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24.04.2015
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said his side delivered a "perfect" message to Premier League leader Leicester City after Monday's emphatic 4-0 win at Stoke City saw Tottenham close the gap at the top of the standings to five points. Leicester's 2-2 draw at home to West Ham on Sunday gave Spurs the opportunity to reduce the deficit with four games remaining, and they seized it in commanding style with a fourth win in five matches thanks to two goals each from the England duo of Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
Tottenham has scored 13 goals and conceded just one in racking up 13 points out of the last possible 15.
Kane, who took his season's tally to 27 goals, posted a social media image of a pack of lions closing in on their prey after Leicester dropped two points against West Ham. Kane opened the scoring at Britannia Stadium with his 23rd league goal of the season, overtaking Leicester striker Jamie Vardy's tally in the race for the EPL's golden boot. Stoke has now won only one of its last six games, and hopes of qualifying for next season's Europa League almost gone.
Tottenham Hotspur stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli promised to keep pushing leaders Leicester City all the way in the race for the Premier League title after sharing the goals in a 4-0 rout of Stoke City on Monday. The England duo each tallied a pair as Spurs recorded an impressive road win that saw the north London club move to within five points of leaders Leicester with four games remaining.
Performing well at Stoke's Britannia Stadium has long been regarded the acid test of a title-contender's credentials, and on this evidence Spurs remain very much in the hunt to be crowned champions of England for the first time since 1961, when they did the 'double' by winning the old First Division and the FA Cup in the same season. Tottenham was buoyed before kickoff by the fact Leicester could only manage a draw at home to West Ham on Sunday.
Tottenham's only minor blemish on Monday came when Alli, having rounded the goalkeeper, saw his shot hit the outside of the post.
Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross gets a leg up on Tottenham's Harry Kane during their English Premier League match on Monday. Vardy was sent off by referee Jonathan Moss after earning a second booking for diving in an unsuccessful bid to win a penalty in the second half of Sunday's 2-2 draw at King Power Stadium. The England international appeared to deliberately nudge his legs into West Ham's Angelo Ogbonna before throwing himself to the turf. When Moss flashed a red card, Vardy reacted by pointing and shouting angrily at the official. Leicester has also been charged after its players' angry reactions to the awarding of a late penalty for Wes Morgan's shove on Winston Reid. Vardy is due to be suspended for Sunday's home game against Swansea, but the ban could now be extended if he is found guilty of the charge. That would be a major blow as Premier League leaders Leicester has just four games left as it bids to hold onto first place and win the English title for the first time. Chelsea forward Diego Costa was sent off against Everton recently and served an additional one-game ban after admitting an FA charge of improper conduct following a clash with Gareth Barry and a rant at the referee after the dismissal.
Leicester's Jamie Vardy is consoled by West Ham's Jamie Noble after Vardy was shown a red card during Sunday's 2-2 draw. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid have spent the last three weeks hunting down Barcelona, and on Wednesday both clubs have the chance to overtake the sputtering La Liga leader. Second-place Atletico has bridged a nine-point gap and is only behind Luis Enrique's side due to its inferior head-to-head record as it prepares to visit Athletic Bilbao. Real is one point behind Barca, which is experiencing its worst domestic form since 2003, losing three La Liga matches in a row and drawing one since banging in 15 goals in three crushing wins in early March. Real hosts fourth-place Villarreal on Wednesday looking for an eighth consecutive league victory, immediately after Barcelona tries to stop the rot at Deportivo La Coruna. From being a one-horse race, it now looks like a thrilling three-way fight for the title, and Atletico striker Fernando Torres said his side is reaping the rewards for never giving up even when Barca was streaking ahead. While Barcelona has been caught in a downward spiral, Atletico has scored 11 goals in successive victories over Real Betis, Espanyol and Granada, although the team will be without captain Gabi due to suspension on Wednesday. Athletic Bilbao moved up to fifth in the standings after beating Malaga 1-0 on the weekend but will still be missing injured top scorer Aritz Aduriz, although forward Inaki Williams could return from injury. Real Madrid has a full squad available against Villarreal, a game goalkeeper Keylor Navas knows his team must win to take advantage of Barcelona's unexpected slide.
