Peyton Manning signs $90M extension with the Colts…

An injured Peyton Manning had been resisting Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay’s attempts to make him the highest-paid player in the NFL.

Manning got his wish.

He re-signed with the Colts on Saturday, inking a five-year deal for $90 million, or $18 million a year — equal to what New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is making.

Irsay said he was “thrilled” to sign the only four-time MVP in league history to a deal that will likely keep him in Indianapolis for the rest of his career. Irsay confirmed the figures on his twitter account, writing that Manning will earn $69 million of his deal in the first three years.

“Signing Peyton was a top priority for this organization and we are thrilled that the deal is complete,” Irsay said in a statement released by the team Saturday. “We feel that it is a salary cap friendly deal and it allows us more flexibility.”

Manning reported to training camp on time Sunday at Anderson University in Indianapolis along with his teammates. Players aren’t scheduled to practice at the Division III school, about 40 miles northeast of Indy, until Monday.

Manning declined to comment about the deal Sunday morning but was scheduled to speak at a 2 p.m. news conference that will also include Irsay and team vice chairman Bill Polian.

Manning did sign autographs for a handful of fans and waved to fans and reporters as he took in his luggage. Indy’s franchise quarterback will be placed on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to rehab from neck surgery in May. Because it is the preseason, he could be removed from the list at any time and return to practice.

His deal comes nearly five months after the team used the exclusive franchise tag to prevent Manning from negotiating with any other teams. Had Manning signed the one-year offer, he would have made $23.1 million this season. Irsay wrote on Twitter that Manning’s deal will reduce his salary cap number this season to $16 million.

A Colts source said Manning had told Irsay a five-year, $100 million proposal that was heavily back-loaded in the final two years was not necessary to give him a $20 million average that no NFL player has ever attained.

Manning met with Irsay and Polian on Thursday to communicate his feelings on the new contract and encouraged them to spend money saved on his potential deal to re-sign Colts free agents while building the team’s talent level and depth chart.

“While I appreciate Jim Irsay offering to make me the highest-paid player,” Manning told The Indianapolis Star, “I told him I’d rather he save that money and keep whoever it is … (running back) Joe Addai, (left tackle) Charlie Johnson … whoever that may be. I’m willing to take less than they’ve offered if they are going to take that money to keep players we need to keep and go get other players. All I want is for them to have the cap and the cash to keep the players they want to keep and to sign other players.”

The four-time league MVP backed up his words when he directed agent Tom Condon to be more conservative in negotiations in meetings with Polian about the contract, sources said.

The Colts immediately found a use for some of the money Manning passed on, getting Addai to re-sign with the team, according to a team source.

Addai’s return leaves left tackle Charlie Johnson and defensive tackle Dan Muir as the next big ticket items. They still have not signed their first three draft picks, either, tackles Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana or defensive tackle Drake Nevis.

“It’s a credit 2 Peyton;he put Coltfans,teammates, Ind. n winning ahead of all else,” Irsay wrote on Twitter.

During his meeting with Irsay and Polian, Manning also acknowledged uncertainty about his specific return to normal football activity as he rehabilitates from the surgery to remove a portion of a bulging disk that was causing nerve malfunctions and pain.

Manning’s goal is to be ready for the Colts’ regular-season opener as he enters the season with the NFL’s longest active playing regular-season starting streak of 208 games.

Irsay originally said doctors expected Manning’s rehab to take six to eight weeks; however, sources say Manning still has “quite a ways to go” to be ready for a full practice regimen, let alone play in a preseason game.

“There is every medical indication that he is progressing steadily,” team neurosurgeon Dr. Hank Feuer said in a statement. “While he looks fine, he still has some rehabilitation to go. Recovery from disc surgery is unpredictable and it is not a medical concern that he is not ready at this time.”

One source said Manning has been rehabbing diligently but getting his nerves to regenerate completely, as well as strengthening his neck, shoulder and arm, is a process that doesn’t always satisfy his lack of patience for healing.

Colts coach Jim Caldwell expressed confidence Friday when he was asked how he expected Manning to approach the uncertainty of his injury.

“Like a professional, like he always does, in a first-class manner, work harder than any man on the planet to get himself ready faster than anybody, (but) he’s not ready right now,” Caldwell said. “Nobody works any harder, nobody is more diligent, more dedicated and he certainly has great faith in our staff that works with him here and at some point in time he’ll be ready to go and when that is, we’ll turn him loose.”

