Gallese denies Suarez as Peru beat Uruguay on penalties to reach Copa semis

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese saved Luis Suarez's spot-kick as Peru beat Uruguay on penalties on Saturday to reach the Copa America semi-finals, where they will play Chile.

Edison Flores scored the decisive penalty as Peru, who were thrashed 5-0 by Brazil in their previous match, qualified for the semi-finals for the third time in the last four editions of the Copa.

And it was a remarkable turnaround for Gallese, who was the villain of that thumping by the hosts, gifting Brazil their second goal by clearing the ball straight to Roberto Firmino, while he was also partially at fault for the first and third scores.

But in Salvador he guessed the right way for the first shoot-out penalty to deny Barcelona forward Suarez, after which Peru's own penalty-takers were faultless.

It was the third Copa quarter-final to finish goalless and head to penalties after Uruguay had three goals ruled out for offside during normal time.

 Giorgian de Arrascaeta, Edinson Cavani and Suarez had all put the ball in the net, only to be denied by a linesman's flag.

Brazil beat Paraguay on spot-kicks on Thursday and champions Chile did likewise to knock-out Colombia on Friday.

In the only match to feature any goals, Argentina defeated Venezuela 2-0 on Friday.

Peru will face Chile in the second semi-final in Porto Alegre on Wednesday, a day after hosts Brazil take on Argentina in Belo Horizonte.

Copa winners in 1939 and 1975, Peru lost to Chile in the semi-finals four years ago.

- Incredible miss -

 After a slow opening, Uruguay burst into life on 15 minutes when Federico Valverde surged onto a loose Peru pass in their own half and picked out an unmarked Luis Suarez on the penalty spot, but the Barcelona forward couldn't keep down his header.

Two minutes later Nahitan Nandez broke into the box from the flank but his shot was blocked by a sliding defender.

In pouring rain, Uruguay should have taken the lead on 24 minutes with a rapier counter-attack.

Suarez bundled past two defenders on the left of the box and while Gallese saved his shot, he succeeded only in pushing it out to Cavani on the edge off the six-yard box.

Incredibly the Paris Saint-Germain marksman ballooned his shot over the bar although it wouldn't have counted as Suarez was retroactively deemed offside when he received the ball.

Moments later Nandez headed over from six yards.

De Arrascaeta had the ball in the net on 28 minutes but that was chalked off for an offside against Nandez, who played the cross into the box.

Uruguay were well on top even though Peru were enjoying 55 percent of possession.

They finally created a worthy chance late in the first half but Jose Gimenez made a stunning recovery tackle to deny Paolo Guerrero a goalscoring chance.

Up the other end, Gallese made himself big to block Cavani's shot on the turn.

- Cavani and Suarez denied -

Gallese was called into action early in the second period to punch out a dipping Valverde free-kick.

Center-back Diego Godin, up for a throw-in deep in Peruvian territory, emulated Cavani's first-half howler, spooning over from seven yards after he was picked out by Suarez.

Cavani appeared to have broken the deadlock just before the hour mark as he latched onto a Suarez through ball and chipped Gallese, but he was pulled up for offside.

Suarez poked home a Martin Caceres cross inside the six yard box on 73 minutes, but that too was ruled offside.

Uruguay pushed hard late on but Peru held out as Suarez failed to make contact with the ball when trying to lob Gallese in the clearest chance.

No problem for U.S. Open champion Woodland

U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland is enjoying life as a newly-crowned major champion but has quickly realised that the biggest adjustment since his breakthrough victory may just be finding out how to say no.

Woodland, who will return to action for the first time since his U.S. Open triumph when he tees it up at this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, has understandably experienced a sudden increase in requests.

“You try to be a nice guy,” Woodland told reporters on Wednesday at Detroit Golf Club. “But sometimes you’ve got to say ‘no’, and that’s easier said than done for me sometimes.”

For Woodland, such demands on his time are uncharted territory and few could have expected that to change going into the year’s third major where the 35-year-old American was not on anyone’s radar.

But Woodland, in his 31st career major, used a red-hot putter to carve up the Pebble Beach layout and finish three shots clear of runner-up Brooks Koepka, who was seeking a third consecutive U.S. Open title.

