I almost died giving birth – Serena Williams

Former world number one Serena Williams said she almost died giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr in September.

The American, 36, made her competitive return earlier in February when she teamed up with sister Venus for the United States in the Fed Cup.

But the 23-time Grand Slam winner has revealed that giving birth “sparked a slew of health complications”.

“I am lucky to have survived,” she wrote in an article for CNN on Tuesday.

“My daughter was born by emergency C-section after her heart rate dropped dramatically during contractions. The surgery went smoothly.

“But what followed just 24 hours after giving birth were six days of uncertainty.”

Williams, the most successful female player of the Open era, has previously said she was bedridden for six weeks after giving birth.

‘I live in fear of this situation’

Speaking about the birth, Williams continued: “It began with a pulmonary embolism, which is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot.

“Because of my medical history with this problem, I live in fear of this situation. So, when I fell short of breath, I didn’t wait a second to alert the nurses.

“First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism. I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large haematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen.

“When I finally made it home to my family, I had to spend the first six weeks of motherhood in bed.”

Williams, who has not yet decided whether she will compete at this year’s remaining three Grand Slams, has thanked the medical team for keeping her alive.

“I am so grateful I had access to such an incredible medical team of doctors and nurses at a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment.

“They knew exactly how to handle this complicated turn of events. If it weren’t for their professional care, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Jose Mourinho: Newcastle ‘fought like animals’ to beat Man Utd

Jose Mourinho praised Newcastle for “fighting like animals” after they beat Manchester United 1-0 on Sunday.

Matt Ritchie scored the only goal after 65 minutes as the Magpies climbed out of the relegation zone with victory.

Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez spurned the best chances for Manchester United, who remain 16 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Mourinho told Sky Sports: “They fought like animals, that’s a good word in football, and I hope they understand it as a compliment. They have everything they had and then the gods of football were with them. But they fought like animals to have luck on their side.

“It wasn’t going to happen for us but also they gave what they have and what they don’t have, that’s a beautiful thing in football. They must have the best feeling of all, sometimes a better feeling than when you play fantastically well and you are better than the opponent.”

Newcastle’s goal came from a free-kick that was headed across goal and then laid off by Dwight Gayle for Ritchie to score his first of the season in the Premier League.

“We made a defensive mistake from the free-kick,” said Mourinho. “Then when they are in front they only had one thing in their mind. They gave their lives to keep a clean sheet.

“It was not just up to them, it was also the gods of football, but I repeat it’s a beautiful thing to win a match the way they did.”

Asked about the fitness of Paul Pogba, who appeared to tweak something during the pre-match warm-ups and was then taken off after 66 minutes, Mourinho said: “No problems.”

Sky Sports

Morocco batters Nigeria to win African Nations Championship Title

The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Sunday by lost four goals to nil against Morocco in the final of the tournament which was played at StadeMohamed V in Casablanca city, Morroco.

The Atlas Lions become the fourth different winners of the CHAN, joining DR Congo, Tunisia and Libya on the honours board after they overpowered the Super Eagles, who played most of the second half with just 10 men.

Morocco gave an early warning of their attacking potency when striker Ayoub El Kaabi headed home from Ismail Haddad’s corner kick in the seventh minute.

But the goal was correctly ruled out because the ball had passed out of play in its flight.

El Kaabi took centre stage again in the 15th minute when he met Haddad’s left-flank cross with an acrobatic overhead kick and rattled Nigeria’s crossbar with the effort, underlining the Atlas Lions’ early dominance.

Nigeria came into the game a little more as the first half wore on, but the hosts remained dangerous in attack and finally broke the deadlock just before the interval.

A slick move put Abdeljalil Jbira free down the left flank, his pullback from the by-line picked out Zakaria Hadraf and the winger fired a low shot into the back of the net, beating goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye low to his right.

Things went from bad to worse for the Super Eagles when Peter Moses, who was already on a yellow card, scythed down Mohamed Nahiri early in the second half and was sent off for a second caution.

