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Ronaldo breaks world record and Ireland’s hearts as Portugal seal late, late win

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Portugal 2 Republic of Ireland 1

At the death, Cristiano Ronaldo snatched a draw and then victory from an Irish effort that almost went beyond heroism. How they lift themselves for Azerbaijan and Serbia next week at the Aviva is unfathomable.

Stephen Kenny must feel truly cursed. At least the fans are returning with them.

One sure way for this Irish generation to erase the shame of losing at home to Luxembourg was to beat Portugal on the Algarve. With 88 minutes on the clock, Ronaldo put paid to that dreamy notion with a downward header that gave him a world record 110th goal.

The 111th was another header as he proved at 36, Manchester United are still getting the true special one.

The only place to begin is John Egan’s headed goal entering a clump of first-half injury time caused by all the mayhem before Ronaldo’s missed penalty.

Jamie McGrath, on his competitive debut, spun a corner to the front post that Egan expertly guided to the net after the Sheffield United centre half beat Ronaldo to the punch. Perhaps Pepe and the other Portuguese heavies were preoccupied by the presence of human lighthouse Shane Duffy.

Truth be told, one-nil to Ireland really could have been 3-0 or 4-0 to Portugal at the turn if Diogo Jota had taken any one of three glorious chances. Or Ronaldo’s spot kick was not brilliantly saved by Gavin Bazunu.

John Egan heads the Republic of Ireland into the lead during the World Cup qualifier at Estadio Algarve in Almancil. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
John Egan heads the Republic of Ireland into the lead during the World Cup qualifier at Estadio Algarve in Almancil. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Kenny’s squad have been disrespected at every turn. They freely admit the results have been shockingly poor since the Dubliner unceremoniously replaced Mick McCarthy in April 2020, but coronavirus has stubbornly refused to leave them alone.

News broke that Shane Long had tested positive seconds before the team was released with two goalkeepers on the bench and, mysteriously, no Nathan Collins or Ronan Curtis.

A solitary Irish flag yelled “WE ARE BALLYBRACK – be not afraid” behind the Portugal goal. Ballybrack Seagulls FC were, somehow, in a stadium that had banned Irish fans.

Pre-match, in a sign of the times, both teams played five against six in narrow confines. The Irish were engaged in an impressive two-touch affair. That is, until glancing at one-touch magicians Ronaldo and Pepe – combined age 74 – keeping the ball away from some of the most skilled technicians on the planet.

Ireland were determined to play football but this meant that Portugal could manipulate them and isolate the teenage goalkeeper.

Bazunu, on loan to Portsmouth from Manchester City, is an impressive distributor in the third tier of English football but Jota pressed him into a weak pass to no one before disaster struck.

There was 9:36 on the clock when Jeff Hendrick cut down Bruno Fernandes, following Bazunu’s second brain freeze under pressure, but the clock neared 15 minutes when Ronaldo did a decent impression of Marcus Rashford’s run up in the Euros final.

Bazunu dived to his right to deny the Portuguese captain but there is a strong argument to suggest Ronaldo should have been sent off in disgrace.

When Slovenian referee Matej Jug took Hendrick to one side to show him a yellow card, Dara O’Shea collapsed to earth clutching his face.

Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu is congratulated by team-mates after saving Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty kick during the World Cup qualifier. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu is congratulated by team-mates after saving Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty kick during the World Cup qualifier. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Séamus Coleman was insisting that VAR prove that the Newcastle United midfielder got a piece of the ball before slicing into Fernandes. VAR disagreed but, back on the penalty spot, O’Shea toe poked the ball off the chalk. So Ronaldo slapped him in the face. O’Shea glanced around for an official before falling to ground as all the players came together. Coleman was in the thick of it. Ronaldo avoided sanction.

There was another debate before this crazy scene could end with Jug considering whether Bazunu moved before the strike but Coleman’s eyeballing ended that idea. The skipper also cleared the corner.

A real bite was evident from then on, with Egan putting himself about, particularly in his battle with Rafa Silva, as he had the game of his life.

The son of Kerry GAA royalty had to be a colossus as O’Shea appeared to suffer a bad injury when belting Jota on the half-hour. Another teenager, Andrew Omobamidele, made a solid Ireland debut before his Premier League bow for Norwich City.

