Milan 2-0 Venezia: Substitute Hernandez inspires Rossoneri win

By Sports Desk September 22, 2021

Milan moved level on points with Inter at the top of Serie A after Theo Hernandez came off the bench to inspire a 2-0 win over Venezia.

Stefano Pioli rung the changes following the draw with Juventus on Sunday and the Rossoneri endured a frustrating evening until Hernandez set up Brahim Diaz for the opening goal midway through the second half.

Neither side had registered a shot on target until Diaz volleyed home from point-blank range at San Siro on Wednesday, but Hernandez added a second goal to seal all three points.

Victory for Milan continued their impressive start to the Serie A season despite being depleted by injuries, with this their fourth win out of five matches without defeat.

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    Alize Cornet is simply living in the moment at the Australian Open, after she suggested 2022 will be her final year on the court.

    Cornet defeated reigning WTA Finals champion Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-3 on Thursday to reach the third round of the Australian Open for the sixth time in her career.

    The 31-year-old did not offer up a single break point across the 87-minute encounter with 2020 Australian Open finalist Muguruza, who entered the tournament ranked third in the world.

    It marked Cornet's third straight win over Spain's Muguruza, who is a two-time grand slam champion.

    Cornet is playing in her 63rd grand slam and 17th Australian Open, yet the Frenchwoman has never progressed deeper than the fourth round at a major.

    This is Cornet's 60th successive appearance in the main draw at a grand slam, meaning she is just two shy of the record held by Ai Sugiyama (62).

    Should Cornet, who will play Tamara Zidansek in round three, feature in the main draw of each of this year's majors, she will set the outright record.

    However, should she achieve that feat, it may well mark the end of her career.

    "I'm telling myself that I'm playing probably my last year. I'm not sure yet," she told reporters.

    "When I stepped on the court, I was like, You know what, just enjoy the moment because you don't know if you're going to come back. I think that's what made the difference.

    "Playing a whole year, playing 100 per cent, trying to beat this record of consecutive play in a grand slam. After that, I think it will be a good time for me to retire. 

    "I gave so much to this game and to this tennis life. I feel I'm pretty much ready for the next chapter.

    "It's been a while [since I] beat a Top 5 player in a slam, so it's a really good feeling. 

    "I really enjoyed it today, which doesn't mean I will enjoy it tomorrow! That's why when the fun is here, you have to take it. You never know how you're going to feel in the next match."

    Muguruza was not the only big name to drop out on Thursday, with sixth seed Anett Kontaveit falling foul of teenager Clara Tauson.

    The 19-year-old Dane needed just 79 minutes to seal a 6-2 6-4 victory that brings up her first win over a Top 10 opponent in only her second such match.

    Kontaveit won 28 of her last 32 matches in 2021 to break into the Top 10.

    "It's the first time I'm in the third round of a slam," said Tauson. 

    "Playing a player like her to reach it, it's a really big achievement for me. Obviously, it was one of the things I really wanted to do, to beat the good players in the bigger tournaments.

    "Doing it in a slam is a really great feeling. It's just a lot of hard work that I've put into it."

  • Packers out to avoid another playoff nightmare against upstart 49ers Packers out to avoid another playoff nightmare against upstart 49ers

    The San Francisco 49ers prevailed in the Wild Card round as they renewed a storied rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys. Now, they will be underdogs again as they lock horns with a postseason foe more familiar to them in recent years.

    While the Niners' 23-17 upset win over the Cowboys was the first postseason meeting between the two teams since the 1994 campaign, playoff clashes between San Francisco and the Green Bay Packers have been more habitual of late.

    Green Bay and the 49ers have faced off in the postseason in every decade since their first playoff meeting in the 1995 campaign, last doing so on January 19, 2020 when San Francisco won a 37-20 rout in the NFC Championship Game.

    That scoreline carried on a trend in this matchup. The 49ers and Packers have split their eight all-time meetings in the postseason, but the Niners have won each of the last three. In those three games, they have outscored Green Bay by an average of 11.3 points (35.0-23.7). 

    Saturday's game at Lambeau Field is expected to be much closer, with most backing the top-seeded Packers to turn the tide.

    Green Bay won the Week 3 matchup at Levi's Stadium, though the Packers needed a last-gasp field goal from Mason Crosby, following some vintage Aaron Rodgers heroics, to avoid defeat.

