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Warriors’ Stephen Curry scores 23 in long-awaited return from broken hand

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scored 23 points for Golden State in his anticipated return after missing more than four months with a broken left hand, but the Toronto Raptors beat the Warriors 121-113 Thursday night to clinch a playoff spot.

After being sidelined 58 games, Curry led Golden State out of the tunnel to a big ovation – as loud as his neon sneakers, one pink and one yellow. He missed his first two shots but had three quick assists, including a no-look, behind-the-back dish to Andrew Wiggins. He finished with seven assists in 26 minutes.

The two-time MVP hit a 17-footer for his first basket early in the second quarter, then got a huge reaction for a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc shortly before halftime. He was 3 of 11 from 3-point range for the game.

“It feels like the first day of school pretty much all over again,” the 31-year-old Curry said earlier in the day after shootaround. “It’s kind of just getting back to enjoying playing basketball at the highest level. There’s a process to that.”

Norman Powell scored a career-high 37 points for Toronto, which clinched a playoff berth with the win in a rematch of last year’s finals. The Raptors won that series in six games, finishing with a victory in Golden State’s final game at its old arena in Oakland.

Kyle Lowry added 26 points and 10 assists, and Serge Ibaka had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Raptors, who won at Phoenix on Tuesday night to end a three-game losing streak.

“Knowing that Steph was coming back, we knew it was going to be a great night, a great atmosphere,” Lowry said. “One of the best players in the league was coming back from injury, we wuitting for Bordeaux.The 33-year-old signed for Bordeaux on Tuesday having previously refused to travel on Arsenal’s pre-season tour to the USA. On social media, Koscielny explained, “I have spent wonderful years with this club, nine years during whiere a little more focused and concentrated on him, but coming in here, it’s a great regular season game.”

Damion Lee scored 23 points and Marquese Chriss had 17 points and 12 rebound for the Warriors, who have lost 10 straight at home.

Golden State trailed 62-55 at halftime but took an 85-83 lead in the third on Eric Paschall’s three-pointer – with Curry on the bench, no less.

After Toronto regained the lead, Paschall tied it at 95 on a free throw with 9:39 left in the fourth quarter, but the Raptors countered with five straight points. A three-pointer by Lowry and a powerful dunk from OG Anunoby helped Toronto stretch the lead moments later.

Curry checked back in with 3:51 left and hit a falling layup with two minutes remaining that pulled the Warriors within 113-108. Wiggins added a three-pointer to make it 113-111, but Pascal Siakam made two baskets in 15 seconds to keep Toronto’s lead safe.

Lee stole the ball from Powell with 25.8 seconds left and was fouled by Powell. But he missed both free throws and then two three-point tries after consecutive offensive rebounds.

Curry practiced Monday with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors, then was recalled later in the day in a most anticipated promotion. His return to action came without most of his familiar supporting cast — Draymond Green missed his fourth straight game with a left knee injury, and Klay Thompson remains out with a torn left ACL.

Box-and-one D?

Curry and Lowry chatted recently, and Lowry kidded about pulling a box-and-one defense against Curry again.

“I’m expecting anything,” Curry said. “I talked to Kyle the other day and he joked about it, he might throw it back out there. Obviously last time we played them it was a terrible feeling losing in the finals, but obviously the situation’s different this year, but there’s excitement about what tonight’s going to be, me getting back out there and guys coming off a huge win in Denver, trying to build momentum.”

Tip-ins

Toronted boss Ole Gunnar is eager to get a deal for Leicester City defender Harry Maguire settled.Solskjaer spoke of the England international after their friendly shootout win over AC Milan in Cardiff.”Hopefully, the last little details will be in place to had lost 13 of its last 14 on the Warriors’ home court. … The Raptors are 8-3 on the road v the Western Conference. … The Raptors are the only opponent that swept the season series from the Warriors last season.

Golden State hasn’t won at home since beating Orlando 109-95 on 18 JanuaNew Bordeaux sports chief Hugo Varela has expressed interest in Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud.Off contract in June, Giroud has emerged as a confirmed target for Olympique Lyon and Olympique Marseille.And now Varela has revealed Bordeaux are also keery. They 7-25 at home overall and 2-9 against the Eastern Conference.

Up next

Visit the Kings on Sunday night.

Host the 76ers on Saturday night having lost 115-104 at Philadelphia on 28 January.

Will resurgent Tiger Woods beat Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors?

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It was not at all unfair for Tiger Woods to stay in the moment as the rest of golf cast eyes dreamily forward. on Sunday took his major haul to 15. Suddenly, from the recent position where the discussion felt irrelevant, Jack Nicklaus’s record tally of 18 is back within view. “I don’t know if Jack is worried or not,” said Woods. “I really haven’t thought about that yet. I’m sure that I’ll probably think of it going down the road. Maybe, maybe not. But right now it’s a little soon. I’m just enjoying 15.”

It did not take long for Nicklaus to respond. Worried? You bet he is. “I thought for a long time that he was going to win again,” Nicklaus said of Woods. “The next two majors are at Bethpage, where he has won, and at Pebble Beach, where he has won. So he has got me shaking in my boots.”

As the scale of Woods’s victory, arguably his finest in an illustrious but regularly disrupted career, reverberated around the globe golf had been afforded fresh profile. The 43-year-old is now within one of Sam Snead’s 82 PGA Tour wins, a record that has stood since the mid-60s. It is the major quest, though, that sets pulses racing.

“It’s nice to get to 15; 18 isn’t a thought,” said Joe LaCava, Woods’s caddie. “Now 15’s here, let’s get to 16. Is the record in play? Sure. The guy’s 43 years old, a guy like him could win when they’re 50. Sixteen is the next mission.”

Woods credited LaCava with a key role in his one-shot Masters victory. The pair had a discussion after a dropped shot at the 5th hole on Sunday, during which the caddie urged Woods to “not carry the weighmitted interest in Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard.After an outstanding loan with Vitesse Arnhem last season, Odegaard is considering his future with Real this summer.A move to Ajax has been mooted for the Norway international, however Bayer at of the world on your shoulders”. LaCava added: “I didn’t put in all the hard work. I didn’t have all the surgeries. I wasn’t down in Florida grinding. So for me, it’s easy. I just show up, try to do a halfway decent job and he has to do all the tough work.”

As Nicklaus acknowledged, the year’s upcoming majors present Woods with an opportunity. Next month’s US PGA Championship will see Woods return to Bethpage, where he won the US Open in 2002. The latter tournament, in June, is at the Pebble Beach links where Woods marched to a 15-stroke victory 19 years ago. He has also prevailed in Tour events hosted at the Californian venue. July’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush had already seen scrambling for tickets even before Woods displayed uncharacteristic euphoria in Georgia.

“Eighteen is, I think, a lot closer than people think,” said Brooks Koepka, one of the men Woods held off to claim his fifth Masters. “I would say that’s probably what all fans, what we’re thinking. He’s definitely back and 18’s not far.”

If Nicklaus would rather retain his place in the record books, he does a fine job of endorsing why Woods might steal it. Even before a ball was struck at Augusta last Thursday the 79-year-old had volunteered Woods as a likely Masters winner on account of evidence gleaned from a recent game of golf; a certain Donald Trump.

“I don’t ever pull against anybody,” Nicklaus said. “Nobody wants their record to be broken. But I certainly wouldn’t want Tiger to be hurt and not to be able to do it. Of course he is now pretty healthy and playing well. I wish him well, I always wish the guys well and I want them to play their best and don’t want anybody to play poorly.

“Everybody has been asking me about Tiger. Can Tiger win again? Will he win another major? I kept saying, I think so, I think he will. The reason I said that was it all depended on Tiger’s health. If Tiger is healthy, then Tiger didn’t need to worry about his driver. He never drove the ball straight anyway. He always got the ball, from somewhere, up around the green. Tiger is such a great putter, has such a great short game. He has such distance control with his irons, unbelievable distance control, best I’ve seen from anybody in the game. If you get a guy that can do that – even if Tiger wasn’t healthy – he could bunt the ball off the tee somewhere. And with his iron game and his short game, he was going to win again. He topped it off this week by driving the ball. It was a special week for him.”

Monday morning delivered confirmation that Woods has risen to No 6 in the world rankings. “The No 1 player in the world is ranked sixth,” claimed Paes of success at Euro 2020 – because of the punishing fixture schedule.England strikers Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford are enduring long injury lay-offs, with both facing a battle to prove their fitness ahead of this summer’s tournament.Tottenham ‘ul Azinger, a former US Ryder Cup captain turned television analyst. Though there are still 17 months to go before the European team visits Whistling Straits, Woods has leapt to the summit of the US Ryder Cup rankings. At the end of this year,dmits they need to add to the squad after the appointment of new coach Rino Gattuso.He stated: “Rino is relying on the old guard, which seems natural for their experience, especially with these tactics.”From tomorrow we’ll think about the market.”B in what marks his own first step towards Ryder Cup captaincy, Woods will lead his country in the Presidents Cup. “I’m hoping to make my own team,” said Woods on Sunday, in proving he has playing aspirations for Royal Melbourne.

Long before then Woods is expected to make a tournament return at Quail Hollow at the start of May.

Should that transpire, a routine PGA Tour event will have been handed the kind of boost money cannot buy. The same applies to the wider golf scene.

NFL seeks $2m from Cowboys owner Jones after clashes over Elliott and Goodell

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The NFL is exploring options to get more than $2m in reimbursement for legal fees from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones over Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension, as well as court costs for running back , said a person with knowledge of the situation.