Aaron Connolly’s energy and clever runs asked the right questions of Pepe’s ageing legs, even if his shooting and final touch were poor. The Galway man had a real chance just before half-time but he held possession a split-second too long and an attempted scoop over Rui Patrício was blocked for the corner that led to Egan’s goal.

Portugal’s rapid link play seemed destined to break Ireland’s steely resolve. Jota had some glorious chances to score but a header hit the post, while in first-half injury-time Bazunu spilled the Liverpool striker’s low shot before reclaiming the ball a millimetre before it rolled over the line.

The heroics had to keep coming for most of the second half with Duffy flinging his body into Raphaël Guerreiro’s rasping shot.

Remarkably, Egan appeared in Portugal’s box near the hour mark to nod down Adam Idah’s cross for Connolly to miss the target.

Bernardo Silva will forever wonder how he skied an open shot on 74 minutes as a jaded Irish defence somehow clung to the lead.

Ronaldo, though, never lets tired legs off the hook.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Bazunu (Portsmouth); Coleman (Everton, capt), Egan (Sheffield United), Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion), O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur); Hendrick (Newcastle United), Cullen (Anderlecht), McGrath (St Mirren); Connolly (Brighton), Idah (Norwich City).

Subs: Omobamidele (Norwich City) for O’Shea (35 mins), McClean (Wigan Athletic) for Connolly (72 mins), J Collins (Cardiff City) for Idah, Molumby (West Brom) for McGrath (both 90 mins).

PORTUGAL: Patrício (Roma); Cancelo (Manchester City), Pepe (Porto), Dias (Manchester City), Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund); Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Palhinha (Sporting), Fernandes (Manchester United); Ronaldo (Manchester United, capt), Jota (Liverpool), Rafa Silva (Benfica) .

Subs: Andre Silva (RB Leipzig) for Rafa Silva (half-time), Mendes (PSG) for Guerreiro (62), Joao Mario (Benfica) for B Fernandes (both 62 mins), João Moutinho (Wolves) for Palhinha (73), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia) for Cancelo (82).

Referee: Matej Jug (Slovenia).

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Aparto debuts in Spain

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Aparto has unveiled its first student residence in Spain to open in September 2022. Aparto Barcelona Pallars, owned by Commerz Real, is located in the 22@, the city’s innovation district, and accommodates 743 beds covering 26,000m². The cutting-edge facilities at aparto Barcelona Pallars include an external circa 45-metre length infinity pool, a 900 square metre rooftop terrace, 2,500m² of gardens including the Butterfly Garden (named because of the type of plants that attract butterflies), the Smell Garden (due to the mixture of aromatic plants), 1,400m² of amenity space including a gym with a weight, cardio, and yoga studios, two cinema rooms, leisure areas, and a bar offering both food and drink services.

 

In addition, a central feature of aparto’s offering is its first-class experience with a focus on the arts including an initiative in which street artists will design some of the paintings on the building, and a mental health programme available to all students all year around, strengthened by aparto employees receiving mental health training to identify anyone who may need help. 

 

aparto Barcelona Pallars has been designed by the Catalonian architecture studio Battle i Roig, a pioneer in landscape architecture, interweaving structures with natural spaces like gardens. Upon construction completion, the building will receive the LEED Gold and WELL Platinum Certifications for sustainability. 

 

aparto offers students a unique safe study experience and flexible model offering medium and long-term stays, from a few months to a full year, with all-inclusive rates including cleaning, Wi-Fi connection, linen services, and some additional features related to sports and wellness sessions, cocktail and cooking classes, and a series of entertainment evenings including movie nights, sports matches and tournaments. Aparto’s focus is to create places where students feel at home living within a strong community.

  

Tom Rix, director of operations at aparto, UK, commented: “With Aparto Barcelona Pallars, Hines is introducing first-class student housing in Spain. Pallars mirrors what today’s students want in terms of facilities, amenities, community engagement, and wellbeing programmes. We have already successfully demonstrated that this innovative model is in high demand in Italy, Ireland, and the UK and we anticipate the same success here in Spain and can’t wait to welcome students to Barcelona.”