Despite Sunday's 2-1 home loss to Valencia, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said it was not a time to panic.
Tennis stars Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams won the Laureus World Sports Awards at a gala in Berlin on Monday.
The 28-year-old Djokovic won sportsman of the year for the second successive year, edging soccer star Lionel Messi and sprinter Usain Bolt. Djokovic won three Grand Slams in 2015-the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open - and also picked up six Masters titles. Williams won her third Laureus award for taking the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles. Newly crowned Masters champion Danny Willett has joined the PGA Tour following his unlikely victory at Augusta, it was announced on Monday. The 28-year-old Englishman has been given a five-year exemption, which will allow him to play on the Tour until the 2020-21 season. The world No 9 was also handed 600 ranking points in the FedExCup for his Masters triumph earlier this month. Bulgarian triple jumper Gabriela Petrova had her doping suspension lifted by the IAAF on Monday, less than a week after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced an amnesty for athletes who had tested positive for meldonium before March 1. Petrova, silver medalist at the 2015 European indoor championships in Prague, had denied any wrongdoing after failing an out-of-competition drug test on Feb 6, saying she had stopped taking the banned substance in September.
The Ethiopians ran past the Kenyans on their way to the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday and swept them from the top of the victory podium. Lemi Berhanu Hayle won the 120th edition of the men's race, and Atsede Baysa overcame a 37-second deficit on the women's side for Ethiopia's first-ever sweep of the world's most prestigious marathon. Hayle finished in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 45 seconds to beat defending champion Lelisa Desisa by 47 seconds.
Brazil's 100m freestyle world record holder Cesar Cielo has given up on his chance to qualify for the event at this year's Olympic Games to focus on the 50m freestyle.
The 29-year-old clocked 48.97 seconds in Monday's semifinal to earn a spot in the final as the sixth fastest at the last Olympic qualifying competition for Brazilian swimmers. Cielo told reporters he would forgo Monday night's race in an effort to save his energy for the 50m freestyle on Wednesday.
A US federal appeals court on Monday upheld an estimated $1 billion plan by the NFL to settle thousands of concussion lawsuits filed by former players - potentially ending a troubled chapter in league history.
A league official recently acknowledged for the first time a definite link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease found in dozens of former players after their deaths.
The league has been dogged for years by complaints that it hid the risks of repeated concussions in order to return players to the field. The deal avoids the need for a trial and means the NFL will never have to disclose what it knew when about the risks and treatment of repeated concussions.
Players' lawyers who negotiated the deal with the NFL, and stand to split $112 million in fees, say the settlement will help families get needed financial awards or medical testing that might take years if the case went to trial.
The ruling comes less than a month after lead plaintiff and former Philadelphia Eagle Kevin Turner died at 46 after battling Lou Gehrig's disease for several years.
Those challenging the deal also complained it does not cover mood and behavioral disorders that some researchers link to CTE. Ambro said that would be an "uphill battle" to prove, but said the agreement calls for reviews "in good faith" by the parties every 10 years to consider new scientific findings. Long distance swimming great Hackett, who missed out on qualifying for the Rio Games last week, was questioned by police over an altercation with a passenger on a flight to Melbourne on Sunday. The 35-year-old, who won back-to-back Olympic 1,500 metres freestyle titles at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, issued a public apology on Monday after the male passenger claimed the swimmer had pinched his nipple and "groped" his chest.
At national trials in Adelaide last week, the Olympic team's head coach Jacco Verhaeren said he wanted Hackett to accompany the squad to Rio as a mentor.