Many owners were consulted on seeking restitution, including members of the finance committee, according to AP’s source. Some of the finance committee members are on the compensation committee that was at the center of what became a legal back-and-forth over Goodell’s deal.

The attempt at restitution is rooted in a 1997 resolution that states owners can seek repayment for legal fees if a fellow owner is responsible for getting them involved in legal action.

The Cowboys declined to comment on the owners’ actions.

Jones’ attempt to derail Goodell’s extension, which came after Elliott was suspended over domestic violence allegations, led to a volley of threatening letters from lawyers for both sides. After eventually relenting, Jones said after the owners meetings in December that he got what he wanted with an agreement to consider changes to the power of the commissioner’s role taptain Vincent Kompany said goodbye to the club’s fans in style.City players and fans were celebrating their domestic treble success with a parade in Manchester.It allowed Kompany, who is leaving to join Anderlecht as player-manager, a chance to bid hrough the league’s constitution. Jones denied that his attempt to scuttle the contract was tied to Elliott’s suspension, but made repeated references to Goodell’s power to punish players.

With Jones and Goodell in the same room for a news conference after the December meetings, the commissioner said he didn’t take Jones’ objections to the extension ach Antonio Conte.Named new Inter coach last week, Conte is eager to see his newly inheritetest with Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final on Wednesday.The Reds beat Spurs twice in the Premier League this season, with a 2-1 scoreline in both games.And Klopp is expecting another cagey affair at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.”Id squad strengthened.RSI Sport says Inter have approached Arsenal for Xhaka and talks have already kicked off over a fee for the midfielder.The Switzerland intpersonally. Goodell also denied assuring Jones that Elliott wouldn’t be suspended before announcing the punishment in August.Jones and the Cowboys were supportive of Elliott’s lawsuit, which was led by the players’ union and resulted in federal court hearings in three states over a span of two months. The suit eventually failed and Elliott served the suspension.

Are cities starting to see World Cup hosting duties as a poisoned chalice?

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The North American bid for the 2026 World Cup, a joint venture between the United States, Canada and Mexico, with 23 cities listed as potential venues.

But behind the fanfare, four major cities – Chicago, Minneapolis, Vancouver and Glendale– told Fifa and the United Bid they didn’t want to be part of a . Local authorities from those cities cited heavy-handed requests from Fifa and the United Bid that included potentially huge taxpayer bills, as well as hosting contracts that exposed their cities and residents to immense financial and legal risk.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Wednesday that Chicago was out – even if the bid was successful. A city official told the Guardian that although Chicago considered itself a “big event city” the requirements for the 2026 tournament “just didn’t feel right”. One demand from Fifa was that the organization could require Chicago to construct a dome over Soldier Field, the venue that hosted and would have hosted matches in 2026.

Fifa’s requirements also included an open-ended ability to modify the agreement at any time; no indemnity to protect the city or taxpayers from legal and financial risks; for to meet requirements that fall outside of its jurisdiction and authority and therefore could not be ensured; and for contracts to be governed and interpreted under Swiss law (Fifa is headquartered in Zurich).

The cities may well have looked at warnings from the past before pulling out: some venues used for recent World Cups in Brazil and South Africa stand as publicly-funded monuments to a demanding and brief affair with .

Cape Town Stadium, for example, on the local government with calls for the 2010 World Cup venue to be demolished and replaced with affordable public housing. The stadium is losing a reported $10m annually and a recent idea to offer naming rights to a sponsor led internet jokers to suggest renaming the stadium “The Lonely Elephant” or “The Money Pit”.

Rio’s famed Maracana was a global icon used during the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics . A year after the 2014 tournament, Brasilia’s stadium was converted to a bus parking lot and Cuiaba’s never-quite-completed stadium hosted homeless people after standing idle – arguably both better uses for public money.

Stadiums are not just a problem for World Cups. Ten years after the 2004 Games, Olympic , while in Australia to tear down the Sydney Olympic Stadium, which is now considered obsolete less than 20 years after it opened for the 2000 Games.

It’s something Chicago seems to have noticed. “After conducting a robust due diligence process and participating in the World Cup 2026 United Bid Committee bid process, Fifa could not provide a basic level of certainty on some major unknowns that put our city and taxpayers at risk,” Matt McGrath, a spokesman for Mayor Emanuel said in an email to the Guardian. “The uncertainty for taxpayers, coupled with Fifa’s inflexibility and unwillingness to negotiate, were clear indications that further pursuit of the bid wasn’t in Chicago’s best interests.”

Hosting World Cup matches could have provided soccer around Chicago with a legacy for generations – many American fans claim the 1994 tournament was a game changer for personal engagement – but Emanuel’s decision was applauded by the president of MLS club Chicago Fire.

“We fully support Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision, one that he made in the best interest of the city,” said Fire’s Nelson Rodríguez. “In the end, this is the event’s loss not to have games in one of the world’s greatest sports cities.”

Minneapolis, Vancouver and Glendale (home to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals) cited similar concerns with Fifa’s policy that demands cities hand over powers to an organization .

A Fifa spokesperson did not directly respond when asked if its World Cup demands were too demanding, instead referring the Guardian to titled “Overview of Government Guarantees and the Government Declaration”. The document outlines Fifa’s need to establish a legal framework when it imports its own infrastructure to operate within a host nation and the need for a local government to accommodate football’s governing body (, for example, attracted raised eyebrows in 2010).

“An son was proud of his players after their 0-0 draw at FA Cup opponents Newcastle United.The result will mean a fourth round replay at Kassam stadium.Robinson said, “It’s incredible. We’ve played three Premier League teams this season and only one of tis intensifying.Manchester City and Manchester United are both chasing the teen, along with Anderlecht and Ajax.City and Ajax have been in recent contact for Evjen.However, HLN says Anderlecht have now jumped ahead in the race, with player-manager Vievent of the magnitude of the Fifa World Cup cannot be organised without the broad support of the relevant government authorities in the Host Country,” the document reads.

Fifa’s requirements for host nations also demand that the US, Canada, and Mexico guarantee a visa-free environment or “issue non-discriminatory entry procedures” for representatives of Fifa nations during the World Cup. The demand effectively grants close-to-diplomatic status to anyone connected to a national federation or Fifa. Work permit, labor law, and tax exemptions are also required from national governments.

Fifa also requires the agreements must be signed by the “highest national government executive authority” meaning, in the US, Donald Trump must sign off on the tournament if the joint bid receives a majority vote from the 211 Fifa members.

Of course, some may welcome US cities dropping out. The dominance of US cities – 17 of the 23 candidates are in the States – in a shortlist to be cut to 16 underlines the widely-held perception that the United Bid is a US-hosted tournament with Canada and Mexico as junior partners.

Sources close to both the United and Morocco bids say Trump is . With global politics, foreign policy, and tweets spilling into football politics, 57 African nations are expected to back Morocco, Asia’s diverse 47 votes are split, and there remains resentment among some Uefa and South American nations in in exposing Fifa corruption. The three United Bid co-chairmen – from the US, Canada, and Mexico – have spent the past weeks crisscrossing the globe lobbying for votes hoping to minimize the Trump effect.

Morocco is the sole rival to North America, and June’s vote will be the first time all 211 Fifa members have had a direct say on the host rather than a 24-member committee vulnerable to claims of corruption and vote rigging.

Still, even if the US were to bid alone for the 2026 Woease clause for Maxi Gomez, according to reports.Sky Sports says the two clubs are now discussing the method of payment for the £44.85m fee.According to La Liga rules, West Ham will have to pay the release clause in full at the competition’s headquarld Cup, its immense geography means it can still host a strong and successful tournament even without several major cities agreeing to host. It is, with no irony, too big to fail. The concern for the US Soccer Federation is that MLS cities such as Chicago, Minneapolis (and Vancouver) are disinclined to be part of what should be a soccer homecoming. Fifa and the International Olympic Committee should pay attention, too. Being the TV backdrop to a sports event, even one with a global audience, is not the big deal it once was.

— The United Bid 2026 and US Soccer Federation declined multiple requests to comment for this story. Soccer Canada referred requests to comment to the United Bid 2026.

The Joy of Six: seasons from hell

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1) Cleveland Browns (1995)

Ten years before he made his name as the inscrutable, hooded overlord of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick was handed his first chance as an NFL head coach by the , a historic franchise wounded by years of failure.

A giant in the sport’s formative years, the Browns had never made the Super Bowl, and a run of spectacular near-misses in the 1980s had shattered morale. After a 3-13 season in 1990, the owner, Art Modell, lured Belichick from the New York Giants, where he had just won the Super Bowl as defensive coach with a game plan so good that it’s now in the Hall of Fame.

Belichick set out to build a rugged team built for the hard winters on the shore of Lake Erie, where the team shared a rundown municipal stadium with the Cleveland Indians. Progress was slow – the Browns posted narrow losing records in his first three seasons – but the wily head coach engineered a run to the play-offs in 1994.

Despite frequent clashes with Modell over money, Belichick had the Browns primed for a Super Bowl run. Nearly 75,000 fans poured into the Cleveland Stadium to see the win over Kansas City, which sealed a 3-1 start. Off the field, Modell was watching revenues fall after the Indians’ departure. Rumblings began that the owner was about to take a hammer to the sturdy foundations Belichick had built.

