NFL

Rodgers shakes off toe injury to lead Packers past slumping Rams

By Sports Desk November 28, 2021

Aaron Rodgers was not slowed down by his toe injury as he guided the Green Bay Packers to a 36-28 win over the struggling Los Angeles Rams.

Rodgers entered Sunday's showdown under a cloud, having missed practice in the lead up to the Lambeau Field clash due to fractured toe on his left foot.

But the reigning NFL MVP shook off the problem with a pair of passing touchdowns while he rushed for another score as the NFC North-leading Packers (9-3) condemned the slumping Rams (7-4) to a third consecutive defeat.

Rodgers completed 28 of his 47 passes for 307 yards and no interceptions and the Packers quarterback also rushed for a TD on two carries.

The Packers led 20-17 at half-time and blew the visiting Rams away with a 16-0 third period, despite the loss of Randall Cobb.

Cobb was ruled out at the start of the second half due to a groin injury, having set a season high for receiving yards with 95 on four catches in the opening two periods, including a seven-yard TD.

Odell Beckham Jr. scored his first touchdown for the Rams on a 54-yard bomb from Matthew Stafford, but it was a tough outing for the quarterback.

Stafford threw a pick-six that overshadowed his three-touchdown display on 21-of-38 passing for 302 yards and two sacks.

 

Niners stay hot in San Francisco

Deebo Samuel's two touchdowns helped the in-form San Francisco 49ers top the Minnesota Vikings 34-26.

Samuel celebrated a pair of TDs before a groin injury cut short his outing as the 49ers (6-5) won their third straight game.

The 49ers star became the first wide receiver in the Super Bowl era to score a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games in a single season.

Elijah Mitchell put up 133 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries for the 49ers, while Jimmy Garoppolo finished 17-of-26 passing for 230 yards, a touchdown and interception.

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    Rassie van der Dussen and South Africa captain Temba Bavuma starred as the Proteas claimed a 31-run win over India in the opening ODI at Paarl.

    Having won the Test series, South Africa started the three-match ODI series in confident fashion on Wednesday.

    It was not all plain sailing, with the hosts 3-68 when Van der Dussen came to the crease in the 18th over but, along with his skipper, the 32-year-old turned in a supreme performance.

    After dismissing Janneman Malan (six), the returning Quinton de Kock (27) and Aiden Markram (four), India – under the leadership of stand-in white-ball captain KL Rahul – had their tails up, but Bavuma and Van der Dussen put on a stand of 204 to take the game away from the tourists.

    Bavuma's methodical 110 from 143 deliveries – his second ODI 100 – anchored things at one end while Van der Dussen flourished at the other, hitting 129 not-out to propel South Africa to 296-4 from 50 overs.

    Rahul (12) edged Markram through to De Kock in the ninth over, but Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli, playing for the first time since he was relinquishing the captaincy, seemed to have India well-placed.

    Dhawan was bowled by Keshav Maharaj (1-42) for 79, however, and Kohli (51) fell inside three overs with a failed attempt at a sweep, shortly after reaching his half-century.

    India needed 141 to win heading into their last 20 overs, yet Shreyas Iyer (17), Rishabh Pant (16), Venkatesh Iyer (two) and Ravichandran Ashwin (seven) lost their wickets in the space of six overs. 

    The impressive Shardul Thakur reached 50 with the final ball of the day, but his flurry was never enough to trouble South Africa as India finished on 265-8.

    Record-setting Van der Dussen dazzles

    "In the past, I maybe would have taken 15-20 balls to assess, but the conditions told me I had to get going from fairly early on," said Van der Dussen after his innings. 

    Getting about it early on is just what Van der Dussen did, sweeping for four off the third ball he faced. It set the tone for an exquisite display that included nine boundaries and four sixes, with his 129 n.o. reached in 96 deliveries, at a strike rate of 134.37.

    He now has the best average of any batsman to have scored at least 1,000 ODI runs, with 73.62.

    South Africa share the wickets around

    Jasprit Bumrah was the pick of India's bowlers with 2-48 from his 10 overs, though he had little support from the rest of the attack.

    The Proteas, meanwhile, had Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi and Andile Phehlukwayo each contribute two wickets, albeit Bavuma will be unhappy with some sloppiness that crept in late on, when Thakur was able to tally 16 in the 48th over.

  • Liverpool assistant Lijnders excited by Elliott's comeback Liverpool assistant Lijnders excited by Elliott's comeback

    Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has expressed his excitement at Harvey Elliott's return to full training, saying that the youngster "didn't lose his football brain."

    Elliott has been out of action since September, having dislocated his ankle in a 3-0 Leeds United. The teenager had played in all four of Liverpool's previous games this season.

    The 18-year-old returned to full training earlier this week and Lijnders smiled as he was asked about the former Fulham player at a news conference ahead of Liverpool's EFL Cup semi-final second leg at Arsenal.

    "Let me say it like this, he didn't lose his football brain," Lijnders said, though he did not put a timescale on Elliott's return to match action.