Swimming Australia declined to comment on Hackett's role with the team, but triple Olympic champion Jones urged the governing body not to sever ties with her former teammate. Hackett retired after taking silver in the 1,500m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games and struggled with the breakdown of his marriage and an addiction to a sleep medication.
He spent time in a US rehab facility in 2014 after being found topless and disoriented in the lobby of a Melbourne casino. Jones, who battled depression during and after her hugely successful career in the pool, said Hackett is still respected by the swimming community. Gary Pert, chief executive of the Collingwood Football Club, said he was seated across the aisle from Hackett and saw the incident unfold. Australian long distance swimming great Grant Hackett has apologized for an altercation with a passenger on a Sunday flight to Melbourne after being questioned by police. Hackett, who won the 1,500m freestyle gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games and again four years later in Athens, was reported to have pinched a male passenger's nipple after he reclined his seat in front of the swimmer. The 35-year-old Hackett, who this month failed to qualify for the August 5-21 Rio de Janeiro Games, was helped off the plane by another passenger and questioned by police at Melbourne airport. Governing body Swimming Australia said it was "extremely disappointed" to hear of the reports but said it would support Hackett, who head coach Jacco Verhaeren said he wanted in Rio as a mentor to the team. Swimmer Grant Hackett, who won gold medals for Australia at the 2000 and 2004 Games, has publicly apologized for a physical altercation with a passenger on a flight to Melbourne on Sunday. International Riders Association president Gianni Bugno has called for lifetime bans for those caught with motorized bicycles.
Bugno, a two-time former world champion and double Giro d'Italia winner during his racing career, was speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera a day after the newspaper and French TV program Stade 2 claimed to have detected possible cases of technological doping during the Strade Bianche and Coppi e Bartali races in March.
Bugno called on the International Cycling Union (UCI) to get tougher on cheats and do more to weed them out. Stade 2 used a thermal camera to detect heat sources it claimed could point to the use of a motor in the bicycle.
While there have been rumors that motorized bicycles have been used for years, the only rider to be caught with a motor was Belgian under-23 cyclo-cross competitor Femke Van den Driessche.
Bugno called for the UCI to use thermal cameras, but the world cycling governing body denied those would be more effective than current testing methods. As a hobbled Stephen Curry waved his arms to ignite the crowd and coached from the bench, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors' supporting cast proved they can win on the playoff stage without the NBA's MVP.
Thompson hit for 34 points and dished out five assists as the Warriors held off the Houston Rockets 115-106 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in their playoff series despite no Curry, sidelined because of an injured right ankle. Curry cut short his pregame warmup after appearing to be in discomfort while putting little pressure on the tender ankle. Andre Iguodala, last year's Finals MVP, added 18 points with four 3-pointers and Green had 12 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. James Harden had 28 points and 11 assists to lead the Rockets, losers of six straight and 14 of 15 to Golden State. Marreese Speights hit a key momentum 3-pointer from the baseline with 8.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter to make it 86-79, and the deep, versatile Warriors showed their mettle. Shaun Livingston, who left Sunday's practice with an illness, had 16 points and six assists playing in Curry's place. Dwight Howard's dunk of an alley-oop pass with 6:54 left in the third pulled the Rockets to 71-67, but Golden State kept answering with timely baskets.


On three occasions in the first half, Harden drew a foul beyond the 3-point line and sent the fans into fits. Curry took the court some 90 minutes before tipoff and first went through his normal dribbling session before he started shooting, then the ankle became tender.