On 6 November, Modell announced his intention to relocate the Browns to Baltimore. From dreaming of a Super Bowl, ever-faithful Browns fans were facing the death of their team. Cleveland lost nine of their next 10 games, falling apart on the field as fans turned to mutiny. The final home game of the season against Cincinnati became a riot. Spectators , raw grief giving way to rage.

Somewhere in the NFL’s corridors of power, the anguish poured out that day struck a nerve. The fans won their battle to keep the team in Cleveland (Modell’s Baltimore team became a new franchise), though they had to wait until 1999 for their return. The Browns avoided a death sentence but for the expansion side, the ghosts of what might have been are everywhere.

The relocated, rebranded Baltimore Ravens have won two Super Bowls. Belichick, fired by Modell over the phone, learned from the chaos in Cleveland to build a dynasty at New England. He slipped on a fifth Super Bowl ring this year; the Browns have won one of their last 24 games.

2) Doncaster Rovers (1997-98)

The free market rules in English football, which means pretty much anyone with a bit of spare cash can buy themselves a club. Some teams find their perfect match, a steady hand on the tiller that unleashes a club’s true potential. Doncaster got Ken Richardson. Under his ownership, Rovers lost their league status, their main stand to a suspicious fire, and their dignity.

Richardson had a curious hands-on/off approach, rarely investing in or even visiting the club’s run-down Belle Vue home but regularly interfering with team affairs. He would fax in team talks from the Isle of Man with missives like “show the bastards” scrawled on them. After a string of managers walked out, he installed a “general manager”, Mark Weaver, to do his bidding.

With Richardson’s cash cut off and home gates dwindling to below 1,000, Doncaster descended into little more than a Sunday league side. A followed the farcical final acts of the 1997-98 season, from angry supporters’ meetings to players training in the park, and getting trapped in the dressing room by a faulty door. On the pitch things were no better.

As the owner focused on selling off their ground, Doncaster’s motley crew of loanees and youth players were left to sink slowly, finishing the 46-game season with a record 34 defeats. They lost 7-1 to Cardiff City, and 8-0 at Leyton Orient. In the League Cup, Nottingham Forest beat them 10-1 on aggregate. Coach Danny Bergara tried swapping players’ numbers in a tactical move, outfoxing only himself.

Witzkid James Maddison, according to reports.The attacking midfielder shone in his debut Premier League season after moving from Norwich City last summer.At 22 years of age, Maddison’s potential has got the top clubs vying for his signature.The Independh Richardson absent, fans turned on Weaver, a yes-man installed above his station to do the owner’s bidding. At the final home game, fans staged a mock funeral for a club they expected to fold. Weaver turned up having vowed to stay away. The police advised him to leave for his own safety.

As the club fell apart, police were closing in on Richardson over his involvement in a fire in the summer of 1995 that had almost gutted the main stand at Belle Vue. He was eventually charged with offering a former soldier £10,000 to start the fire, part of a hare-brained scheme to get his hands on lucrative land. Detectives labelled him “the type that would trample a two-year-old to pick up a 2p piece”.

From the ashes, Doncaster at least found the owner they deserved. As Richardson was sent to jail, the local businessman John Ryan stepped in, and set about reviving the club. Ten years after their season in hell, with a new ground built and Belle Vue left behind, to seal promotion to the Championship.

3) Vince Spadea (2000)

Some tennis players are driven by rivalry, or a quest for sporting immortality. Vince Spadea’s motivation was more practical. “No one wants to travel the world to lose money,” he wrote in 2006. “Tennis players are paid to win.”

The year 2000 was a lean one for Spadea, a journeyman pro who had just enjoyed a breakthrough season. He had reached No19 in the world, and upset Andre Agassi on his way to the 1999 Australian Open quarter-finals. Spadea flew out to Melbourne seeking a repeat run to kick-start flagging form, but lost in the first round to the world No95, Adrian Voinea.

That early exit proved the catalyst for a historic run of defeats. Winter turned to spring, the hard courts gave way to clay, and Spadea lost, lost and lost again. By the time he reached Wimbledon, he had lost 21 straight matches. In the first round, he drew the British No2, Greg Rusedski. His parents decided to stay in Florida.

What happened next was predictable in its own way. Spadea overcame two lost tie-breaks and a two-hour rain delay to win the deciding set 9-7. The shame shifted to Rusedski and for the watching world, that’s where the story ended. “I can lose to anyone, but I can battle,” a jubilant Spadea told the crowd. “Because I got game.”

How much game? As it turned out, not much. Spadea lost his next match at Wimbledon, crashed out of the US Open and Olympics at the first hurdle, and lost in Tokyo to a player ranked outside the top 300. Dropping down to the Challenger circuit in autumn to regain his form, he lost his first match 6-1, 6-0.

Spadea ended the year with three wins and 28 losses at ATP Tour level, and a world ranking of No237. He would fight his way back up the rankings in tenacious style, but his losing run still hit him where it hurt – his pocket. Spadea has claimed that his season was so bad, he actually lost money on the tour. For him, that was the true price of failure.

4) Ferrari (1980)

Dominance in can be a fragile thing. With cars constantly tweaked and tuned up to stay ahead of the field, a wrong turn in the garage can wipe out years of progress. McLaren found that out in 2015, when a switch to Honda engines saw the historic team, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button on board, reduced to a laughing stock.

In 1980 made a more subtle change, updating the 312T car that had won them four of the previous six constructors’ titles. The upgrade proved to be an unmitigated calamity in a tumultuous season blighted by safety concerns. The first two races, in Argentina and Brazil, saw drivers including Ferrari’s defending world champion, Jody Scheckter, threaten a boycott over track conditions.

1980 proved a turning point for the sport, with Bernie Ecclestone winning a power struggle with the F1 chief, Jean-Marie Balestre. It also proved a watershed for the Scuderia, who were outclassed in the early races as Williams and Brabham emerged as title contenders. Ferrari suffered reliability issues with their retooled engine, and did not pick up a point until Scheckter came fifth at Long Beach.

While his team-mate Gilles Villeneuve at least battled for the odd podium place in a chronically underpowered car, Scheckter took only two points all year, failed to even qualify for one race, and promptly retired at the end of the season. Scheckter’s sharp exit was, however, more than an indictment of his car.

He had once been the bad boy of F1, causing crashes and winding up rivals with his daredevil antics. Then, in 1973, he was first on the scene at team-mate François Cevert’s fatal crash at Watkins Glen. What he saw changed him profoundly and, after winning the world title ahead of Villeneuve in 1979, he saw no reason to put himself at risk any longer.

Villeneuve was not so fortunate. The Canadian was killed in a qualifying crash in Belgium two years later, perhaps the highest-profile victim of F1’s most unsafe era. Scheckter spoke at his funeral in a rare, fleeting return to the spotlight. The South African retired to Hampshire, where he now runs an organic farm.

Ferrari switched to a brand new car in 1981, and promptly returned to the podium places in the constructors’ championship. The previous season still left its maraller and Romelu Lukaku.The £40m signing from Eintracht Frankfurt has drawn comparisons with Manchester United striker Lukaku for his ability to score goals and hold up play.And Diop thinks his France U21 teammate, who scored 20 goals last season, wk – they did not produce another world champion driver until Michael Schumacher, some 20 years later.

5) Milan (1981-82)

Under the leadership of Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, Milan’s 1987-94 vintage won 14 trophies in seven seasons, blending Italian defensive nous with Dutch attacking flair to formidable effect. That golden age was forged in response to the club’s greatest embarrassment, only five years earlier.

For Serie A’s elite clubs, not winning the Scudetto is failure enough; they rarely have cause to consider the other end of the table. Internazionale have never been relegated, and Juventus’s only demotion . Milan were also relegated “off the field” once, in 1980, after the Totonero match-fixing scandal.

Milan bounced straight back and expected to breeze up the table, with a defence built around Franco Baresi and their new striker Joe Jordan banging in the goals. But Baresi missed four months with an injury, and in his absence Milan picked up eight points in 12 games. Jordan was the first player to score that season – in their eighth game.

Milan had returned to a league that was no longer afraid of them, and a run of one point from games against Catanzaro, Ascoli and Como appeared to confirm the unthinkable – relegation “on the field”. The youth coach Italo Galbiati replaced Gigi Radice and the club still had a chance of survival on the final day at Cesena.

After going 2-0 down early on, the team with 18 league goals all season found three in 15 minutes to grab victory. With Genoa behind at Napoli, Milan appeared to have avoided eternal shame, and their fans raced onto the pitch to celebrate. Then Genoa won a last-gasp corner, and scored.

Milan fans maintain that the Napoli goalkeeper, Luciano Castellini, intentionally threw the ball out to hand Genoa that corner. You can judge for yourself . Either way, this was not an experience the rossoneri ever planned on repeating. After securing an immediate return, Silvio Berlusconi bought the club, brought in Sacchi and signed Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten. The rest is history.

6) Derbyshire (1920)

County cricket’s meticulous record-keeping means no landmark season of any description will be forgotten. Which, for Derbyshire in particular, is a shame. After regaining first-class status in 1894, they failed to win a County Championship match in three separate seasons: 1897, 1901 and the historically abysmal 1920 campaign.

With county cricket returning to normality after the first world war, the captain, John Chapman, fielded 38 different players across 16 completed matches. It was an early example of over-rotation; Derbyshire lost them all – on six occasions, their opposition only had to bat once to get the job done.

