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Serbia, Spain qualify for 2022 World Cup

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s hopes of playing in a record-equalling fifth World Cup hang in the balance after Serbia stunned Portugal 2-1 in Lisbon to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Spain and Croatia did secure their places in Qatar on Sunday thanks to 1-0 wins over Sweden and Russia respectively.

Ronaldo already holds the record of playing in five European Championships and looked well on course for another milestone as Portugal stormed out of the blocks to open the scoring after just two minutes through Renato Sanches.

However, Serbia bounced back to dominate the remainder of the first half and deservedly levelled when Dusan Tadic’s strike squeezed in off the post after Dusan Vlahovic had hit the woodwork.

Ronaldo was kept quiet as another chance to score his 800th career goal came and went.

Instead it was Aleksandar Mitrovic who grabbed the vital goal as stoppage time approached.

Just over a year ago, Mitrovic was the villain for his country as he was the only player to fail to score in a penalty shootout against Scotland that saw Serbia miss out on Euro 2020.

However, the Fulham striker made amends in dramatic fashion when he steered in Tadic’s header at the back post.

“It was an amazing game,” said Mitrovic. “We were the better team today in every aspect of the game.”

Portugal must now navigate two tricky one-off playoff matches in March to maintain their record of qualifying for every major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

– ‘Huge weight off’ –“We must apologise to the Portuguese but my team will be at the World Cup, that’s guaranteed,” said defiant Portugal coach Fernando Santos.

“We will have to prepare well to beat our opponents in March and to get to Qatar. But I always trust my players.”

Spain made sure they avoided the playoffs as Alvaro Morata’s goal four minutes from time ended Sweden’s resistance in Seville.

The Swedes’ shock 2-0 defeat to Kazakhstan on Thursday had handed Spain pole position in Group B, meaning La Roja just needed a point to qualify.

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SPORTS

U.S. swimmer Alvarez saved from drowning by coach at world championships in Budapest (Photos)

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Anita Alvarez loses consciousness in pool at world championships in Budapest

American artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez was in danger of drowning after losing consciousness in the pool at the world championships in Budapest before being rescued by her coach Andrea Fuentes.

Spaniard Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, jumped into the pool after she saw Alvarez sink to the bottom at the end of her solo free final routine.

She was given medical attention beside the pool before being taken away on a stretcher.

It was the second time Fuentes has had to rescue Alvarez after she leapt into the pool during an Olympic qualification event last year and pulled her to safety along with the American’s swim partner Lindi Schroeder.

“Anita is much better, she is already at her best. It was a good scare, to be honest,” Fuentes told Spanish newspaper Marca.

“I jumped into the water again because I saw that no one, no lifeguard, was jumping in. I got a little scared because she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine. She has to rest.”

In a statement on the US Artistic Swimming Instagram page, Fuentes said 25-year-old Alvarez would be assessed by doctors on Thursday before a decision was made on her participation in Friday’s team event.

SEE PHOTOS BELOW

A member of Team USA (R) swims to recover USA's Anita Alvarez (L), from the bottom of the pool.
A member of Team USA (R) swims to recover USA’s Anita Alvarez (L), from the bottom of the pool.
USA's Anita Alvarez is recovered from the bottom of the pool by a team member after the incident.
USA’s Anita Alvarez is recovered from the bottom of the pool by a team member after the incident.
She was given medical attention beside the pool before being taken away on a stretcher.
She was given medical attention beside the pool before being taken away on a stretcher.

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Serie A: Pogba agrees deal with Juventus

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Juventus have reached an agreement in principle to sign Paul Pogba, according to Sky Italia.

Pogba is a free agent after leaving Manchester United this summer.

It is believed that small details of the contract are being sorted out. It will either be a four-year contract or a three-year deal with an option for a further year.

Pogba will officially sign the contract at the start of July.

The move to Juventus would mark a return to a club where Pogba spent four years before rejoining United in 2016.

Manchester City also made a bid to sign Pogba from their bitter rivals, but the player opted against it and has now gone back to Italy.

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LaLiga fixtures for 2022/2023 season confirmed

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LaLiga fixtures for 2022/2023 season

The LaLiga fixture list for the 2022/2023 season was released by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Thursday.

Real Madrid will open their campaign with a trip to newly promoted Almeria, while Barcelona are home to Rayo Vallecano.

The two rivals will face off in the first Clasico on the weekend of October 16.

The game on Match Day 9, will be played at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium, with the return fixture at Barcelona’s Camp Nou taking place on the weekend of March 19, 2023.

Atletico Madrid, who finished third last season, begin the season away at Getafe while Sevilla, who finished fourth in the final Champions League spot, will travel to Osasuna.

The 2022/23 LaLiga season will begin on the weekend of August 14, 2022, and end on the weekend of June 4, 2023.

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