Australia won their fifth consecutive game after opening their end-of-year tour with a 32-23 win over Japan on Saturday.

Not since October 2015 had the Wallabies enjoyed a five-game winning streak but they ended that drought by holding off Japan in Oita.

Despite a disappointing second half, Australia snapped their run of five straight Tests without a win away from home, having outscored Japan five tries to two.

The Wallabies – winners of all five previous encounters against Japan by an average of 39 points per game – raced out to a 14-3 lead on the back of tries from Tom Wright and Jordan Petaia before Lomano Lemeki hit back for the hosts.

Taniela Tupou added to Australia's lead early in the second half and after Lemeki landed himself in the sin bin for a shoulder charger, Robert Leota also crossed over to make it 27-13 with 28 minutes remaining.

Just as Dave Rennie's men looked as if they would run away with victory, Japan closed within a converted try in pursuit of their first win over the Wallabies.

But Australia – who benefited from two conversions and a penalty from Quade Cooper – withstood some immense pressure on the road to stretch their unbeaten streak.

The Club World Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates in early 2022, FIFA has confirmed.

The annual tournament featuring the champions of six global confederations, along with the hosts' national champions, was originally scheduled for Japan in 2021.

The Japan Football Association (JFA) were preparing to stage the competition for the first time in five years, but a rise in coronavirus cases in the country led to questions as to whether hosting would be profitable.

The JFA subsequently pulled out following discussions with FIFA in September, with president Gianni Infantino announcing on Wednesday that the UAE - who have staged the tournament four times before - will instead play host to the tournament.

The exact dates of the rearranged Club World Cup are still to be announced, though FIFA indicated the competition will be staged in 2022, with Champions League winners Chelsea set to feature.

Thomas Tuchel's Blues will face Egyptian side Al Ahly and New Zealand's Auckland City, who are part of a 10-team roster for FIFA's showpiece club event.

FIFA, in 2020, had already selected Japan as host for the seven-club event after an expanded 24-team tournament - originally scheduled for China in June 2021 - was delayed due to coronavirus issues.

Australia's perfect record in World Cup 2022 qualifying was ended in a 2-1 defeat to Japan on Tuesday.

The Socceroos had won all 11 games on the road to Qatar – setting a record in the process – and each of their last 12 games stretching back into the last campaign.

But Ao Tanaka's early strike in Saitama and a late own goal from Aziz Behich, either side of Ajdin Hrustic's leveller, inflicted a first competitive defeat on Australia since January 2019.

Graham Arnold's side could now see top spot in Group B relinquished to Saudi Arabia, who play later on Thursday. Only the top two sides will qualify automatically for the World Cup.

Japan entered the game unbeaten in seven meetings with Australia and they were ahead inside eight minutes when Tanaka drilled a low shot into the bottom-left corner.

Australia went close to equalising before half-time as Adam Taggart's shot was tipped onto the upright and Aaron Mooy's effort was blocked in front of goal from the follow-up.

The visitors then had a penalty overturned as the officials felt Hidemasa Morita's challenge on Hrustic was outside the box, but the fouled player still made Japan pay as his powerful free-kick crashed in off the underside off the crossbar.

But it was Japan who snatched a winner with five minutes remaining.

Mat Ryan could only parry substitute Takuma Asano's deflected shot into the air and Behich, in an attempt to clear the ball from under the crossbar, turned it into his own net.

Japan will no longer host the 2021 Club World Cup due to ongoing problems with coronavirus.

After hosting the 2020 Olympics, Japan were set to put on the international club football tournament – usually held in December – but have decided to relinquish its right to the event after discussions with FIFA.

The Japan Football Association (JFA) were preparing to stage the competition for the first time in five years, but with coronavirus-related issues still lingering fears grew as to whether the decision would be profitable.

According to Japanese outlet Kyodo News Agency, the JFA chief executive Kiyotaka Suhara revealed the decision in a virtual press conference following a board meeting on Thursday.

Suhara explained "we had to make a decision at this time", and the news follows on from the JFA president Kozo Tashima claiming that the federation had to "dip into savings" due to the absence of supporters at national team fixtures throughout the year.

FIFA is yet to comment or announce an alternate location or dates for the Club World Cup, but the announcement further compounds Japan's problems after they were forced to cancel a friendly match with England earlier in 2021.

USA football star Megan Rapinoe got to see her fiancee Sue Bird complete a stellar Olympic career with a fifth basketball gold medal - despite all crowds being banned in Tokyo.