This was a team caught between two eras; the previous captain, George Buckston, had retired, but came back to reorganise the side for the following season. Billy Bestwick, a 45-year-old seamer with a quick arm and quicker temper, featured in only one match. They were replaced by nent Wanyama is eyeing a move to AC Milan.While Club Brugge are in talks with Spurs over a fee for the Kenya international, any move could hinge on the Rossonero.Soccer Link says Wanyama favours a switch to Italy at Milan, where he is under consideratiwcomers who would go on to better things. The wicketkeeper Harry Elliott went on to earn England caps, as did the batsman Harry Storer – in football.

Guy Jackson, a 24-year-old batsman with a season-high score of 14, later became the county captain under the tutelage of Buckston. According to Wisden, Jackson “steadily raised the standard” within the county, laying the foundations for the 1936 season, when Elliott and Storer helped deliver Derbyshire’s only County Championship.

• , showcasing a selection of our sport features from the past seven days.

Stubbornness and lack of talent: the factors that doomed USA’s World Cup

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The shock is just now beginning to subside after the US men’s national team was eliminated from contention for the next summer’s World Cup in Russia. Every result that could have doomed them on Tuesday night came about, with combining with to knock Bruce Arena’s men out.

The list of what didn’t doom the United States’ qualifying campaign is lengthy – vastly greater resources and spending power relative to the rest of the Concacaf region, first and foremost – but before the autopsy begins in earnest, below are four things that consigned the US to desperate failure.

Coach Bruce Arena’s comment that the , and the insinuation that it is somehow more challenging than in other federations, inspired much guffawing.

Those scorning Arena had justification. (Good luck surviving a bad draw in Uefa or CAF, Bruce). There’s a case to be made that Concacaf has the most lenient road to the . In few other regions could Mexico have made it to Brazil three years ago with just two wins out of 10 qualifiernal to the end of the season.Aubameyang pulled out of talks with the club over a contract extension.He won the Premier League golden boot last season and is Arsenal’s top scorer again this term, with 13 goals in 20 Premier League games so far despites, for example, or with just three, as the US would have if El Tri and Costa Rica had done them a favor on Tuesday night.

What Arena was alluding to, however, were the logistical and practical concerns that are unique to Central America and the Caribbean. In few other regions, for example, do visitors have to to get to practice the day before the match. Stories of inhospitable kickoff times and late-night phone calls to team hotels .

What that all means is that taking care of business at home is paramount. Win your home games, and you’re in, no matter what happens on those pesky road trips.

The United States failed to obey that cardinal rule. in what had previously been the fortress of Mapfre Stadium – two days after the election of President Donald Trump, some of a certain political persuasion will remind you with the same dark comedy that inspired Omar Gonzalez’s own goal on Tuesday – and in New Jersey last month.

That Costa Rica loss, especially, coming when it did, put the US in a position in which they absolutely needed an away result. As we saw so vividly, that can come back to bite teams.

earlier this month, the USMNT are plagued by a puzzling dearth of talent between the ages of 23 and 27. The reasons behind that glaring development gap are myriad – that players those ages were born before Major League Soccer came into existence, that every nation ebbs and flows with its talent production – but its impact was clear enough this campaign.

The US leaned too heavily on veterans who had clearly lost a step, like poor Tim Howard, who was so lauded for his heroics against Belgium in Brazil but has lacked his former reflexes for a while now. It has also heaped far too much responsibility onto the shoulders of 19-year-old Christian Pulisic.

Pulisic has legitimate, game-changing quality. He’s already as gifted as just about any other American soccer player, ever, and it is a great shame for football fans everywhere was that he has been robbed of a turn on the World Cup stage. Pulisic was dominant last Friday night against Panama and . He’s also young, and sometimes inconsistent, like when he struggled to establish himself in that aforementioned Costa Rica match.

Such are the dangers of leaning too heavily on players either on the back end of their careers or still growing into their prime.

To write off this collapse as merely a function of a down talent cycle is to be far nager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to get his side back firing and be better than they were last term.”I understand that we’ve only picked two points up from three games but it feels like we should have a lot more,” the former defender said.”We might have totoo lenient on the powers that be. Even without difference-makers in that age group, this team had more than enough talent to qualify. MLS, the domestic league, is as strong as it’s ever been. Pulisic plays for Borussia Dortmund, one of the biggest club teams in the world.

Blame should also be pointed squarely at Arena, at former coach Jürgen Klinsmann, who oversaw the home loss to Mexico and the 4-0 hiding in Costa Rica, as well as at federation president Sunil Gulati, who hired both of them.

This has been a trend since the first time Arena was in charge.

His 2002 squad made the deepest run of any US team in the modern era, in the World Cup quarter-finals. At the end of his second cycle in 2006, though, the team flopped, going three-and-out in Germany. Bob Bradley also guided the US to the World Cup knockout rounds a year after a stirring run to the 2009 Confederations Cup final … and was let go midway through his second cycle after the team’s form fell off.

So Klinsmann’s trajectory should’ve been easily to chart when he inked a contract extension the year before his USforward Lucas Boye on a season-long loan from Italian side Torino.The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at Greek club AEK Athens, playing in four Champions League group games.Boye has made 41 Serie A appearances for Torino and has also previously team reached the round of 16 in 2014. Instead, he stuck around long enough to dig the hole this group could not climb out of.

Any of the three fluky plays that sank the US would’ve been extraordinary on its own.

First, Gonzalez sliced an attempted clearance off the outside of his boot and into his own net, an own goal that would’ve been stylish even if he had been attempting to score. Then Honduras boinked their game-winner off the crossbar, off the back of the Mexican goalkeeper’s head and over the line. didn’t even make it that far – replays conclusively showed that Blas Perez’s shot next made it completely over the goalline – but it was credited anyway (fans hoping for a reprieve on that one may well be disappointed: it sounds like US Soccer won’t appeal. “As far as I know there is no recourse. Decisions of the referee are final,” spokesman .)

Taken together, it’s fine to acknowledge that this was a remarkable bit of ill fortune to strike in the same night.

It’s also fair to point out that the US has so much going for it relative to its peers that it never should have been so susceptible to bad luck so late in the campaign – and that this result will have repercussions for years to come.

Steve Bartman, America’s most infamous fan, receives Cubs redemption

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Steve Bartman, the fan vilified and blamed for ending the team’s championship hopes in 2003, has been awarded a World Series rinew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.The young pair were outstanding in their Champions League triumph last season.”Both Andy and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] on the other side had incredible seasons,” Warnock told Liverpoolfc.com.”I think last seasong to commemorate Chicago’s title win last year.

The Cubs were mired in their legendary title drought – – when Bartman made his mark on history in 2003. The team appeared to be headed for the World Series when he stretched out to catch a foul ball with the Cubs leading late in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Miami Marlins. Bartman instead deflected the ball away from a Cubs fielder, the Marlins came back to win the game and then sealed a place in the World Series with victory in Game 7.

Bartman’s name later appeared online, and he and his family were given police protection. The governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, . The incident was infamous enough for ESPN to make a in 2011. Bartman, still scarred by the abuse he had received, chose not to appear.

Cubs management and players have repeatedly stated that Bartman was not to blame for the incident, and on Monday the team’s owner, Tom Ricketts, presented him with a championship ring.

“On behalf of the entire Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr Steve Bartman,” Ricketts and the Cubs said in a statement. “We hope this provides ardi is successfully rebuilding his relationship with the Inter Milan locker room, it has been revealed.The striker angered many senior teammates over the way he refused to take part in training for over a month after being sacked as captain in Februclosure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series.

“While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization. After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.”

For Bartman, who has been haunted by the incident, and has kept a low-profile for the last 14 years there was relief. “I humbly receive the ring not only as a symbol of one of the most historic achievements in sports, but as an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society,” he said in a statement. “My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating, and to challenge the media and opportunistic profiteers to conduct business ethically by respecting personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain.”

The move was also welcomed by players. The former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster toldndan Rodgers has admitted to being disappointed by their January transfer window.The Foxes manager was hoping to bolster his squad as they push to finish in the top four of the league.Rodgers knows that his team will face tough tests in the second ha the Chicago Tribune: “I guess that is closure at its finest … To do something like that for Steve Bartman, who got ridiculed for something that any fan would have done, is pretty awesome.”

Kieron Pollard’s poor show, the return of NFL and a Gaelic football curse

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1) Kieron Pollard attracted ire for bowling an in the Caribbean Super League, denying St Kitts’ Evin Lewis a chance at a century. Pollard’s no-ball sealed defeat for his Barbados team, leaving Lewis stranded on 97. Back in 2010, Sri Lanka’s Suraj Randiv was banned for one match for to Virender Sehwag.

2) This weekend sees a true Super Sunday, with the return of NFL and a long evening of becoming one with the sofa. The game of week one is Seattits that it would be a challenge for the club to keep Dwight McNeil if top teams come calling.The England under-21 midfielder is being linked with a move to the likes of Manchester United following his impressive displays this season.They want to keele at Green Bay, who memorably met in the 2014 NFastle United striker Ayoze Perez is a target for Napoli.The Northern Echo says sources in Napler a promotion at Chelsea.Chelsea are set to clear the decks for Frank Lampard with Maurizio Sarri’s entire coaching staff set to be released or reshuffled.The Chelsea-remove-Sarris-ENTIRE-coaching-team-Frank-Lampard-set-bring-Jody-Morris.html”>Daily s suggest the Italian giants have been watching Perez over the second half of the campaign.And apart from being near the top of Napoli’s wishlist, he is alC Championship Game. That comeback overtime win for the Seahawks involving , , , and will be hard to top. Red Zone has us covered if the Carolina Panthers utility back (montage warning) gets going, or Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber . Finally, and the worst of pre-season:

3) It’s been a big week for sports that may not actually be sports. There was the and a in – where else – Germany. Central Europe is also the spiritual home of Kaninhop, or rabbit show jumping. That’s right. Enjoy , and even .

