Belgium in awe as Hazard turns on Euro 2016 style

first_imgToulouse, FRANCE | AFP | Eden Hazard could eclipse his “difficult” season with Chelsea by taking Euro 2016 by storm, according to Axel Witsel.Hazard struggled to make his mark for Belgium as they finished runner-up place in Group E behind Italy.But in a man-of-the-match performance against Hungary in Toulouse on Sunday, Hazard, captain for the night, turned on the style to score his maiden goal as his country secured a last eight fight against Wales in Lille. It will be the Red Devils’ first European Championship quarter-finals since they lost the 1980 final.Although Hazard warned Wales will be a “complicated” side to play, Belgium are now waiting for a repeat performance against Gareth Bale’s side on Friday.“If we want to go all the way, we need Eden to be playing like he did tonight,” said Zenit Saint Petersburg midfielder Witsel.“He’s getting better match by match, and it’s good for us. He has all the qualities needed to win the (FIFA) Ballon d’Or (award) or to become the world’s best player.“For me, he’s already among the world’s best. After his difficult season at Chelsea. He’s playing a lot more freer, scoring goals and giving assists.”Chelsea teammate and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had little to do in a one-sided performance that saw Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld head a 10th minute lead before Belgium added three more goals in the second half.Their driving force, he said, was Hazard.“Hazard was fantastic,” said Courtois. “When he wants to, he’s one of the best players in the world.”Hazard was handed the captain’s armband by coach Marc Wilmots, and the 25-year-old responded by producing what he said was his best performance in a Belgian shirt.Wilmots said he told Hazard to do the talking with his boots.“Everyone knows he talks a lot, but a captain can’t just talk about scoring,” said the Belgium coach. “I told him I wanted him to score a goal, that he didn’t shoot enough. And tonight, his feet did the talking.“But I’m not surprised. I know what he’s capable of.”center_img After Belgium spurned a host of chances in the opening half, they responded to a brief Hungary fightback after the interval in style.Michy Batshuayi, with his first touch as a substitute, Hazard and Yannick Carrasco scored in the last 12 minutes to wrap up the win in the tournament’s final match in Toulouse.Hazard did all the creative work for Batshuayi’s 78th minute goal on what was his first touch after coming on as a late substitute.“Eden did a magnificent job,” said the midfielder.“On the goal that he set up for me, but also defensively and offensively, he was superb.“He dribbled past two players to give me the ball. I was unmarked and all I had to do was stick it in the net.“I’ve got only one thing to say to him: thanks captain.”Hazard, meanwhile, was quick to salute Belgium’s “collective” display.“Doing better than tonight would be difficult, I think. Everything was almost perfect. We scored goals, we created a lot of chances, we helped Thibaut (Courtois) keep a clean sheet,” he said.“All in all it was a great night, but we made it easy for ourselves.”“In the second half we killed off the match. To do better (against Wales) will be hard. But we’ll try.”Share on: WhatsApp Pages: 1 2 3last_img read more