Houston Rockets' Clint Capela shoots against Golden State Warriors' Brandon Rush during Monday's Western Conference quarterfinal clash in Oakland, Caliornia. The home fans were celebrating, streamers were falling onto the court and Oklahoma City appeared to have taken a 2-0 lead in its series against the Dallas Mavericks, despite a shaky overall performance. A putback at the buzzer by Oklahoma City's Steven Adams that would have won the game was disallowed upon review, and the Mavericks defeated the Thunder 85-84 on Monday night to even their Western Conference playoff series at one win apiece. Dallas had been embarrassed 108-70 in the opener on Saturday, but the Mavericks bounced back and held Oklahoma City to 33.7 percent shooting on Monday. In the postgame media conference after the Game 1 loss, Carlisle defiantly stated the loss was not significant, and that it was just one game. Raymond Felton had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Dirk Nowitzki added 17 points for the Mavericks. Deron Williams, declared doubtful on Sunday with a left abdominal strain, scored 13 points for Dallas, 11 in the game's first five minutes.
Kevin Durant scored 21 points for Oklahoma City, but he made just seven of 33 shots in the worst postseason shooting performance - both by percentage and number of misses - of his career. Durant's 26 misses were the most he's had in 716 career games, including the regular-season and playoffs. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban celebrates with Salah Mejri after Monday's win in Oklahoma City. Valanciunas had 23 points and 15 rebounds and Kyle Lowry chipped in with 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as Toronto beat the Indiana Pacers 98-87. The Raptors had not won a playoff game since a 115-113 home victory over Brooklyn on April 30, 2014.
Paul George scored 28 points and Monta Ellis had 15 for the Pacers, who host Game 3 on Thursday night. Toronto finished with 46 points in the paint, compared to Indiana's 30, and the Raptors outrebounded the Pacers 44-33. Corey Joseph scored 16 points, Patrick Patterson added 14 and DeRozan had 10 for the Raptors.
Lowry and DeRozan both struggled in Saturday's Game 1 loss, combining to make eight of 32 shots. Neither was particularly sharp in this one, either, with Lowry making four of 13 and DeRozan making five of 18.
Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors grabs the rim after dunking against the Indiana Pacers on Monday in Toronto. It was no different on Monday when Leonard won his second straight NBA Defensive Player of the Year award after helping the San Antonio Spurs have the league's best defense. Leonard beat out Draymond Green in voting to become the first non-center to win the award in consecutive seasons since Dennis Rodman in 1989-90 and 1990-91.
The 6-foot-7 Leonard received 84 first-place votes and 547 points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters in the US and Canada.
Green, the All-Star forward for Golden State, was runner-up for the second straight year with 44 first-place votes and 421 points.
The Spurs were a franchise-record 67-15 this season and allowed a league-low 92.9 points per game. He was just as smothering in the 106-74 win over the Grizzlies to open the playoffs over the weekend. Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala passes around San Antonio Spurs defender Kawhi Leonard during their April 10 game in San Antonio. Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs turned a tense game into a lopsided laugher on Sunday night. Leonard had 20 points as the Spurs crushed Memphis 106-74 in Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round series, handing the Grizzlies their worst postseason loss. San Antonio had 13 steals and nine blocks, with Leonard finishing with four steals and three blocks.
Leonard was aggressive from tipoff, stripping Matt Barnes on Memphis' opening possession and turning the steal into a breakaway dunk.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 17 points, and Tony Parker had 15 points and six assists for San Antonio.
San Antonio shot 68 percent in the third quarter, outscoring Memphis 33-14 to break open what had been a relatively close game. Memphis matched a postseason low in the first quarter with 13 points, and only Xavier Munford's 15-foot jumper with 46.1 seconds remaining kept it from matching the worst output in any quarter.
The Spurs ran a series of defenders and double teams to harass Randolph, the only remaining player among the team's top three scorers. Randolph had a shot blocked by Leonard in the first quarter, had Leonard step in front of him for a steal, and Tim Duncan ripped an inlet pass from his arms in the third quarter. Memphis' largest previous postseason losing margin was 27 points against Oklahoma City on May 11, 2011. Memphis was able to keep the game close in the first half despite being without starters Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, but San Antonio closed the second quarter on a 9-0 run leading into its dominant third.
Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs tries to strip the ball from Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies during Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference quarterfinals at AT&T Center in San Antonio on Sunday. One year after he carried the Cavaliers as far as he could in the postseason, James once again has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love by his side. Irving scored 31 points in his first playoff game since being injured last year in the NBA Finals and Love, who was knocked out in the first round by an injury a year ago, added 28 to lead the Cavaliers to a 106-101 victory over the young and confident Detroit Pistons in the opener of their first-round playoff series on Sunday. James added 22 points and 11 assists for the top-seeded Cavs, who got all they could handle from Detroit.
Cleveland's championship chances were dealt a major blow when Love's shoulder was dislocated in just his fourth playoff game last year at Boston.
The Cavs advanced to the Finals without him only to have Irving break his kneecap in Game 1 against Golden State, an injury that left James to fight the Warriors on his own.
As he sat between his teammates - who combined with him for 81 points, 24 rebounds and 18 assists - James looked relieved after the game. Love made two critical 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and the Cavs overcame a seven-point deficit by outscoring the Pistons 30-18 over the final 10:52. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 21 points and Marcus Morris had 20 - but just one after halftime - and Reggie Jackson added 17 for the Pistons, making their first playoff appearance since 2009. Andre Drummond had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons, who made 15 3-pointers but missed a couple of open ones down the stretch when their playoff inexperience showed. Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love defends against Detroit Pistons shooter Reggie Jackson during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game in Cleveland. Jaden Schwartz scored at 13:32 of the third period with Kane in the penalty box for high sticking, and the Blues beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
It was Chicago's first regulation loss when leading after two periods since Game 2 of the 2014 Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Blackhawks were 70-0-4 since the start of last season when they had the lead starting the third period.
Kane, one of the favorites for league MVP, got four minutes for drawing blood on defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, and St. The Blackhawks pulled Crawford for an extra attacker with 1:10 remaining, but Elliott and the Blues held on.
Brent Seabrook and Artem Anisimov scored for the Blackhawks, who dropped to 28-7 in home playoff games since the 2013 postseason. The Nashville Predators crowded around goaltender Pekka Rinne at the final horn and basked in the relative silence at Honda Center. After a remarkable two-game start to the postseason, the Predators are halfway to a playoff series victory that almost nobody outside their dressing room expected. Craig Smith had a goal and an assist, Pekka Rinne made 27 saves and the Predators confidently claimed their second straight road victory to open the series, 3-2 over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. Shea Weber and Mattias Ekholm also scored as Nashville took a 2-0 playoff series lead for the first time in franchise history with another win over the Pacific Division champions.
Game 3 is 1,800 miles away on Tuesday night in Nashville, where the Ducks will be even more desperate after failing to impose their physical will in Game 2. Smith got the tiebreaking goal midway through the second period on a slick setup from Filip Forsberg, and Weber's booming shot put the Predators up 3-1 during a powerplay. Nate Thompson cut into the lead with 2:42 to play, but Nashville closed out just its second road playoff victory since 2012. Andrew Cogliano scored and John Gibson stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have lost four straight postseason games dating to last year's Western Conference finals.
Li Haotong, one of China's rising golf stars, will tee it up at the May 12-15 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open - the first tri-sanctioned event by the Asian, European and Sunshine Tours.
The 20-year-old Li has received a sponsor's invite to compete in the second edition of the $1.09 million event, which will be played on the Ernie Els-designed course at the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita. Australian Scott Hend and India's Jeev Milkha Singh, who have won eight and six Asian Tour titles respectively, and European Tour stars Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Levet are among other big names confirmed for the event. Li shot into the global spotlight last November when he tied for seventh at the $8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, playing the final round with then-world No 1 Jordan Spieth.
The big-hitting Li now hopes to make a similar impact in his first visit to Mauritius, a popular holiday destination for international tourists. He's currently in China preparing for back-to-back European Tour events at the Shenzhen International this week and the Volvo China Open next week in Beijing.