4) T20 Blast finals day threw up some stunning catches. Perhaps the best was from Birmingham captain Grant Elliot to dismiss Glamorgan’s Colin Ingram with a . Birmingham eventually lost the final to Notts as Samit Patel to their second white-ball trophy of the season:

5) In Ireland, the GAA season is reaching its climax. In the All-Ireland hurling final, for their first title since 1988. In the Gaelic football final, Mayo will take on Dublin looking which has seen the county lose eight finals since 1951. Last year, they in a draw with Dublin, then lost the replay – so maybe there’s something in it. And if you think that’s unbelievable – here’s Chris Kamara in County Tyrone.

6) Syria’s brave bid to reach the World Cup looked over with the side 2-1 down in Iran – but a late equaliser saw the war-ravaged nation into a play-off with Australia, and it all .

1) In 1964-65, newly promoted Leeds made a surprise title bid, but because there was no TV gantry at Elland Road, they didn’t appear on Match of the Day . Leeds won 2-1 but lost the title to Manchester United, and Norman Hunter was on the receiving end of some very un-Arsenal language (at 38.35, should you want to avoid it).

2) Ali Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil score two beauties for UAE in their World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia:

3) Guy goes surfing … .

4) Here’s a nice way to .

5) And finally, New Mexico State’s wide receiver Jaleel Scott makes an .

StuartRG, whobroughtoranges, BlackCaeser, garethr,

Guardian YouTube sport channel

USA crush Puerto Rico 8-0 to clinch first ever World Baseball Classic title

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Marcus Stroman tossed six hitless innings, Ian Kinsler slugged a two-run homer and the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 on Wednesday night to win its first in four tries.

Stroman dominated the tournament’s highest-scoring team. Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The US territory finished runners-up for the second time, having lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 final.

Stroman, who was named the tournament’s MVP, avenged his shakiness in the Americans’ 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico during pool play. The right-hander from the Toronto Blue Jays retired the side on three grounders to open the game. In all, he gave up one hit, struck out three and walked one on 73 pitches.

He allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan’s double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when Stroman departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead.

Stroman walked Carlos Beltran leading off the second, but the defense helped him out. Yadier Molina hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play before Stroman struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.

The US pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record while making the final for the first time in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.

Kinsler homered off an 0-1 pitch from Seth Lugo into left-center field in the third, scoring Jonathan Lucroy, who singled leading off.

Lugo of the New York Mets allowed four runs and five hits, struck out seven and are hoping to make a move for Southampton defender Matt Targett.The Villa Park club are interested in strengthening their back line, as they will likely lose the 21-year-old and other loan signings from last season.One name that is interesting Dean walked four in four innings. The right-hander won his first two starts of the tournament, including in the second round against Stroman and the U.S.

In that game, Stroman gave up six consecutive singles in a four-run first inning and took the loss against Puerto Rico last Friday in San Diego.

The Americans made it 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.

Fans wore flags of both countries as capes and decorated their faces in team colors. Puerto Rico boosters pounded cowbells, tooted horns and blew whistles early on beforeation Mattis De Ligt is not a target for the Reds.But the London Evening Standard says manager Jurgen Klopp is still on the lookout for defensive players.It is believed the Merseyside club will only part with big money if the signing is a guaranteed their teAubameyang would leave last month.The Gunners captain was linked with Barcelona.But Leno told the London Evening Standard: “I think not too many players talked about this.“Of course there are many rumours and other people talk about this, but youam fell behind 4-0.

Fans were on their feet chanting “U-S-A” when the Americans loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. They were rewarded with Crawford’s two-run single that chased JC Romero, extending the lead to 6-0.

The US tacked on another run on Giancarlo Stanton’s RBI single off Hiram Burgos past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Burgos’ wild pitch moved runners to second and third before he walked Lucroy to load the bases a second time. Kinsler flied out to end the inning.

The Americans led 8-0 in the eighth on McCutchen’s RBI single with two outs.

The US defeated two-time champion Japan, while Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the final.

The three games at Dodger Stadium drew 109,892.

Ben Ryan on life after Rio: ‘Base Fiji team in Cornwall – they would love it there’

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There are still some flat earthers out there who think rugby at the Olympics is no big deal. That sevens players are just failed XVs merchants, that there is nothing for the abbreviated game to teach its big brother. They should spend a lunchtime hearing about the assorted offers Ben Ryan has received since his fabulous Fiji squad won their nation’s in Rio.

This week Ryan is in the United States offering consultancy advice to one of their highest-profile basketball sides. If there is a mutual attraction there is the potential of a permanent arrangement. Every self-respecting sevens team in the world has enquired about his availability. Rumour has it that Japan were ready to shower him with yen, with even New Zealanders speculating as to whether he should take over from Sir Gordon Tietjens.

En route back home to Brentford he stopped briefly in the US and encountered complete strangers in Austin and New York who insisted on buying him drinks. They had watched the Olympics on TV and wanted to say thank you to the ginger guru with the glasses. In addition to being honour and three acres of land, the island nation is also introducing a special seven dollar bill with his face on it. There is continuing interest being shown in the US and China in turning the extraordinary Fijian rags-to-riches story into a film. A Bob Marley-inspired remix – – is already out there.

Not bad for a 45-year-old former Newbury director of rugby who was let go from the Rugby Football Union in 2013 after a difference of opinion with the then elite rugby director Rob Andrew. So, as we sit in the hotel bar directly adjoining the RFU offices at Twickenham, how many offers has he had from Premiership clubs to sprinkle a little bit of South Sea stardust on their northern hemisphere skillsets? The answer is one tentative approach from a lower-ranked side seeking an attack coach, subsequently withdrawn because of budgetary constraints. Amid the debate about developing home-grown English coaches, the risk-averse instincts of their employers remains a major hurdle.

There has in fairness been interest from Pro12 teams and the possibility of assistant coach roles with a couple of Super Rugby franchises but Ryan, who has long wanted to return to XVs coaching in some capacity, is clearly wavering. Helping basketball to instil a rugby-style culture would be lucrative and professionally stimulating. “I might know nothing about basketball but I’m looking at relationships; whether they’re overcomplicating things. To be successful you have to play the long game, have good standards and stick with them.”

If the British and Irish Lions need an innovative skills coach next summer with a track record of beating New Zealand, they should look no further. Assuming, that is, the multifaceted Ryan is still available. What a waste it would be if one of England’s brighter coaches were to be lost to another sport at the peak of his powers.

The oenitez has opened the door to future return to Newcastle United.The Spaniard still sees a future for himself in English football.He said: “I expect to do well with Dalian Yifang and after that to come back to the UK.”I don’t know when. But you are alnly consolation is he would love to coach at another Olympics: “I’d like to give XVs a crack and I think I’m a better XVs coach but going to an was amazing. To know you can go to future Olympics is definitely a pull because it’s just another level. Having had success there shows you how global the Olympics is and how small rugby is by comparison.”

Whatever he does next, Ryan can sense the entire sport changing. Sevens may not transform the world but, as with Twenty20 cricket and Test matches, it has the potential to reshape the rugby landscape. “In 2023, if the guardians of the game are doing the right thing, the ball will be in play longer. The sport will be more athletic and it’ll mean you need multipositional players.” It is Ryan’s firm belief, for example, that Tom Mitchell and Dan Bibby, the playmaking energisers of GB’s sevens side, could play in any Super Rugby midfield; most Premiership XVs coaches would declare them too small. “The clubs look at sevens here and think: ‘We’ll send someone if they’re not very good or struggling to make it.’ That’s not the case in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa or Fiji. If it’s for inferior players why do people like Sonny Bill Williams struggle in sevens?”

There is much, much more. Ryan fears for the future of Fiji 15-a-side rugby if urgent measures are not taken by World Rugby to stem the exodus of players to foreign leagues and international squads. He believes there should be a Pacific Islands franchise in Super Rugby, as there now is for Argentina, to develop players, coaches and administrators alike. “Ask the players and the coaches if they would like a Pacific Islands franchise and they would say: ‘Yeah.’ But Super Rugby have been paying lip service to that idea for 20 years and it’s never happened. It needs World Rugby to say: ‘You’ve got to do this’ because that would be a game-changer. For the good of the game you don’t want Fiji getting worse at 15s and better at sevens. If Eddie Jones had 95% of his team not playing in England and he only had them once in a blue moon they wouldn’t be top of the tree. There’s no way.”

Alternatively, Ryan has an even more radical plan, albeit with some logistical hurdles. “If a Super Rugby franchise can’t happen, then transplanting a side into a domestic league in Europe – the Pro12 or the Premiership – would be the second option. Take a team of Fijian players, base them in Kent or Cornwall, and they would go. Look at somewhere like Cornwall. There isn’t a Premiership team and the islanders would love it there.”

So, reckons Ryan, would neutrals worldwide if rugby’s answer to the Harlem Globetrotters played together week in week out. “That’s how I explain it to Americans. It’s like the Harlem Globetors.PSG star Edinson Cavani has recently revealed that one of his dreams is to score a goal for Boca at La Bombonera like former Uruguayan striker Sergio Martinez.”Between River and Boca, I’m going for Boca,” Modric said on Un Metro Adelantado.”I prerotters but they’re in the NBA, winning games. It would be so exciting for the world game.”