Bird, 40, signed off her Games career in the United States' 90-75 win over Japan on Sunday.

At courtside was Rapinoe, who won a bronze on Thursday when she scored twice as the USA beat Australia 4-3 in the football third-place match.

Rapinoe, who won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the 2019 World Cup, first met Bird in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

They became a couple later that year and announced their engagement in October 2020.

When the USA clinched the basketball gold medal, Bird went to the side of the court and kissed Rapinoe, later revealing how her 36-year-old partner managed to gain access to the Saitama Super Arena.

"I'm very lucky," Bird said. "Obviously when your partner or your fiancee is also in the Olympics you would love to be able to go and support them, be around them, to give any kind of support possible.

"Megan somehow finagled a media credential and got herself in this arena today. We didn't really know it was going to happen until two days ago, it got confirmed. So I do I feel very lucky she was here to witness it, to share it with me."

Spectators have been blocked from attending venues at the Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with families of overseas athletes unable to travel to Japan for the Games, meaning Rapinoe was among the fortunate few to be in the arena.

"I just went over and obviously told her I loved her and told her I was tired," said Bird. "That was pretty much the extent of the conversation, and she told me she was happy and proud of me.

"Of course I'm so proud of her and her team for winning that bronze medal. The Olympics is hard. It's really hard. There's so much pressure involved and so to have both of us medal is something that I know we'll take that memory with us forever."

Rapinoe wrote on Instagram: "I am so proud of you @sbird10. As if I could love you any more. Congrats baby!"

Bird has ruled out playing on to Paris 2024, happy to settle for five gold medals, the first of which came in Athens at the 2004 Games.

"It really is hard to wrap your head around it, to grasp what it is," said the Seattle Storm star.

"Twenty years of staying true to the game, making sure you're at the top of your game, so much sacrifice.

"The only thing about getting older, you know all the bad stuff that can happen. We lost in 2006 [to Russia at the World Championship]. We tasted that and that's always been the driver.

"So when we actually have the medal around our necks, it just feels so good. It's a sense of relief in a lot of ways."

Sue Bird signed off her Olympic career with a fifth gold medal as Team USA landed a seventh successive women's basketball title, scuppering the hopes of hosts Japan in the final.

At the age of 40, Bird has declared Tokyo 2020 will be her final Games, and she helped the latest incarnation of the mighty United States team to a 90-75 win in the Saitama Super Arena.

Brittney Griner set a new USA record of 30 points in a women's Olympic final, while Diana Taurasi joined Bird in landing a fifth gold, the two longest-serving members of the team each finishing the game with seven points. Taurasi, 39, could yet play on until the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

A'ja Wilson scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field in Sunday's final, while Breanna Stewart added 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Maki Takada led Japan with 17 points. Her team-mate Nako Motohashi drained four of five three-point shots but was far less clinical when nearer the net.

Japan made just 36 per cent of their field-goal attempts (28 of 77) and the 54 per cent success rate of the US team (37 of 69) proved a decisive factor.

The home team never led and trailed 50-39 at half-time, then 75-56 after the third quarter, and by that point the contest was all but over.

Taurasi said of her fifth gold: "It's 20 years of sacrifice, of putting everything aside and just wanting to win. It's never easy playing on this team [with] the pressure, but this group found a way to win and I'm just happy this group got to enjoy it."

Griner, who was also on the Rio 2016 team, recalled the efforts of the triumphant teams of years gone by, with this winning streak having begun at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"Seven in a row, I mean that's just amazing. That just goes to show everything USA basketball's about," Griner said.

"Japan's hard to guard. They can shoot it anywhere on the court. They're a tough guard, they're a really good team. I'm just glad we've got this gold."

Stephanie Labbe was the penalty shoot-out hero as Canada took gold in their maiden Olympic final appearance following a 1-1 draw with Sweden.

Stina Blackstenius' first-half opener had the Scandinavians ahead but Jessie Fleming restored parity with a spot-kick after half-time when VAR intervened for a foul on Christine Sinclair.

Kadeisha Buchanan proved Canada's last-ditch hero with a clearance off the line to take the game to extra-time before Labbe's two saves secured a 3-2 triumph in the shoot-out.

Kosovare Asllani did the initial work for Sweden's opener, dispossessing Canada midfielder Quinn before rolling to Blackstenius, whose first-time attempt benefited from a slight deflection to find the back of the net.

