Spain sent out a statement in their opening game at Euro 2024 by thrashing Croatia 3-0 in Berlin, with Lamine Yamal assisting as he became the competition's youngest-ever player to feature.

La Roja claimed a 5-3 extra-time victory when these sides met in the last 16 at Euro 2020, but they enjoyed a far more serene outing on Saturday.

Fabian Ruiz released Alvaro Morata to put them ahead after a quiet start, then some clever footwork led to the midfielder's deflected strike beating Dominik Livakovic three minutes later.

Luis de la Fuente made Yamal the Euros' youngest-ever player at the age of 16 years and 338 days, and he rewarded his coach by assisting Dani Carvajal's third on the stroke of half-time.

Croatia looked a shadow of the team that took bronze at the 2022 World Cup and saw a potential consolation chalked off late on, Ivan Perisic being punished for encroachment as he teed up Bruno Petkovic on the rebound from the forward's saved penalty.

The opening exchanges were low on excitement as Spain struggled to combine their patient approach play with penetration, but Fabian provided the telling pass after 29 minutes.

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder split the Croatia centre-backs with an excellent throughball, allowing Morata to race clear and finish left-footed.

Fabian doubled Spain's advantage shortly afterwards. Receiving the ball from Pedri on the edge of the box, he turned Luka Modric before seeing his low drive take a slight deflection on its way into the bottom-right corner.

Croatia sought a response as Unai Simon denied Marcelo Brozovic and Josko Gvardiol volleyed wide, but their troubles deepened in first-half stoppage time, Carvajal pouncing to prod Yamal's inviting cross home.

Yamal could have had a goal to go with his assist seven minutes after the break, but Livakovic made a stunning save to keep his left-footed strike out.

Marc Cucurella made a brave last-ditch block to keep out Josip Stanisic's shot, and Croatia were denied a consolation in bizarre circumstances with 10 minutes remaining.

Simon's mistake led to Rodri pushing Petkovic over in front of a gaping goal, and though the Croatia substitute saw his spot-kick saved, he tapped home Perisic's left-sided cross on the rebound.

However, a VAR review showed Perisic was encroaching, so Petkovic's late finish was disallowed to cap a miserable start for Croatia.

Much-maligned Morata climbs the charts

Euro 2020 was a tournament to forget for Morata, who scored three goals but missed more big chances (six) than any other player before fluffing his lines from the spot as Spain were beaten on penalties by Italy in the last four.

However, Morata came into this tournament on the back of his joint-most prolific campaign in Europe's top five leagues, netting 15 times for Atletico Madrid in LaLiga, and he carried that form into Saturday's Group B opener.

He now has seven goals at the Euros overall (three in 2016, three in 2020, one in 2024), with only Cristiano Ronaldo (14) and Michel Platini (nine) bettering that tally.

Morata is also just the second Spanish player to reach double figures for goals at major tournaments, with 10. David Villa – their leading goalscorer at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup – netted 13.

Youth trumps experience

As Spain made Yamal the youngest player in Euros history, Croatia skipper Modric – aged 38 years and 280 days – became the oldest outfielder to appear at the tournament since Germany's Lothar Matthaus against Portugal in 2000 (39 years, 91 days).

Far from replicating Toni Kroos' metronomic performance in Germany's 5-1 rout of Scotland on Friday, Modric struggled to get a foothold against Spain's cultured midfield trio and was found wanting as Fabian turned him to score La Roja's second.

Veteran Modric and his team-mates struggled to get close to Yamal over on the Spain right, and it was an experienced Spanish campaigner who benefitted from the teenager's creativity.

While Yamal became the youngest player to assist in the history of the Euros, Carvajal became the oldest player to score for Spain at the competition, aged 32 years and 156 days.

After months of speculation regarding where Tee Higgins would play in the 2024 NFL season, the star wide receiver will officially remain with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Higgins will sign his franchise tag with the Bengals on Saturday, and is expected to be present when the team begins training camp next month.

The signing was first reported by Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer, and later confirmed by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Higgins had the franchise tag placed on him by the Bengals on February 26, and then asked to be traded a few weeks later.

In early April, however, he then said he intended to play for Cincinnati in 2024.