    "He shows immediately what he's about. It would be a crime if you would not play him if he trains like this, but we know it's just the start of the team training. He needs time and we go step by step, of course.

    "Some players they never knock on the door, they run through it – and he's one of them."

    Elliott, the youngest ever Premier League player, returned to Merseyside at the end of last season having enjoyed a productive loan spell at Championship side Blackburn Rovers, where he registered the joint-third most assists in the division (11), behind only Emiliano Buendia (16) and Michael Olise (12), who is now playing a starring role for Crystal Palace.

    He was also the only player in the Championship to register as many as three second assists – which Opta defines as a pass/cross that is instrumental in creating a goal-scoring opportunity – and was eighth overall for successful passes into the final third (519), ahead of the likes of Olise (495), Leicester City's Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (478 while on loan at Luton Town) and Tottenham's Oliver Skipp (441 while on loan at Norwich City).

    In his three Premier League starts and one substitute appearance this season before his injury, Elliott created five chances, more than team-mate Curtis Jones (three) has in his four starts and three appearances from the bench, and won possession in the middle third of the pitch (17) more often than Jones (11) and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (12) despite the former Arsenal man making 15 league appearances, seven of which have been starts.

    Lijnders also had words of praise for Liverpool's opponents on Thursday, crediting the work that Mikel Arteta has done since taking charge of Arsenal just over two years ago and noting how well the Gunners played in the goalless first leg at Anfield despite going down to 10 men in the first half when Granit Xhaka was sent off.

    Arteta, too, has been happy to utilise younger players as he continues to freshen up Arsenal's squad.

    "First of all, Arsenal always had really good players but, for me, they have a really good team at this moment," Lijnders added. "I think credit to Mikel, they matured.

    "You see many games where the team with 10 men plays better than the 11 – not play better but they give just this extra step, they give this extra [bit] more because they know they have one player less. What happens many times with the 11 players is that they do one thing less because they know they have one player more. That's exactly what happened.

    "Anyway, what I like about the Arsenal game is that we wanted to surprise them with our intensity and that's what we did until Xhaka went off.

    "I really think that in football the only advantage exists if you go to the last minute of the game, to be honest. Before that, it's quite even. I think Mikel did an unbelievable job. The team is a proper team.

    "They were struggling as well with injuries and, how you said, COVID cases and they had to change as well in the last minute, but if you can play with 10 men like that then you have a mature and good team."

  • Arteta insists Arsenal 'did the right thing' by requesting Tottenham postponement Arteta insists Arsenal 'did the right thing' by requesting Tottenham postponement

    Mikel Arteta hit back at Arsenal's critics following the postponement of Sunday's north London derby as he insisted "we did the right thing."

    The Gunners were due to make the short trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a showdown with their fierce rivals, but the game was called off due to a lack of players available to Arteta.

    Arsenal were accused of exploiting the Premier League's rules, with the majority of players absent due to injury, suspension or Africa Cup of Nations duty.

    The club only one confirmed positive COVID-19 case at the time of lodging an application to get the derby called off, but the Premier League deemed they were unable to meet the required number of available players – 13 outfielders and a goalkeeper – despite their Under-23s having a squad of 16 for a game on Friday.

    Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte felt the decision to postpone the match was "very, very strange."

    Arsenal manager Arteta hit back on the eve of Thursday's EFL Cup semi-final second leg at home to Liverpool, which he expects to go ahead despite "issues that have not been resolved" in his squad.

    Asked what he thought about people saying Arsenal could have played the game, the Spaniard said: "We played against Forest [in the FA Cup] when we had 10 players out and we went to Liverpool and we had many players out.

    "We have done that and we have played with academy players when we already have the youngest squad in the league.

    "Tomorrow if we have everybody available as I suspect we will play the match because we want to play football."

    He added: "I think more than hate [being directed towards Arsenal] there is a lot of respect for Arsenal and that comes from the history of the club, how it's always acted and how it has always conducted itself.

    "We know we did the right thing. We worked with the Premier League and the FA to make that decision. If anything we've been very honest at least."

    Arteta stressed that it was "100 per cent guaranteed" that Arsenal did not have enough players to face Spurs.

    Asked if the criticism of the club could be used as a fuel to drive his team, Arteta said: "We will defend our club tooth and nail. We're not going to get anybody damaging our name or trying to spread lies."

    Arteta revealed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back in London and has undergone tests after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations for medical reasons without playing a game.

    The Gabon striker had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 6 and was subsequently diagnosed with "heart lesions".

    Arteta said: "He's in London and going through some examinations because we haven't had any clarity from Gabon about why he came back.

    "So it's our obligation to make sure he's safe and in good condition. So far historically with what we've done with the player that's never been an issue."

    Aubameyang has not featured for Arsenal since December 6, having been stripped of the captaincy due to a breach of club rules.

    Arsenal and Liverpool played out a goalless draw in the first leg of their EFL Cup tie at Anfield, with Granit Xhaka seeing red in the first half.

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