The Atlas Lions duly made the most of their numerical advantage, with Walid El Karti doubling their lead on the hour mark.

This was after he headed home on the rebound after Ajiboye saved Haddad’s shot, before Hadraf added his second a few minutes later to make it 3-0.

A Morocco win at this tournament wouldn’t be complete without a strike from El Kaabi, and the forward duly notched his ninth of the 2018 CHAN when redirected a shot from Nahiri in the 73rd minute to complete the scoring.
Agency report

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang impresses on his Arsenal debut

Arsenal’s record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang marked his debut with a goal as the Gunners beat Everton 5-1 at the Emirates Stadium. Here, we assess his performance.

“I thought it was better to start him, and if it doesn’t work we can take him off,” Arsene Wenger said of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before Arsenal’s meeting with Everton. The striker had been a doubt having picked up an illness after his Deadline Day arrival from Borussia Dortmund, but any uncertainty about his fitness was swiftly forgotten.

The 5-1 win was just what Arsenal needed after Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Swansea, and having taken on all the pressure that comes with Thierry Henry’s number 14 shirt, Aubameyang got what he needed too. His goal, brilliantly taken from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s pass, ensured his Arsenal career started in the best possible way.

Aubameyang was preferred to Alexandre Lacazette up front and looked at home from the start, playing a clever reverse pass in the sixth minute to release his old Dortmund team-mate Mkhitaryan, whose low cut-back was hooked into the net by Aaron Ramsey.

Ramsey and Mkhitaryan would go on to add two more goals and assists each, but Aubameyang had promising moments too. In the 13th minute, just before Arsenal added their second goal through Laurent Koscielny, Aubameyang was close to scoring himself. His shot from Ramsey’s pass was heading towards goal when it was deflected wide by Ashley Williams.

Aubameyang did not have as many touches as his team-mates – only 25 over the course of the 90 minutes – but Arsenal will be encouraged by his impact without the ball. His pace and movement was instrumental in stretching Everton’s defence, opening up the gaps which Mkhitrayan, Ramsey and Mesut Ozil so gleefully exploited.

With just over half an hour gone, Aubameyang showed his talent for getting in behind the opposition defence. Ozil’s pass was perfectly measured for the Gabon international, whose blistering pace allowed him to accelerate away from two Everton defenders before forcing a low save from the advancing Jordan Pickford.

It was the kind of electrifying counter-attacking football Arsenal can expect with Aubameyang leading their attack, and his goal arrived just a few minutes later. Again, it came from him getting in behind. And while replays showed he had strayed offside, there was no doubting the quality of the finish – deftly scooped over Pickford and into the net.

“The quality of his movement was excellent, the quality of his finishing looks excellent,” said Wenger afterwards.

Aubemayang continued to stretch Everton in the second half, showing a willingness to pull to the flanks and inter-change positions with Ozil and Mkhitaryan, and he was also economical in possession, completing all but one of his 17 passes and linking play effectively when necessary. It was clear, too, that enjoyed the opportunity to link up with Mkhitaryan again.

“The two players integrated well into our game and looked like they had played with us forever,” added Wenger. “They have similar qualities to what our game is about. They are technically good, quick and overall it was a convincing performance.” Arsenal will hope it is a sign of what’s to come.

Sky Sports

Alexis Sanchez league debut for United ends in defeat

Alexis Sanchez’s league debut ended in defeat as the third-fastest goal in Premier League history from Christian Eriksen set Tottenham on their way to a 2-0 win over Manchester United at Wembley.

Eriksen’s strike was timed at under 11 seconds – the first goal United had conceded for over 600 minutes of Premier League football – stunning the visitors, before Phil Jones put through his own net in the 28th minute to send the hosts on course for only a second win from six against top-six opposition this season.

United had plenty of chances of their own, but they left themselves far too open at the back. Jose Mourinho’s frustrating evening got worse in the second half, as he had to withdraw Marouane Fellaini just seven minutes after the Belgium international came on as a substitute.

