Belgium demolish Costa Rica

BRUSSELS: A rampant Romelu Lukaku scored twice and set up a third goal as Belgium closed their World Cup preparations in style by demolishing Costa Rica 4-1 on Monday. Dries Mertens opened the scoring for the Red Devils before striker Lukaku took his international tally to 36 in 69 matches with a volley and header either side of halftime. Substitute Michy Batshuayi completed the Belgium scoring in the 64th thanks to a pass from Lukaku. Hazard limped off in the 70th after a couple of tough challenges, but did not appear too badly hurt.

Neymar - star attraction

SOCHI: Brazil attracted an army of excited youngsters - including one who managed to break onto the pitch for a selfie - as they held their first training session on Russian soil ahead of the World Cup. Around 5,000 locals turned out to watch the relaxed session at the Yug-Sport Stadium, next to the Brazilian squad's hotel in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. Tuesday is a national holiday in Russia and many fans opted for vantage points along the road leading to the stadium, while others filled the stand. However, most fans contented themselves with chanting the name of the world's most expensive player, who arrived with his teammates in Russia in the early hours of Monday.

Zapata hopeful ahead of Wcup

CARNAGO: Colombia have the players and the spirit to be legitimate contenders to hoist the 2018 FIFA World Cup, defender Cristian Zapata said after the squad's final practice session in Italy before heading to Russia for the tournament. Zapata, originally seen as doubtful for the World Cup due to injuries, said he felt good working out with his teammates at the practice facility near Milan. "There are difficult moments, but thanks to God, I'm here," he said here on Monday, adding that he and the squad were focused on winning the World Cup. "It's not impossible. We have the team. The dream and the hope are there. We will try to give our utmost in every match," Zapata added.

‘No regrets about switch’

MOSCOW: Russia's Brazilian-born defender Mario Fernandes has said that he has no regrets about switching his national allegiance despite Brazil's problems at the right-back position. Fernandes, who was granted Russian citizenship by presidential decree in 2016, is expected to start for the hosts in their opening World Cup match against Saudi Arabia here on Thursday. Meanwhile, Brazil's first-choice right-back for the tournament is Manchester City's Danilo, capped just 18 times in eight years for the five-time World Cup winners, but given an opportunity after a knee injury to Dani Alves. "I don't regret anything. Dani Alves is a great player but there are other excellent footballers in the Brazilian national team," Fernandes told reporters on Monday.

Salah remains doubtful

GROZNY: Mohamed Salah will be given until the last moment to prove he's fit to play in Egypt's World Cup opener against Uruguay on Friday. Salah injured his left shoulder on May 26 in the Champions League final."Maybe he could start on the bench, but a final decision has not been made yet," the Pharaohs' team doctor, Mohamed Abouelela, said on Monday. Salah jogged for about 30 minutes on Monday as his teammates trained on the same pitch in Grozny for the match in Ekaterinburg. "He is doing (physiotherapy) sessions on his shoulder and working out in the gym," squad executive director Eihab Leheita said. "We hope he will be with us for the Uruguay match."

11 Dead in collision in WC city

MOSCOW: Emergency officials say 11 people have been killed when two boats collided near a Russian city that is hosting the World Cup. The accident occurred late Monday on the Volga River several hundred meters (yards) off the shoreline of the city of Volgograd in southern Russia. According to a statement from regional emergency officials, a barge being pulled by a towboat collided with a paddleboat carrying 16 people on a sightseeing tour. The statement said that 11 people were killed and five others were rescued. Authorities have started an investigation into the causes of the crash. Volgograd, a city of about 1 million people, is hosting the World Cup along with 10 Russian cities. The soccer championship runs from June 14 until July 15.      



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