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‘I’m saying goodbye’: Maria Sharapova announces tennis retirement

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, who announced her retirement from tennis on Wednesday, will be remembered in many corners of her sport with respect more than affection – and it will not worry her much at all.

The 32-year-old Russian who arrived in America from Sochi with her father in 1994 as refugees from the poison of Chernobyl – with $700 and not a word of English between them – won five grand slam titles and was ranked the highest earner in women’s sport for 11 years in a row. But it is her icy demeanour and failure to build on an early victory over Serena Williams that grab the imagination as much as those fine achievements.

Sharapova, who beat Williams to when just 17, then lost 20 of their following 21 matches, was never universally popular in the locker room. She cared little about courting popularity, but she had the professional respect of her rivals for her single-mindedness and fighting spirit. Petra Kvitova, who beat Sharapova to win Wimbledon in 2011, was one of her few rivals to give her warm praise on Wednesday, describing her as a, “big champion”.

The Czech, who was sidelined from tennis after a knife attack in her apartment in 2016 but has returned to the upper reaches of the game, : “I know how tough it is to come back and play. She has been injured a lot. Of course she wanted probably bigger success than … her body allowed her to have.” She added: “It was a pleasure to be with her on the tour, sharing the court with her. It was always great battles when we play together. So it’s been always nice to share the court with her and I do always have respect to her.”

More than most players on the tennis circuit, Sharapova divided opinion. There were many players who objected to her early return from a drugs ban in 2017, after she had . Sharapova, who protested her innocence, had her two-year ban cut to 15 months, but was never the same player in a comeback that stuttered from one disappointing setback to the next, on the court and off. Her last tournament win was in a low-ranked event in China three years ago.

Long-time problems with her serving shoulder recurred and, towards the end, she was losing to lesser players on a regular basis. There was a suspicion among some of her rivals and critics that she was playing merely for publicity to drive her many commr Kostas Manolas recognises they’re underdogs facing Lazio this weekend.Manolas admits Lazio are having an “extraordinary season”.“We’ll give everything we’ve got to pick up points. It’s a very complicated time for Napoli, but the only way out is tercial interests, although she claimed she played for the love of the game and the competition. That was certainly evident in her trademark screeching and her relentless pursuit of lost causes on court, mainly from the baseline and with a two-handed backhand that was among the best in tennis. She made the most of the weapons she had – including a powerful serve early in her career until injury struck on a regular basis – and was rarely found close to the net. Hers was a game of calculation rather than inspira the battle for exciting Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare.The youngster is rated among the best prospects emerging in French football.LOSC president Gerard Lopez is ready to sell land La Provence says a move to England is likely with United and Spution.

In her last match, a at the Australian Open in January, Sharapova was ranked 373 in the world, a long way from her five separate reigns as world No 1, the first of them in 2005. It was her third first-round exit from a major in a row.

However, five grand slam titles – encompassing all the four venues, on clay, grass and hardcourt – and career earnings of $38.7m tell a story of longevity and persistence, which Sharapova regarded as her greatest asset.

Her rivalry with the younger of the two Williams sister was fierce but doomed – and it defined Sharapova’s struggle. Their last encounter – in the first round of the 2019 US Open, when Sharapova needed pain killers to get on court and could win only two games – summed up the physical decline of the Russian.

“Behind closed doors, 30 minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match,” , her chosen platform to confirm her retirement. “I’ve had multiple surgeries – once in 2008; another procedure last year – and s missing Champions League qualification is a frustrating blow.The Gunners missed their chance after being beaten by Chelsea in the Europa League final.Asked if it was painful to be in the Europa League again, Arsenal midfielder Xhaka said: “Yeah, of pent countless months in physical therapy. Just stepping on to the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory. I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction.”

It always was. Sharapova regularly turned back questions about her looks as irrelevant, and protested that her many fashion shoots did not form the centrepiece of her career.

“Behind the photo shoots and the pretty tennis dresses, [the courts] exposed my imperfections – every wrinkle, every drop of sweat,” she wrote. “They tested my character, my will, my ability to channel my raw emotions into a place where they worked for me instead of against me. Between their lines, my vulnerabilities felt safe.”

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.

Houston Astros cheating probe widens to almost 60 witnesses, 76,000 emails

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Major League Baseball has interviewed almost 60 people and obtained tens of thousands of electronic messages in its investigation into allegations the broke rules by using a television camera to steal signs.

Former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers sparked the investigation when he told the Athletic last month the Astros had used the camera to steal signs in 2017 during the team’s run to its first World Series title.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said last month MLB was investigating Houston’s conduct for the past three seasons, and he hoped to complete the inquiry before the start of next season.

“I think that this is probably the most thorough investigation that the commissioner’s office has ever undertaken,” he said Wednesday at the winter meetings. “I think we’ve interviewed already nearly 60 witnesses, 76,000 e-mails, a whole additional trove of instant messages.

“That review has caused us to conclude that we have to do some follow-up interviewing. It is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible, but it’s really hard to predict how long something like that is going to take.”

