World Cup dismay for Qatar as Ecuador wins opening game
AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) — Qatar’s first ever World Cup match ended in dismay for an overmatched team and with a place in unwanted soccer history. The controversy-laced tournament opened with Qatar getting outplayed and embarrassed in a 2-0 loss to Ecuador in front of 67,372 fans at Al Bayt Stadium. A host team had never lost its opening game in 92 years of soccer’s biggest event. The first World Cup in the Middle East is a chance for Qatar to showcase itself to the wider world but its soccer team couldn’t live up to the moment. Ecuador captain Enner Valencia scored both of his team’s goals in the first half.
AP Top 25: USC moves into top 5 for 1st time in 5 years
Southern California moved into the top five of The Associated Press college football poll for the first time in five years. Georgia received 62 of the 63 first-place votes in the AP Top 25 as the top four teams held their places after playing varying degrees of close games Saturday. No. 2 Ohio State received the other first-place vote. Michigan was No. 3 again, followed by TCU. The Trojans edged up two spots after a thrilling victory against rival UCLA. The last time USC was ranked in the top five was September of 2017, when it started at No. 4 but spent most of the season ranked in the teens before finishing at 12th.
World Cup Viewer’s Guide: Qatar kicks off, USA ready to play
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The first World Cup in the Middle East finally began Sunday night with a flashy opening ceremony and a match between Qatar and Ecuador without any beer for sale in the stadium. Two of the best players in the world were ruled out of the tournament with injuries before it even began. France striker Karim Benzema is out after hurting his left thigh and Senegal forward Sadio Mane has a leg injury. Monday’s matches consist of the United States against Wales, England versus Iran and the Netherlands facing Senegal. Eight of the 13 team captains of European nations have planned to wear “One Love” armbands promoting inclusivity but they could face penalties for breaking rules regarding FIFA-issued uniforms.
Qatar opens the World Cup with a message of inclusion
AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) — The World Cup began in Qatar 12 years after the tiny gulf nation secured the rights. The moment was celebrated in a 30-minute, seven-act opening ceremony ahead of the match between Qatar and Ecuador. Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman and BTS vocalist Jung Kook were the slated stars of the show but the crowd was most favorable of the Middle Eastern leaders in attendance. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani drew a rousing applause when he delivered a message of inclusion in a brief speech given in Arabic. His father was also celebrated in a demonstrative autographing of an official World Cup shirt.
Irving rejoins Nets, apologizes for hurt his actions caused
NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving has returned to the Brooklyn Nets and apologized to anyone who felt threatened or hurt when he posted a link to a documentary with antisemitic material. Irving was suspended by the team on Nov. 3 hours after he refused to say he had no antisemitic beliefs when meeting with reporters at the Nets’ practice facility. He now says he should have handled that interview differently. Irving says he doesn’t stand for “anything close to hate speech or antisemitism.” He has missed eight games during his suspension. The Nets say he is available to play Sunday night against Memphis.
Top 25 Takeaways: Contenders live on edge, where TCU thrives
College Football Playoff contenders lived on the edge in Week 12, with the top four teams all teetering to varying degrees and at various points. That was before No. 5 Tennessee went down with a thud. For No. 4 TCU, it was just another Saturday. TCU and No. 3 Michigan both needed field goals in the final second to stay unbeaten. No. 1 Georgia slogged through a road game against Kentucky. No. 2 Ohio State trailed at halftime against Maryland before closing it out. Among the blue bloods vying for a spot in the CFP, the Horned Frogs may be the outliers but they are without question worthy.
No. 7 USC outlasts No. 16 UCLA to reach Pac-12 title game
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Caleb Williams passed for a career-high 470 yards, Austin Jones rushed for a season-high 120 yards and seventh-ranked Southern California clinched a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a 48-45 victory over No. 16 UCLA. Williams also rushed for 32 yards and finished with 503 yards of total offense. The Trojans had a season-high 648 yards of total offense and took advantage of four Bruins turnovers. Dorian Thompson-Robinson accounted for all six UCLA touchdowns but also had three interceptions and a fumble. Thompson-Robinson was 23 of 38 for 309 yards and passed for four touchdowns. He rushed for 75 yards and two scores.
Where to get a beer? Bars packed amid Qatar’s alcohol limits
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The question of where to get a drink, a fixture at sporting events around the world, in the conservative country has been top of mind for many fans since Qatar banned the sale of beer in stadiums in a stunning about-face. As a result, many of Doha’s bars and nightclubs — one of the rare places fans can now get alcohol — were packed with crowds and tables fully booked on Sunday as the tournament kicked off, limiting fans’ drink options. The rush on Doha’s bars reflects the tensions tearing at the Muslim country and challenges facing the tiniest host of the world’s biggest sporting event.
AP source: Hackett hands off Broncos’ play-calling duties
DENVER (AP) — A person with knowledge of the decision says first-year Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett is relinquishing offensive play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak. The move takes effect Sunday for the Broncos’ game against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Broncos have stumbled to a 3-6 start behind Hackett and struggling quarterback Russell Wilson. They rank last in the NFL with an offense that averages fewer than 15 points per game. Last year Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni turned over play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator and Philadelphia’s offense took off.
McIlroy clinches Race to Dubai title as Rahm wins in UAE
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rory McIlroy finished the year as Europe’s top-ranked golfer for the fourth time – and first since 2015 – despite Jon Rahm winning the DP World Tour Championship. The Spaniard’s two-shot victory over England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Sweden’s Alex Noren was his third in six years at Jumeirah Golf Estates. But McIlroy finished the season top of the DP World rankings after Matt Fitzpatrick, his only rival for the Harry Vardon Trophy, blew up around the turn.