Even at Detroit Golf Club, where the field is headlined by world number two Dustin Johnson and fan favourite Rickie Fowler, Woodland found himself in the spotlight.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had the autograph requests that I’ve had,” said world number 12 Woodland. “It’s hard to say no, especially when somebody’s out there and they’re asking.

“It would have been hard for me to hear no when I was a kid, so you try to make time and prepare for that, I guess. I don’t know if I blocked in the amount of time to do that yesterday.”

But Woodland, a four-times winner on the PGA Tour, will do his best to block out as much of the noise as possible given he remains as hungry as ever for more success.

With the July 18-21 British Open, the lucrative FedExCup playoffs and a chance to qualify for the U.S. team that will defend the Presidents Cup in December in Melbourne, Australia, Woodland has plenty to aim for this year.

“There’s still a lot at stake,” Woodland said. “Being a major champion is awesome, but I’m still trying to win more, still trying to get better.”

Vettel still has what it takes at Ferrari, says Webber

Sebastian Vettel took the Formula One lead from Lewis Hamilton at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix but the Ferrari driver has now fallen so far behind there can be no repeat at Spielberg this weekend.

After eight races, Ferrari’s German lags his Mercedes rival by 76 points and cannot catch up until August, even if Hamilton had three retirements in a row — unlikely for a man with only one since 2016.

Vettel, who won all four of his world championships with Red Bull, has gone 16 races without a victory and made some costly errors, while Hamilton has won 14 of the last 20.

Questions have increasingly been asked about Vettel’s performance under pressure while Hamilton speeds towards a sixth championship.

Australian Mark Webber, now-retired former Red Bull team mate, feels Vettel still has what it takes but needs better support and more ammunition from the oldest and most glamorous team.

“I think he needs a couple more lieutenants, he needs to have less responsibility in the team and just more reassurance that the Monday to Friday stuff is going to be dealt with,” he told Reuters.

“Seb’s still has got it, but it’s a real challenge to stay ahead against a Mercedes-Lewis Hamilton factor week in and week out.”

Vettel is third overall, and best of the rest behind the Mercedes drivers, with team mate Charles Leclerc fifth and 24 points further adrift.

Formula One’s most successful team have not won any title since 2008.

“I don’t find the challenge now different to last year or the years before,” Vettel said in France last Sunday. “We are in a better place than maybe 2015 and 2016 so I think 2017 and ‘18 have been a clear step in the right direction.

“It’s true that last year at this point we were more competitive but it is what it is now...what is important is to look back at these races and understand what we need to do better.

“I love racing, nothing has changed about that.”

TALK OF TESTING

This year’s car was the talk of pre-season testing with its straight-line pace in Barcelona but is losing time overall to Mercedes through the corners. Correcting the problems will take time.

Ferrari should still have won in Bahrain but an engine problem thwarted Leclerc while leading from pole.

In Canada, Vettel also led from pole but ended up a controversial second after a time penalty for going off and rejoining in an unsafe fashion.

The German has been wearing the red overalls since 2015, dreaming of emulating great compatriot and idol Michael Schumacher, but the magic is wearing thin even as Leclerc’s popularity grows.

The scrutiny, as ever, is intense and unsparing.

“Red Bull is like a Formula Three team compared to Ferrari. With Ferrari there’s an article every day in the Gazzetta dello Sport. It’s a religion there and being a driver is not easy,” said Webber.

“If you look at when Ferrari executed the best, we go back to when it was Ross (Brawn) and Jean (Todt),” he said, referring to the golden years at the start of the century when Ferrari won six successive constructors’ titles under foreign bosses.

“They had a big mix of culture and I think that’s still a bit of a missing link.”

So too is qualifying and single lap pace, with Vettel dangerous when starting off the front row but more vulnerable further back.

“Lewis is going to win the championship and Mercedes are going to win the constructors’ (title), it’s obvious. Mercedes are just too strong,” said Webber.

“Ferrari just have not got enough bullets. It’s like a football team, Mercedes just keep getting a result. Ferrari need everything to line up.”