Astros manager AJ Hinch and Boston manager Alex Cora, the Astros’ 2017 bench coach, said they had spoken with investigators, and Hinch said he had been involved in several sessions. New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán, a Houston player in 2017, refused to say whether he had been interviewed.

“At this point in the investigatArsenal’s head of football Raul Sanllehi says the club have enough “ammunition” to secure transfer targets this summer.The Gunners will lose Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and Petr Cech after letting their contracts expire.But Sanllehi is confident thion it would be wholly inappropriate for me to speculate about what types of discipline might be in play,” Manfred said. “I’m going to get all the facts in front of me and make a decision as promptly as possible on discipline.”

MLB strengthened its rules against electronic sign stealing before the 2019 season, and Manfred said the rules are reviewed eacise on teammate Raheem Sterling.Sterling, insists Delph, now belongs at the top tier of today’s stars.“I joined City with Raheem, so for me to see Raheem’s ­development as debut in Major League Soccer.He was playing for FC Cincinnati for the first time since joining the club temporarily in the January transfer window.Locadia netted in the 71st minute, only seven minutes after he came off the bench for Cincinnati.His nd to push him, to be that voice in his ear, I still felt very much part of ih offseason to determine whether more alterations are warranted.

Skater badly injured in Olympic ceremony rehearsal accident

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A female skater was severely injured after falling to the ice from about 16 feet during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Youth Winter Olympics in Lausanne, police said Wednesday.

The 35-year-old Russian woman’s life is in dange is reluctant to return to the Premier League this summer.The Mirror says Bale is being pushed towards the exit at Real Madrid by boss Zinedine Zidane.But the star is determined not to be forced out without his mega contract worth over £600,000-a-wer, police in the canton of Vaud said. An investigation into Tuesday’s incident is being led by police in the city of aking to Bleacher Report in a Q&A, James named manager Frank Lampard alongside three of his current Blues team-mates in an all-time Chelsea dream team.Cesar Azpilicueta earned the nod over James himself at right-back while World Cup winner N’GoloLausanne.

Police said the woman was being hoisted by a cable attached to the ceiling of the main hockey stadium in Lausanne. The skater suddenly lost balance and fell.

The inquiry must try to establish “the reasons, the circumstances and possible responsibilities in this accident,” police said.

The International Olympic Committee said in a statement a female pecan understand Arsenal’s interest in defender Tierney.“Once you’re a top quality player like he [Tierney] is, like what Callum [McGregor] is, what James [Forrest] is, you are always going to get bids. You are always going to get speculation and yourforming artist was evacuated for treatment at a hospital in Lausanne, without detailing the incident.

“The IOC and Lausanne 2020 wish the performer a fast and full recovery,” the Olympic body said.

The two-week games open Thursday with a ceremony at the new arena, which will also host games at the men’s hockey world championships in May.

Angelique Kerber’s title defence ends but Serena Williams rallies to victory

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It is well over two decades since any woman other than Serena Williams and Venus Williams successfully defended the women’s title at Wimbledon. Angelique Kerber, in such style 12 months ago, will not be joining them after she was ousted 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 by the American Lauren Davis in the second round.

Davis, at 5ft 2in one of the smallest players on the Tour, only got into the draw as a lucky loser. A brilliant mover, she chased down everything and made the usually rock-solid Kerber miss, with 31 unforced errors from the German telling their own story.

“I was trying to find my game the whole match, actually,” said Kerber, who will drop out of the world’s top 10 after . “I was not really feeling good from the beginning. I don’t know why. The energy was not there. I tried. She played well. She was going for it. She took the match in her hand. I was too defensive in the important moments. Of course I’m disappointed. It’s not the way I would like to finish here or to play here. But you have sometimes days like that. You have to accept it. You have to learn from it, try to forget this as soon as possible.”

Davis was ranked inside the top 30 just two years ago but injuries have dropped her down to her current mark of 95. Here, though, with Kerber off-colour, she took full advantage to take her place in the third round, where she will play Carla Suárez Navarro, the No 30 seed from Spain. Having lost in the final round of qualifying, it is almost like she’s playing with house money and she is enjoying the ride.

“It’s definitely been incredible,” she said. “I was super-disappointed, having lost last round of qualies. I found out less than two hours later that I got into [the] main [draw]. I was ecstatic about that. It’s honestly a dream being here. I played qualies last year, so I wasn’t able to come here. It feels amazing.”

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was there to watch in her second-round match against Kaja Juvan, an 18-year-old Slovenian who likes the philosophy of Socrates and Descartes. Her tennis wasn’t bad, either, as she took the opening set against a rusty-looking Williams but the American, trying to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slams, pulled her game together when she needed it. Her 2-6, 6-2,abao Cup semi-final is evenly poised after the first-leg finished 1-1 at King Power Stadium.”I thought we played well,” Rodgers told LCFC TV. “In the first half, we were too slow both in attack and when we pressed the game. We were too passive.”They 6-4 victory sets up a third-round meeting with the 18th seed, Julia Görges of Germany. “It was definitely coming together as the match went on,” Williams said. “I’m just low on matches basically. I could feel it. But I’m getting there.”