Sinclair, whose 187 goals for Canada make her the all-time leading goalscorer in international football, nipped in front of Amanda Ilestedt and, after consulting VAR, Fleming levelled things up with a low spot-kick.

Asllani spurned a glorious opportunity to seal gold with a minute to go as she saw her effort cleared off the line by Buchanan, sending the final to extra-time and subsequently penalties with neither side finding a winner in the additional 30 minutes.

Sweden failed with their opening penalty, Asllani hammering into the right-hand post, before Fleming coolly slotted in Canada's first to gain an early advantage.

That lead quickly faded away, however, when Ashley Lawrence saw her effort saved and both Nathalie Bjorn and Olivia Schough converted for the Swedes.

Swedish veteran Caroline Seger had the chance to secure glory with the decisive strike, despite Labbe's save against Anna Anvegard, but she blasted over, sending the shoot-out to sudden death after Deanne Rose found the top right corner.

Labbe produced another stop from Jonna Andersson, teeing up Julia Gross for victory and she made no mistake, finding the bottom left corner to seal gold after consecutive bronzes in 2012 and 2016.

In the men's football, Mexico recovered from semi-final shoot-out heartbreak against Brazil to beat Japan 3-1 in Friday's bronze-medal match.

Sebastian Cordova netted the opener and provided the second for Johan Vasquez before Alexis Vega put the game out of the host nation's reach, despite Kaoru Mitoma grabbing a late consolation.

Favourite Grant Holloway said nerves got the better of him after finishing second to Jamaica's Hansle Parchment in the men's 110 metres hurdles Olympic final.

The American led at the halfway mark but faded over the final 20 metres as he was beaten by his 31-year-old rival.

Parchment triumphed with a season-best time of 13.04 seconds, ahead of Holloway in 13.09, lucky to scrape ahead of Jamaican Ronald Levy who took bronze with 13.10.

Holloway and Parchment had run in the same heat and semi-final prior to the final, with the American winning both, before falling short in the all-important race.

"I think the anxiousness and the nerves got the better of me towards the end and I got sloppy with my form," Holloway said. "He got me this time but I'll make sure I get him in the next."

He added: "Hats off to Hansle for an amazing race. I was watching him when I was in high school. He's a hell of a competitor. He has an amazing race plan, he executed to the best of his ability."

Parchment admitted he learned from losing to Holloway in the previous two runs.

"I made some changes to my start, because I knew if I was going to catch up, I had to be closer in the first half," Parchment said. "I think I ran through pretty well. I maintained composure. It was a great race."

Portugal's Pedro Pichardo earned gold medal glory with a national record 17.98m in the men's triple jump.

Pichardo's triumphant effort came with his third attempt, while China's Zhu Yaming claimed silver with a personal best of 17.57m. Burkina Faso's Hugues Fabrice Zango took the bronze with 17.47m.

USA's defending champion Ryan Crouser threw an Olympic record 23.30m to win the men's shot put gold.

Crouser bettered the Olympic mark he set five years ago in Rio de Janeiro to win from countryman Joe Kovacs (22.65m), while New Zealand's Tomas Walsh (22.47m) claimed bronze.

EARLY SCARE AS USA REACH FINAL

The United States trailed by 15 points in the second quarter against Australia but rallied to qualify for the men's basketball gold medal match.

USA won 97-78 over Australia, who have never won an Olympic medal in men's basketball having finished fourth four times.

The Boomers had raced to a commanding position early on as Team USA struggled from beyond the arc.

Yet the reigning Olympic champions reduced the margin to three points by half-time and went up several gears with a 32-10 third quarter.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant top-scored again with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Devin Booker had 20 points.

USA will face either France or Slovenia in the final as they chase a fourth straight gold medal.

CARRINGTON MAKES NEW ZEALAND HISTORY

New Zealand's Lisa Carrington added a third Tokyo 2020 gold medal to her haul, landing the title in the women's kayak single 500m final.

Carrington claimed her fifth-ever Olympic gold with a strong victory in 1:51.216, from Hungary's Tamara Csipes and Denmark's Emma Jorgensen.

She becomes the first athlete from New Zealand to win five Olympic gold medals, surpassing the four of Ian Ferguson, also in canoe sprint between 1984 and 1988.

Carrington is the fourth woman at Tokyo 2020 to win three gold medals, after Australian swimmers Emma McKeon (four) and Kaylee McKeown (three) and South Korean archer An San (three).