A record Premier League attendance of 81,978 witnessed a defeat that leaves United with a mountain to climb if they are to catch rivals Manchester City at the top, with the gap now 15 points. The three points sees Spurs close the gap on Liverpool and Chelsea in third and fourth respectively to two points, ahead of Spurs’ trip to Anfield on Sunday.

Wembley was still filling up as Eriksen caught United napping. Harry Kane knocked a long ball down, Heung-Min Son’s effort was blocked, but Eriksen was on hand to sweep home the loose ball to leave United’s defenders looking at each other in disbelief.

United responded well with Jesse Lingard denied by a fine block from Hugo Lloris, before Martial fired over after showing great feet to sneak into the penalty area.

For all United’s attacking threat, at the back, they were carved open time and again by Spurs. Firstly, Kane, closing in on a 100th Premier League goal for Spurs, was denied by a smart David de Gea stop, before Spurs doubled their lead.

Trippier fired the low cross in the direction of Kane, Jones got their first, but couldn’t adjust his feet quickly enough, diverting the ball past De Gea into his own net. That was the third own goal Spurs have benefited from in the Premier League this season – more than any other club.

Again United responded well, with Martial almost immediately denied by Lloris, but they remained vulnerable at the back for the rest of the half, with Eric Dier and Kane going close to adding to the scoreline.

After the break, United continued to press. Pogba lofted a fine pass over the top for Lukaku, who used his strength before being denied by a smart Lloris stop.

Then came the strange turn of events, as Fellaini came on for Pogba, only to be withdrawn seven minutes later. Fellaini jogged off, without showing any obvious sign of injury, but seemed to be consoled by Mourinho as he left the pitch.

Kane’s quest for that record goal rumbles on, as he twice went close late on. In the end, Tottenham didn’t need their talisman to find his scoring touch, with one of their best team performances of the season yielding a much-needed three points.

Sky Sports

Super Eagles to battle hosts Morocco in CHAN final

Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles have qualified for the finals of the African Nations Championship(CHAN), their first ever, after edging Sudan 1-0 in the semi-final played in Marrakech.

The Nigerians will on Sunday meet hosts Morocco, who earlier spanked Libya 3-1.

Gabriel Okechukwu scored Nigeria’s winning goal in the 16th minute.

As early as the 12th minute, the Super Eagles were dealt a huge blow when goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa sustained an injury, forcing him to be replaced by Oladele Ajiboye.

Three minutes later, Sudan had a glorious opportunity to grab the lead in the 15th minute, but Ajiboye was quick to read the danger.

However, it was Nigeria who found the back of the net a minute later when Gabriel beat Elhadi Akram from close range with a low shot.

In the 25th minute, Gabriel came close to bagging his brace when his left-footed shot sailed inches wide of Akram’s left corner.

Despite good moves and dominance by the Falcons of Jediane in the dying stages, it was 1-0 at halftime for Salisu Yusuf’s men.

Nigeria looked threatening in the second half, but Ifeanyi Ifeanyi was shown the red in the 58th minute after a dangerous tackle.

Coach Zdravko Logarusic’s men would take advantage of the situation and Osman Ismaeil saw his powerful shot going wide, with Ajiboye becoming a spectator.

With three minutes to go, Sudan were also reduced to 10 men when Bakri Bachir received a straight red for bringing down Solomon Ojo.

Nigeria’s Ajiboye kept his team in the game after producing two brilliant saves in the 90th minute to ensure they are through to the final.

The defeat for the Sudanese means they will meet the Mediterranean Knights of Libya in the third-place play off on Saturday

In the first semi-final match in Casablanca, hosts Morocco were inspired by Ayoub El Kaabi, who scored two goals to take his tournament tally to eight overall.

Thierry Henry gives his verdict on Arsenal’s January transfers

Thierry Henry gives his verdict on Arsenal’s January transfers.

Arsenal have made headlines in the winter transfer window with Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud departing north London, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have arrived on long-term deals.

Henry, Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer, has told Sky Sports News his thoughts on their transfer business.

Signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

I’m a big fan of Aubameyang and what he’s done at Borussia Dortmund. But they’re losing in and around 180 goals and 70 assists. Is Aubameyang going to do what he’s supposed to do and what he does all the time? I think he will but I always talk about the supporting cast and what you will lose with Giroud is a guy who can score goals off the bench.

I’m happy as an Arsenal fan that we have attracted Aubameyang and it looks like Ozil is going to stay, but we’re losing Sanchez and Giroud. We’ll see what those guys are going to bring to Arsenal, but it’s a great, great guy to have around Aubameyang.

Mkhitaryan’s partnership with Aubameyang

I hope that’s what they were thinking about, Arsenal. Aubameyang played with Mkhitaryan so they know about each other and how they play and go about it. I think it’s a great thing that you can have two guys coming from two different clubs that have already played with each other and they know each other really well.

The only thing I’m thinking is we always talk about supporting cast and it’s better to have two strikers and three and four guys that can help, but where does Lacazette fit into that? He was like the next best thing and came with a big transfer fee like Aubameyang too, so hopefully they can play at times together up front.

In my day we played a rigid, flat 4-4-2 and that was it. I don’t think Arsene will go back to that but why not? Sometimes when Giroud came on as a sub, Lacazette moved out to play on the right or left. I don’t think he’ll do it at the beginning of a game but why not going back to two up front? I don’t know if he’ll do it but why not.

Giroud’s transfer to Chelsea

We all knew it was going to be a matter of when that domino effect started with Aubameyang coming to Arsenal that allowed Giroud and Batshuayi to go. It’s a weird one because you felt yesterday when he went to clap the Swansea fans you could sense there was something a bit more to him, clapping for them travelling all the way to Swansea.

I thought he did what he had to do for Arsenal but on the other side the World Cup is coming, Chelsea are coming for you and they’re ahead of Arsenal at the minute. Arsene is not playing you sometimes, Welbeck is in front of you and Lacazette has arrived and is in front of you. A lot of players went in front of him so I cannot fault him or be upset with him for going to Chelsea when he’s not playing at Arsenal.

The way he likes to play suits very much the way Antonio Conte likes to play. He likes a target man with a brain that can get into the box to receive the crosses of the wing-backs. I wish him all the very best but we lost at Arsenal a supporting cast, as I like to call them, of the guys coming off the bench.

It will be weird seeing him with the blue shirt on, even though it is like the French kit. I was used to seeing the famous red and white of Arsenal on him. Everybody could see it was going to happen.

One thing I would like to say is that there’s nothing you can say about his commitment. What I like the most is, it’s not like he wanted to go to Chelsea. No disrespect to Chelsea in any way, but it’s happened. You can’t have a go at him for trying to play a bit before the World Cup for a good team. All the very best. I hope people are not going to say anything bad about him because he does not deserve that.

Have Arsenal done enough business?

Alexis Sanchez was always going to be like that [leave]. If not he was always going to leave on a free which is not what you want. You want something in return and we got Mkhitaryan. You lose Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud, Walcott but you got some people in return. You got Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan. I like the fact those guys have played together before so I think that can be a plus, most definitely.

Henry spoke to Sky Sports

Emerson Palmieri completes move from Roma to Chelsea

Chelsea have completed the signing of defender Emerson Palmieri from Roma.

Palmieri flew to the UK on Tuesday to undergo a medical at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground and signed a four-and-a-half-year-deal with the club.

Sky Sports News understands the clubs have agreed a deal of £17.6m plus £7m in add-ons for the left-back to move to Stamford Bridge.

The 23-year-old Brazilian – who switched his international allegiance to Italy – has been assigned the number 33 shirt at Chelsea.

He told Chelsea’s official website: “I came here because it’s a great team with a great history. Today I am realising one of my dreams to pull on the shirt of such a great club.

“English football is something I have been watching since I was 15 years old. It is a really beautiful game over here but it is going to be even more beautiful to play it.”

Palmieri began his career in his Brazil with Santos before joining Serie A side Palmero on loan in 2014 and Roma permanently the following season.

He is set to provide competition for Marcos Alonso in Conte’s squad following Baba Rahman’s loan move to Schalke.