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Crossrail house price boom: Reading, Maidenhead and Slough set to become property hotspots

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Crossrail may be billions of pounds over budget and three-and-a-half years late but it’s finally ready to roll.

This extraordinary feat of engineering is due to be put into service on Tuesday, when it will adopt its correct title of the Elizabeth Line. 

The Queen made a surprise visit to Paddington station this week and officially opened the line.

On the line: The Thames flows through Maidenhead, which will now enjoy a direct link to Central London thanks to its new Crossrail station

On the line: The Thames flows through Maidenhead, which will now enjoy a direct link to Central London thanks to its new Crossrail station

Linking Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east with Heathrow and Reading to the west of the capital, it will bind together existing commuter railways, accelerating cross-city travel and relieving overcrowding on the London Underground — particularly the often hellish Central Line.

Commuters’ journey times will be slashed; Reading to London Liverpool Street, for example, will take under an hour.

When fully operational it will increase London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, making it the largest single expansion of the city’s transport network in more than 70 years.

There are still a few glitches to be ironed out. Initially passengers travelling from Reading in the west to Abbey Wood and beyond will have to change at Paddington or Liverpool Street mainline stations. 

Also Bond Street is three months behind schedule. Trains will not call there until later in the year. Yet these delays pale into insignificance when you consider how the Elizabeth Line will transform rail travel in the capital.

Cross town: The Elizabeth line will run east to west across London, starting in Berkshire and ending in Essex

Cross town: The Elizabeth line will run east to west across London, starting in Berkshire and ending in Essex

The new station at Paddington, for example, is the size of three Wembley football pitches, with natural light as far as the platform entry from a nearly 400ft-long glass canopy.

More than £1 billion has been spent on upgrading 31 existing stations and tracks. Spacious tunnels will lead to airy 600 ft platforms, with glass screens at the edge of the tracks, making it impossible to fall under a train. 

Step-free access from street to train will make the service accessible to wheelchairs. 

The nine-car, air-conditioned trains will have colourful bench seats and open interiors with full-width walk-through connections between cars. It will be a world away from today’s cramped, cluttered carriages.

Few engineering projects change the way we live but The Elizabeth Line promises to do just that. People are already flocking to the new stations.

Research from Savills last year found that, over the past five years, homes within 0.6 mile of about half of the stations on the line have increased in price by 25 per cent or more.

It follows that when the sleek and airy new trains come into service, delivering people to their workplaces in double quick time, we can expect a migration to the west of London.

Here are the hotspots:

Reading revival

Outlay: More than £1bn has been spent on upgrading 31 existing stations and tracks

Outlay: More than £1bn has been spent on upgrading 31 existing stations and tracks

Not so long ago Reading was best known for its brewery and its biscuit factory — not any more. 

International companies, including Amazon UK, Virgin Media and KPMG have moved there and with reasonably priced homes, compared to London, the town is already popular with commuters.

‘I recently dealt with a young woman who sold her 750 sq ft flat in London for £600,000 and bought a 1,750 ft duplex in Reading for £650,000,’ says James Hathaway, of Winkworth estate agents.

The town has lots of green space, riverside walks, the Grade II-listed Thames Lido and great shopping, notably in Broad Street and the Oracle centre. The average price of a home sold in Reading was £384,000 last year.

Compare that to the £512,000 average price in, say, East London and you will see why an exodus from the capital is forecast when the Elizabeth Line makes commuting a doddle.

Maidenhead marches on

This Berkshire town is keen to attract the City bankers who had previously been put off living there by having to trek across the capital’s underground system to get to work.

‘The Elizabeth Line changes all that and buyer enquiries have already started booming,’ says Dawn Carritt at Jackson-Stops estate agents.

‘The prospect of living near the river in Maidenhead or in nearby villages such as Sonning and Bray is appealing.’

Maidenhead (with Theresa May as its MP) is on the cusp of a revival. Its 1960s shopping centre is to be transformed into The Nicholson Quarter, a swish mixed-use centre.

The area by the river is being developed and trendy cocktail bars and restaurants such as Coppa Club are thriving — a sure sign of a town on the up.

