Joselu struck a late winner as Spain beat Italy to set up a Uefa Nations League final against Croatia.
In Oslo, Jakob Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen wowed their home crowd by blazing to victory in the 400m hurdles and 1500m events respectively at the Diamond League meet. Friday night saw many meet records tumble as the likes of Yulimar Rojas, Mondo Duplantis, Femke Bol and Erriyon Knighton won their respetive events.
French superstar Kylian Mbappe said staying at Paris Saint-Germain was his only option for now after telling the club he wants to leave at the end of the upcoming season.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for June 16, 2023:
Spain reach Nations League final
Spain’s Joselu pounced with two minutes remaining to snatch a 2-1 win over Italy on Thursday and set up a Nations League final clash against Croatia.
Luis de la Fuente’s side shaded a tight battle in Enschede to progress to Sunday’s final, where Zlatko Dalic’s outfit are lying in wait after beating hosts the Netherlands on Wednesday.
Yeremy Pino sent La Roja ahead after three minutes but Ciro Immobile netted from the penalty spot to level and the game seemed destined for extra-time before Joselu prodded home from point-blank range to win it.
The victory eases pressure on De la Fuente, who had been heavily criticised after March’s loss to Scotland, in what was only his second game in charge.
Joselu, who has three goals in three games under the new coach, who handed him his debut, managed to stay onside and convert after Rodri Hernandez’s effort was deflected into his path.
The poacher, 33, was relegated with Espanyol this season but netted 16 times in La Liga.
Warholm, Ingebrigsten shine at Oslo Diamond League
Norwegian duo Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen did not fail their demanding public at Thursday’s Bislett Games as both scorched to victories in impressive times.
World and Olympic 400m hurdles champion and world record holder Warholm, running on his training ground, recorded the fourth fastest time ever with victory in 46.52sec in perfect running conditions in the Norwegian capital.
Not to be outdone, Ingebrigtsen, fresh from a world record in the rarely-run 2 miles event in Paris just six days ago, stormed to the win in the 1500m in 3min 27.95sec, the sixth fastest time ever and European record.
There were regional records to American Yared Nuguse (North America) and Australian Oliver Hoare (Oceania) in a breath-taking race.
The fifth meet of the Diamond League circuit featured a raft of other meet records in a scintillating night of track and field.
Dutchwoman Femke Bol, Olympic bronze and world silver medallist, set the first meet record and world leading time of 52.30sec in winning the women’s 400m hurdles.
Only three athletes have gone faster: American Dalilah Muhammad (second in the 2021 Tokyo Games) and her teammate Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.
Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha and Ugandan Jakob Kiplimo, at the sixth fastest time ever for 12:41.73, were in a photo finish for the men’s 5,000m.
The only athletes to have gone faster are Ugandan record holder Joshua Cheptegei, Ethiopian legends Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie, and Kenya’s Daniel Komen.
American teenager Erriyon Knighton, the fifth fastest man over 200m in history, roared home in a meet record of 19.77sec.
There was a remarkable meet record and under-20 world record of 4:17.13 for Ethiopian Birke Haylom, aged just 17, in the dream mile.
And there was yet another meet record in the women’s 100m when Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou smashed American Marion Jones’ previous best of 10.82sec from 1998 when she won in 10.75m.
Sweden’s ‘Mondo’ Duplantis won the men’s pole vault with a best of 6.01m, his 46th clearance over the mythical 6m mark.
In his first Diamond League meet since Monaco in 2017, 2016 Olympic champion and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk held on to win the 400m in 44.38sec ahead of Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga.
The first big competition of the season for Olympic and three-time world champion Yulimar Rojas went the way the towering Venezuelan wanted, with a win in 14.91m.
Mbappe says PSG ‘my only option for now’
Kylian Mbappe on Thursday said staying at Paris Saint-Germain was his “only option for now” after the France superstar told the club he would not be extending his contract beyond 2024.
“I’ve already answered this question, I said that my goal was to carry on at the club, to stay at PSG, it’s my only option for now,” Mbappe told a news conference ahead of Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Gibraltar in Portugal.
