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Football

Ciman leaves as Belgium keep faith in Kompany, Vermaelen fitness

SAMARA, Russia (Reuters) - Belgium have sent standby defender Laurent Ciman home, showing confidence in the fitness of key defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen ahead of their World Cup opener on Monday.

Football

Pique says Ronaldo 'prone to diving' after thrilling draw

SOCHI (Reuters) - Spain defender Gerard Pique accused Cristiano Ronaldo of diving to win a penalty and a crucial free-kick in Friday's epic 3-3 draw with Portugal and praised his side for battling back after a chaotic week in which coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked.

Football

Giroud out, Mbappe in for France opener against Australia

KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - France coach Didier Deschamps left veteran striker Olivier Giroud out of his starting 11 for the World Cup opener against Australia and has picked Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele in a young but potent front three with striker Antoine Griezmann.

Football

Chechen fans bring smile to Salah's face with 100kg cake

GROZNY, Russia (Reuters) - Egypt forward Mohamed Salah might have had a forgettable 26th birthday as his team lost to Uruguay in their World Cup opener on Friday, but a group of fans from Chechnya brought a smile to his face with a 100kg cake decorated with a golden boot.

Football

France and Australia goalless at halftime

KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - France were held 0-0 at halftime by Australia in their World Cup Group C opener as their expected domination failed to materialise at the Kazan Arena on Saturday.

Football

Balls deflate in France v Australia opener

KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - Australia defender Trent Sainsbury made a big impact early in the World Cup opener against France on Saturday, bursting the ball in a tackle on the half-hour mark at Kazan Arena.

Football

Serbia ready to unleash in-demand Milinkovic-Savic on Costa Rica

SAMARA, Russia (Reuters) - Serbia will come up against one of the World Cup's toughest defensive units in Costa Rica on Sunday but coach Mladen Krstajic will look to midfield dynamo Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to unsettle the Central Americans.

Football

Once-closed Russian city opens doors for the World Cup

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (Reuters) - During the Soviet era, foreigners were prohibited from entering the closed city of Nizhny Novgorod, the site of secret weapons programmes and the city where the famous dissident Andrei Sakharov was sent into internal exile.

Football

Inexperienced Krstajic confident going into World Cup debut

SAMARA, Russia (Reuters) - Serbian coach Mladen Krstajic dismissed fears that his lack of experience as manager of the national team could hinder their chances against Costa Rica in their World Cup opener on Sunday.

Football

World Cup title adds no pressure against Mexico - Germany's Loew

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Germany are feeling no pressure as the reigning world champions going into their Group F opener against Mexico on Sunday and cannot wait to extend their record of opening game victories under coach Joachim Loew, he said on Saturday.