 

By signing the tag, which will pay him $21.8million in salary for the upcoming season, Higgins and the Bengals have until July 15 to work out a multi-year deal.

Higgins is coming off an injury-marred 2023 season, as he was limited to just 12 games due to ailments to his hamstring and ribs.

He finished the year with 42 catches for 256 yards and five touchdowns after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2021 and 2022.

The Bengals reached the AFC conference championship game in those two seasons before finishing last in the AFC South in 2023 with a 9-8 record.

A second-round pick by Cincinnati in 2020, the 25-year-old Higgins has 257 career receptions for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns in 58 games in his first four pro seasons.

The Bengals are scheduled to open training camp on July 26.

Brighton have announced that Fabian Hurzeler has become their new head coach, a club statement confirmed on Saturday. 

Hurzeler, 31, signed a three-year deal and arrives at the Amex having led St Pauli to the Bundesliga 2 title last season by winning 20 of their 34 matches.

“From the start of the process to appoint our new head coach, Fabian was always a standout candidate and one who had caught our attention with his exceptional work at St Pauli over the past eighteen months," Chairman Tony Bloom said. 

“He has a style of play that aligns with how we want a Brighton & Hove Albion team to play, and I’m confident it is one our supporters will appreciate and enjoy.

“Fabian also has an excellent coaching pedigree and has worked with the German federation at various age group levels. We are really excited to start working with Fabian to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Brighton's rise under the stewardship of De Zerbi has been admired by many, with the Italian helping the club qualify for Europe for the first time in their history at the end of the 2022-23 campaign. 

While the Seagulls finished just inside the bottom half of the Premier League table last season, they reached the last 16 of the Europa League, with Hurzeler looking forward to building on the solid foundations laid by the man before him. 

"The club has made incredible progress over the last few seasons and the aim is to continue building on that success," Huerzeler said.

"I am relishing the opportunity to coach in the Premier League, and I can't wait to meet the players, staff and, of course, the fans."

New Zealand's Trent Boult has confirmed that he will not play at another T20 World Cup.

Boult, who has 32 wickets in 17 outings in the tournament, will prepare for the Black Caps' final game of this year's edition against Papua New Guinea on Monday.

New Zealand exited a World Cup before the last four for the first time since 2014 after losing their opening games to Afghanistan and West Indies. 

Despite earning their maiden win of the tournament against Uganda, Monday's fixture against Papua New Guinea means little for New Zealand.

And 34-year-old Boult confirmed that match will be his final appearance at a T20 World Cup.

"Speaking on behalf of myself, this will be my last T20 World Cup," Boult told the media.

With him bowing out from the T20 World Cup, the Black Caps will now have to fill a gaping hole in their bowling attack for 2026.

In the current squad, only three players will be under 30-years-old, with Tim Southee another standout name who looks set to step back in the coming years.

Both Boult and Southee have played a pivotal role in recent ODI and T20 World Cups, and Boult is hopeful the latest edition of the competition will not be the last time he features alongside his good friend. 

"I look at the partnership with Tim with very fond memories," he said. "We bowled a lot of overs together. I know the partnership very well, and obviously he's a very good friend on and off the ground.

"It was nice to wind back the clock a little bit and see a bit of swing bowling at the top. Some great memories, and hopefully a couple more still to come."

New Zealand's Trent Boult has confirmed that he will not play at another T20 World Cup.

Boult, who has 32 wickets in 17 outings in the tournament, will prepare for the Black Caps' final game of this year's edition against Papua New Guinea on Monday.

New Zealand exited a World Cup before the last four for the first time since 2014 after losing their opening games to Afghanistan and West Indies. 

Despite earning their maiden win of the tournament against Uganda, Monday's fixture against Papua New Guinea means little for New Zealand.

And 34-year-old Boult confirmed that match will be his final appearance at a T20 World Cup.

"Speaking on behalf of myself, this will be my last T20 World Cup," Boult told the media.

With him bowing out from the T20 World Cup, the Black Caps will now have to fill a gaping hole in their bowling attack for 2026.

In the current squad, only three players will be under 30-years-old, with Tim Southee another standout name who looks set to step back in the coming years.