Manning was frustrated that the NFL did not make medical exceptions during the owners’ lockout for players to rehab directly with team therapists and trainers who were recovering from surgeries and injuries. The league allowed communication between team medical personnel and doctors and therapists but disallowed direct contact and rehab activity with players.

During two contracts in 13 years since the Colts made Manning the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft, Manning has given the Colts a variety of options and clauses to automatically lower his salary-cap number. He said he will do the same with his new contract, but under the new labor agreement, teams are working with an estimated $5 million less in cap space than they were in 2009, before the uncapped year in 2010.

Behind the scenes, for more than a year, Polian has been preaching Manning’s next deal as a “legacy contract” that would enable them to build the team around the quarterback with more cash and salary-cap space, and give Manning an opportunity to build his legacy with another Super Bowl ring or two.

Manning said he never has had to be convinced that being flexible with his salary was the right thing to do for the team.

Condon was unavailable for comment, but sources say the renowned agent was prepared to justify a salary that exceeded the $20 million average mark because of Manning’s value to the team, whose success arguably allowed the Colts to remain in Indianapolis with new Lucas Oil Stadium, a facility constructed with substantial public funding. Indianapolis also will be the host city of its first Super Bowl in February.

Instead, Manning wanted to provide the franchise the best opportunity to be the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl that it is hosting.

Plaxico Burress Jets: Burress Gives Rex Ryan His Replacement for Braylon Edwards

Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

With Braylon Edwards on the way out, it was time for the New York Jets to find his replacement.

Few players are a better choice than Plaxico Burress, who was linked to numerous teams, but signed by the Jets on a one-year deal. Now, Mark Sanchez gets another big target to throw to, and the former New York Giants star will be a massive red zone target.

No one knows what Burress is going to be able to do, but if there is any team that can get the most out of the embattled wide receiver, it’s Rex Ryan, who has taken on many problematic players and embraced them within his system.

Burress’ deal is worth $3.017 million, fully guaranteed, league sources told ESPN Insider Adam Schefter.

The Jets, who showed interest two years ago before Burress served a 20-month prison sentence on gun charges, stepped up their pursuit Friday, the same day Burress visited the Giants to discuss the possibility of playing there.

On Saturday, Burress visited the Pittsburgh Steelers, his first team, where he told former teammates that the Jets wanted him badly. He also reportedly met with the 49ers.

Burress will team with another former Steeler,Santonio Holmes, in what should be one of the most compelling receiving tandems in the league.

For the Jets, this was the perfect fit, as Edwards looks to get paid after a bounce-back season in 2010. Burress was a much cheaper option and provides the same type of threat in the New York offense. With the Steelers circling, getting Burress keeps him away from a top contender in the AFC, further widening the gap at the top.

New York will be in the mix all season long, and we’ll find out rather quickly how much Burress has left in the tank. As we saw with Michael Vick, it takes a while to come back from this type of extended leave, and if Burress thrives from day one, there aren’t enough words to describe how impressive that feat is.

Edwards will be missed, but when you can get a player like Burress, it softens the blow and makes it easier for the team to move on and prepare for a season that has a lot of promise. It was a shocking signing, but when you look at the team of misfits Ryan has put together, it becomes obvious that the Jets were the perfect fit for Burress. 

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NHC Celebrates 40 Years of Care

Press Release Source: National HealthCare Corporation On Thursday July 28, 2011, 4:05 pm EDT

MURFREESBORO, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– National HealthCare Corporation (NYSE Amex: NHC)(NYSE Amex: NHC.PRA), one of the nation’s oldest long-term health care companies, celebrated its 40th anniversary on July 23, 2011.

From modest beginnings as a small start-up nursing home company in middle Tennessee, NHC has grown to be one of the nation’s largest operators of senior care with services which include not only skilled nursing, but home care, assisted living, independent living, rehabilitation, and hospice care. It operates 158 locations in 11 states and employs over 13,000 partners. This year it is estimated that the company will provide care or services to over 40,000 customers.

“From our founding in 1971 through our growth today and our plans for the future, one thing remains unchanged – our commitment to quality, consistent and loving care,” stated CEO Robert Adams. “As we commemorate our 40th year, we thank all the families, medical professionals, residents, patients, communities and partners who help us celebrate life every day.”