Slough expansion

Ricky Gervais did Slough no favours when he set The Office there. Yet the town has a lot going for it. It is well located for travel, nestling between the M4 and the M40 and within easy reach of the M25 and Heathrow airport.

First-time buyer portal Share to Buy claims that Slough has been one of the UK’s top ten property hotspots over the past decade with a 73 per cent increase in house prices. 

The Berkeley Group is redeveloping the former Horlicks factory and site to create 1,300 homes.

A small flat sells for £150,000 and a three-bed terrace house for £350,000. The centre is being improved and with the coming of the Elizabeth Line, things can only get better.

On the market… the hotspots 

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Australia’s opposition Labour party poised to topple ruling conservatives

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The Australian Labour party will topple the ruling conservatives at a national election although it may have to form a minority government, the Australian Broadcasting Corp said on Saturday.

Initial vote counts showed prime minister Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition and the Labour opposition losing ground to smaller parties like the environment-focused Greens and climate-focused independents.

Neither of the major parties appeared certain to win the minimum 76 seats required for a majority in the 151-seat parliament, but Labour appeared on track to win more than 70 seats, the ABC said.

“Labour is 72 and needs 76 seats to govern. There are 11 members of the crossbench, most of whom support action on climate change,” said ABC election analyst Antony Green in a live broadcast.

“If Labour falls short and it wants to form government, it can talk to the Greens or it can talk to the crossbench.”

Cable television station Sky News ran a chyron which said: “Labour tracking towards election victory”.

In addition to this two television stations projected on Saturday that the ruling conservative coalition cannot win enough seats to form a government, after the government lost ground to climate-focused independents and smaller parties.

The struggles of prime minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition, and to a lesser extent the opposition Labour Party led by Anthony Albanese, raised the prospect of a hung parliament and period of uncertainty while a record number of postal votes are counted.

“At the moment, I can’t see the coalition getting to a majority on these numbers,” the Australian Broadcasting Corp’s election analyst Antony Green said in a live broadcast.

Centre-left Labour had held a decent lead in opinion polls after nine years in opposition, although recent surveys showed the Liberal-National government narrowing the gap in the final stretch of a six-week campaign.

A Newspoll survey by The Australian newspaper out on election day showed Labour’s lead over the ruling coalition dipping a point to 53-47 on a two-party-preferred basis, where votes for unsuccessful candidates are redistributed to the top two contenders.

But growing dissatisfaction over policies, candidate selection and integrity saw voters turn away from both major parties.

Teal

In several affluent Liberal-held seats, so-called “teal independents” campaigning for action on climate change after some of the worst floods and fires to hit Australia, looked likely to win.

Three volunteers working for teal independent Monique Ryan, who is running against Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in the long-held Liberal seat of Kooyong in Melbourne, said they joined Ryan’s campaign because they are concerned about the climate for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

“For me, it’s like this election actually feels hopeful,” Charlotte Forwood, a working mother of three adult children, told Reuters.

With 82 per cent of polling booths counted, Ryan was projected to win 53 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.

Early returns suggested the Greens had also made ground, especially in some urban centres, while billionaire Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party and Pauline Hanson’s right-wing One Nation also looked to have gained votes at the expense of both major parties.

Greens leader Adam Bandt, who retained his inner city Melbourne seat, said climate was a major issue for voters.

“There was an attempt from Labour and Liberal to bury it, and we were very clear about the need to tackle climate by tackling coal and gas.”

Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese earlier cast their votes in Sydney after making whistle-stop tours across marginal seats in the final two days of a campaign dominated by rising living costs, climate change and integrity.

As Labour focused on spiking inflation and sluggish wage growth, Mr Morrison made the country’s lowest unemployment in almost half a century the centrepiece of his campaign’s final hours.

In the outgoing parliament, the Liberal-National coalition held 76 of the 151 lower house seats, while Labour held 68, with seven minor party and independent members.

Voting is compulsory and more than half of votes had been cast by Friday evening, with a record 8 million early in-person and postal votes, the Australian Electoral Commission said.

The commission has cautioned that a clear winner might not immediately emerge if it is a close contest, due to the time required to count about 3 million postal votes. – Reuters

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