She will get plenty of matches if she keeps going deep into the second week as she partners Andy Murray . While the media might like to claim credit for putting the pair together, W-1 defeat of Bournemouth.The Magpies made it successive wins in the Premier League wins thanks to goals from DeAndre Yedlin and Ciaran Clark who helped cancel out Harry Wilson’s opener.Bruce admitted there was still room for improvement, he said: “Ifilliams said she and Murray had discussed it a few days before and were excited to get on the court together. “It made sendy on a six-month deal after he was released by Wolves.The 21-year-old Scot began his career with Rangers before moving to Spain with Real Murcia.He joined Bury in 2014 before a three-year stint at Molineux that included loan spells with Oldham, Ayr se for me because I really could use some matches at this point,” she said. “It made sense for him. We both want to do well. We both love Wimbledon. Playing with a British icon like Andy is going to be really exciting. I’m looking forward to sharing the court with him and maybe I can learn a thing or two from him.”

Petra Kvitova, meanwhile, continues to defy expectations as she battles the arm injury that forced her to miss the French Open. The Czech, whose two grand slam titles came here in 2011 and 2014, beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-2, serving a whole game of aces early on and saving three set points before pulling away for victory. She will play Mandy Minella, of Poland, a surprise winner over American teenager Amanda Anisimova, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open last month.

Silver defends NBA employees’ right to free speech as China cancels broadcasts

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The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said the league is not apologizing for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet showing support for anti-government protesters in , even after China’s state broadcaster canceled plans to show a pair of preseason games in that country later this week.

Silver, speaking on Tuesday at a news conference in Tokyo before a preseason game between the Rockets and the Toronto Raptors, went as far as to say that he and the league are “apologetic” that so many Chinese officials and fans were upset by Morey’s tweet but insisted that the executive has the right to freedom of expression. The NBA has also received criticism from US politicians. Senator Ted Cruz said the league by initially saying it was “regrettable” that Morey’s tweet had caused offence in China.

“Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right [to free speech] as one of our employees,” Silver said. “What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.”

Those consequences are already becoming clear. The state-run China Central Television (CCTV) said it would not show the games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, who will play former Liverpool midfielder was a free agent after his contract with Stoke City expired last month.He has signed a one-year deal with the Royals.Chief Executive Nigel Howe said: “A player with both Championship and Premier League experience, not to mon Thursday in Shanghai and Saturday in Shenzhen. is wildly popular in China, with the Lakers drawing particularly strong support due to the presence of superstar LeBron James

“We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression,” CCTV said in a statement. “We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.” The broadcaster is also reviewing all its cooperation with the , according to the statement.

Chinese state media on Wednesday accused the NBA of endorsing violence with the Daily accusing Silver of “brazenly endorsing Morey’s secessionist-supporting tweet” and giving “a shot to the arms of the rioters of Hong Kong”.

The state-owned Global Times accused Silver of caving in to political pressure, saying the NBA was treating the Chinese market with disregard.

Silver will arrive in Shanghai on Wednesday and said he hoped to meet officials and some of the league’s business partners in an effort to find common ground. “I’m sympathetic to our interests [in China] and our partners that are upset,” Silver said. “I don’t think it’s inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time to signing another English player – 25-year-old winger Turgott,.The ex-West Ham youth scored 18 goals in 46 appearances for National League side Maidstone last season.Ostersunds have embarked on a policy of bringing young English talent to the far nostand by our principles.”

Silver said the NBA did not expect CCTV to cancel plans to show the Lakers-Nets games. “But if those are the consequences of us adhering to our values, I still feel it’s very, very important to adhere to those values,” Silver said.

The rift between China and the NBA started late last week when Morey tweeted a now-deleted image that read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” in reference to months of pro-democracy demonstrations in the Chinese territory that has been mired in violence between protesters and law enforcement.

Efforts were quickly made to defuse the impact. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said Morey does not speak for the Rockets, and Morey returned to Twitter on Monday in an effort to clarify his original post. NBA streaming partner Tencent which has a $1.5bn contract with the league over the next five seasons said it would not show Rockets games and a sports website in China said it was no longer covering the team.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that China’s best-known basketball player is Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who spent his NBA career with the Rockets. Yao is now the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, which has said aj is ready to leave Napoli in January.”There had been discussions in the summer with Roma, then we stopped when the season began, but we still like them as a destination,” agent Mario Giuffredi told Radio Marte.“I think it is Napoli’s interests toit is suspending its relationship with the Rockets in response to Morey’s tweet. The CBA also canceled plans to have the G League affiliates from Houston and Dallas play preseason games in China later this month. “I’m hoping that together Yao Ming and I can find an accommodation,” Silver said. “But he is extremely hot at the moment, and I understand it.”

The NBA’s reaction to Chinese displeasure is jarring to some, given the fact that the league for encouraging its players to express their views on social issues they believe are important, such as police shootings of African Americans.

Jets raise eyebrows by appointing Gase after 23-26 record with rivals Miami

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The New York Jets stayed in the AFC East to find their new head coach. The former coach Adam Gase agreed on Wednesday night to take the Jets job, according to multiple reports.