On March 7, 1971 Dr. Carl Adams and several middle Tennessee associates purchased 14 health care centers in three states (TN, GA, and KY) from Health Care, Inc. for $3.75 million. At the end of its first year of operation, the start-up company had a cash balance of $53.06. Forty years later, NHC is one of the most successful senior care companies in the country with annual revenues in excess of $700 million and net income of over $50 million in 2010. In addition to its financial success, NHC maintains strong occupancy in its health care centers and receives consistent high scores in the areas of customer and partner satisfaction.

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. NHC cautions investors that any forward-looking statements made involve risks and uncertainties and are not guarantees of future performance. The risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in reports filed by NHC with the S.E.C., including Forms 8-K, 10-Q and 10-K, and include, among others, the following: liabilities and other claims asserted against us and patient care liabilities, as well as the resolution of current litigation; availability of insurance and assets for indemnification; national and local economic conditions; including their effect on the availability and cost of labor, utilities and materials; the effect of government regulations and changes in regulations governing the healthcare industry, including our compliance with such regulations; changes in Medicare and Medicaid payment levels and methodologies and the application of such methodologies by the government and its fiscal intermediaries, the ability of third parties for whom we have guaranteed debt to refinance certain short term debt obligations; and other factors referenced or incorporated by reference in the S.E.C. filings. The risks included here are not exhaustive. All forward-looking statements represent NHC’s best judgment as of the date of this release.

NHC affiliates operate for themselves and third parties 76 long-term health care centers with 9,548 beds. NHC affiliates also operate 36 homecare programs, six independent living centers and 17 assisted living communities. NHC’s other services include Alzheimer’s units, long-term care pharmacies, hospice, a rehabilitation services company, and providing management and accounting services to third parties. Other information about the company can be found on our web site at nhccare.com.

The Role of Government Spending

As Congress continues to wrangle over a debt reduction bill that will inevitably cut government spending, Friday’s estimates of second-quarter gross domestic product provided a sobering look at how a decline in public spending and investment can restrain growth.

G.D.P. grew at an annual rate of just 1.3 percent in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department, well below consensus forecasts. First-quarter growth was revised down sharply to just 0.4 percent from an earlier estimate of 1.9 percent.

The astonishingly slow growth rate from April through June was due in large part to sluggish consumer spending and an increase in imports, which subtract from growth numbers. But dwindling government spending also held back growth.

While federal government spending increased by 2.2 percent in the second quarter, that was all because of a jump in military spending. Excluding military, federal government spending and investment fell by 7.3 percent, a much larger fall than in the previous quarter. State and local government spending, which has been a crimp on growth throughout most of the official recovery, fell by 3.4 percent.

The figures will inevitably put further pressure on Congress as it tries to come up with a plan and figure out just how many billions of dollars can be shaved out of the government’s budget.

“A weak economy will only make the tough decisions on the budget even more difficult,” Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, wrote in a research note Friday, “and the case for fiscal austerity in the near-term even weaker.”

On the other hand, said Steve Blitz, a senior economist for ITG Investment Research, policy makers have to decide whether to continue to pump up the economy through government spending or figure out a way to spur the private sector.

“We are probably at as important an intersection of policy and the economy as we were in late 2008 and early 2009 when the economy was collapsing,” Mr. Blitz said.

Mr. Blitz favors reforming tax policy and aggressively pursuing foreign markets for American goods. But, he said, the only real prescription is to wait. With so many households still working off the debt accumulated during the boom years, he said, “that’s just going to take time to work out, and you can’t cheat the process.”

Housing planned for Hook Norton

Weather for Banbury

Monday 01 August 2011

Temperature: 15 C to 26 C

Wind direction: South

Tuesday 02 August 2011

Temperature: 14 C to 27 C

Wind direction: South

Wednesday 03 August 2011

Temperature: 15 C to 27 C

Wind direction: South east

Thursday 04 August 2011

Temperature: 12 C to 23 C

Wind direction: South west

Friday 05 August 2011

Temperature: 11 C to 20 C

Braylon Edwards Vikings: 5 Reasons Vikes Should Stay Away from Troubled WR

Remember that breakout season Braylon Edwards had with the Cleveland Browns back in 2007?

Yeah, neither do I. To refresh your memory, Edwards, who had been the third overall pick of the Browns in the 2005 NFL Draft, blew up that year with 80 catches for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns, a stat line made more impressive by the fact that, again, he did it with the Cleveland Browns.

A spectacular season by any measure, but one that Braylon hasn’t even come close to duplicating.