Palmieri’s Roma team-mate Edin Dzeko will not be joining up with Antonio Conte because of the amount of money and length of contract being requested by the player, according to Sky sources.

The Bosnia international is asking for a three-and-half-year deal worth around £120,000 per week.

Chelsea, who were willing to pay a fee of up to £26m for the former Manchester City forward, are closely monitoring Olivier Giroud’s situation after Arsenal agreed a £60m deal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Sky Sports

Petr Cech’s error helps Swans  beat Arsenal

Petr Cech’s calamitous error helped Swansea to a shock 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium.

Nacho Monreal (33) continued his excellent goalscoring form, giving the Gunners the lead but Swansea, who beat Liverpool in their last league outing, hit back straight away through Sam Clucas (34) to go in level at the break.

The hosts were given a helping hand on their way to all three points when Cech hit an attempted clearance straight to Ayew, and the 26-year-old had the easiest of finishes to give his side a much-deserved lead.

Wenger sent on Henrikh Mkhitaryan for his debut and used Olivier Giroud from the bench, despite speculation surrounding his future, but it was Clucas who put the finishing touch on Swansea’s superb night, sweeping home from close range after poor defending to send the hosts out of the relegation zone for the first time in three months.

In tricky conditions, Swansea made the brighter start and Alfie Mawson looked set to open the scoring in the eighth minute after meeting Nathan Dyer’s cross at the far post, but Aaron Ramsey’s last-gasp block got Arsenal out of jail.

The Gunners needed another perfectly timed sliding tackle, this time from Mohamed Elneny, to deny Clucas, who was bearing down on goal after being played in by Leroy Fer. There were shouts for a penalty from the hosts but referee Lee Mason rightly waved away the appeals with Elneny getting a clear touch on the ball.

Arsenal struggled to get going as an attacking force but they were in front in the 33rd minute when Mesut Ozil picked out the run of Monreal at the far post, and the full-back poked the ball past Lukasz Fabianski and into the back of the net to net his fourth Premier League goal of the season.

Swansea were unlucky to be behind but they struck back immediately as Mawson’s through ball picked out the run of Clucas, and the midfielder swept the ball past the onrushing Cech.

Arsenal were more assured at the start of the second half but all their improvement was undone when Cech’s awful clearance went straight to Ayew, who made no mistake from close range to roll home his fifth goal in nine games.

Giroud, who could be set for a move away from the Emirates on Deadline Day, and new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan were sent on in a bid to rescue the Gunners, but Swansea should have extended their lead when Shkodran Mustafi’s poor header picked out Dyer and the forward’s shot struck the outside of the post from 14 yards.

Swansea did get a third as Ayew burst past Mustafi and the excellent Clucas reacted first to beat Cech at the near post to complete a brilliant night for the hosts.

Sky Sports

Arsenal 2- Chelsea 1, Gunners come from behind to reach Carabao Cup final

Arsenal reached the Carabao Cup final after coming from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the second leg of their semi-final at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Gunners were impressive in defence as they secured a goalless draw in the first leg at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, but were broken down early on as Eden Hazard put Chelsea ahead after seven minutes.

They recovered well, however, and Antonio Rudiger’s unfortunate own goal levelled the game before Granit Xhaka netted the winner on the hour mark.

The victory set up a Wembley date with Manchester City on Sunday, February 25.

Chelsea started the brighter and had the ball in the back of the net in the fifth minute as Pedro powered a header in from 12 yards, only for his effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.

But Arsene Wenger’s side did not heed the warning signs and Pedro turned provider for their opener as he fed Hazard through for the Belgian to calmly finish.

Arsenal pulled level shortly afterwards in fortuitous fashion as Nacho Monreal’s header from a corner cannoned off Marcos Alonso and then Rudiger before beating the helpless Willy Caballero in goal.

Chelsea then suffered a blow as Willian went off injured, allowing Ross Barkley to make his debut for the club, but there were relatively few chances throughout the rest of the half for either side.

Sky Sports