AL KHOR, Qatar (AP)Kylian Mbappe vs. Lionel Messi.
Soccer’s latest superstar against perhaps the sport’s greatest player in the World Cup final just about everyone was hoping for.
France and Mbappe are headed back to the biggest game in soccer, and to a much-anticipated matchup Sunday with Argentina, after ending Morocco’s historic run at the World Cup.
In front of the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, France beat Africa’s first ever semifinalist 2-0, with Mbappe playing a part in goals by Theo Hernandez in the fifth minute and substitute Randal Kolo Muani in the 79th.
Mbappe became a global phenomenon by leading France to the 2018 title in Russia and has a chance to emulate Brazil great Pele as a champion in his first two World Cups when he comes up against the 35-year-old Messi, who has dominated the game with Cristiano Ronaldo for the past 15 years.
It’s the dream final for many, with France looking to become the first team to retain the title since Brazil in 1962 and Argentina on a mission to win soccer’s ultimate prize for the third time in what is likely to be Messi’s last World Cup.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Stephen Curry started the night unsure whether he would play at Indiana because of a sore right knee. He finished it in the locker room with an injured left shoulder.
The eight-time All-Star, two-time MVP and NBA career leader in 3-pointers is expected to have an MRI on Thursday after leaving during the third quarter of Golden State’s 125-119 loss to the Pacers. Curry scored 38 points, making five 3-pointers and all 11 of his free throws.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – UCLA cleared a major hurdle toward joining the Big Ten Conference in 2024, getting approval for the move from the University of California Board of Regents during a special meeting on campus.
The regents imposed conditions to mitigate the impact of the move on athletes, including UCLA investing an additional $12 million in nutritional support, mental health services, academic support while traveling and charter flights to reduce travel time.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Noah Syndergaard and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a $13 million, one-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced.
Syndergaard pitched last season for the Los Angeles Angels and NL champion Philadelphia Phillies, going a combined 10-10 with a 3.94 ERA.
In another move, the Dodgers acquired right-hander J.P. Feyereisen from Tampa Bay for minor league pitcher Jeff Belge.
– By Beth Harris.
CHICAGO (AP) – Cody Bellinger and the Chicago Cubs finalized a $17.5 million, one-year contract.
Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP, was cut by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Nov. 18 after the 27-year-old outfielder hit .210 with 19 homers, 150 strikeouts and a .654 OPS in 144 games last season. He figures to play center for the Cubs.
DETORIT (AP) – The Tigers are bringing back left-hander Matthew Boyd on a $10 million, one-year contract.
The 31-year-old Boyd pitched for Detroit from 2015-21. He was 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 10 relief outings last season for Seattle.
MILWAUKEE (AP) – The Milwaukee Brewers acquired infielder Owen Miller from the Cleveland Guardians for a player to be named and cash. Miller, 26, batted .243 with six homers and 51 RBIs in 130 games for the AL Central champions last season.
DENVER (AP) – The Colorado Rockies added right-hander Pierce Johnson to their bullpen as they signed the Denver native to a $5 million, one-year contract.
The 31-year-old Johnson spent the past three seasons with San Diego. He is 10-9 with a 4.05 ERA in five seasons with the Cubs, Giants and Padres.
WOMEN’S SOCCER INVESTIGATION
An investigation commissioned by the National Women’s Soccer League and its players union found ”widespread misconduct” directed at players dating back to the beginnings of the league nearly a decade ago.
A report detailing the results of the year-long investigation was published a little over two months after the release in October of a report on a separate investigation by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates that found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the sport, impacting multiple teams, coaches and players.
The second investigation also found instances of sexual abuse and manipulation. The NWSL-commissioned report said club staff in positions of power ”made inappropriate sexual remarks to players, mocked players’ bodies, pressured players to lose unhealthy amounts of weight, crossed professional boundaries with players and created manipulative working conditions.”
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has taken a leave of absence because of a health-related issue.
Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson – who both work with Keim in player personnel – will handle his duties on an interim basis. The 50-year-old Keim has been with the Cardinals since 1999 and served as general manager since 2013.
No. 24 Mississippi State is promoting defensive coordinator Zach Arnett to head coach to replace Mike Leach, who died suddenly of a heart condition this week.
Mississippi State was working to finalize a four-year contract with the 36-year-old Arnett, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a deal had not yet been completed.
Arnett was put in charge of the team by Mississippi State officials in Leach’s absence. With the early signing period a week away and the transfer portal active, Mississippi State was motivated to move quickly to put a new coach in place. The Bulldogs also play Illinois in the Reliaquest Bowl on Jan. 2.
– By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – All-America wide receiver Jalin Hyatt will watch his sixth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers play No. 10 Clemson in the Orange Bowl from the sideline after announcing he is leaving after his junior season for the NFL draft.
Hyatt led the nation with 15 touchdown catches and topped the Southeastern Conference averaging 5.6 catches and 105.6 yards per game, finishing with 1,267 yards receiving. He is third nationally in total yards receiving and set the school record for TD catches in a season.
Former Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller escaped sanctions when a report from the Independent Accountability Resolution Process largely accepted the program’s self-imposed penalties stemming from an NCAA rules violations case that dates back to 2017.
Arizona’s athletics program was put on three years of probation through 2025. The school announced a one-year postseason ban in December 2020, which took effect for the 2020-21 season.
Miller is now the head coach at Xavier.
YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) – Eastern Michigan basketball star Emoni Bates was sentenced to 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge.
The conviction will be expunged from Bates’ record if he completes probation successfully, The Detroit News reported.