Mbappe earlier this week sent a letter to the club confirming he would not take up an option to remain at the French champions until 2025.
“I didn’t think a letter could kill or offend someone,” Mbappe said on Friday.
He told AFP he had never discussed extending his contract with PSG beyond next year.
That immediately raised the prospect of the 24-year-old forward, one of the most coveted players in world football, following Lionel Messi out of Parc des Princes this summer.
Mbappe said he wasn’t surprised by suggestions PSG could look to cash in by selling him now, rather than allowing him to leave for nothing at the end of next season.
Later, Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps said he had discussed this week’s events with his skipper.
“What’s said between Kylian and I remain between Kylian and I,” Deschamps told reporters.
“He’s old enough to speak for himself, to say what he wants to say himself.
“It might happen one day, that he leaves. He has the answer,” Deschamps added.
Mbappe was named as France’s captain before they began Euro qualifying in March with wins over the Netherlands and Ireland.
With the Dutch currently focused on the Nations League finals, France can all but wrap up qualification by claiming back-to-back victories.
FIFA to create anti-racism taskforce
FIFA will create an anti-racism taskforce in which Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior will have a “prominent role”, the world football governing body said Thursday.
Real Madrid winger Vinicius was racially abused by Valencia fans in May in an incident which provoked worldwide outrage, and has been the victim of multiple instances of racism during his time in Spain.
“(FIFA president Gianni Infantino) said that FIFA would set up a task force which will work with FIFA to make specific recommendations, with Vinicius Junior taking a prominent role,” said FIFA in a statement.
Infantino paid a visit to the Brazilian national team training camp in Barcelona.
“It’s very important not just to talk about racism and discrimination, but to take action in a decisive and convincing manner – zero tolerance,” said Infantino.
The FIFA president was meeting Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues ahead of Brazil’s friendly against Guinea on Saturday.
Infantino said games must be stopped if players were abused while on the pitch.
“There is no football if there is racism, so let’s stop the games,” he explained.
“The referees have this opportunity in FIFA competitions as we have this process for stopping the game, and actions have to be taken at every level, at national level as well.”
Earlier in the week the Spanish and Brazilian football federations presented their plan for a friendly match at the Santiago Bernabeu in March 2024 to combat racism.
Messi scores as Argentina beat Australia
Lionel Messi scored the quickest goal of his career as he guided Argentina to a 2-0 friendly win over Australia in Beijing on Thursday.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner curled in from the edge of the area after just 79 seconds following slack defending by the Socceroos.
In front of a crowd of more than 50,000 adoring fans, Messi nearly notched a rapid second but lashed into the side netting from a tight angle.
Australia weathered the early storm and nearly equalised when attacker Mitchell Duke forced Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to tip a close-range shot onto the post.
Messi and fellow Argentina veteran Angel Di Maria both drew saves from Australia stopper Mat Ryan at the start of the second half.
And the world champions eventually made their pressure count when German Pezzella headed in a cross to make it 2-0 in the 68th minute.
Messi is idolised in football-mad China, whose underperforming national team and struggling domestic league are chronic sources of disappointment.
Midway through the second half, a young-looking fan wearing an Argentina shirt invaded the pitch and briefly embraced Messi before being hauled away by security guards.
Thousands greeted the Argentina captain’s every touch with roars of anticipation that built to a crescendo when he put his team into their quick-fire lead.
Messi did not stop to speak to journalists gathered in the stadium shortly after he left the team dressing room.
The global superstar has kept a low profile in the Chinese capital, save for some commercial engagements in which he confirmed the 2022 World Cup was probably his last.
But the local excitement around the Argentine legend ratcheted up in recent days as the sell-out match drew nearer.
Messi made waves last week when he revealed he would join MLS side Inter Miami after the end of his two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain.
Thursday’s match was a re-run of the last-16 clash between Argentina and Australia at last winter’s World Cup in Qatar.
On that occasion, Messi scored a goal and tormented the Socceroos’ defence as the Albiceleste won 2-1.
Argentina went on to win the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.
The South Americans will round off their Asian tour on Monday when they play another friendly against Indonesia in Jakarta.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day