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Phuket Gazette Sports: Chelsea take European victory with late goal

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gazette Sports: Chelsea take European victory with late goal | The Thaiger

Late Ivanovic goal wins Europa League for Chelsea
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Branislav Ivanovic made up for the heartbreak of missing last year’s Champions League triumph by heading a dramatic stoppage-time goal to lead Chelsea to a 2-1 win over Benfica in the Europa League final last night.

The Serbian defender, sidelined for the final against Bayern Munich 12 months ago through suspension, climbed high at the far post to meet Juan Mata’s corner with a looping header that arched over keeper Artur and into the back of the net.

The goal sent the London club’s blue-decked fans into raptures and meant Chelsea became the first English club to win all three of UEFA’s major trophies.

Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich and Juventus are the only other teams to have won the Europa League, European Cup and the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup.

Fernando Torres had put Chelsea in front with a well-taken solo goal in the 59th minute before Oscar Cardozo replied for Benfica from the penalty spot nine minutes later after Cesar Azpilicueta handled in the box.

“This is a great feeling,” Ivanovic told ITV Sport after the Stamford Bridge club won the 68th fixture of a marathon season.

“The team deserved this because we have had a very difficult season and a lot of games. We deserve that trophy.”

Victory also allowed interim manager Rafa Benitez, who took over from Roberto Di Matteo when the Champions League-winning Italian was sacked in November, to pick up his first piece of silverware at the London club.

The Spaniard will leave at the end of the campaign, with media reports suggesting Jose Mourinho is quitting Real Madrid to return for a second stint in charge at Chelsea.

Benfica, smarting from Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Porto in their domestic title showdown, started the game the brighter and Paraguayan sharpshooter Oscar Cardozo headed over from close range in the second minute.

The Portuguese side, desperate to end a run of six straight defeats in European finals, also went close 12 minutes later when Chelsea had to hack the ball to safety following a goalmouth scramble.

ANIMATED COACH

With their animated coach Jorge Jesus gesticulating wildly from the touchline, Benfica looked in complete control.

Chelsea, for their part, had to again rely on the battling qualities that stood them in good stead in last year’s victorious Champions League campaign.

Frank Lampard, captain in the absence of John Terry who agonisingly missed out on a European final for the second year in a row after being injured in Premier League action at the weekend, then went close to putting his team in front.

The England midfielder, who became Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer last weekend with his double against Aston Villa taking his tally to 203, took aim from 25 metres out and his venomous, swerving effort was tipped over the bar by Artur.

Jesus was again like a jack in the box on the touchline at the start of the second half, imploring the 1961 and 1962 European champions to drive forward.

It was Chelsea though who snatched the lead as Torres struck with a goal reminiscent of his wonder strike in last season’s Champions League semi-final in Barcelona.

A throw from keeper Petr Cech was flicked on near the halfway line by Mata and Torres streaked clear before calmly rounding Artur and slotting the ball into the empty net from a tight angle.

Torres marked his ninth goal of the season in European competition by dropping to his knees and celebrating in Usain Bolt fashion by pointing his right arm skywards.

Oscar Cardozo levelled for Benfica with his own ninth European strike of the campaign, driving the ball straight down the middle of the goal from the penalty spot after Cesar Azpilicueta unnecessarily handled in the area.

Central defender Luisao was then booked for a reckless challenge on the edge of the box on Torres who was beginning to prove a real thorn in Benfica’s side.

The Benfica fans paraded a huge 50-metre banner at their end of the Amsterdam Arena stadium proclaiming ‘Nos Acreditamos’ (we believe).

The dangerous Oscar Cardozo certainly showed that he believed as he sent in a dipping long-range volley that had to be expertly tipped over by Cech in the 82nd minute.

Chelsea also went close when Luisao launched a brilliant goal-saving tackle in the box to deny Ramires as the former Benfica midfielder looked set to score for Chelsea.

Lampard produced another wicked long-range drive with his right foot that rattled the Benfica bar with keeper Artur clawing at thin air.

Then with extra-time looming, up popped Ivanovic to complete the full set of European trophies for Chelsea.

A visibly emotional Jorge Jesus later seemed to indicate his days might be numbered at Benfica.

“In these last few weeks the club and I have been talking about the future,” he told a news conference. “This defeat today will lead me to take some time to think more about these issues.

“The game gave me pride to be in the final and Benfica showed the world we are a team with great quality. The fans deserved Benfica to win for the emotion, passion and patriotism they showed and this defeat has really hurt me.”

Chelsea deserve Europa glory, says matchwinner Ivanovic
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Matchwinner Branislav Ivanovic said Chelsea deserved to win the Europa League with a 2-1 success over Benfica after a “difficult season”.

The Serbian defender headed a stoppage-time winner from a corner to secure a second successive European trophy for the Premier League side after they won the Champions League for the first time last season.

“This team deserved this, because we have had a very difficult season and a lot of games,” Ivanovic, suspended for the 2012 showpiece which Chelsea won after a penalty shootout victory over Bayern Munich, told ITV.

“In the end, today was a very hard game and Benfica played very well. But we scored from set pieces and work very hard preparing that part of our game. We deserve that trophy.

“It was a great feeling to play a final, another European final for us as a team and a great win for us. Now it is time to celebrate.”

Chelsea were playing their 68th game of a marathon season and were only in the Europa League after dropping into it after becoming the first Champions League winners to be eliminated in the group stage the following season.

Veteran midfielder Frank Lampard went close to winning the match late in normal time when his 30-metre piledriver struck the woodwork.

“No-one deserves this more than Ivanovic – he has been fantastic,” he said. “You make your own luck, and we stick together in this group. The club deserve it.”

Chelsea had led through a fine Fernando Torres goal just before the hour, the Spaniard rounding keeper Artur to fire home. Benfica, who had been the better side in the first half, levelled from the penelty spot nine minutes later through Oscar Cardozo.

“I am very happy. It was a very tough game, and Benfica were much better in the first half,” the Spaniard said.

“The first half was not good enough at all. We really wanted to win this Europe League, and maybe this was going to be our only chance.”

Beaming interim manager Rafael Benitez, taking charge of the Londoners for the penultimate time before he steps down at the end of the season, praised Chelsea’s improved efforts after the break.

“That was a great performan

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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