The hiring ends a 10-day, wide-open search for New York, which met with seven other coaches about their vacancy, including Mike McCarthy, Kris Richard, Jim Caldwell, Eric Bieniemy, Todd Monken, Matt Rhule and Kliff Kingsbury, who took the Arizona Cardinals job.

Gase was 23-26 in three years with Miami, including a playoff game in the 2016 season, before being fired last week. He’ll remain in the AFC East, and face the Dolphins twice every regular season as a rival head coach. Gase replaces Todd Bowles, who was fired after he went 24-40 in four seasons and no playoff appearances. Gase is the Jets’ first hire with previous full-time hs sports director Fabio Paratici is convinced he can bring Paul Pogba to Turin – and for an affordable price.The Manchester United midfielder continues to be linked with Real Madrid, with agent Mino Raiola confirming they attempted to engineer a moveead coaching experience since Bill Parcells’ three-year tenure from 1997-99. The 40-year-old is also the first offensive-focused coach since Rich Kotite in 1996.

Gase will be tasked with furthering the development of quarterback Sam Darnold and helping New York snap an eight-year postseason drought. While he had control over personnel in Miami, Gase will work cloPortuguese duo Pedro Gonclaves and Joao Dias have left Wolves.Both players have joined newly-promoted Portuguese top flight club Famalicao on permanent deals.Gonclaves made his first-team debut last season and impressed mightily for the club’s U23 side.Dias struggled to make a similar impact after joining the club last summer.sely in New York with general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was retained by team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, to put together a competitive roster around Darnold. The Jets are expected to have around $100m in salary cap space this offseason, and will be very active in free agency.

Those factors combined, Johnson insisted leading into the team’s search, made the Jets an attractive spot for a head coach to land. “If you can make it here, you’re a freakin’ legend,” Johnson said. “That counts for something.”

Gase was fired after this season as part of an organizational shake-up after the Dolphins finished 7-9 anr United need to sign a midfielder leader like Bryan Robson.The 46-year-old has struggled to make a huge impact in the transfer market, although Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been welcome additions.And Solskjaer admits he needs to find anotd missed the playoffs for the 15th time in 17 years. There were also questions about whether Gase had lost the support of some players. Miami ranked 31st in the NFL in offense, a franchise worst, and 29th in defense, allowing a franchise-record 6,257 yards this season.

Gase’s Dolphins were particularly good in one-score games, going 7-1 in those situations this season and 20-6 in three years. Their record in games decided by more than one score was 3-20, including 0-8 this season. Miami also lost their last seven games on the road.

The hiring was met with some trepidation from frustrated Jets fans, many of whom were pulling for McCarthy, Monken or Rhule to be hired to turn the franchise around and end a Super Bowl drought that’s 50 years and counting.

Phil Mickelson dropped by Jim Furyk for all Saturday’s Ryder Cup play

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, chosen by Jim Furyk asld be Mohamed Salah, according to former Reds midfielder Don Hutchinson.Speculation continues to build on whether Europe’s biggest clubs will attempt to sign Jurgen Klopp’s dominant side.Barcelona and Real Madrid have been linked with Salah and Sadio one of his four captain’s picks, has been omitted from all the Ryder Cup pairings on Saturday and his participation in the event is now restricted to a heavy defeat on Friday afternoon plus Sunday’s singles.

The left-hander was also benched for the whole of Saturday at Gleneagles four years ago, which led to his , the then US captain.

The 48-year-old Mickelson lost 5&4 with his fellow wildcard Bryson DeChambeau on Friday and even that represented something of a recovery, as Sergio García and Alex Norén had been six up after 12.

DeChambeau was paired with another car 5-0 win at Europa League opponents LASK last night.The first leg of the Europa League last 16 tie in Linz wasagreed a fee of £8.2m, according to Goal.Mignolet has been desperate to leave Anfield in order to play regular first-team football.The Belgian will return to his homeland after playing 204 times for the Reds following his £9m switch from Sunderland played behind closed doors, due to fears about the spread of coronavirus. “We missed the fans tonight but played strong as a team to give ptain’s pick for Saturday afternoon’s action, Tiger Woods, to play Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood.

Dustin Johnson and were up against Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson faced Sergio García and Alex Norén, while Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas were opposed by Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy.

This meant Europe kept the same lineup that allowed Thomas Bjørn’s side to sweep the foursomes session on Friday.

Joe McKnight: murder trial begins over shooting of former NFL player

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The trial in a road-rage shooting began on Tuesday in a New Orleans suburb, where a judge and attorneys were questioning dozens of potential jurors.

Ronald Gasser, 56, is charged with second-degree murder in the December 2016 shooting of the player who began his career as a local high school football star. , Gasser was indicted on the more serious charge last February. He has pleaded not guilty. Gasser, who remains jailed with bond set at $750,000, was dressed in a dark blue pinstripe suit as he entered the courtroom, accompanied by sheriff’s deputies.

McKnight, 28, was a running back and played college football at Southern California before three seasons with the and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jury selection was set to begin in the courtroom of state District Judge Ellen Kovach. Gasser’s attorneys have cast McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser fired in self-defense.