Ryan Dodds, chairman of the Mauritius Open organizing committee, predicted Li will enjoy his time in Mauritius, on and off the course. He earned his card on the PGA Tour's secondary circuit by topping the Order of Merit on the inaugural PGA Tour China in 2014, when he won three of the last four events. Currently ranked No 3 in China, Li is hoping to compete at this year's Olympics in Rio, but faces an ongoing battle with Liang Wenchong and Wu Ashun for China's two places. Though he squandered a one-shot lead heading into the final round at a venue where he had been runner-up on three previous occasions, the former world No 1 was largely happy with the way he handled the pressure as the overnight pacesetter. He arrived at the Heritage ranked 95th in the world, but is projected to jump nearly 30 spots. Luke Donald of England plays a shot from the bunker during Sunday's final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Club in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur will end a second stint with coach David Taylor after the French Open. Europe-based Taylor said on Monday it was becoming more difficult logistically to keep working with the 32-year-old Stosur, who is based in the United States. King of clay Rafael Nadal was humbled on Sunday when it came to comprehending the full significance of his ninth title from 10 finals at the Monte Carlo Masters. The Spaniard, who has struggled to find his form over the past year, needed nearly three hours to defeat Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 in a morale-boosting victory of massive proportions.


Felix Sturm could be stripped of his WBA super middleweight belt after failing a drug test following his split decision victory over Fedor Chudinov in February. Thomas Puetz, president of the German association of professional boxers (BDB), said on Sunday that Sturm tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol after the Feb 20 fight in Oberhausen, Germany. Sturm won the fight against the previously unbeaten Chudinov on the cards of two judges, while one ruled it a draw. Swimmer Sun Yang has been voted China's Most Influential Athlete of 2015 by a panel of sports experts and media after he won two gold medals and one silver medal at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Swimmer Ning Zetao and sprinter Su Bingtian ranked second and third respectively in the vote.
Founded by China Sports Publications Corporation and Tencent, the panel aims at providing references in terms of Chinese sports industry through big data analysis. The Houston Texans have parted ways with quarterback Brian Hoyer and his release will become official on Monday, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Hoyer started nine games last season but no longer was in the team's plans after the offseason signing of Brock Osweiler to a four-year contract worth $72 million.
Hoyer, 30, passed for 2,606 yards and a career-best 19 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 11 games last season. Claudio Ranieri claims Leicester's dramatic escape in its 2-2 draw with West Ham has bolstered his players' belief they are set to become Premier League champions. Ranieri's side was seconds away from a damaging loss at King Power Stadium on Sunday after late goals by Andy Carroll and Aaron Cresswell put the Hammers in front after Leicester striker Jamie Vardy's dismissal for diving. It was the kind of predicament that would have finished off a less spirited team, but the Foxes refused to surrender and won a dubious penalty deep into injury time when referee Jonathan Moss ruled Carroll had tripped Jeffrey Schlupp.
Leonardo Ulloa stepped up to cooly slam home the penalty to leave Leicester eight points clear of second-place Tottenham. Although Spurs can close the gap to five points with a win at Stoke on Monday and Vardy will be suspended for next Sunday's game against Swansea, Ranieri refused to dwell on the negatives and saluted the never-say-die spirit of his players.
Moss' performance infuriated Leicester fans, who booed him off even after his generous late penalty decision saved their team, but Ranieri refused to join the chorus of disapproval. The manager said criticizing officials was pointless, although he might also have realized his defenders had got away with several blocks and tugs in the penalty area before Moss decided captain Wes Morgan's shove on Winston Reid was worthy of the penalty converted by Carroll.
In truth, Vardy could have few complaints about his second booking for trying to win a penalty by running into Angelo Ogbonna and then throwing himself to the turf. But pressed on suggestions Vardy swore at Moss after the dismissal in a petulant display that could see his ban extended by the Football Association, Ranieri protested the England forward's innocence.