Serena headed to Wimbledon seeking return to form

Serena Williams will bring her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title to Wimbledon next week where she will try to shake off a nagging knee injury and show the tennis world that her window of opportunity is still open.

Williams has been stuck on 23 Grand Slam titles, one behind the all-time record held by Margaret Court, for over two years and has shown little evidence of late that she will be able to snap that drought at the All England Club.

“As long as she’s playing, she’s going to be a threat to win anything,” ESPN tennis analyst and former world number one John McEnroe told a conference call.

“But it’s just now there’s more things that can go wrong, I suppose, like more days where she might not have it and other days where players won’t give in as easily. So that just makes it more difficult.”

The 37-year-old American’s time on court has been limited to a handful of matches since the Australian Open in January due in part to a knee injury that kept her from competing in a tune-up event ahead of Wimbledon, where action begins on July 1.

After losing in the third round at the French Open, Williams did not exactly sound her confident self when asked if she would have enough time to get in optimal shape for Wimbledon, where she is a seven-times winner.

“I hope so. I’m still working on it and working on getting there,” said Williams. “So I think it will be, I think it be enough time. We’ll see, but I definitely hope so.”

When Williams was at the peak of her career, she was so far above the competition that she could barrel her way through a Grand Slam draw even if she was having an off day.

But the combination of injury, a limited playing schedule and an increased standard of women’s tennis over the past few years have left many to question whether she can again triumph in one of tennis’ blue riband events.

TWO STEPS SLOWER

Williams won the most recent of her Grand Slam titles at the 2017 Australian Open when she was in the early stages of her pregnancy, which led to her taking a year off from competition.

She came back with a bang in 2018 and despite not playing at her best managed to reach the final at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“It’s hard for me to bet against Serena. Look what happened last year: Two finals in Grand Slams,” said ESPN tennis analyst and 18-times Grand Slam champion Chris Evert.

“The one difference that I see in Serena is since she’s come back, she’s been one or two steps slower than normal. I think that’s a little bit of fitness. I think it’s a little bit of match play. I think it’s a little bit of confidence.”

Healthy legs are key to any player’s game but perhaps even more vital for someone like Williams who relies heavily on her physicality and court coverage to set up big shots.

Williams has been unable to deliver her trademark big serves on a consistent basis of late but will likely take comfort in the friendly confines of the All England Club given she is most effective on grass.

But unlike in her prime, Williams’ rivals know she is not the same player she once was and do not walk onto the court nearly as intimated as they once were when facing one of the game’s all-time greats.

“There’s so many things that may be going against Serena, and she thrives on that, and she loves that, and that’s when she comes through,” said Evert.

“I would have said in January, if there was any Grand Slam she was going to win, it would probably be Wimbledon ... and if her serve is on, she’s going to be tough to beat.”

Wary of past pain, Nadal eyes third Wimbledon title

Rafa Nadal received a degree of sympathy this week when he questioned a Wimbledon seedings formula that relegated him down to third in this year’s draw despite a world ranking of two.

After all, he has been champion there twice, is bang in form after a record-stretching 12th French Open, is injury free and last year was a whisker away from reaching the final.

Despite that, the 33-year-old would be the first to admit that despite twice lifting the trophy the All England Club’s lawns have not always been a happy hunting ground.

While his 2008 defeat of Roger Federer in a final for the ages stands as one of his greatest days, shock losses at the hands of Steve Darcis, Lucas Rozol, Dustin Brown and Gilles Muller represent some of his darkest moments.

Wimbledon’s low bouncing lawns also provide the ultimate test of the creaky knees that disrupted Nadal’s season this year and forced him to withdraw from Miami.

It is why Nadal’s excitement is tempered by a little trepidation every time he heads to his most erratic Grand Slam and why there is a sense of unfinished business.

After backing up his 2008 triumph by beating Tomas Berdych in the 2010 final and reaching the final again in 2011 — Nadal then went five visits without going past the fourth round.

Those dismissing his grasscourt prowess were forced to eat humble pie last year when Nadal roared through to the semi-finals when he lost 8-6 in the fifth set to Novak Djokovic in one of the highest-quality matches ever seen on Centre Court.