Both Boult and Southee have played a pivotal role in recent ODI and T20 World Cups, and Boult is hopeful the latest edition of the competition will not be the last time he features alongside his good friend. 

"I look at the partnership with Tim with very fond memories," he said. "We bowled a lot of overs together. I know the partnership very well, and obviously he's a very good friend on and off the ground.

"It was nice to wind back the clock a little bit and see a bit of swing bowling at the top. Some great memories, and hopefully a couple more still to come."

France are preparing to open their Euro 2024 campaign against Austria on Monday, and Les Bleus cannot wait to welcome back a familiar face in N'Golo Kante.

The former Chelsea man has been hampered by hamstring issues before requiring surgery, while his move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad saw Kante dropped by Didier Deschamps.

Diminutive midfielder Kante had not appeared in international football over the last two years but made his return to Les Bleus' squad for the tournament in Germany.

Calling upon years of trophy-winning experience in the middle, Kante's France team-mates have been impressed with the 33-year-old's efforts in warm-up friendlies against Luxembourg and Canada.

"I had the impression that there were three of him," French forward Marcus Thurman joked at a press conference on Saturday.

"There's no time to play in training any more. As soon as we have him on our team, we win. He has reminded us in a week why he was one of the greatest midfielders in Europe."

Olivier Giroud echoed a similar sentiment when praising the two-time Premier League champion on Friday.

"He has not changed," veteran Giroud said. "He is the same player I have known for years in the national team and at Chelsea. He is everywhere. It's great to have him with us."

The 55-cap international appears set to start when France open their Group D campaign against Austria in Dusseldorf, if Deschamps' high praise last week is anything to go by.

"For those who had doubts about his abilities and the intensity of play, he is still at the same level," said Deschamps after Kante's surprise recall.

"Even though he hasn't been here for a while, he's not out of place."

Lamine Yamal has become the youngest-ever player to appear in a European Championships game, at 16 years and 338 days old.

Yamal started as Spain began their Euro 2024 campaign against Croatia in Berlin on Saturday.

He breaks the record previously set by Poland's Kacper Kozlowski, who played for the Eagles at Euro 2020 aged 17 years and 246 days.

Yamal is making just his eighth appearance for his country, with Spain boss Luis de la Fuente saying in his press conference on Friday that Yamal and fellow winger Nico Williams "have a gift from God".

Meanwhile, on the other side Croatia's Luka Modric, at 38 years and 280 days, is the oldest outfield player to play at the tournament since Lothar Matthaus for Germany against Portugal in June 2000 (39 years, 91 days).

He starts alongside Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic in midfield, with the experienced trio boasting an impressive 372 international caps between them. 

India missed the chance to make it four wins from as many T20 World Cup games after their final group clash with Canada was abandoned due to rain in Florida.

Rohit Sharma's side had already secured progression from Group A to the Super 8s, while co-hosts Canada could not escape the pool after two losses and a sole victory.

The match on Saturday was called off without a ball being bowled due to the persistent downpour at Lauderhill.

India, Australia, and Afghanistan have all qualified to feature in Group 1 of the Super 8s, which starts on Wednesday.

Ronaldinho has "had enough" with Brazil and refuses to support his former side at the upcoming Copa America.

The ex-Selecao star slammed Dorival Junior's side in a wide-ranging interview with Brazilian YouTube channel Cartoloucos, just 10 days before Brazil's Copa opener against Costa Rica.

Brazil have not made it past the World Cup quarter-final stages since 2002, when they won the tournament in Japan, while they finished runners-up at the last Copa after losing to rivals Argentina in the final.

The South American giants were held to a 1-1 draw with the United States in their last warm-up game on Thursday – and Ronaldinho has lost patience with his country's footballing state.

"That's it folks, I've had enough," Ronaldinho posted on Instagram, alongside a clip of his interview on YouTube. "This is a sad moment to enjoy Brazilian soccer.

"It's hard to find the mood to watch the games. This is perhaps the worst time in the last two years, no respected leaders, just average players in their majority.

"I've been following football since I was a kid, long before I thought about becoming a player, and I've never seen a situation as bad as this.

"Lack of love for the shirt, lack of grit and the most important of all: football. I'll repeat, our performance has been one of the worst things I've ever seen.