GERMAN ADDS GOLD IN OPEN WATER

After winning bronze in the 1,500m in the pool, Germany's Florian Wellbrock won the men's marathon swimming in open water.

Wellbrock won in one hour, 48 minutes and 33.7 seconds across 10 kilometres, finishing 25.3 seconds ahead of Hungary's Kristof Rasovszky for silver, with Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri earning bronze.

The size of the German's victory was the biggest margin in Olympic marathon swimming history.

“It’s a little bit unreal," Wellbrock said. "The first seven (kilometres) of this race felt really easy."

AUSSIE SKATEBOARDING WINNER

Keegan Palmer won Australia's first-ever skateboarding gold medal with two amazing runs in the men's park final.

The 18-year-old's first run scored 94.04 before a throwaway second round. Palmer backed it up on his final run with a staggering top score of 95.83.

Brazilian Pedro Barros was next best with 86.14 for silver, while Cory Juneau claimed bronze with 84.13.

The event was the final skateboarding medal opportunity from the sport in its debut Olympics.

Japan squeezed through to the women's basketball semi-finals following a dramatic 86-85 victory over Belgium at the Tokyo Olympics.

Targeting a first medal in the event, the host nation almost suffered last-gasp heartbreak after recovering from 70-61 behind in the final quarter.

Saki Hayashi’s three-pointer put them in front by one with 16 seconds remaining, but there was still time for Belgium’s Kim Mestdagh to take aim right at the death.

However, her last-second jump shot bounced off the rim, meaning Japan go through to a last-four clash with France.

"There were so many peaks and valleys. We were hanging on to the cliff by a fingernail in the fourth quarter," coach Tom Hovasse said.

"We just came up with plays and towards the middle of the fourth quarter, we ramped up our defence and that took them out of their comfort zone.

"We believe in ourselves, and I am hoping more people outside our locker room believe in us.

"I think it is safe to say it is the biggest win in Japan basketball history."

 

FRANCE FEND OFF SPAIN FIGHTBACK

Japan's next opponents are France, who beat Spain 67-64 after another epic encounter.

Despite dominating most of the contest – Marine Johannes leading the way with 18 points – France appeared in danger of throwing it all away as they fell 61-60 behind.

However, they recovered to snatch victory and secure a third consecutive appearance in the last four.

Astou Ndour had 16 points in a losing cause for Spain, runners up from the Rio Games who will not be taking home a medal this time around.

 

SERBIA STUN CHINA

Serbia were another team to produce an inspired turnaround as they defeated China 77-70.

Bronze medallists on their debut in Rio, the European champions recovered from 58-50 down to reach their second successive semi-final at the Games.

"How many times have we done this, 20, 30 times?" said shooting guard Ana Dabovic, who claimed six assists during the game to go alongside her 13 points.

"We never quit, and we play the hardest when we are down. We showed today we can find energy.

"This is a great success for a small country. Second time at the Olympics for Serbia; second time in the semi-finals. This is great."

Jelena Brooks top-scored with 18 points for Serbia, while Sonja Vasic had 16.


SEVEN IN A ROW STILL ON

The United States remain on course for a seventh straight Olympic gold after easing to a 79-55 win over three-time silver medallists Australia.

Breanna Stewart led the way with 20 first-half points – she would finish the contest with 23 overall - as USA ran out 79-55 winners.

"I thought we came out and played inspired basketball on both sides of the ball," said coach Dawn Staley.

"We played with an incredible desire to advance and it was just contagious.

"I thought our team was focused on keeping the heat on Australia and not let them back in the game."

Team USA have not failed to win the women’s tournament at an Olympics since Barcelona in 1992.

Sydney McLaughlin admitted after watching Karsten Warholm's record-breaking men's 400m hurdles run she felt Wednesday's women's final could see records fall.

McLaughlin smashed her own world record in her gold medal-winning time of 51.46, eclipsing her previous mark of 51.90.

The American's run means both gold medal winners ran a world record in the women's 400m hurdles and men's 400m hurdles finals at Tokyo 2020.

McLaughlin said she watched Warholm win the men's equivalent in 45.94, breaking his previous mark of 46.7, with amazement.

"When I saw the time yesterday I was amazed but not surprised," she said. "I knew it was going to be a really fast race for them. It definitely shocked me and I thought tomorrow [Wednesday] is going to be something fast."

In both 400m hurdles events, the silver medal winners ran faster than the old world record. All six medal winners ran faster than the previous Olympic records in these events.