Ryan has come a long way in every sense since his first meeting . If he is lured to basketball for a year or two and earns a truckload of dollars it could not happen to a nicer bloke. It would be even nicer to think that, one day, English rugby will wake up to the far-sighted coach right under its own nose.

Time to trust Slade as England No12?

England in Brighton, Eddie Jones’s seaside home from home. Short of relocating everyone back to Coogee Oval in Sydney’s eastern suburbs it is as close as you can get in the UK to the beachfront vibe he used to enjoy in his Randwick days. When it comes to identifying players at openside and inside-centre, however, recreating the grand old days of Wallaby plenty seems to be trickier. For whatever reason, Jones does not seem to be able to find many attack-minded English-reared 7s and 12s who fit his exacting criteria to play Test rugby in those positions. If Owen Farrell remains unavailable along with Manu Tuilagi, for example, will he trust Exeter’s Henry Slade at 12 or plump for the harder-running former league man Ben Te’o, regardless of the fact the latter has barely played this season following a concussion against Gloucester? A midfield of George Ford, Slade and either Jonathan Joseph or Elliot Daly would certainly cover plenty of creative bases, particularly with a powerful winger like Semesa Rokoduguni in the mix. Either way this is the autumn to take a closer look at England’s attacking options as opposed to playing safe.

All Blacks break the mould

People are talking about the All Blacks’ reserve XV being the second best te Napoli right back Elseid Hysaj.Spurs are reeling from the news that Juan Foyth will be out with an injury for several weeks.It leaves them short of defensive numbers, given the sale of Kieran Trippier earlier in the summer.Sky Sportssays a deal for am in the world. They may be right. What is beyond dispute is New Zealand, as the best sides do, are challenging the game’s supposed orthodoxies. When Argentina kicked off deep with 15 seconds left in the first half of Saturday’s 36-17 Test defeat in Buenos Aries, most teams would have caught the restart, taken the ball into contact and then booted it into Row Z to bring the first 40 minutes to a routine close.

Instead the All Blacks launched a thrilling attack from their own 22 that ended with a wonderful try for TJ Perenara. The sequence should be compulsory viewing for every age-group coach and player, not to mention a few Premiership ones.

Dak Prescott continues strong start to lead Cowboys past Bears

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Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass, and the Cowboys beat the 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without injured quarterback Tony Romo over three seasons before the rookie fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott’swas a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he’s up to 99 throws without an interception to starenging Arsenal for Sampdoria defender Joachim Anderson.Arsenal have failed with two offers for the stopper and the Denmark international is open to a departure.Gazzetta dello Sport says Juventus, Tottenham, Arsenal and Lyon are all in contact with Sat his career.has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals in NFL history.

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.

Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards — a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter — and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.

Rookie fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott had his first 100-yard game for Dallasnged the format of the tournament which will now be played once every four years.That means Liverpool – who beat Tottenham 2-0 in Saturday’s Euro showdown- will eventually face world’s best clubs.But not earlier than in 2021 – when the competition is, finishing with 140 yards on 30 carries and awhen he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski.

It didn’t even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.

Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas’ first home win since last year’s opener, which was a Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri – for naming rights to a new ground.The Toffees revealed plans to build a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.The club confirmedAlisher Usmanov’s holding company, USM, will pay the club £30m this year for the option of becomweek before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season. Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.

Prescott hadfor the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.

Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn’t do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.

Ferguson’s Tyron Woodley finds activist voice as biggest fight of career looms

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UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is an African American athlete in the modern age of sports activism. He does not take this responsibility lightly. He grew up in Ferguson, Missouri, and that fact alone gives him a voice on racial matters for it was his town, his neighborhood, his very street where Michael Brown was shot and his body lay for hours baking in the summer sun. As a young black man in he was racially profiled, pulled over needlessly by police and once thrown in a paddy wagon with a group of friends because he says: “We looked like we were up to something.”

He wrestled at the University of Missouri where last 8 November the football team went on strike in support of a black students and forced the school’s president to resign. He is proud of what the football players did at his alma mater, but more importantly, he sees the power their protest gives men like himself – African Americans with fame, money and success – to speak about topics like inequality. He believes they need to use it regardless of consequences.

In September he listened to Donald Trump rambling on about Ferguson as if it was some flaming ghetto and not the racially mixed suburban St Louis town he knows. This angered him and so he said: His comments were dutifully reported by TMZ who ran a picture of him with a clenched fist and a headline that said he Trump. His words made headlines and a few days later, a crowd of mostly white fans booed him in Madison Square Garden’s theater during a press conference for Saturday’s UFC 205.

Woodley seemed startled by gestions that he would sign for Aston Villa in the Premier League.But it appears the 24-year-old is bound for Italy, as the club have come closest to meeting Cagliari’s asking price.Cagliari-immagini?page=2#imgal2″>Gianluca Di Marzio claims the playethe reaction. Was he being booed for saying he might put is fist through Trump’s teeth? Or because he’s a diligent wrestler and therefore less exciting than his kickboxing opponent Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson? Or because he takes months off between fights, drawing criticism that he didn’t deserve the 201 fight against Robbie Lawler that got him the title? It leads some, like fellow welterweight contender Belal Muhammad to say: “I don’t know why the hate.”

Woodley can’t help but wonder if it is something else. Something deeper. Something that still holds back black fighters in a sport that should be colorblind.

“I think that – this is my personal opinion – but sometimes African American athletes are considered overly cocky,” he says. “I have some (things to say) that are blatantly true about African American athletes in our sport. And if I mention those thing then all of a sudden I’m whining, I’m playing the victim, I’m race baiting or it’s somebody else.

“But I don’t think it matters,” he continues. “Because at the end of the day, I’m the champion of the world. I’m a successful individual and maneuvering in a culture where there are some racists. I still find a way to get to the top, whether I go around or weave through.”

The Wonderboy fight is the biggest of Woodley’s career; billed as the co-main event of UFC 205 just below Conor McGregor v Eddie Alvarez and it has his name glowing on the Garden marquee. He’s exactly the kind of fighter the UFC should want to promote: a Christian family man with four children, a burgeoning acting career and a series of broadcasting jobs. And yet he can’t shake a feeling that as important as he’s become he isn’t as free as the lighter faces surrounding him on the card’s promotional poster.

At the UFC 205 press conference Woodley watched McGregor with torrents of profane Ranieri stepped in for Eusebio di Francesco last month.Murillo said, “It’s great to play regularly in a League I have already played in, know well and like a lot.”I’ve played in practically all the games. Things aren’t going as we would’ve liked, butinsults screamed into the roar of an adoring crowd that sees such bombast as part of McGregor’s Irish charm. McGregor’s act amused Woodley even as he rolled his eyes through some of the rants. McGregor is a good businessman and he respects that. He has a saying: “More drama, more commas”. So if McGregor wants to heap clever putdowns while the money falls all around them, by all means let him holler. But Woodley knows he can’t be McGregor, throwing bottles and spewing swear words. Doing so would only make him the angry black man and the boos would only come louder then.

“Name me one African American mixed martial artist who’s been able to get away with the amount of talk Conor has,” he says. “Name me one. You can’t. Rampage Jackson came to the UFC with a brain. He came to the UFC with a huge following from being in Asia with Pride. He was a personality before he came to the UFC. You don’t see them putting marketing money behind him to blow him up. Have you seen Jon Jones taken in any (marketing) direction? Have you seen any African American athlete that appeals to the urban market actually bring that market to the ?”

For years Woodley never made Ferguson a part of his identity. He figured nobody had heard of his hometown and he found it easier just to say he was fighting out of St Louis. But then Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown and a neighborhood erupted. There were riots and looters and buildings on fire. In some ways he was conflicted. He knew what it was like to be a young black man in Ferguson – the way the police come down hard sometimes, where the greatest crime an African American kid might have was the color of his skin. “Those things are true, they are happening and Ferguson is notorious for it,” he says. And yet it was also the place where he was raised, the community he loved. He knew every bit of that town, having lived in some of the poorest sections as well as the best. It hurt him to sit it burn.

He knew exactly the rage that many of the protesters brought to the streets, but he also knew that many of those running before the cameras, throwing rocks at windows weren’t from Ferguson or even St Louis. The damage they did was more than just physical. It left an emotional scar. Suddenly little Ferguson was a national flashpoint and the TV commentators were getting the town wrong. They portrayed it as the inner city, a predominately African American ghetto where crime lingered on every corner. That was not his Ferguson. His Ferguson a mixture of white and black spread through blocks of subdivisions; a place where people had to accept each other’s differences and where also those backgrounds collided.

“You go to Ferguson and you look at January-Wabash Park and other areas (they’re) extremely nice and it’s not a war zone,” Woodley says. “They way it’s portrayed is why I have an issue. That’s not Ferguson. I think more so (it is) the way way the community and law enforcement have been at odds for years. They respect hasn’t been there for the law enforcement and definitely there is profiling on the citizens.”

After the riots he added Ferguson to his biography – not to capitalize on the unrest but to show people that the town where he grew up was not an awful place. He wanted the world to know that good things and good people came from a community whose very name sparks the tinders of ugly debate. He is sensitive about the impressions everyone gets of a place most have never seen. “I wanted to show that hey, Ferguson is a place where a lot of successful people have been born and raised and built so I wanted to show Ferguson in a positive way,” he says.