If convicted as charged, Gasser would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.Police said the confrontation goalkeeper Dean Henderson on a season-long loan.England Under-21 international Henderson, 22, has agreed a new contract at Old Trafford until 2022.He played all 46 league games for Sheffield United last season as they won promotion to the Premier Leatook place as the men traveled across a Mississippi River bridge in and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish. Authoriidfielder Scott McTominay says they need to find a winning consistency next season.United will play in the Europa League for the third time in six years next season after last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at relegated Huddersfield confirmed their failure to secties said the shooting happened after both cars had stopped and McKnight approached Gasser’s vehicle. Gasser shot McKnight three times.

Defense attorneys said last year that they believe McKnight tried to enter Gasser’s car through the passenger window. They noted that Gasser stayed on the scene after the shooting and said he cooperated with police.

The case bore striking similarities to an earlier 2016 shooting death involving another former player. Odds BK striker Filip Moller is attracting Premier League interest.Fotospor says City have registered an interest in Moller.The Blues are keeping tabs on the 18-year-old who has scored three league goals this season.The report states that Trabzonspor and Paris Saint-Germain are also keen.Will Smith, who retired after starring on New Orleans Saints teams that inspired the city after Hurricane Katrina with winning seasons and a 2010 Super Bowl victory, was shot to death during a confrontation following a traffic crash. A 29-year-old New Orleans man, Cardell Hayes, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

Jon Jones stripped of UFC title after one-year doping ban upheld

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Jon Jones has been stripped of the interim light heavyweightenis Suarez.The playmaker grew up near Vigo and played for Celta’s academy until he joined Manchester City at the age of 16.Denis has signed a four-year deal at Balaidos, with Celta paying 12.9 million euros to Barcelona as well as 3.1 million euros championship after an arbitration panel denied his appeal of a positive test and upheld a doping ban that will run through July.

Widely considered the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter, Jones was pulled from a July bout against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 shortly after news about the positive drug test.

Jones claimed to have taken a sexual-enhancement pill but ended up testing tner for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, reports, /.The agreement sees the Premier League club’s match highlights and content placed on the airline’s in-flight entertainment systems and its in-house magazine.The deal is worth around UK£250,000 positive for two banned anti-estrogen agents.

“Jon Jones has blown it in every way shape and form a guy with that much talent can blow it,” UFC president Dana White told ESPN. “Greatest talent ever and the biggest screw-up ever.”

The 29-year-old won the newly created interim title in April when he defeated Ovince St Preux at UFC 197.

The US Anti-Doping Agency, which handles UFC testing, declared Jones ineligible. He took the case to arbitration and that panel delivered the maximum one-year suspension, saying Jones’ “degree of fault verged on the reckless”.

Jones is eligible again on 7 July 2017.

UFC issued a statement saying it was aware of the one-year ban, which began on 6 July.

“While the decision indicates no evidence of Jones’ intentional use ootball are making sure you know all about how your loan players performed throughout the campaign. For this edition, we run our eye over Chelsea’s loanees.This group of loanees is especially important as Chelsea’s transfer ban should mean that they of banned substances, it does highlight the care and diligence that is required by athletes competing in the UFC to ensure that no prohibited substances enter their system,” the UFC statement says.

Toronto Raptors stand arm-in-arm for anthems: ‘We’re all human beings’

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The made a show of solidarity by linking arms during the anthems before their NBA pre-season game with Golden State on Saturday night.

Raptors players and staff stood arm-in-arm for the Star-Spangled Banner and O Canada at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, where the game was played. Some bowed their heads. Their statement was the latest entry in a series of recent protests designed to raise awareness of racial injustice and other social problems.

“We wanted to show solidarity,” said Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. “We’re a team, we’re all together, we’re all one race, we’re all human beings. We all understand that things in the United States and the things in the world [aren’t] the best right now.”

The Raptors, who won 97-93, held discussions all week before the decision to link arms was made.

“I told our players, understand why you’re doing it,” said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey. “It’s not against the military, it’s not against the flag, it’s not against the country. It’s their feelings on social injustice.”

Casey said their statement was intended to start a conversation. “Guys were real, guys had sincere feelings, sincere thoughts, sincere things to talk about and concerns,” he said. “That’s what all this should be about – to induce conversation.”

Since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the national anthem in August, America has grappled with questions of patriotism, free speech and the American flag, and many sports stars have opted to show their support. Several NFL players have sat, knelt or raised fists, and many high school and college players have also picked up the cause.

The has a rule that players and coaches must stand during the anthems, although it wasn’t mentioned in a recent letter to the players.

The Warriors’ players and coaches who were on the floor in Vancouver all stood as usual. In Bossier City, Louisiana, so did the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans, some with their hands over their hearts.

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said he hoped the team’s unique perspective as a Canadian team with many international players could

“We have guys who are not from America,” he said. “They go through their own problems in their own country, or whatever the case may be. If we can help inop four hopes tomorrow night.The Gunners travel to Stamford Bridge in 10th place, looking to reduce a 10-point gap on the Blues in fourth.Lampard insists Mikel Arteta’s side will not be out of contention if they lose but warned his side not to allow any type of way in a positive way, help a kid have a different outlook on something or have the right approach to something in life, that’s beneficial.”