"I'd definitely say it's a fast track," McLaughlin said about Tokyo Olympic Stadium. "You can feel the difference. It's one of those tracks which gives you the energy."

Silver medalist Dalilah Muhammad also broke the previous world record with 51.58, while Femke Bol from the Netherlands claimed bronze in 52.03 – a European record.

"Anything is possible," McLaughlin said about future world records. "You have such an amazing field of women.

"The more we race each other, anything is possible. Technically there's always more to improve upon. in terms of what's possible, it's completely limitless."

McLaughlin's gold was the 1000th won in athletics in Olympic Games history (since 1896).

CUNHA TRIUMPHS IN SWIMMING MARATHON

Five-time world champion Ana Marcela Cunha claimed the gold medal in the women's 10km marathon swim.

The Brazilian touched first in 1.59.30.8, only 0.9 seconds ahead of reigning Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal from the Netherlands. Australia's Kareena Lee claimed the bronze.

Cunha finished 10th in her home games in Rio but the open water swimmer dominated in warm yet good conditions with minimal wind or current at Odaiba Marine Park.

YOUNGSTERS DOMINATE SKATEBOARDING

Japanese teenager Sakura Yosozumi won the first-ever women's park skateboarding gold medal with a best score of 60.09 in her first of three runs.

Yosozumi beat out 12-year-old compatriot Kokona Hiraki who scored 59.04 in her second run.

Sky Brown scored a 56.47 in her final run to claim bronze and become Team GB's youngest ever Olympic medallist, at the age of 13 years and 28 days.

DUTCH DELIGHT IN RIO RE-MATCH

Felice Albers scored a double as the Netherlands secured their spot in the women's hockey gold medal match after a 5-1 win over reigning champions Great Britain.

In a re-match of the 2016 Rio gold medal showdown, the world number one Dutch side proved too strong, scoring twice within a minute in the second quarter to open up a 2-0 half-time lead.

The Netherlands will be the favourites in the final, when they play either India or Argentina on Friday.

Dutch coach Alison Annan said: "This was a really solid performance and when you win 5-1 in a semi-final you can only be very happy and proud of the players and the team with the performance they put together."

Simone Biles provided further inspiration when she returned to action on Tuesday and secured a bronze medal on the balance beam.

China enjoyed success with a Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing one-two, but the American gymnast stole the headlines on her first appearance back after withdrawing from the team final last week.

Mental health concerns were cited as the reason for Biles stepping away from the team events and other individual disciplines, though the 24-year-old excelled in her sole event on the beam.

The four-time Rio Olympics gold medallist reminded the world of her quality with a 14.000 score, and, despite Chenchen's last-ditch 14.633, she produced an emphatic return for the United States.

"I was just happy to be able to perform, regardless of the outcome," Biles explained after Tuesday's event. "I did it for me, and I was just proud of myself for being able to compete one more time.

"Just to have the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games meant the world, because training for five years and then coming here, then kind of being triggered and not being able to do anything, it wasn't fun.

"To go out there and compete one more time and have everyone's support meant the world."

To add to Biles' memorable comeback, the USA's basketball stars nudged past Spain 95-81 to reach the Olympic semi-finals, with Kevin Durrant netting a team-high 29 points to drive his side towards victory.

It was a far from convincing performance from the USA, however, as they trailed 39-25 at one point in the second quarter before rallying impressively to level at 43-43 at the halfway stage.

THOMPSON-HERAH COMPLETES DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Elaine Thompson-Herah motored to sprinting history as she won the 200 metres women's final to complete the sprint double-double.

The Jamaican set a new national record with 21.53 seconds, the second-fastest time in the history of the event, making herself just the second athlete ever, after Usain Bolt, to win both titles at consecutive Games.

Thompson-Herah, who claimed 100-metre gold on Saturday after doubling up for the first time at Rio 2016, just missed out on Florence Griffith-Joyner's 1988 world record by 0.19s.

"Oh my god, it's amazing that I have ever seen this day. That I could complete another double. I can't believe it," the 29-year-old said after the 200 metres final.

"I really had to pull it out to win the 200m. It's a new PB [personal best] and a national record. I am so, so happy.

"Honestly I am so tired, my legs just need some rest. I've done so many races in the last few days, but I am very grateful."

WARHOLM'S WORLD

Karsten Warholm demolished the world record with a remarkable 400 metres hurdles triumph, smashing the previous record run for a second time in five weeks.