"Such a shame. I therefore declare my resignation. I will not watch any CONMEBOL Copa America game, nor celebrate any victory."

Brazil face Paraguay and Colombia in their other group games at the Copa as they aim for international glory, with or without the backing of their former global superstar.

Switzerland withstood a revitalised second half display from Hungary to kickstart their Euro 2024 campaign with a 3-1 win in Cologne.

Substitute Breel Embolo put the match to bed with a neat finish late on, after Barnabas Varga had dragged Hungary back into it.

Michel Aebischer starred for the Swiss in a dominant first-half display, teeing up Kwadwo Duah's opener with a brilliant throughball, before the midfielder curled a fine effort into the bottom corner.

Duah's first international goal was originally disallowed for offside, but a VAR review saw it given.

But with little to lose, Hungary emerged from the tunnel with the bit between their teeth. Varga, who scored 20 goals for Ferencvarosi this season, squandered a golden opportunity to half the deficit as he headed wide Roland Sallai's teasing delivery. 

Vargas atoned for his miss three minutes later, though stooping low at the back post to guide Dominik Szoboszlai's cross beyond the grasp of Yann Sommer.

Hungary looked the most likely to grab the game's next goal, yet three minutes into stoppage time, Embolo – who has endured an injury-hit campaign – pounced on a defensive error to loft home a finish and ensure Switzerland joined Germany on three points in Group A.

Data Debrief: Aebischer leads the way as Hungary's Swiss hoodoo rolls on

Aebischer's influential display saw him become the first Swiss player to have both scored and set up a goal in a single Euros match.

Switzerland continued their excellent record against Hungary and have now won seven of their last 10 matches against them (D2 L1), last tasting defeat in November 1998.

Angel Correa, Leonardo Balerdi and Valentin Barco have all been cut from Lionel Scaloni's Argentina squad for the Copa America.

Scaloni named a 29-man provisional squad last month, as Argentina aim to retain their title, with Lionel Messi leading the team once more.

Correa, who has 25 caps for La Albiceleste and scored three goals, came on as a substitute in their first friendly against Ecuador but remained on the bench when they faced Guatemala on Friday.

Marseille defender Balerdi has not featured for his national side since 2019, while Barco only has one international appearance to his name.

19-year-old Valentin Carboni, who was handed his first start in the 4-1 win over Guatemala, gets the nod in the squad after being receiving high praise from Messi following the game for his performance.

Enzo Fernandez missed the end of Chelsea's Premier League campaign after groin surgery but featured in both warm-up matches to retain his place.

Argentina will kick off their Copa America title defence in Group A against Canada on June 20.

Final Argentina squad: Franco Armani (River Plate), Geronimo Rulli (Ajax), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Gonzalo Montiel (Nottingham Forest), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Lucas M. Quarta (Fiorentina), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla), Nicolas Tagliafico (Lyon), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Leandro Paredes (Roma), Alexis Mac Allister (Liverpool), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Angel Di Maria (Benfica), Valentin Carboni (Monza), Lionel Messi (Inter Miami), Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City).

Scotland all-rounder Michael Leask sees no reason why his side cannot score a surprise upset over Australia to secure their T20 World Cup progression on Saturday.

Group B remains wide open heading into the final day of pool action when England face Namibia before Scotland will know what result is required when they meet Australia later in the day.

Scotland are two points clear of England, though Jos Buttler's side have a superior net run-rate after hammering Oman in a complete thrashing on Thursday to keep their Super 8s hopes alive.

England will be expected to overcome Namibia earlier in the day, leaving it likely Scotland must overcome already-qualified Australia to seal their group-stage progression.

Although Scotland have lost all five white-ball meetings with Australia, each coming in the 50-over format, Leask believes his team should be confident heading into the game.

"Australia are one of the best in the world," Leask said.

"It is going to be a tough game, but why can't we go and do what we've done before and cause an upset?"

Scotland are in this position after their washout against England before a commanding victory over Namibia, while Buttler's side are trailing due to their defeat to Australia.

An unlikely scenario still brings the chance for Scotland to lose by a narrow margin and progress even if England beat Namibia, and Leask says this situation was always on the cards.

"We knew coming into this game it would be," he said. "England had two tough games to play and they've played the first one very well.