With an exhausted Kevin Anderson waiting in the final Nadal’s chances of claiming a third Wimbledon crown were bright.

“Last year he was very close,” uncle and former coach Toni Nadal told Reuters this month in Mallorca. “If had beaten Djokovic I think he would have won the final.”

Nadal has again opted to play no competitive grasscourt matches in the build-up to Wimbledon, preferring instead to practise in Mallorca and then take part in the Aspall Classic exhibition event at the swanky Hurlingham Club where on Wednesday he was soundly beaten by Marin Cilic.

Not that Cilic was reading too much into that and even suggested Nadal could be favourite to win the title and match Bjorn Borg’s record of winning Wimbledon immediately after winning the French on three occasions.

“Rafa now winning the French Open I feel he might be a great contender, compared even to Roger and Novak he might be, in my own feeling, he might be slightly ahead. We’ll see,” Cilic said after handing Nadal something of a grasscourt lesson.

Nadal will sharpen his game before Wimbledon starts and despite being third favourite behind Djokovic and Federer, appears to be in the mood to do some damage.

“I know I played a great event last year. I have been able to be very close to win another title there. I love to play on grass,” he said shortly after claiming his 18th Grand Slam title by defeating Dominic Thiem in Paris.

“Honestly, the last two years that I played in Wimbledon, I felt close again.”

Neymar wants Barcelona return, says club's vice-president

Brazilian superstar Neymar wants to return to Barcelona two years after quitting the club to join Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona's vice-president said Thursday.

"What is correct, at the current time, what I have read, what I have heard, which seems exact, is that Neymar wants to come back to Barcelona," Jordi Cardoner told a press conference at the Camp Nou.

But he stressed that Barcelona had made no contact so far with the world's most expensive footballer who joined the French champions for 222 million euros ($252 million).

For the moment the club acknowledged Neymar's interest in returning to Barcelona but said there was no recruitment effort on their part to resign him.

"To say that Barça is working on recruiting Neymar, that is something I cannot agree with," Cardoner said.

"For the moment all that is happening -- and not only with Neymar -- is that a number of players would like to play for a great club like Barcelona. We will see what happens in timely fashion."

"We are currently working on the phase of deciding which players we will not be keeping on next season," said Cardoner.

"We are recruiting no-one at the moment, especially not this player (Neymar) with whom we have had no contact."

However, media reports indicated that intermediaries between PSG and Barca had hammered out the terms of the deal which would free the Brazilian star to return to Barcelona this summer.

According to other Spanish media reports this week, Neymar has offered to take a pay cut of 12 million euros a year to return to the club and Barca have reached a 'verbal agreement' to take him back.

The 27-year-old spent four years at Camp Nou, winning the Champions League in 2015 and two La Liga titles in a potent attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Any return for Neymar would likely require Barca to raise funds through sales. Antoine Griezmann is expected to join from Atletico Madrid for 120 million euros while Frenkie de Jong has already signed for 75 million euros from Ajax.

The pay cut would see Neymar's salary clipped from around 36 million euros at PSG to the 24 million euros he received at Barca prior to his departure in 2017, according to the reports.

Salah sends Egypt into Cup of Nations last 16

Mohamed Salah scored his first goal of the Africa Cup of Nations as hosts Egypt secured a place in the last 16 on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ahmed Elmohamady prodded Egypt ahead on 25 minutes after a wicked Salah cross and the Liverpool star slammed in a second shortly before half-time to spark frenzied celebrations at a packed Cairo International Stadium.

Record seven-time champions Egypt rode their luck at times as DR Congo twice struck the crossbar in the first half but the Group A leaders held firm to join Nigeria as the first teams through to the knockout phase.

Egypt overcame the distraction of Amr Warda being banished from the squad earlier in the day over mounting sexual harassment allegations. The claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms. Multiple women posted screenshots and testimonies of Warda's alleged lewd comments.

Coach Javier Aguirre fielded the same side that defeated Zimbabwe 1-0, with centre-back Ahmed Hegazy sporting a mask after breaking his nose in the opening game of the tournament.