At the start of July in Oslo, Warholm cut 0.08 seconds off Kevin Young's longstanding record that was set at the Barcelona Games in 1992, though the 25-year-old slashed even more off in Tuesday's final.

The Norwegian star powered through in 45.94s, hacking an astounding 0.76s off the global mark to secure a memorable victory.

"It's just so big. It's almost like history here. It was the only thing missing from my collection," the 25-year-old said after his win. "I had a World Championships [gold medal]. I had European Championships, I had the world record, the European record.

"The Olympic gold medal is what everybody talks about. I knew this race was going to be the toughest of my life, but I was ready."

The top three finishers all beat the previous Olympic record, with American silver medallist Rai Benjamin running 46.17, yet the performance of Benjamin's life was simply no match for Warholm.

 

BRAZIL PREPARE TO DEFEND TITLE

Brazil inflicted shoot-out heartbreak on Mexico after a 0-0 stalemate in 120 minutes to set up a final showpiece with Spain.

Reinier converted the crucial spot-kick and, with Eduardo Aguirre and Johan Vasquez missing, the defending Olympic champions ran out 4-1 victors.

"Playing the final match in the Olympics is a dream," said Brazil's head coach Andre Jardine. "The film I saw was the film of life. Everything we’ve gone through. Although we didn’t win in the 90 minutes, we took more risks."

Japan suffered extra-time agony in their semi-final against Spain as Marco Asensio's late winner sunk the host nation to tee up a mouth-watering prospect for Saturday's final.

Despite footballing disappointment, women's boxer Sena Irie provided the host nation reason to celebrate as she edged past the Philippines' 2019 world champion Nesthy Petecio to achieve gold.

Irie's win in the women’s featherweight class final means she is Japan’s first female boxing champion at the Olympics.

CYCLING CHAOS

Germany twice recorded world record rides to earn their first gold – and, in fact, their first ever medal – in the women's team pursuit cycling track event.

A strong Great Britain side, including Laura Kenny, awaited Germany in the final but the team of Mieke Kroeger, Franziska Brausse, Lisa Brennauer and Lisa Klein produced the ride of their lives to finish in 4:06.159, almost two seconds quicker than the previous record.

In a dramatic day of cycling, the reigning world champions Netherlands won their first gold since 1936 in the men's team sprint as Team GB again had to settle for silver inside the velodrome.

That silver for Jason Kenny meant he became the first athlete to win eight Olympic medals in cycling track events and also equalled the total medal haul of Britain's most successful Olympian Sir Bradley Wiggins.

More controversy filled Tuesday's track events, with Denmark's Frederik Madsen crashing into the back of Team GB's Charlie Tanfield inside the closing kilometre of the men's team pursuit heats.

The UCI later deemed the Danes, who were near two seconds ahead of their opponents, to have completed a successful catch to make it through to Thursday's final against Italy, despite the incident.

The United States are showing no complacency despite maintaining a sensational streak en route to a last-eight clash with 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup final opponents Australia at the 2020 Olympics.

Team USA are the clear favourites for the women's basketball title after extending their winning run at the Games to 52 matches, going back to 1992.

They could tie the record of seven consecutive gold medals in a team event – set by the men's basketball team between 1936 and 1968 – by triumphing again in Tokyo.

But the United States survived a scare in their final Group B outing on Monday.

France, needing merely to lose by 14 points or fewer to advance, led with under nine minutes of the fourth quarter remaining before going down 93-82 – 11 points being Team USA's largest lead.

Sue Bird, aiming alongside Diana Taurasi to become the first athlete to win five Olympic golds in team sports, feels her team must heed their warning.

"There are a lot of areas that we need to improve on in the next 48 hours, I guess," she said, with Australia later confirmed as the United States' last-eight opponents.

"I said this the other day: these teams in the Olympics, these teams have trained and they have waited four years and they play like it is their last game.

"It is a desperation that we have not risen to just yet and we need to get there quick."

'A WORK IN PROGRESS'

Team USA had 22 points on nine-for-12 shooting and seven rebounds from A'ja Wilson and 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from Breanna Stewart, who played 38 minutes, but coach Dawn Staley agreed with Bird's assessment.

"[France] played with extra effort, they hit some incredible shots and they put us back on our heels," Staley said.

"I thought we made some adjustments and I thought we did what we needed to do to win a basketball game.

"We had great contributions from a lot of different people, but we're still a work in progress and hopefully we can continue to clean up some things and some areas out on the floor."