"We always knew this was going to be a must-win game for us and it's a hell of an opportunity for us to go and play really good cricket and take on one of the best in the world."

Josh Hazlewood mooted the idea that Australia may concede the game in a certain manner to send England out, though team-mate Pat Cummins believes a decision like that is not plausible.

Regardless, Leask insists Scotland are firing on all cylinders before this decider.

"Our boys are firing, we've got some good skill sets, some nice spinners, some good seamers and then batters who are playing really well," Leask said.

"We're going at this game quietly confident. Our batters are probably going to have to step up knowing we're facing the best in the world.

"They've probably got the best all-round bowling attack in the world. It's going to have to be two or three batters in that batting innings that are really going to have to put Australia under the pump with a ball.

"We know that it's capable of happening and that's possible."

Solid performances with ball and bat set Sri Lanka Women up for a six-wicket win over the West Indies Women in Hambantota to open their three-match ODI series on Saturday.

West Indies, after losing the toss, made a strong start, getting to 75 for 1 courtesy a 68-run second-wicket stand between captain Hayley Matthews and vice-captain Shemaine Campbelle.

They lost momentum after left-arm spinner Sugandika Kumari broke that partnership in the 19th over, losing their last eight wickets for 120 runs.

Matthews (38) and Stafanie Taylor (33) were the only Windies batters to get past 30, as the spinners, led by Kumari and Dilhari, chipped away.

The tourists were eventually restricted to 195 off 47.1 overs.

Kumari led the way with 3-30 from nine overs while Kavisha Dilhari took 3-41 from 9.1 overs.

Sri Lanka's top five then managed the chase perfectly, with four of them getting past 35.

Captain Chamari Athapaththu (38) and Vishmi Gunaratne (40) got them off to a solid start, putting on 88 in 13.2 overs, before a brief stumble, losing three wickets for 13 runs, with two of them falling to the medium-pace of Aaliyah Alleyne.

Harshitha Samarawickrama (44*) and Hasini Perera (43), however, ensured there wouldn't be any more major hiccups, putting on 63 for the fourth wicket to all but seal victory, before Afy Fletcher picked up a consolation wicket late in the game.

Sri Lanka ended up 198-4 in just 34.1 overs.

This win broke a streak of six straight ODI defeats to the West Indies for the hosts since their last win over the regional outfit all the way back in 2015.

The second ODI is set for Monday.

Full Scores:

West Indies Women 195 off 47.1 overs (Hayley Matthews 38, Stafanie Taylor 33, Sugandika Kumari 3-30, Kavisha Dilhari 3-41)

Sri Lanka Women 198 for 4 off 34.1 overs (Harshitha Samarawickrama 44*, Hasini Perera 43, Vishmi Gunaratne 40, Chamari Athapaththu 38, Aaliyah Alleyne 2-22, Afy Fletcher 2-31)  

Alex de Minaur will face Sebastian Korda in the final of the Libema Open in 's-Hertogenbosch after posting a straight-sets win over Ugo Humbert in the last four.

De Minaur – the top seed for the ATP 250 tournament in the Netherlands – needed one hour and 46 minutes to wrap up a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 success over the world number 16, having thrown away a 4-0 first-set lead before holding his nerve in a tiebreak.

The second set was cagey as De Minaur did not give up a single break point and converted one of two he forced, some strong serving ensuring he held off his opponent.

He will face Korda in Sunday's final after the American ended Tallon Griekspoor's title defence at the semi-final stage earlier on Saturday, winning 6-2 6-4.

Meanwhile, Jack Draper will face Matteo Berrettini in the final of the BOSS Open in Stuttgart, having beaten Brandon Nakashima 6-3 6-3 in the semi-finals.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Berrettini came through an all-Italian clash with Lorenzo Musetti in just 67 minutes, winning 6-4 6-0.

Data Debrief: New high for De Minaur

De Minaur is into his 17th ATP Tour-level final, having an 8-8 record in his previous 16. It will be his third on grass, after beating Lorenzo Sonego in Eastbourne in 2021 and losing to Carlos Alcaraz at Queen's last year.

The victory also ensured he will rise to eighth in the world rankings – a new career-high position.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.