That campaign still stands as the only 1,000-yard season of Edwards’ career. He came close with the Jets last year, catching 53 balls for 904 yards and seven scores, making for a solid season if not entirely inspiring.

It’s not that the Vikings should avoid Edwards because he’s not a productive player; clearly, the guy can still put up numbers and be a semi-reliable receiving option.

The bigger concern is the beaucoup bucks Braylon’s likely to demand from Minny for his services. He’ll point to 2007 and say it wasn’t a fluke, that he’s focused and ready to be top cop in a new city.

It’s a likely story, but not one the Vikes should listen to. Unless they can nab him at a good discount, they’d be better off passing him over for a lower-rent wide receiver. 

Wrong to assume Holy See’s only concern is upholding its reputation

The Irish Times – Friday, July 22, 2011

COMMENT: It would be also wrong to think Archbishop Martin is a lone voice in the pontifical wilderness

NOT LONG ago I had dinner with a middle-ranking Vatican figure, very familiar with Irish matters. Some days earlier, Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin had appeared to criticise the Holy See when he had lamented the “slowness” of the apostolic visitation process.

Knowing that Archbishop Martin is a friend of mine, he asked me: “Why is your friend so strident on this question [clerical sex abuse]?” He then went on to tell me that, as far as he could understand, Archbishop Martin had gone “out of line” in urging the apostolic visitors to hurry up.

Simply, not the done thing.

Others in the Vatican, journalists and clerics alike, who also know of my friendship with the archbishop, often tell me: “I am sorry for that friend of yours but he can forget the red hat [being made cardinal] now”.

Or take the case of former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, the man who was at the very epicentre of the US church’s sex abuse crisis at the beginning of the last decade, accused of having gravely mishandled, if not covered up, cases in Boston. These days, he serves as high priest in the Basilica of Maria Maggiore. Furthermore, he serves on the Congregation of Bishops, the key Vatican body which oversees church appointments.

On top of that, he is a regular on the Vatican diplomatic social scene, including the Pontifical Irish College and the Irish and British embassies to the Holy See, often saying grace prior to dinner. For a man who was once just about the most controversial Catholic prelate on the planet, this is hardly a sack cloth and ashes existence.

So, does all of this mean that the Holy See still does not get it when it comes to clerical sex abuse? The answer, despite appearances, is a definite “no”.

There are many people in the Holy See, starting with Pope Benedict himself and working down to his senior spokesman, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, who most keenly understand the critical nature of the child abuse crisis.

However, as the above might indicate, there are still those who are slow to comprehend the full horrors, those who might in the words of the Taoiseach be considered disconnected, dysfunctional and elitist.

The “cabals” of which Archbishop Martin spoke on RTÉ two nights ago obviously exist, both within the Holy See and the Irish hierarchy and they are capable of undermining much good work.

Furthermore, the Vatican has been terrified of the juridical aspects of the sex abuse issue for some while now. The idea that someone, somewhere might get to put the Pope on the defendant’s stand or that the Holy See could be called on to pay the worldwide clerical sex abuse damages bill tends to make Vatican officials very unhelpful. The Taoiseach may have been referring to this sort of non-co-operation when he spoke in the Dáil of the Holy See frustrating an inquiry “three years ago, not three decades ago”.

However, it would be wrong to conclude that the Holy See is only concerned with upholding its own power and reputation. Just as it would be wrong to conclude that Archbishop Martin is a lone voice in the pontifical wilderness. When discussing the sex abuse question in his interview-book, Light of the World published last November, Pope Benedict quotes only one authority on the subject, namely Archbishop Martin.

In all probability, Benedict is not as “disconnected” as some of those around him.

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NFL Free Agents 2011: Braylon Edwards Will Be Major Addition for Rams or Vikings

Michael Heiman/Getty Images

All Braylon Edwards wanted this offseason was to return to the New York Jets, but even with Nnamdi Asomugha choosing Philadelphia over New York, the Jets still don’t have the necessary finances to bring back their former receiver.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News:

I’ve been told #Jets aren’t bringing back Braylon Edwards. #NYJ likes him, but they don’t have $$ to re-sign him. Source: “It won’t happen”

This isn’t necessarily surprising if we consider the amount of money Santonio Holmes received, and the Jets still want to address the cornerback position, but Braylon truly wanted to be a Jet.

That said, there are two teams in particular that are in desperate need for a true No. 1 receiver with size.