A Tottenham victory on Monday would put Leicester under pressure for the first time since it opened a substantial lead at the top and, with Vardy out, the club could be vulnerable against Swansea. But Ranieri said there was no reason to panic because his team has already achieved so much during its incredible campaign.
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic took a harsher view of Moss after the referee's penalty decision put a major dent in the visitors' hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. Leicester City's Jamie Vardy gestures to referee Jonathan Moss after being given a second yellow card and sent off during Sunday's English Premier League match against West Ham.
The Catalans hadn't tasted defeat in 39 games until losing to Real Madrid earlier this month, but have since squandered a nine-point lead at the top of La Liga and been dumped out the Champions League by Atletico Madrid.
Barca still leads La Liga thanks to its superior head-to-head record with Atletico, with Real a point behind in third, but now needs to win all five remaining games against Deportivo la Coruna, Sporting Gijon, Real Betis, Espanyol and Granada to control its own destiny.
Moreover, Barca has now lost three consecutive La Liga games for the first time in 13 years. Barca dominated from start to finish against a Valencia side that had been dispatched 7-0 on its last visit to Camp Nou just two months ago under the tutelage of Gary Neville. However, it enjoyed better luck in Pako Ayestaran's third game in charge as Ivan Rakitic's own goal and Santi Mina's fine finish put the visitors up 2-0 at the break despite having just one shot on target. Lionel Messi's 500th career goal gave Barca hope after the break, but an inspired goalkeeping display by Diego Alves and a shocking miss two minutes from time by Gerard Pique consigned the hosts to defeat. However, Enrique was elusive on whether he would consider stepping down at the end of the campaign if Barca's incredible collapse costs them the title. Barcelona's Neymar reacts after missing a goal against Valencia during their La Liga match on Sunday. Sturridge was left on the bench for last week's Europa League quarterfinal second leg victory over Borussia Dortmund, just as he had been for the first leg a week previously against Klopp's former club. On both occasions the striker returned with a goal after being restored to the team, first against Stoke City and then again in Sunday's victory at Bournemouth that moved Liverpool up to eighth place in the Premier League standings. Sturridge also provided the assist for Roberto Firmino to put Liverpool ahead against Eddie Howe's side and could have added to the visitors' tally when he twice struck the woodwork.
With the England player's long-term future at Anfield in the spotlight following another injury-plagued season that has forced him to watch from the sideline for much of the campaign, Sturridge appears to be running into form at exactly the right time, with six goals in eight Premier League starts. Divock Origi started both games against Dortmund ahead of Sturridge, and with Everton due to visit Anfield for this week's Merseyside derby, Klopp made it clear nobody can be sure of their place. Sturridge's inclusion against Bournemouth was one of 10 lineup changes from Dortmund made by Klopp, with Firmino the only player to keep his place.
The German manager handed a Premier League debut to goalkeeper Danny Ward and also included youngsters Brad Smith, Connor Randall, Kevin Stewart and Sheyi Ojo in his lineup. Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge outruns Bournemouth's Steve Cook for a loose ball in Sunday's match. With Roma trailing 3-2 in Bergamo after a pair of goals by Marco Borriello, Totti came off the bench to make a rare appearance and promptly levelled four minutes from time. The result kept Roma in third place, 14 points behind Serie A leader Juventus, and in contention for a third consecutive appearance in the Champions League next season.
But barely two months after a feud caused by Totti telling Spalletti, via a television interview, that he should be playing more often and shown more respect, the Roma coach remains unimpressed.
According to several reports on Sunday, tensions reached a new high during a bust-up outside the Roma dressing room following Spalletti's media conference.
Spalletti appears not to have forgiven Totti for his self-centered comments in February and played down the captain's role in securing a share of the points in a hard-fought match in Bergamo. Now in his 23rd season with Roma, one-club man Totti is angling for an extra year's contract although president James Pallotta has been reluctant to offer it in the hope the 39-year-old takes a director's role.