    Rodgers is the favourite to retain the NFL's MVP award and enters this game in blistering form. 

    He has thrown for multiple touchdowns and no interceptions in each of his last seven games, the second-longest such streak in NFL history (Tom Brady, nine straight in 2010).

    The three-time MVP threw 37 touchdowns and just four picks this season, the most passing touchdowns with four interceptions or fewer in a single season all-time. 

    Yet Rodgers is going against a Niners defense playing its best football of the season. San Francisco held the Cowboys' number one-ranked offense (407 yards per game) to 307 total yards, with Dak Prescott completing only 53.5 per cent of his passes as he was pressured more than any other quarterback in the Wild Card round, coming under duress 25 times.

    San Francisco's deep defensive front would appear to have the edge this weekend, too. The 49ers' finished the regular season ranked first in Stats Perform's pass rush win rate metric - boasting a win rate of 32.6 per cent - while the Packers were 23rd with a pass protection win rate of 72.6 per cent.

    The Packers will hope the potential return of left tackle David Bakhtiari can redress the balance but if it does not then the contest could tilt in the favour of San Francisco. When under pressure this season, Rodgers completed 49.6 per cent of his passes. Among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts under duress, the only two to fare worse were rookies Zach Wilson (41.7 per cent) and Trevor Lawrence (45.7 per cent).

    If the Niners pressure Rodgers and get the Packers behind the chains and playing catchup on the scoreboard, then they will look to control the clock by keeping the ball on the ground with All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel and rookie running back Elijah Mitchell.

    Samuel scored the first rushing touchdown by a 49ers receiver in postseason history to put San Francisco 23-7 ahead against the Cowboys, while his 72 yards on the ground were the most in the playoffs by any wideout in the Super Bowl era.

    Mitchell rushed for 96 yards last weekend, a 49ers rookie playoff record. The Niners are 7-1 when Mitchell rushes for at least 75 yards this season and 1-3 when he plays and does not.

    A long night may be in store for the 49ers and their secondary should Rodgers stay on schedule, and that could mean history for his favourite target, Davante Adams.

    Adams has had exactly nine receptions in each of his last three playoff games. That is tied for the longest streak of postseason games with nine-plus catches in NFL history (Julian Edelman, 2015-2016).

    With at least nine catches in four of his five games against San Francisco (regular and postseason), he is a strong bet to break that record. Adams failing to do so would be a major indicator of Green Bay suffering another nightmare against a team that has continually haunted them in the playoffs.

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    Manchester United were "destroyed" in the first half of their 3-1 win over Brentford, with Thomas Frank claiming they only deserved a draw at most. 

    United failed to register a single shot on target in the opening period in west London on Wednesday, while David de Gea was forced into three saves from Mathias Jensen and Ethan Pinnock. 

    After Cristiano Ronaldo sent a header against the crossbar at the start of the second half, Anthony Elanga put the Red Devils ahead with their first shot on target. 

    Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford put United out of sight and secured a 300th Premier League away victory for the club, with Ivan Toney netting a late consolation for Brentford. 

    "Unbelievably proud of my team. I think we are the smallest club in the Premier League, Manchester United are probably the biggest. The way we played in the first half, I think we destroyed them," Frank told BT Sport. 

    "We should have been up at least 2-0, they didn't have a sniff, nothing. We created five, six chances and three huge chances. Man United deserved a maximum of a draw. I think they are unbelievably lucky. 

    "Of course you need to take your chances, I know all that c**p. But the performance, I'm proud of that. They changed the system against little Brentford. I'm so, so proud of my team. 

    "[It was] one of those nights, it's football. Fair play to De Gea, a very good performance. If we get those chances again one will go in the back of the net. 

    "Our intensity killed them, we showed that in the first half. We pressed them, when we had to we defended low, we won the second balls, we played behind and ran behind them. We played the Brentford way in the first half. 

    "The game opened up. They hadn't had a chance before their goal. Of course, I know that's why they pay 72 million [pounds] for [Jadon] Sancho, who's not even included in the team. That's why, that little bit of brilliance created the first goal. 

    "Of the three goals, the second is most disappointing and difficult to come back from. There were huge positives. I think the way we smashed them in the first half was fantastic, so proud of my team." 

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