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#SportsReport: U.S. has clear World Cup task against Iran: win or go home

A photo is taken during the U.S. vs. Algeria World Cup soccer match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 23, 2010.
State Department photo/public domain
A photo is taken during the U.S. vs. Algeria World Cup soccer match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 23, 2010.

Snell runs for go-ahead TD, Steelers hold off Colts 24-17

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Benny Snell Jr.’s 2-yard touchdown run with 9:55 left gave Pittsburgh the lead and the Steelers fended off a last-minute comeback bid to beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-17. Snell had 12 carries for a season-high 62 yards after replacing the injured Najee Harris in the third quarter. Harris was ruled out at halftime with an abdominal injury. Pittsburgh improved to 4-7 and won its eighth straight over Indianapolis, which fell to 4-7-1. Matt Ryan drove the Colts in position for a tying score but Indy stalled in Pittsburgh territory and didn't call its first timeout until a fourth-down play with 30 seconds left. Ryan threw incomplete and that was it.

Qatar loses on World Cup field, makes gains on global stage

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar's soccer team was the first World Cup host nation to lose its opening match and followed that with a second loss that knocked it from the tournament before the end of the group stage. It is only the second host to be eliminated in group play. But rating it a disappointment depends on the expectations of the young program and the overall goals of the Qatar government in hosting the World Cup. Qatar didn't bid on the World Cup to win the tournament but rather to showcase its country to the world.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year deal with Astros

HOUSTON (AP) — José Abreu and the World Series champion Astros have agreed to a three-year contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup. Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs and 75 RBIs this year. With the Astros, he replaces free agent Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. The three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers and an .860 OPS.

US has clear World Cup task against Iran: win or go home

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The task is clear for the United States: beat Iran in a politically charged World Cup match or go home. A draw or a loss Tuesday night would eliminate the Americans. During unusual pre-match news conferences, captain Tyler Adams was asked to defend the U.S.’s treatment of Black people and chastized for pronoucing the opponent “Eye-ran” instead of “E-ran.” American coach Gregg Berhalter was questioned about U.S. immigration and Naval policy and apologized for the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision to strip the emblem of the Islamic Republic from Iran’s flag on social media.

Minnesota star Towns helped off with right leg injury

WASHINGTON (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns had to be helped off the court in the third quarter at Washington because of what the team is calling a right calf strain. Towns was well behind the play during a Washington break and grabbed his right leg. After a 3-pointer by Kyle Kuzma, play stopped with Towns down on the floor near midcourt. He was immediately helped toward the locker room and was not putting any weight on the leg. Towns has started all 21 games for Minnesota this season and entered Monday averaging 21.4 points.

Messi, Argentina play Poland for survival at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Lionel Messi has already come to Argentina’s rescue at the World Cup and he might have to do it all over again. Another emotionally charged evening awaits Messi and the soccer-mad south American nation that worships him when Argentina meets Poland on Wednesday for a match with so much on the line. Poland leads Group C on four points. That's one more than Argentina and Saudi Arabia. A win for the Argentines and they are sure to advance. A draw means Argentina either finishes in second place behind Poland or is squeezed out by either the Saudis or Mexico. A loss just doesn't bear thinking about for Argentina's fans.

Mexico faces early World Cup exit against Saudi Arabia

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Mexico has reached the round of 16 at the last seven World Cups, tied for the longest current streak with Brazil. But in Qatar El Tri sits at the bottom of Group C with just a point ahead of a must-win match Wednesday night against Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium. The last time Mexico played at soccer’s biggest tournament and didn’t advance out of its group was in 1978. But it’s not as simple as winning: El Tri will also need Poland to beat Lionel Messi and Argentina.

Protester with rainbow flag runs onto field at World Cup

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — A protester ran onto the field carrying a rainbow flag and wearing a blue Superman T-shirt that said “SAVE UKRAINE” on the front and “RESPECT FOR IRANIAN WOMAN” on the back during a World Cup match between Portugal and Uruguay. Security officials chased the protester down and the flag was dropped on the field before the person was escorted off the field. The referee then picked up the flag and left it on the sideline. It stayed there for a few moments before a worker came and collected it. The protester was ushered away through a tunnel. It wasn’t immediately clear if the person faced any charges or had been detainedbypolice.

Booker scores 44, Suns top Kings 122-117 for 5th straight

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Devin Booker had 44 points, eight rebounds and six steals, and the Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to five with a 122-117 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Deandre Ayton added 17 points and 12 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season for Phoenix, which has won six of seven. Booker closed out his second-highest total of the season by knocking down a pair of free throws with 6.8 seconds left after Torrey Craig secured an offensive rebound. He scored 49 points in a loss to Utah earlier in the month. Damion Lee scored 15 points off the bench, hitting three 3-pointers.

Jokic, Murray lead Nuggets to 129-113 win over Rockets

DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Jamal Murray scored a season-high 31 and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Houston Rockets 129-113. The win was the Nuggets’ third in a row following a home loss last Tuesday against lowly Detroit. Jokic and Murray combined to shoot 64.7% from the field. It marked the third time in the past four games Jokic scored more than 30 points. He finished two assists shy of his fourth triple-double this season. Murray was 11 of 17 from the floor and drained four of his eight 3-pointers. The Nuggets outscored Houston 62-42 in the paint. Zeke Nnaji matched a season high with 15 points off the bench. Alperen Sengun led five Rockets in double figures with 18 points.