DeRozan said it didn’t take long for the team to come to a consensus. “We all know what’s right is right, and we all know what’s wrong is wrong,” he said. “That’s just common sense of us all being genuine people. Once we put that in perspective it was easy.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors’ latest star element, took the first shot of the pre-season, a step-back jumper from the right side that was well short. The former Oklahoma City star’s first basket with the Warriors was a dunk with about a minute left in the opening quarter, one that drew a loud reaction from the sellout crowd of 19,000.

“Felt good to play and play against someone else,” Durant said. “We can start building for the season and what we want to be. So it’s a good first step.”

Durant heard some boos during the game, though said afterward he felt there were more cheers.

“Once the ball was tipped, it was juste as Man City women manager leaving his team top of the WSL after a harce James.The Sun says Newcastle and Leeds are expected to tussle it out for James in January.Steve Bruce has a strong interest in the right-back, who has broken into Frank Lampard’s first-team squad this season.The Newcastle boss hopes he can convincd fought 2-1 success over title rivals Arsenal.City went in at the break 1-0 to the good after being second best for most of the first half in this clash of the joint leaders in t another game for me,” Durant said.

Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks, former WWE star, will make MMA debut at UFC 203

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UFC will add another star high-profile figure to its line-up to go alongside the likes of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, with the announcement that former WWE star Phil “CM Punk” Brooks will fight at 203 in September.

Brooks was originally due to make his debut against Mickey Gall at UFC 199 but a shoulder injury ruled himver AZ Alkmaar.The scores were tied at 0-0 before Ashley Young broke the deadlock after 53 minutes.A double from Mason Greenwood quickly followed, with a penalty from Juan Mata sandwiched in between, making it four goals in 11 minutes for United.Spea out of action. Gall is undeaten in his two UFC fights and the 24-year-old is significantly youngenal and West Ham.Corriere dello Sport says Arsenal have shown an interest in Kessie, but could face competition from London rivals West Ham for his signature.Kessie first joined Milan from Cessena in 2017 and has become an important first-team playeer than Brooks, who is 37. The fight will take place at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on 10 September. The line-up will also see local hero Stipe Miocic defend his heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem

“The instant I got cleared I got on the horn with [UFC president Dana White] and we nailed everything down so I will be debuting September 10 in Cleveland,” Brooks told the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “I’m super excited. For obviously a myriad of re’s seen from their U23s.The midfielder, now in his third spell with the the Seagulls, believes the environment can get the young guns ready for the next step. Crofts, 35, said: “Since I have come in it’s been brilliant.“It’s like a first team andasons. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Brooks’s participation in UFC has caused some controversy as he has no professional fighting experience aside from the orchestrated action in WWE. Brooks is an intriguing figure away in his daily life and has written for Marvel Comics.

Trailblazing NFL coach Dennis Green was far more than just a soundbite

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For many football fans, Dennis Green will be remembered for one thing. His when his Arizona Cardinals lost to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football is probably one of the 10 best coach blow-ups of all time. Most mentions of his name are quickly followed by the refrain: “The Bears are what we thought they were.”

riticising the players during their El Clasico defeat at Real Madrid.Quique Setien’s No2 is well known for his passionate style of management.Sarabia’s reactions on the bench throughout the match were caught by Movistar’s cameras.”He is doing nothing

But to recall Green, who , as a caricature from a video clip is unfair. He was far more than a guy who got mad after a nationally televised loss in a football game. He was an essential coach at an important time for the NFL. He made o has opened the door to a future move to Real Madrid.He was at the FIFA’s Best ceremony on Monday evening in Milan after being nominated for the Best FIFA Men’s coach award.It has been a poorly kept secret that Pochettino would be interested in a reone of the most cherished and lucrative destination jobs in professional sports – NFL head coach – a possibility for many African-American men who never thought such a chance was real.

Only two black men had ever coached an NFL team when the hired Green in 1992. One of those men, Fritz Pollard, was a player-coach in the 1920s. The other was Art Shell, who was hired by the Raiders in 1989. Unlike Shell, who lasted six seasons, Green became an institution in Minnesota, coaching there for a decade. He turned the Vikings into consistent winners, going to the playoffs in eight of those 10 seasons.

In January 1999, he narrowly missed becoming the first African-American coach to take a team to the Super Bowl when Vikings kicker Gary Anderson, who hadn’t missed a kick in two years, that would have sealed the NFC championship game. Two years later, his Vikings lost another conference title game, this time in New York.

He won’t be remembered as the most successful black coach. Both Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin hargen Klopp admits winning the Club World Cup will mean much more to opponents Flamengo and Brazilian football fans than those in England.The German believes that Flamengo will be “treated as heroes” and enjoy ‘a proper party’ if they lift the trophy,ve won Super Bowls. But Green went 113-94 in his career, his record undercut by three years as coach of the then-moribund Cardinals. He won four NFC Central titles at a time when many owners and general managers were hesitant to hire black coaches. He may not have gone to that elusive Super Bowl as a head coach but he made it easier for men like Dungy, Tomlin, Jim Caldwell and Hue Jackson to be hired.

The NFL is a better place because of Dennis Green.