Salah was guilty of missing a hatful of chances in the curtain-raiser and this season's Premier League joint top scorer again threatened inside five minutes here when an interception broke his way only for the Egyptian to skew wide under pressure.

After four days of small crowds, a capacity 75,000 crowd again turned out to cheer on the hosts in the capital, but they were nearly silenced when Marcel Tisserand slammed against the bar at a corner.

DR Congo came to Egypt as one of the most unpredictable qualifiers having finished third in 2015 only to make a timid quarter-final exit two years ago, and they fell behind for the second straight game as Elmohamady forced home after the ball fell kindly to him following an aerial challenge with Christian Luyindama.

Having created the opener with his vicious right-wing cross, Salah then stung the palms of Ley Matampi with a powerful 25-yard free-kick.

Egypt would be rescued by the woodwork once more though when a deep cross was nodded back across goal by Bokadi Bope before Jonathan Bolingi's looping header bounced back off the bar.

With his side riding their luck, Salah rose to the occasion and settled Egyptian nerves two minutes before half-time with a typically brilliant finish.

Played into space down the right by Mahmoud 'Trezeguet' Hassan, Salah skipped inside Tisserand and ripped a crisp low drive inside Matampi's near post to cue a volcanic eruption from the masses of delirious Egyptians supporters.

Mohamed El Shenawy produced an excellent sprawling second-half save to claw out a Jacques Maghoma header, but despite an improvement on a horror first outing, DR Congo now know they must beat Zimbabwe in their final game in order to possibly advance as one of the four best third-place finishers.

New world number one Barty out of Eastbourne with arm injury

New world number one Ashleigh Barty has suffered a pre-Wimbledon injury scare, withdrawn from this week’s Eastbourne grasscourt tournament with a recurrence of a right arm injury.

The 23-year-old became the first Australian woman to reach the top of the WTA rankings for 43 years on Sunday when she won the Birmingham Classic and will be top seed at Wimbledon.

“It’s an injury I’ve had to manage since I was 16 years old,” Barty told reporters at Devonshire Park on Monday.

“It happens when I have a spike in load, it’s just a bone stress injury and I need to look after it.”

Her coach Craig Tyzzer said Wimbledon might not have been “a viable option” had she played too much this week.

“It’s just loads,” he said. “We have to monitor how much she plays, so this makes sense.”

Barty won the French Open earlier this month, the first Australian woman to do so in 46 years, and is on a 12-match winning streak heading to the All England Club.

She is optimistic she will be ready in time.

“I think it will be fine but we will have to make sure that we manage it carefully over the next three or four days and that I’m ready to go next week,” she said.

“It’s smarter to take time to let me body rest. It’s just about monitoring how many balls I hit when I do get back on court, particularly the serve. Just need to let it settle.”

Three years ago Barty arrived at Eastbourne to play her first tournament since returning to the game after walking away from it in 2014 and spending a year playing cricket.

Barty reached the semi-final then as a qualifier and her trajectory since has been spectacular.

She broke into the top 10 for the first time when she won the Miami Open this year and then stormed to the title on the Parisian clay despite it being her least favourite surface.

Her win over Julia Goerges on Sunday on the Birmingham grass meant she woke up on Monday as world number one.

“It’s been a whirlwind, it’s been the most incredible time of my life, it really has, it’s come around so quickly but we’ve done so much work with my team and I,” she said.

“It’s been an incredible ride.”

Folau crowdfunding shut down after A$750,000 raised

Sacked Australia fullback Israel Folau’s crowdfunding campaign to raise money to fight his termination has been shut down by the GoFundMe platform, with more than A$750,000 (£588,419) to be returned to thousands of donors.

Folau launched his GoFundMe page on Friday, appealing for A$3 million he said he needed for a potentially long legal battle against Rugby Australia (RA) and his former Super Rugby team New South Wales Waratahs.

RA and the Waratahs tore up Folau’s four-year contract last month after the fundamentalist Christian was found guilty of a “high-level breach” of RA’s code of conduct for posting on social media that hell awaits homosexuals and other groups.