Not long after Brown’s death and before the riots, Woodley contacted the UFC hoping to use the organization’s enormous platform to talk about Ferguson, Brown’s death and police relations in general. There needed to be a productive dialogue, he thought, and he wanted to start it. He remembers sitting in an airport, explaining his idea to someone who handles social media for the UFC. “That’s my street, I grconcerned about losing Jurgen Klopp.The Reds manager is being tipped to replace Max Allegri at Juventus this summer.”We don’t really want to discuss his situation publicly, especially so close to the final,” Werner told the Liverpool Echo.”But I thinew up on that street!,” he implored, expecting the UFC to leap at a chance to promote a top fighter with direct ties to Ferguson. They did nothing, he says. The same thing happened a year later when the Missouri players went on strike, he says.

“It’s crazy,” he says, then pauses.

“Let me stop myself,” he says, “I was about to go off.”

He shakes his head. For a moment he says nothing.

“I just thought those were good opportunities to make a positive stance,” he continues, then his voice trails off.

In some ways, the Missouri protest surprised Woodley. African American students at the school have long complained of feeling isolated but he was an athlete in a wrestling bubble and that kept him from the experiencing things that happened to other black students. He had to call his brother-in-law, a doctor, who went to school there. “He told me some stories that I didn’t want to hear,” Woodley says. A few weeks ago, he went back to speak to the wrestling team and was surprised to see that even though he was the school’s first All-Big 12 wrestler and their first top five recruit, his picture was not on the wall with other distinguished wrestlers in the school’s history.

“All of a sudden (the coaches said): ‘Oooh, we got to get a picture of you on this wall,” Woodley says. “It was kind of…” He paused again for moment and sighed. “But it is what it is and it’s about the athletes and thats why I’m there but it was really weird that people couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that these things can happen.”

He drove around the campus that day looking at all the giant new fraternity and sorority houses and couldn’t help that each mansion was only for predominantly white fraternities and sororities. “How many black homes are there?” he wondered. Where were all the big homes from the African American students? He glanced around and realized that even after what happened last fall and the racial awakening of his old college, Missouri still had a long way to go.

Sitting in an empty radio studio in late September, a few days after the Trump comments, about to promote the second biggest fight in the UFC’s biggest card ever, Woodley is probably at the apex of his career. Never will he have a larger voice in sports. Never may minority athletes have a more powerful voice than they do today. As a child of Ferguson he has the platform, he can be a kind of modern-day Ali. Boos be damned. If Donald Trump is going to fire off a shot at Ferguson well by God he’s going to talk about putting his fist through the man’s teeth. That’s not a right, its a responsibility.

“He needs to talk about (race),” Michael Johnson, another African American UFC fighter will later say, unaware of Woodley’s words about Trump. “He’s a champion and his voice needs to be heard. It’s very important to speak up with the things that are happening.”

In the studio Woodley laughs.

“I don’t read social media. Is (the Trump comment) getting buzz?” he asks, the idea Trump could actually be president probably the farthest thing from his mind.

Yes, he is told, his line about putting a fist in Trump’s mouth made plenty of headlines.

He chuckles.

“Well hopefully it made it to him,” he says.

No need to hold back now.

Andy Murray has no qualms about Dani Vallverdu in Grigor Dimitrov’s camp

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Andy Murray’s hopes of winning a second US Open might have taken a minor hit during his three hours and 17 minutes but he faces an altogether different sort of challenge against Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round on Monday.

There is the piquancy of Dani Vallverdu’s presence in the Bulgarian’s box, a slightly weird second edition of Murray’s former training assistant’s journey through the game, after a brief spell with Tomas Berdych. It is not lost on Murray, although he does not see it as an issue.

“It doesn’t really [change the dynamic],” he says. “The first time when I played Berdych after me and Dani stopped working together, it was awkward for sure, because he was one of my best friends and the media were trying to make it out like it was a grudge match.”

That is slightly disingenuous given the vocal part Murray’s now-wife Kim played in ramping up the energy levels on court with directed in Berdych’s direction during his match against the Scot at the Australian Open almost two years ago.

He added: “There was a lot of different emotions going on in that match and I thought it was a bit unfair. I played Berdych a few times since then and had no issues dealing with it. [It] doesn’t change anything now.”

Murray has always admired Vallverdu’s tennis knowledge and despite everything, they are still friends. “He works hard, that’s important. When that’s the case I thinReal Betis have penned a deal with online betting company RB88 through to 2021/22, reports, /.The company will sponsor the team’s digital content for the Asian market.k it tends to rub off on your player as well. He doesn’t want to take four, five weeks off at a time. He is there all the time and he does a lot of weeks, so you build a strong bond that way.”

And they still see each other socially. “We do go out for dinner. We went out for lunch the first day we got here. We flew together here from Cincinnati. I just don’t talk to him about my tennis, but I didn’t used to talk to him about my tennis before he started coaching me either really.”

Jamie Delgado, whom Murray has known longer than he has known Vallverdu, fills that role now, alongside the coach Ivan Lendl. “He doesn’t necessarily get the credit he deserves,” Murray added. “He works harder than any of the other members of my team. He does 40 weeks a year with me which is way more than anyone else that I work with. He deserves credit for that. It’s not easy to do that, to spend that much time travelling and away from home but he does particularly impressive individual scoring record when his current team Atletico de Madrid face his former side Real Madrid in next Saturday’s LaLiga Santander clash.Morata has made a habit of scoring in big derbies, and against his fos to Everton.West Ham are also in contact, reports Sport, though the Blues remain favourites for Gomes’ signature.The midfielder enjoyed a superb year on-loan with Everton and he is settled on Merseyside.A fee in the region of €30m is being discussrmer clubs, acit.

“He loves tennis, he has a very good understanding of the game and we get on well together. We’ve had good results so far, he helped turn my year around when I was struggling.”

The Hunters 2016: a look back on a thrilling NBA season

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As we mentioned , the Guardian prefers to wait until the end of the playoffs before handing out our NBA awards. This season ended up being a perfect example of why we wait. Prior to the NBA finals, this year was all about the Golden State Warriors’ quest to put together the greatest season in NBA history. Instead, they ended up being the heavies in the story of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ remarkable comeback.

Most valuable player: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

An unfortunate result of the Cavaliers’ Finals victory was that that Steph Curry’s unprecedented season may end up being because his team fell short.

Curry didn’t become the first unanimous MVP in NBA history by accident. At his best, which he was at for practically all of the regular season, Curry looked like he was playing an entirely different sport than the rest of the league. His otherworldly shooting stretched courts to their breaking points. Curry made 402 three-pointers, blowing away the record he set in the previous season (where he hit a mere 286). There were many reasons that the Warriors were able to win in a season, besting the single-season wins record set by Michael Jordan and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, but nobody can deny that Curry was the most important element.

The problem was that unanimous MVP Curry only made occasional appearances in the playoffs after he suffered a knee injury in the Warriors’ first-round series against the Houston Rockets. Whether it was due to that injury, exhaustion after a season where nearly every regular season game had a playoff feel or just an ill-timed slump, Curry clearly wasn’t the same player in the postseason. Even so, the Warriors might have been able to win their second straight championship if they weren’t facing the winner of our next award.

Most valuable player, playoffs: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

wins this distinction for the second straight year. Last year, James almost single-handedly pushed the NBA finals to six games, despite the fact that the Warriors looked practically unbeatable and the Cavaliers had lost Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to injuries. While Andre Iguodala ended up being named the MVP, voters tend to go with someone from the team that actually won, there was no question in who was the best player on the floor.

James was even better during these finals, 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists. He was the leader, MVP and partial architect of a Cavaliers team that beat the team with , came back from a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in NBA finals history and brought the city of Cleveland their first major sports championship since 1964. This was the most impressive accomplishment of James’s career, which is saying something considering that his career was pretty darn good heading into this postseason.

Least valuable player: Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers

Maybe no player in the history of sports has ended his career with a more appropriate final game than Kobe Bryant. In the last game of the season, the last day of his HOF career, Bryant in a win over the Utah Jazz. This sounds like a perfect Hollywood ending unless one looks at the box score and sees that Bryant needed 50 shot attempts to get there.

To his credit, that was still one of the few games this year where Bryant managed to be productive enough to actually help, rather than harm, his team. Certain metrics labeled Bryant as in the league for the first half of the season. Bryant’s game was the same as it ever was, but time clearly had taken its toll to the point where his high-volume shooting finally made him a liability as the clangs continued to outnumber the made baskets. The Lakers ended up winning 17 games; only the failed experiment that was the Hinkie-era Philadelphia 76ers won fewer.

In a way, though, Bryant ended up being valuable in his own way. The Endless Kobe Farewell Tour ended up being a huge success attendance-wise while the Lakers ended up being bad enough that they were able to keep their lottery pick, which they turned into Brandon Ingram.

Worst social media user: D’Angelo Russell, LA Lakers

Heading into this season, many believed D’Angelo Russell would compete for Rookie of the Year. Instead, his most notable accomplishment was that he accidentally helped to break up a B-grade celebrity couple via a poorly conceived .

Coach of the year: Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers

The were, before the season began, almost a lock to finish their season well out of the playoffs. LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the San Antonio Spurs, Robin Lopez went to the New York Knicks, Wesley Matthews left for the Dallas Mavericks and Nicholas Batum was traded to the Charlotte Hornets. By all available evidence, it looked as if the Trail Blazers were rebuilding around Damian Lillard.