Stewart will have fond memories of facing Australia after the 73-56 final win at the World Cup, where she was named MVP.

After beating France, she said: "This is where we start to peak."

OPALS LEAVE IT LATE

Australia had a tough task in reaching the last eight. They needed to beat Puerto Rico by 25 or more points to pip Canada to the last quarter-final spot.

The Opals entered the final two minutes 19 points ahead, but five from Leilani Mitchell in the closing stages – boosting her tally to 19 – helped secure a precious 96-69 success.

Australia have already taken on one of the top teams in China, who ended the preliminary stage as the first seeds after a 74-62 success against Belgium. They face Serbia next.

FRANCE PUT UP A FIGHT

Meanwhile, a quarter-final against Spain was the consolation in defeat for France, whose desire impressed Staley.

"The countries here at the Olympic Games, they pour into their women's teams, and now you're seeing the effects of it," the United States coach said. "And that is great women's basketball play.

"We know we're in a dogfight every time we step on the floor.

"It's great for those who just put the television on and sit down and watch players that they haven't seen before, countries that they haven't seen before, and see them play a great game."

France's Nevada-born forward Gabby Williams added: "It was 10 minutes by 10 minutes and [we were] just trying to focus on staying with them."

In the same pool, Japan – led by Saki Hayashi's 23 points and seven made threes, along with Rui Machida's record-equalling 15 assists – beat Nigeria 102-83 and will face Belgium next in the quarters.

Spain reached the semi-finals of the men's football tournament at the Tokyo Olympics after surviving an almighty scare against the Ivory Coast.

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly was a surprising opening goalscorer but Dani Olmo levelled before half-time at Miyagi Stadium.

Spain were the dominant force on the ball without finding a breakthrough, and it looked as though they were staring at a shock quarter-final exit when Max Gradel's deflected effort gave Ivory Coast the lead in injury time.

Incredibly, substitute Rafa Mir forced extra time two minutes later, scoring just 58 seconds after coming off the bench.

Spain at last went ahead when Oyarzabal swept home from the penalty spot, Bailly having been penalised for handball after a long VAR review.

Mir completed his hat-trick with two goals in the final three minutes to secure a 5-2 win and send Spain into the final four.

JAPAN STILL DREAMING

Spain will now meet Japan after the hosts battled past New Zealand in Kashima.

There was little to split the sides over 120 minutes, Japan out-shooting their opponents 21 to eight but unable to find a breakthrough.

At the other end, captain Maya Yoshida was the inspiration, posting the highest figures for duel success rate (80 per cent), aerial success rate (71.4 per cent) and blocks (three) of any starting player.

Fittingly, it was Yoshida who converted the final penalty after Liberato Cacace and Clayton Lewis had failed to score, giving Japan a 4-2 win in the shoot-out.

 

MEXICO WIN CLASSIC TO SET UP BRAZIL CLASH

Brazil's quest to defend the gold medal they won on home soil in 2016 will continue in a semi-final against Mexico.

A solitary goal from Matheus Cunha settled the quarter-final contest with Egypt in Saitama.

If that encounter was cagey, the showdown between Mexico and South Korea was anything but, as a nine-goal thriller was played out in Yokohama.

Mexico led 3-1 at half-time through goals from Henry Martin, Luis Romo and Sebastian Cordova, with Lee Dong-gyeong grabbing a lifeline.

A frenetic contest continued after the break as Lee made it 3-2 only for Martin and Cordova to score their second goals and stretch Mexico's advantage.

Substitute Eduardo Aguirre netted the sixth with six minutes of normal time remaining, Hwang Ui-jo scoring an injury-time consolation.

 

World champions Spain and Luka Doncic's Slovenia are set for a top-of-the-table shoot-out in Group C at Tokyo 2020 after both teams were victorious on Thursday.

In a tough preliminary round pool, both Spain and Slovenia have two wins from two to reach the quarter-finals heading into an intriguing match-up.

With perennial Olympic champions the United States looking a little ordinary, the two nations will fancy their chances of breakthrough golds.

Their latest exploits ensured Sunday's game will attract plenty of attention, considering it could open the door to a potentially easier route through the knockout rounds.

RUBIO INSPIRES SPAIN AGAIN

Spain reinforced their status as the team to beat as they eased past Argentina, the opponents they also defeated in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup final.

Ricky Rubio was the MVP at that event, leading the champions with 20 points in the final, and he was highly influential once more in Tokyo on Thursday.