The Minnesota Vikings lost out in an expensive race for Sidney Rice and now have a gaping hole out wide. The 6’4″ Rice was their top target when healthy and paired up with Percy Harvin – when healthy – made for one of the better wide receiver duos in the league.

As for St. Louis, they desperately wanted to land a top-flight receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft, but the opportunity never presented itself after Atlanta traded up from the late-20′s into the the top six to select Julio Jones.

The Rams found a few a legitimate No. 2′s and 3′s, but they still lack a true No. 1.

The signing of Mike Sims-Walker shouldn’t dissuade the team from talking to Edwards either. A one-year deal for Sims-Walker shows the Rams aren’t sure what they have in him, but Edwards, although prone to drops at times, can be a legitimate No. 1 for quarterback Sam Bradford.

The receiver is still only 28-years old, has the potential to take over games if he can get his mind right and would thrive as the go-to receiver in either system.

Sam Bradford is the real deal in St. Louis while Donovan McNabb/Christian Ponder can both make good use of a player like Edwards – McNabb more so with this deep ball.

Edwards may have wanted to be a Jet again, but he’ll fit right in with the Rams or Vikings.

-You can follow Wes O’Donnell on Twitter

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How Ben Affleck Helped Jennifer Lopez With Crumbling Marriage – UsMagazine.com

Ben will always be in Jen’s corner.

Although Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck famously called off their engagement and 18-month romance in January 2004, the actor was happy to help as his ex’s 7-year marriage to Marc Anthony was falling apart.

PHOTOS: All of Jennifer Lopez’s exes

Guadalupe Lopez, the singer-actress’s mother (and plus-one at the July 9 BAFTA bash with the royals in Hollywood), sought Affleck’s advice on July 12, multiple sources confirm in the new Us Weekly, out Wednesday. “Guadalupe reached out to Ben over email. She wanted advice for Jennifer,” reveals a source.

“She always liked and trusted him. [Ben] replied back on email, wished her well and offered what he could,” the source says of Affleck, 38, now happily married with two daughters to Jennifer Garner. (Lopez, now 41, wed Latin crooner Anthony, 42, just months after she and Affleck split.)

PHOTOS: Look back on Jen and Marc’s marriage 

Three days after that secret email exchange with Affleck, Lopez and Anthony announced the end of their union in a joint statement. “It was a very bad marriage, and Jennifer got the courage to end things,” an insider says, adding, “[Marc] was a terrible husband.”

PHOTOS: Their adorable twins

At issue: Anthony’s raging jealousy over Lopez’s career, his compulsion to control everything from her business endeavors and even her famous wardrobe, and, according to multiple sources, at least one extra-marital affair in 2009.

And despite her ultra-glamourous, ultra-confident persona in the public eye, Lopez “actually has low self-esteem,” one pal explains. “And Marc really played into that insecurity. That’s why she put up with his abuse for such a long time.”

PHOTOS: Hollywood’s friendliest exes

For much more on the shocking split — what’s at stake, their money squabbles, who will get 3-year-old twins Max and Emme and whether she’s ready to date again — pick up the new Us Weekly, out today.

China, Saudis through in World Cup qualifying – Fox News Latino

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) –  China and Saudi Arabia were among the teams to progress in Asia’s World Cup qualifying on Thursday, as Singapore ousted neighbor Malaysia and crowd trouble forced the abandonment of Oman’s game at Myanmar.

China won 6-1 at Laos to complete a 13-3 aggregate victory, while Saudi Arabia won 5-0 at Hong Kong for an 8-0 margin over two legs. Both moved into the third round, a group stage that will include regional heavyweights such as Japan, South Korea and Australia.

Syria also produced an authoritative 4-0 away win over Tajikistan for a 6-1 aggregate; Kuwait won 2-1 at the Philippines for a 5-1 aggregate and Jordan progressed after a 1-1 draw at Nepal and a 10-1 win over two legs.

Singapore produced a creditable 1-1 draw in front of 85,000 mostly hostile fans in Malaysia to take a 6-4 aggregate win in one of the most important matches between the longstanding rivals.

India drew 2-2 at home against the United Arab Emirates but never threatened to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit.

In other results, Bangladesh beat Lebanon 2-0 but lost 4-2 on aggregate; Vietnam had a 2-1 win over Qatar but lost 4-2 on aggregate, and Indonesia had a late fright but clung on for a 4-3 win over Turkmenistan to win 5-4 overall.

