to step up unlike others who depend largely on only one go-to guy.“You won’t rely on just one person. Everybody can be depended on. There are no main guys. I’m not particular on one, two, or three players. Now, I have more confidence on my players. I trust what they can do on the court.”While he’s not willing to make any promises, he guarantees that UST will be better prepared for the challenges that this season brings.“No promises,” he said. “That the team prepared well and we’ll try do everything we practiced the last eight months during the games. You’ll see the changes in our players. That’s one thing you have to watch out for. You’ll see the difference.”ADVERTISEMENT Police seize P68-M worth of ‘shabu’ in Pasay View comments But Sablan is willing to take on all comers in his second season at the helm for the Growling Tigers with a squad that he can proudly say is his own.“I built this team unlike last year’s. When I arrived, I had no choice but to run with whatever I had. This time, I’m in control of everything. We had a longer preparation this time and I believe we’re in a better groove,” said Sablan in Filipino.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’Parading a mix of veterans and new recruits, Sablan is confident with the group that is slowly showing signs of maturity after the numerous pocket tournaments it participated in in the run up for this season.We had a longer time to prepare, not like before that we only had two months of preparation. So now, we’re running a bit better. The system I was trying to instill last year is finally happening. The bottomline is we had a longer preparation,” said Sablan. Bishop Baylon encourages faithful in Albay to help Taal evacuees Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Search on for 5 Indonesians snatched anew in Lahad Datu Don’t miss out on the latest news and information.
Kiss-and-tell matinee idol’s conquests: True stories or tall tales? Jake says relationship with Shaina ‘goes beyond physical attraction’ LATEST STORIES MOST READ Goalkeeper Sergio Romero is also on good form despite being a reserve at Manchester United. Defenders Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Mercado and Marcos Acuna have similarly earned praised for their performances.Coaching changesSampaoli was the team’s third coach during qualifying, with the former Chile and Sevilla manager taking over four months ago after Edgardo Bauza was fired. Bauza stayed on the job for only eight matches, after succeeding Gerardo Martino.Argentina never used the same starting lineup twice in its 18 matches, a statistic which many believe has made it less effective as a team and more reliant on the individual talent of Messi.Now Sampaoli has eight months to find the right partners for Messi and help him claim soccer’s most coveted trophy.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LiAngelo Ball center of attention at UCLA media day Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Jake says relationship with Shaina ‘goes beyond physical attraction’ Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours Coco’s house rules on ‘Probinsyano’ set Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring against Ecuador during their 2018 World Cup qualifier football match in Quito, on October 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Juan RuizArgentina was in trouble until the final round of South American qualifying for the World Cup, and needed Lionel Messi to seal his country’s place at soccer’s global showcase.Now comes the really difficult part.ADVERTISEMENT Jo Koy: My brain always wants to think funny Margot Robbie talks about filming ‘Bombshell’s’ disturbing sexual harassment scene Given Argentina’s World Cup tradition, the 3-1 win earned against Ecuador with Messi’s hat trick was little short of mandatory. But coach Jorge Sampaoli still has a lot to fix in a squad that almost made Argentina miss a World Cup for the first time in 48 years.Here is a look at the issues facing the team:FEATURED STORIESSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’SPORTSFederer blasts lack of communication on Australian Open smogDependence on MessiAt a crucial moment, Argentina needed Messi to step in and avoid what could have been a humiliating exit. And he certainly delivered, with his three goals against Ecuador worth a place at next year’s finals. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson It’s too early to present Duterte’s ‘legacy’ – Lacson Argentina scored only 19 goals in its 18 games in South American qualifying, tying with Paraguay for the second-worst record. Messi scored seven, and no other player added more than two goals.In the standings, South American leader Brazil and second-place Uruguay scored 41 and 32 goals, respectively.Messi’s hat trick in Quito gave Argentina its first goals in open play since a 3-0 victory over Colombia in November 2016.Sampaoli replaced veteran striker Gonzalo Higuain for Boca Juniors’ target man Dario Benedetto, and he has also brought in players that had been overlooked, like Mauro Icardi and Alejandro Gomez.None of them did any better.Sergio Aguero missed the last two rounds due to injury. He and Angel Di Maria will have to step up in Russia, while Sampaoli will also have to find a way to use Juventus starlet Paulo Dybala.Doubts about MacheranoArgentina also faces problems in defense, despite conceding only 16 goals, the second-lowest number in South American qualifying. Veteran defender Javier Mascherano seems to be at the end of his impressive run at 33 years of age.It was a mistake by Mascherano that allowed Ecuador to open the scoring on Tuesday and he has been frequently replaced by Sampaoli.Moving Mascherano back to a midfield role seems unlikely, as Enzo Perez, Lucas Biglia and Ever Banega have all done well in recent games. Russia might be Messi’s last World Cup, and it will definitely be his final attempt at the peak of his powers. At the 2022 tournament in Qatar, the Argentine will be 35 years old.Regardless of his numerous titles with Barcelona, he has still to win a major one for Argentina.“The nationality of the best player in the world is luckily Argentine”, Sampaoli told reporters. “Messi does not owe a World Cup to Argentina, it is football that owes a World Cup to him. We have the chance to help, he is the best player ever.”The dependence on Messi has been proportional to the lack of goals from other players.Goal droughtADVERTISEMENT View comments