Part of his success was that he embraced 49ers coach Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense, working with Walsh as an assistant after a failed run as head coach at Northwestern. For three years he was Jerry Rice’s position coach, taking the lessons of his work with Rice to Stanford where he was head coach for three seasons and then the Vikings where he managed Cris Carter and Randy Moss, helping turn both into NFL stars.

Instead, most people will think of Green and remember him shouting about the Bears. That was in the last season at Arizona, when the Cardinals’ dysfunction was in bloom. Hopefully he will be remembered for more than a video clip. He was a very good head coach at a time when football needed him to be one.

New Jersey rugby union experiment needs catalyst to get required reaction

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This is a big week for rugby union and the Six Nations is only a modest part of it. The first Premiership game to be staged outside Britain is taking place in New Jersey on Saturday, with an American audience being politely invited to come and see how and Saracens compares with watching the New York Jets against the New England Patriots. To say a cultural collision looms is an understatement.

It is fair, too, to suggest the timing could have been better. I for Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte.Ferrara says Conte would’ve preferred Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal.”Antonio explained it very well, Eriksen needs time to settle into and understand certain tactical mechanisms,” Ferrara told Tiki Taka.“Asht is not just that this historic occasion clashes with a moderately interesting fixture between England and Wales at Twickenham. The call last week by 70 “experts” for tackling to be outlawed in schools rugby attracted plenty of debate, none of it designed to encourage US soccer moms to steerBradley junior towards the muscular new sport on the block. “Where are your helmets, guys?’ will inevitably be the most-asked question Stateside this week.

Amid the usual rejoinders about American football tacklers leading with their heads and the resultant extra potenbion are on the hunt for Huddersfield striker Karlan Grant.The 22-year-old has impressed for Huddersfield in the Championship this season, notching 16 goals.West Brom wanted him in January, but could not get a deal done, perSky Sports.The outlet suggtial for concussions, though, rugby’s rulers would do well not to sound complacent.

Had Leicester’s game against Exeter been happening across the Atlantic rather than on a cold Mother’s Day in the east Midlands, the American reaction would have been widespread horror. Let us just say there are a few key areas rugby union needs to get right before it can hope to sell itself compellingly to a market already familiar with big blokes running into each other.

The mostld move for Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt.The European champions have been linked with De Ligt.And Carragher said, “Well I think he possibly will [become the world’s most expensive defender this summer].“Pierre van Hooijdonk is next door doing the obvious are the types of high hit with which felled the Chiefs’ Phil Dollman at Welford Road. It should be stressed Tuilagi’s tackle did not result in a card or even a penalty but even Manu’s England team-mates, watching in Bagshot, admitted they winced when they saw it. James Haskell, musing aloud on the issue of what constitutes a dangerous tackle these days, put it perfectly. “The problem was he hit him so hard he went to wrap his arms around and the bloke had already folded like a deckchair on the floor. Why would you penalise a bloke for doing that? That’s an incredible shot.”

Incredible, yes. Good for the game’s image? Maybe not. In almost the same breath Haskell was rightly pointing out that teaching young kids the correct tackling technique at the right age is absolutely fundamental. “I think we are creating a game where it’s important young kids are taught to tackle properly and understand that rugby is a physical sport. Making rugby a non-contact sport…you might as well just forget it and disband it. I think we have to make a stand at some point. We are a contact sport and people are going to get hurt. As long as it’s not someone running around straight-arming people or blindsiding people trying to rip your head off, these things happen. We need to understand that.”

Squaring this particularly awkward circle is probably the key to rugby’s long‑term future, certainly as a 15-a-side sport with mass appeal and ahealthy reputation for safety. Haskell is particularly instructive on the subject as someone for whom tackling did not initially come easy. “I remember being taken down to Maidenhead RFC at five years old and not wanting to get wet, muddy and kicked in the face. I didn’t like tackling for a long time. When I got to Wasps at 17 I went straight to [the former back‑row] Joe Worsley and said: ‘Listen, I’m not being funny, I can’t tackle very well, you’ll have to teach me.’ We spent a lot of time working on it.”

As Haskell also pointed out, rugby league has recently adjusted its law on what constitutes a dangerous high shot; relatively speaking, it is still higher than in union but there has finally been recognition that heads and brains are not indestructible. In union, as Haskell confirms, the tackle height can vary depending on the desired outcome: go low and your openside may have a better chance to nip in for the kill; go high and you might just dislodge the ball or prevent the offload. Better the former safety-wise but most of the time there is insufficient time in which to make a choice.

So let us pray that, when Irish and take to the Red Bull Arena, the body count is not too excessive, the spectacle is halfway decent and, additionally, the scrums mostly stay up. If not, north American patience may not extend much beyond the half-hour. It would also help greatly to hire a decisive TV match official; American sports are used to in-play breaks but some recent delays for TMO referrals in rugby have made the notoriously stop‑start Super Bowl feel like the Olympic 100 metres final. To reiterate, this is a big week. Mess it up and the American dream will remain precisely that.

For the thrilling Dallas Stars, it’s all-out offense. But is their strategy doomed?