In the late matches, Thailand, Iran and Iraq all qualified for the next stage.

Palestine’s hopes of reaching the World Cup are over after drawing 2-2 with Thailand to go out 3-2 on aggregate.

Iran beat Maldives 1-0 to go through 5-0 overall, Iraq was held to a 0-0 draw by Yemen but was victorious 2-0 after two legs, and Uzbekistan trounced Central Asian neighbor Kyrgyzstan 3-0 to advance 7-0 on aggregate.

In Myanmar, fans threw stones, shoes, water bottles and other objects onto the pitch and at Oman players and officials, forcing a halt to the match with Oman winning 2-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate.

At least one Oman player and one official were struck by objects as dozens of police tried to control the crowd. Myanmar football chief Zaw Zaw appealed for calm to no avail.

The violence came after striker Ismail made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the 39th minute, midfielder Amad Al Hosni having put Oman ahead in the 23rd minute.

While there was no immediate announcment of the official result of the game, Oman should progress to the third round, either by the standing score or by forfeit.

The third round, which features five groups of four teams, is scheduled for Sept. 2 to Feb. 29, 2012.

A fourth round of qualifying will decide which four Asian teams are guaranteed a place at the finals in Brazil, while a fifth round will provide Asia’s representative in an intercontinental playoff.

In Laos, China midfielders Deng Zhuoxiang and Yu Hanchao scored twice, with Qu Bo and Yang Xu also finding the net for the visitors, while Visay Phapouvanin scored for Laos.

China’s comfortable margin of victory over two legs came after Laos had taken a shock 2-0 lead in last weekend’s away leg, before being overwhelmed 7-2.

Saudi Arabia carried a comfortable 3-0 lead from the first leg against Hong Kong and completed a strong result Thursday thanks to goals from Hassan Fallatah, Mohammed Noor, Nassir Al-Shamrani, Mohammed Al-Sahlawi and Osama Hawsawi.

Saudi Arabia is eager to make up for not qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, its first absence from football’s main event since 1990.

Tajikistan’s match was up for grabs after Syria recorded a 2-1 home win in the first leg. However, Syria soon put the result beyond doubt Thursday as Raja Rafe scored twice in the first half, Nadim Sabagh made it 3-0 and a late own-goal completed a comfortable victory.

Indonesia had some anxious moments against Turkmenistan. Having secured a 1-1 away draw in the first leg, Indonesia surged ahead 4-1 on Thursday with two goals from Cristian Gonzales and one each to Nasuha and Muhammad Ridwan.

With Turkmenistan reduced to 10 men due to a red card, the contest looked over. But Berdy Shamuradov scored and Gakhrymanberdi Chonkaev converted a penalty to make it interesting. However, the visitors could not find another goal to take the match on the away goals rule.

Malaysia was confident of overturning a 5-3 deficit from the first leg against Singapore, and the hosts cut the deficit through Safee Sali’s goal in the 58th minute. Shi Jiayi equalized for Singapore in the 73rd minute and the visitors held firm to secure the draw.

atar, seeking to build its World Cup credentials ahead of its hosting role in 2022, carried a 3-0 advantage into the away game at Vietnam and effectively sealed the result when striker Yusef Ahmed Ali scored an away goal in the ninth minute. Vietnam responded through Nguyen Trong Hoang in the 15th and Nguyen Quang Hai’s header in the 33rd to gain the consolation of a win on the night.

India had been hopeful of overturning a 3-0 deficit against the UAE, believing that result was not representative because it had two men sent off. It failed to back up that belief on Thursday, as the Gulf side led 2-0 from goals by Mohamed Al Shehhi and Ali Al Wehaibi, before India pulled a goal back through Jeje Lalpekhlua and a stoppage-time equalizer by Gouramanghi Singh.

Jordan was never going to be threatened by Nepal after a 9-0 home win in the first leg. Saeed Morja made it 10-0 on aggregate, but Nepal was able to salvage a draw and some pride thanks to a late goal by 41-year-old Bharat Khawas.

Kuwait started the away leg at the Philippines with a 3-0 aggregate lead. Stephan Schrock put the Philippines ahead on the night to threaten a comeback, but Yousef Al Sulaiman and Waleed Ali Jumah responded to complete a 5-1 aggregate victory.

Bangladesh was at long odds to overturn a 4-0 deficit against Lebanon and fell short despite a 2-0 win on the night following second-half goals from Mithun Chowdhury and Zahid Hasan Emily.