The Minnesota Timberwolves guard had 26 points – 13 in each half – with 83 per cent three-point shooting in an 81-71 success.

It was all painfully familiar for Argentina, as Nicolas Laprovittola explained: "We know Spain, we know how they play, we know Ricky Rubio is the key."

With Doncic up next, Spain coach Sergio Scariolo added: "We are 2-0. We beat a very strong team, so we take it and we move forward." Doncic is 15-0 in Slovenia colours in all competitions.

'IT'S NOT ONLY LUKA... THAT TEAM CAN HOOP!'

Doncic is undoubtedly Slovenia's player to watch, having added to his 48-point Olympic debut against Argentina with 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals in a 116-81 demolition of hosts Japan.

But Slovenia – described by Japan coach Julio Lamas as "a very complete team with one amazing player" – have more to them than the 22-year-old alone.

Zoran Dragic weighed in with 24 points, while Vlatko Cancar shot five of five from the field – including three of three from deep – for 16. Klemen Prepelic added 12 in 20 minutes off the bench.

"It's not only Luka," said the Washington Wizards' Rui Hachimura, whose 34 points were in vain. "That team has guys who can actually hoop. There's a lot of guys who can score."

Turning their focus towards the Spain game, Slovenia coach Aleksander Sekulic said: "We want to play our game and we're going to prepare and we're going to be ready for them.

"We have a great coaching staff; they're really doing an amazing job. We want to play our style, our game, and also make Spain think about us."

ROJA REVENGE AS WOMEN SINK SERBIA

It was double delight for Spain on Thursday as their women claimed an eye-catching win over Serbia, the new European champions.

Spain had won back-to-back EuroBasket Women titles prior to co-hosting this year's event, where they were beaten by Serbia in the quarter-finals.

Serbia went on to take the championship and named a strong team again for the Games, but Spain fought back in Group A.

Alba Torrens put up 25 points and Astou Ndour added 20 along with nine rebounds in an 85-70 win that puts them top of the pool.

"We know they badly wanted this revenge from Valencia," said Serbia coach Marina Maljkovic, while Jelena Brooks added: "Knowing Spain and what they came here to do because of the Eurobasket, we knew they were going to punish our mistakes twice as bad as Canada did [in the opening game]."

Canada, meanwhile, recorded a 74-53 triumph over South Korea early in the day.

Luka Doncic is breaking new ground with his performances for Slovenia at the Olympic Games, according to Japan coach Julio Lamas.

Slovenia have two wins from two in Pool C, with Doncic dominating against both Argentina and, on Thursday, hosts Japan.

The Dallas Mavericks superstar had 48 points on his Games debut and added 25 more in the 116-81 defeat of Japan, as well as seven rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals.

These performances follow on from another outstanding NBA season, in which Doncic scored 27.7 points per game in the regular season – sixth-most in the league – and improved further in the playoffs.

Doncic's only two postseason series to date have been defeats to the Los Angeles Clippers, but he has now averaged 33.5 points in 13 games – no player in the history of the NBA has scored more per game in 13 career playoff games or more.

The 22-year-old's immense talent has translated superbly to the international stage, too, with Lamas describing Slovenia as "a very complete team with one amazing player". They have won all 15 games he has played for his country in all competitions.

"Doncic is one of the best four or five players in the world right now, even in the NBA," Lamas said.

"But he plays very comfortable in FIBA with the spaces and the rules – he dominates, too. Some other NBA players feel uncomfortable sometimes in FIBA. He is not.

"It's not easy to have a plan [against Doncic] because he is excellent in all the game situations. He can score driving, shooting or post-up and he creates the game for all the other players.

"I don't see in the last 30 years one player dominate the game like he has in this tournament.

"It's not nice [to face Doncic]. When you lose, you're never happy. But I think it's a good experience to play one time against him. I will remember."

Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez, the last man to attempt to halt Doncic, described him as "the best player in the world", and his Slovenia team-mates agreed after another show of strength.

"He's our leader," said Jaka Blazic. "For me, he's the best player at the Olympics and also in the world. We just follow him, everybody knows his role and that's important in a winning team."

Zoran Dragic, who played with Doncic's father Sasa for Slovan, added: "It's crazy, because when I was playing I was playing with his father, too, he was like six, seven years old, and now he's one of the best players in the world.

"I'm happy that I can witness and play with him. He's such an awesome guy and, especially, it's so easy to play with him because he is just an unbelievable person and basketball player. We can be all happy that he's Slovenian."

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