GoFundMe Australia’s regional manager Nicola Britton said the crowdfunding platform was “absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ people” and that Folau’s campaign had breached their terms of service.

“While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,” Britton said in a statement on Monday.

“Today we will be closing Israel Folau’s campaign and issuing full refunds to all donors.”

A spokesman for Folau said the decision was “very disappointing.”

“Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause,” the spokesman said. “There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters.”

The spokesman added that several organisations had already expressed interest in supporting Folau’s fundraising efforts.

Folau’s GoFundMe page raised over A$250,000 from more than 2,500 donors within 12 hours of its launch, despite criticism raining down on the 30-year-old on social media, including from former Wallabies team mate Drew Mitchell.

GoFundMe’s decision drew praise from LGBT groups on social media and criticism from conservative Christians.

“The haters and Christophobes have forced Israel Folau’s church into hiding and GoFundMe appears to have closed his account, in the usual illiberal way of woke corporates,” Miranda Devine, a conservative columnist for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, tweeted.

The controversy over Folau’s page also enveloped his wife Maria Folau, a professional netballer, who was pilloried for supporting her husband’s GoFundMe campaign on social media.

Netball SA, the governing body of the sport in South Australia state, issued a statement on Sunday saying she had not breached their social media policy.

Folau’s spokesman noted the “attacks” on his wife.

“While Israel does not intend to respond in detail at this time regarding the accusations thrown at him or his family he wants it known that these attacks have hardened his resolve,” the spokesman said.

Folau announced earlier this month that he had begun legal proceedings against RA and the Waratahs at the Fair Work Commission, an industrial tribunal, casting the action as the pursuit of his “right to religious freedom”.

Folau’s contract, signed late last year, was worth a reported A$5 million.

Folau crowdfunding shut down after A$750,000 raised

Sacked Australia fullback Israel Folau’s crowdfunding campaign to raise money to fight his termination has been shut down by the GoFundMe platform, with more than A$750,000 (£588,419) to be returned to thousands of donors.

Folau launched his GoFundMe page on Friday, appealing for A$3 million he said he needed for a potentially long legal battle against Rugby Australia (RA) and his former Super Rugby team New South Wales Waratahs.

RA and the Waratahs tore up Folau’s four-year contract last month after the fundamentalist Christian was found guilty of a “high-level breach” of RA’s code of conduct for posting on social media that hell awaits homosexuals and other groups.

GoFundMe Australia’s regional manager Nicola Britton said the crowdfunding platform was “absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ people” and that Folau’s campaign had breached their terms of service.

“While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,” Britton said in a statement on Monday.

“Today we will be closing Israel Folau’s campaign and issuing full refunds to all donors.”

A spokesman for Folau said the decision was “very disappointing.”

“Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause,” the spokesman said. “There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters.”

The spokesman added that several organisations had already expressed interest in supporting Folau’s fundraising efforts.

Folau’s GoFundMe page raised over A$250,000 from more than 2,500 donors within 12 hours of its launch, despite criticism raining down on the 30-year-old on social media, including from former Wallabies team mate Drew Mitchell.

GoFundMe’s decision drew praise from LGBT groups on social media and criticism from conservative Christians.

“The haters and Christophobes have forced Israel Folau’s church into hiding and GoFundMe appears to have closed his account, in the usual illiberal way of woke corporates,” Miranda Devine, a conservative columnist for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, tweeted.

The controversy over Folau’s page also enveloped his wife Maria Folau, a professional netballer, who was pilloried for supporting her husband’s GoFundMe campaign on social media.

Netball SA, the governing body of the sport in South Australia state, issued a statement on Sunday saying she had not breached their social media policy.

Folau’s spokesman noted the “attacks” on his wife.

“While Israel does not intend to respond in detail at this time regarding the accusations thrown at him or his family he wants it known that these attacks have hardened his resolve,” the spokesman said.

Folau announced earlier this month that he had begun legal proceedings against RA and the Waratahs at the Fair Work Commission, an industrial tribunal, casting the action as the pursuit of his “right to religious freedom”.

Folau’s contract, signed late last year, was worth a reported A$5 million.

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