Mayweather dominates Mosley, stays unbeaten

first_imgMASTERFUL PERFORMANCE—“Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather Jr., right, connects against “Sugar” Shane Mosley during their WBA welterweight boxing match May 1, in Las Vegas. by Tim DahlbergAssociate Press Writer LAS VEGAS (AP)—Floyd Mayweather Jr. is usually content to just win a fight. This time, though, Money Mayweather wanted to earn his cash.Fighting more aggressively than usual, Mayweather overcame a near knockdown in the second round Saturday night to dominate the rest of the way and win a lopsided 12-round decision over Shane Mosley in their welterweight showdown.“I wanted to give the fans what they wanted to see, a toe-to-toe battle,” Mayweather said. “It wasn’t the same style for me but I wanted to be aggressive and I knew I could do it.” Boxing’s biggest box office draw remained undefeated in 41 fights, but not before giving his fans and his corner a scare when a right hand to the side of his head buckled his knees a minute into the second, and he had to grab Mosley to avoid going down. Mosley landed another right later in the round, but the rest of the night belonged to Mayweather.If he didn’t please everyone, it was because he couldn’t knock out Mosley. But Mayweather won every minute of every round after the second and the normally defensive-minded fighter kept after Mosley until the final bell in a masterful performance that earned him every dollar of his guaranteed $22.5 million payday.“I think we could have pressed the attack a lot earlier, and then we could have got the knockout,” Mayweather said.Fighting before a star-studded crowd that included Muhammad Ali, Mayweather never came close to dropping Mosley, but landed so many more punches that the outcome wasn’t in doubt past the middle rounds. He had an answer for everything Mosley tried to do, landing right hands to the head seemingly at will as the fight progressed.By the end of the night, Mayweather had put so many rounds in the bank that the only question was whether he would stop Mosley or be content to win a lopsided decision. Mayweather kept moving forward and continued to press the issue in a fight that wasn’t in doubt.Two ringside judges scored it 119-109 for Mayweather, while the third had it 118-110. All had him winning every round past the second.The Associated Press had Mayweather winning 117-110.Ringside punch statistics were as one-sided as the scorecards. They showed Mayweather landing 208 of 477 punches to 92 of 452 for Mosley.Mayweather made Mosley look every bit his 38 years as he landed sharp punches to his head, dominating a fighter who had vowed to turn the bout into the fight of the decade. Mosley tried his best, but couldn’t match the speed of the 33-year-old Mayweather, who grew more comfortable with each passing round.Mosley was a substitute for Manny Pacquiao, who was all but signed to meet Mayweather until a dispute over drug testing derailed the megafight. Instead, Pacquiao beat Joshua Clottey on March 13 in Dallas and is campaigning for a seat in Congress in his native Philippines.“If Manny Pacquiao can take a blood and urine test then we have a fight,” Mayweather said. “If not, no fight.”Pacquiao, who watched the fight in the Philippines, told Manilla radio station DZBB that he would agree to blood testing, but only if it is not taken within 24 days of the fight. That is basically the same stance that derailed the fight the first time around.“For me, as long as the drug test is not done close to the match, I’ll agree because if they’ll get blood from me close to the match, it will be a disadvantage for me because I’m smaller and he’s big,” Pacquiao said.Mosley almost ruined a lot of Mayweather’s best-laid plans when he landed the big right hand in the second that brought the fans at the MGM Grand Arena to their feet. They chanted “Mosley! Mosley!” as he followed Mayweather around the ring, landing another good right hand before the bell rang to end the round.“It’s a contact sport, and you’re going to get hit,” Mayweather said. “But when you get hit, you suck it up and keep on fighting. That’s what I did. I’m happy we finally had a chance to fight. This is a fight the fans have been looking forward to for a long time, and they deserve it.”Mosley’s second-round flourish was his last hurrah. Mayweather came out in the third and began landing some shots of his own, while Mosley couldn’t find his mark.“I caught him with my big right hand and I tried to move around but by that time he was too quick and I was too tight,” Mosley said. “After the right hand I thought I needed to knock him out and I needed to do it sooner than later. But I couldn’t adjust and he did.”Mosley said he thought the 15-month layoff since his last fight hurt him, as did a stiff neck. But Mayweather had a lot to do with his ineffectiveness, too, fighting his fight and refusing to allow Mosley to dictate the pace.Mosley’s corner kept imploring the fighter to throw his jab more and fight his way inside, but Mosley was content to try to load up to hurt Mayweather with a big punch that didn’t come.“You can’t wait for one big shot, you’ve got to wake up,” Mosley’s trainer told him after the seventh round.By the 10th round, Naazim Richardson was even more frantic, telling Mosley he needed a knockout.Mayweather, who earned $2,500 in his pro debut 14 years ago, was guaranteed $22.5 million but probably will end up with much more once the final pay-per-view buys are added up. Mosley was guaranteed $7 million, and also had a share in the television revenues.last_img read more