Then something odd happened: the Trail Blazers kept on winning. Lillard thrived as the team’s undisputed MVP, while CJ McCollum won most improved honors. Not only were the Trail Blazers relevant they ended up clinching the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Once in the playoffs, the Trail Blazers made it to the second round before the Warriors dispatched with them in five games. It was an impressive run for Portland, in the it’s incredibly difficult to rebuild on the fly while still being competitive.

When a team out-performs expectations to this degree, the team’s manager receives a lion’s share of the credit for getting the most out of his roster. Unfortunately for Trail Blazers had coach Terry Stotts, this was the year of the Warriors, so he ended up in place behind Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, despite the fact that Luke Walton was Golden State’s acting coach for the first half of the season when Kerr was recovering from surgery. Stotts really deserved this nod.

: Byron Scott (Los Angeles Lakers), George Karl (Sacramento Kings), Kurt Rambis (New York Knicks)

Rookie of the Year: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

There is no legitimate argument for putting any other player in this category, a fact which the voters recognized by unanimously naming Karl-Anthony Towns as Rookie of the Year. Towns averaged 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds a game and was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month every month of the regular season. When you factor in that the Timberwolves’ also have last year’s Rookie of the Year, Andrew Wiggins, he future in Minnesota looks brighter than it ever has.

Defensive Player of the year: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

The debate about this award could end up coming down between Kawhi Leonard and the Warriors’ Draymond Green for the next few seasons. This time around we’re going to go with the guy who didn’t hurt his team by after one too many groin-kick attempts.

Disappointment of the year: New Orleans Pelicans

This was supposed to be Anthony Davis’s year to shine, with even predicting that he would win MVP. Sadly though, injuries once again decimated the Pelicans, who fell well short of the playoffs, and having to practically carry the team on his shoulders may have partially stalled Davis’s development.

Game of the year: Warriors v Thunder, 27 February

In the wake of the Warriors’ failure to win a championship, it’s hard to remember just how gripping their quest to beat the Bulls was. Every Warriors game felt like a playoff game, to the point where there was grumbling whenever it wasn’t covered by national television.

While their regular-season record now feels rather hollow, that shouldn’t take away from just how great some of the individual games were. Most notably, Golden State’s overtime win over the on 27 February. It was an instant classic. The Thunder were in control for much of the game, and they managed to build up a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter. The fact that the Warriors were in trouble was enough to make the game feel like a rarity: they had only lost five games all season before heading into this contest.

The Warriors, as they did many times during the season, rallied late to make it a one possession game. Still, it looked like the Thunder were just about to pull away with a victory when they fouled Andre Iguodala with just 0.7 seconds left on the clock, putting him on the line with 0.7 seconds left in the game. Iguodala, normally not one of the team’s best free-throw shooters, sank two free throws to tie the game, sending it into overtime.

That’s where Curry hit the shot of the year:

Curry’s three, which was from about 37 feet away, was one that no other player in the league would even attempt in that situation, let alone make. It ended up being the game-winner as the Warriors escaped Oklahoma City with a 121-118 win.

It ended up being a crucial victory, or at least it seemed so at the time. A loss here, and it felt certain the assumed they would be hosting a lot of non-football events at the stadium as a way to pay off the building costs.They will be hosting several NFL games from next season, while the Saracens will play a Premiership match there every year from 2020 forWarriors would end up tying the Bulls record rather than breaking it. The game also became one of those rare playoff previews that actually predicted how their postseason series would play out. When they faced each other again in the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder took an early lead in the series only to see the Warriors battle back and pull of a thrilling comeback.

Play of the year: LeBron James’s block

Of course, the Warriors ended up being on the wrong end of the biggest comeback of the year. The enduring image of the Cavaliers’ Finals run happened in the last few minutes of Game 7, when LeBron James, materializing on the other end of the floor like , violently blocking an Andre Iguodala shot that would have given the Warriors a lead with under two minutes remaining.

It’s a fantastic play just on its own, but it’s also almost symbolic scene, with James coming out of nowhere to reject the shot that represented the Warriors’ last best and fitness of Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah.Garcia has claimed Egypt have had to alter their tactics from the Africa Cup of Nations as Mohamed Salah continues to feel the effects of his long season with Liverpool.The forward made 52 appearances in alchance of getting the lead or maybe even a win, the win that would have solidified their place among the greatest teams of all-time. Instead, with one quick forceful swipe, James flippders are desperate to set up a Europa League playoff against Wolves.Crusaders face Faroe Islands outfit B36 Torshavn in the first qualifying round of the Europa League next month – with the winners facing Wolves in the second round.Belfast-based Cred the script of the entire NBA season.

Jarryd Hayne and Fiji take World Series title but Scotland win London Sevens

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If the London Sevens were the Olympic rugby tournament in Rio, Scotland – read, Great Britain – would have taken the gold medal, South Africa silver and the USA bronze. and Fiji would have gone home with nothing at all.

The former San Francisco 49ers running back got on the field as Fiji lost 26-19 to the USA in the third-place game. The Eagles had lost to Scotland in the semi-final, ending their attempt to defend the .

The tournament was the last on the before rugby’s return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August. Fiji did enough to secure a second World Series title in a row, while Scotland caused a huge upset in a thrilling final against the Blitzbokke, winning 27-26.

Hayne made the Fiji squad a week after his . Used as a substitute throughout the event – though not in the semi-final defeat by South Africa – he said: “At the moment, I’m behind the eight ball and I’ve got no problem with that. It’s about working hard and getting there.

“They’re the world champs. Sometimes in lifedy to sign for Tottenham.The Sun says, however, chairman Daniel Levy is refusing to meet a £60million asking price for Lo Celso.The Argentine playmaker has told the Seville-based La Liga club that he wants to join Tottenham even though Manchester Un, it’s not about success, but it’s about the experience and just being part of that team.

“[It is the] first Fijian team to win back-to-back titles and they’ve got a bunch of superstars who are going to be a joy to train with and a joy to play with. It’s not about coming over and making the team, it’s about giving me an opportunity to make a team.”

Hayne now faces six weeks of intense training in Fiji to prove to coach Ben Ryan that he’s not only fit enough for Rio, but good enough to displace one of the team’s established stars.

“Our cupboard is not just deep, it’s absolutely littered with fantastic talent,” Ryan said. “We had a very light week this week … when we’re running up 100-metre sand dunes, when these guys are the fittest rugby players Fiji has ever had and they’re still throwing up after sessions, his lactate’s going to be going into overdrive.

“Whether he’ll be able to tolerate that in a short timeframe is a serious question.”

Hayne had a huge amount to do to compete, Ryan said. “This isn’t just a random side, this is the best side in the world in the last two years. A Fijian side that plays a very high-tempo, high-risk game that requires enormous amounts of skill and he has that, and enormous amounts of fitness, and he hasn’t got that at the moment.”

On Sunday, the USA had a startling 42-14 win over New Zealand and another multi-sport superstar aiming for an Olympic place, the erstwhile league and boxing standout .

It was the Eagles’ highest points total against the All Blacks Sevens, a team they beat for the first time ever . There were four tries from the former football player Perry Baker, two in each half, and one each for Ben Pinkelman and Madison Hughes, who converted all six scores.

Asked about the New Zealand win, USA coach Mike Friday said: “That was the sort of performance we’re capable of if they listen and execute. We are a seriously dangerous team, we can hurt anyone on our day.

“We have to focus the full 14 minutes. This sevens game is brutal, absolutely ruthless, if you’re not quite on your game.”

Of the defeat by Scotland, Friday said: “We were in control and it was an appalling two minutes, gift-wrapped, under the Christmas tree, whatever you want to call it, you name it they took it.

“But my boys fully deserved that win against Fiji as we move into Olympic preparation.”

Looking towards the Olympics, Friday identified the Sunwolves flanker Andrew Duratolo, Saracens wing Chris Wyles and the injured Carlin Isles as players set to come back into contention.

He did not single out Nate Ebner, the New England Patriots special teams player who spent this weekend with the second-string Falcons, .

“We need to be 12 hungry players ready for war when we get to Rio,” Friday said. “It will be a monumental event.”

Competition on the World Series has intensified as the Olympics approach: Scotland’s tournament win, their first ever, featured a win over hosts England in the last eight and followed triumphs for Samoa in Paris and Kenya, also a first-time winner, in Singapore.

Hayne’s switch from San Francisco caused surprise in rugby union, rugby league and American football. It also led some to question wheplayer-coach in January from MLS side DC United, reports BBC Sport.Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is eyeing a reunion with Jordon Ibe.The Bournemouth winger broke through the ranks at Liverpool while Rodgers was first-team manager.Having paid Liverpool £15m for Ibe in 2016, the Cherries would not be willing to sell him on the cheap.The Englishman played 23 times for Eddie Howe’s side this season.The 33-year-old forward, who is Manchester United and England’s all-time record goalscorer, will join the Rams on an initial 18-month contract.He signed for Washington-based DC from Ether he would be eligible for the Olympic Games , given his recent residence in the non-compliant NFL.

He was before the London tournament, and in a statement issued by World Rugby sought to underline his commitment to his new team.

“My dad is Fijian and we watched a lot of [Waisale] Serevi games,” he said naming , “and William Ryder was a big idol of mine.

“I have always dreamt about playing sevens for Fiji and I’ve been given the opportunity.”

The Australian Associated Press contributed to this report