Although the fans are on Totti's side, Spalletti is taking every opportunity to put the captain - who has made less than 10 appearances this season - in his place, suggesting the undercurrents on the club are far more relevant than Totti's goal. Spalletti and Totti were famously close during the coach's previous spell at the club in 2005-09, during which Totti lifted the Italian Cup twice in succession in 2007 and 2008 - the latter Roma's last piece of silverware - and the Italian SuperCup (2007). Madrid has eaten into Barca's massive lead at the top of the standings thanks to a run of seven straight wins, while the Catalans have taken just one point from their past nine.
Madrid will face Manchester City in the Champions League semifinals after a rousing comeback to beat Wolfsburg 3-2 on aggregate last week, thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick.
Ronaldo was on target once more with his 47th goal of the season to round off the scoring, but it was Karim Benzema who shone just days after it was confirmed he will not take part at Euro 2016.
The French Football Federation announced on Wednesday Benzema will not be available for selection due to his role in a sex-tape blackmail plot against fellow French international Mathieu Valbuena. Zidane called on Benzema not to let his head drop for the remainder of the season and he responded by sweeping home the opening goal to register his best scoring season in La Liga, with 22 goals.
Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas said his club is determined to at least force Barca to get the 14 points from a possible last 18 that would prevent Madrid from catching them.
Manchester United's Marcos Rojo tangles with Aston Villa's Leandro Bacuna during the home team's lackluster 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Who would have said we would end up in this situation?" Torres said at an event organized by telecommunications company LG on Monday. If there are no further appeals, former players already diagnosed with brain injuries linked to repeated concussions could begin receiving benefits within 3-4 months, a plaintiffs' attorney said. Molo, who argued for several former players opposed to the deal, said his clients are disappointed and considering their options.
The league estimates that 6,000 former players, or nearly three in 10, could develop Alzheimer's disease or moderate dementia. We must hesitate before rejecting that bargain based on an unsupported hope that sending the parties back to the negotiating table would lead to a better deal," Judge Thomas L. Even if it's just to highlight how hard it is when you retire, I think that needs to be spoken about more in swimming," Jones told Fairfax Media.
I have stuffed up more than once and am working on these issues," Hackett said in a statement.
He didn't commit a turnover in 39 minutes, his longest stretch without one in the regular season or playoffs.
Harden went to the free throw line for three attempts - his first of the series - at the 6:41 mark of the first, then tried to shoot again under pressure from long range midway through the second quarter to draw a foul on Ian Clark. His team bought it, and now goes home for Thursday's Game 3 with a chance to take the series lead. Durant got the rebound off the second, but his try for a game-winning shot game was blocked by Justin Anderson.
The Spurs sat their starters in the fourth quarter to rest them for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Louis Blues kept pushing and pushing until a costly play by NHL regular-season scoring champion Patrick Kane provided an opening.
Louis rallied after a difficult 3-2 loss in Game 2 that included two key coach's challenges that went against the Blues - one of them wiping out a tiebreaking goal. Schwartz then beat Corey Crawford low on the glove side for his third career playoff goal and a 3-2 lead. It was their first home playoff game since they hoisted the Stanley Cup at the United Center last June. Louis Blues collides with Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford during Sunday's game in Chicago The Blues won 3-2.
I am really positive about my game going forward and I am pretty positive about the way I handled it today.
Australian Stosur, a former finalist at Roland Garros, reunited with Taylor in 2015, two years after parting ways with the coach that helped guide her to the 2011 title at Flushing Meadows. But he disintegrated during a 30-0 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs when he threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. But because he's not perfect he might be a perfect mentor," said Jones, who won seven world titles from 2001-07. Russell Westbrook rebounded and missed, then Adams rebounded and made a basket, but the ball was in his hand as time expired.



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