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Prior to their New York road trip, the were the NHLside club have been monitoring the 17-year-old, per The Sun.While Hope has not played for his club’s senior side, he was on the bench for a recent EFL Cup tie.The young left-back is also a target for Middlesbrough.It remains to be seen whether Everto leaders, a team who had spent the first months of the season overpowering teams with their dominant offense. After three straight losses, adding up to five in their last seven, they are left wondering whether their offense-heavy strategy is the right formula for winning a Stanley Cup.

Head coach Lindy Ruff told the media his team’s performance in the 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers was “embarrassing”, something he’d clearly expressed during the game by benching his top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp for the last 12 minutes.

Benn, the captain, didn’t exactly mince words either.

“We played stupid hockey and it’s not good enough. It’s pretty plain and simple,” he said.”

The Stars have scored 146 goals this year, 22 more than the Washington Capitals. That’s the same as the difference between the Capitals and the league’s 17th-ranked offense, the Edmonton Oilers. Dallas is on track for over 280 goals this year, which would be the most by an team since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2012-13. Benn and Seguin are second and third in the league in points, trailing only Patrick Kane.

But the Stanley Cup playoffs are typically not kind to high-octane offenses. Not since the Pittsburgh Penguins powerhouse of 1991-92 has the No 1 offense won the Stanley Cup. That’s not to say that recent winners didn’t have offensive prowess. Reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks had both Jonathan Toews and the aforementioned Kane, but they also had the No 1 defense in the NHL, which shut down Tampa Bay Lightning in game six. In fact, the past six winners were all in the top five in goals against, with three taking the top spot.

That’s where the Stars have their work cut out. Although they’ve surged to 16th in the league in goals against, a big jump from last year’s 29th, Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers showed what awaits them if their top players go cold and their defense and goaltending can’t stop difference-makers like Rick Nash and Derek Stepan.

After a 6-5 loss to the Islanders on Sunday, Ruff was asked if he was worried if his defense was trending downwards. He sidestepped the question and blamed bad penalties that let the Islanders score two power play goals. After the Rangers game, he singled out his top scorers.

“We need those guys,” Ruff said, referring to Seguin and Benn. “They’re our best players. Most nights they’re the ones who can push you through, and they’re going through a tough spell.”

Last year, Dallas was the only team with a top 10 offense to miss the playoffs. To fix their defensive woes, they brought in Antti Niemi to be their starting goaltender. Although he’s been an improvement over last year’s starter and current back-up Kari Lehtonen, the game against the Rangers dropped Niemi’s save percentage to a pedestrian .913, good for only 25th among all goaltenders.

Still, Ruff didn’t want to put the blame solely on Niemi, who didn’t get much help from his defensemen Tuesday night.

“I thought he made some great saves to let us hang around. We knocked one in, we deflected one in,” he said referring to some of the bizarre goals the team let in. “I think if you look at the breakaway saves and the tough saves he made, he gave us a chance when the game was still 2-1, 3-1.”

The Stars have been a breath of fresh air in a season where NHL administrators have lamented the decrease in scoring, and publicly floated proposals to increase the size of the nets or decrease the size of goaltender equipment. The league average continues to creep towards five goals per game, meanwhile the average Stars’ game has six goals per game. You’re far more likely to see them score six goals, which they’ve done four rs.The locker room were shocked last week over claims the board hired an online PR company to disparage both current and former players critical of the current regime.Mundo Deportivo says Bartomeu met with the squad’s four leaders, Lionel Messi, Sergtimes, than being shut out, which only happened once against St Louis Blues.

But in the playoffs, where series often come down to low-scoring overtime games, opponents will be looking to shut down Dallas’ skilled players. Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers’ goalie who stopped 21 out of 23 shots against the Stars, explained it best.

“I think against a team like Dallas, the best scoring team in the league, you have to be smart with the puck. Your awareness has to be really high especially in your own end,” he said. “I think we played with poise and awareness. They have some really high-skilled players and if you let them play it’s going to be a tough game.”

Following a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals passed the Stars for the best regular season record in the NHL. Under head coach Barry Trotz, the team has remodeled itself into an excellent defensive team.

A few seasons ago, under Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals were the poster child for trying to win the Cup by playing great offensive hockey. In 2010, they won the President’s Trophy for the best regular season record by scoring an incredible 318 goals, only to be upset in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens and their stellar goaltending. The Capitals let in 233 goals that year. This year, they have conceded the fewest goals, 85, at the midway point of the season.

But the Stars’ style of play has still propelled them to first place in the Central division by eight points, which is a more than welcome change for a team that has only made the playoffs once in seven years. Attendance at the American Airlines Center is up by almost 1,000 and despite the recent struggles, this is still their best start since the Stanley Cup-winning season of 1998-1999.

A Sunday.Sigurdsson, who was one of a number of players to join up with the Everton squad this week, struck the bar and the post after coming on as a half-time substitute at the Stade Saint-Marc in Le Chable.”I think we played alright, a lot of the bofter three road games in four nights, Ruff is hoping the team can regain momentum back in Dallas with a few division games. But he’s worried there’s not enough time to “regroup”, as he put it.

“When you get out of this, you usually need a few days to let your team rest and come out of it, but we don’t have that luxury,” he said.