Max Verstappen on stage in China

Lewis Hamilton dominates Chinese Grand Prix ahead of recovering Sebastian Vettel and charging Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton scored his fifth Formula 1 career Chinese Grand Prix victory with a commanding performance in Shanghai to come home ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The British driver moved level with Vettel at the head of the drivers’ championship as a result, while Verstappen scored Red Bull’s first podium finish of the season.

After much of Friday’s practice running was lost when low cloud prevented the medical helicopter from operating as required, there was much speculation that the race could be disrupted as it took place in similar conditions.

That situation was avoided as the FIA arranged for the necessary neurosurgery staff to be transferred to a hospital closer to the circuit, but rain had fallen in the build up to the start and all the drivers – except Carlos Sainz – set off on intermediates.

Hamilton held his lead from pole position on the run to Turn 1 as Vettel, who had lined up strangely to the side of his grid box, defended hard from Valtteri Bottas through the long right-hander, while Daniel Ricciardo passed Kimi Raikkonen for fourth place.

Verstappen, who had started down in 17th after he suffered an engine problem in qualifying, had made it well into the top ten by the end of the first lap, which was disrupted by a collision between Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez at Turn 10 that ended the Canadian driver’s race.

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Nadal on track for Federer showdown as Sock downed

MIAMI, March 30, 2017 – Rafael Nadal took a step closer to a possible final against long-time rival Roger Federer in the Miami Open after a straight sets win over American Jack Sock on Wednesday at Key Biscayne.

Nadal’s 6-2, 6-3 win over the 13th-seeded Sock sets up a semi-final meeting with unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini who upset second ranked Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2 earlier in the day.

The Spaniard’s forehand was ominous as he neutralised Sock in one hour and 22 minutes.

Nadal was able to save six of seven break points earned by Sock as he kept control of the contest.

He broke Sock in the American’s first service game and swiftly established a 3-0 advantage and a second break at 5-2 wrapped up the opening set.

The American showed his spirit though as he broke Nadal at the start of the second but was unable to take advantage of a double break that could have put him 3-0 up.

Instead Nadal pulled back to 2-2 and with Sock failing to make the most of a chance of further break points it was comfortable in the end.

The 30-year-old Spaniard has never won in Miami despite being a four-time finalist and he expects plenty of work to get past Fognini and make it a fifth appearance.

“We know each other very well. He has beaten me a couple of times and so it will be a good test. I am happy to be the semi-finals but it will be a tough one and I will need to play my best,” said Nadal.

Fognini has three wins from ten meetings with the Spaniard, the most recent coming on clay in Rio de Janiero in 2015.

The 29-year-old world number 40 showed plenty of confidence as he took the game to his Japanese opponent from the outset.

It was the Italian’s first victory in three attempts over Nishikori and his first Masters series quarter-final win since 2013, when he reached the last four in Monte-Carlo.

Nishikori earlier said he had not felt fully in top shape for the contest.

“I wasn’t 100%, physically, I mean, it was tough conditions for me,” he said, referring to the heat on the mid-afternoon Key Biscayne centre court.

“But it was also same for him, too. He was playing a lot of the long matches, but I think he still played good enough to beat me today,” he added.

Fognini, who was cheered on by his friend, former Italy footballer Christian Vieri, said he had come through a demanding test.

“It wasn’t easy and I was just focused on my game. I am very happy, I’m in the semifinal, I’m playing well and I feel good again on the court,” he said.

On Thursday, Federer takes on Czech tenth-seed Tomas Berdych while the last quarter-final pits Germany’s Alexander Zverev against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios.

Source -TheNation

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Sebastian Vettel wins first grand Prix in Melbourne.

The 2017 Formula 1 season is looming as a shoot-out between the sport’s greatest modern drivers after Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix, 10 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The Brit started the day in pole position but a tactical misjudgement from his Mercedes team allowed the Ferrari driver to take the lead on lap 24, and the German held on with ease to claim the first race win for the Prancing Horse since 2015.

Valtteri Bottas finished behind his Mercedes team-mate to claim the final podium position, while local hope Daniel Ricciardo endured a miserable afternoon, bowing out of the race with a whimper on lap 30.

Hamilton (three) and Vettel (four) have seven championships between them, but have never competed against each other in evenly matched machines, meaning the 2017 season now looms as a mouth-watering showdown between the two.

“It is a long way ahead. For now we are just over the moon,” Vettel said after the race.

“The car is really screaming, ‘more, more, more’,” he said of the rule changes which promised to bring Mercedes back to the pack slightly and give fans more action-packed racing than in 2016.

Ricciardo, due to start from 15th on the grid after his Red Bull team were forced to change the gear box in his car after yesterday’s crash, did not make it through the warm-up lap before problems surfaced.

His car stuck in sixth gear, leaving him stranded on the track. He was given a lift back to the pits and his team frantically worked to get the engine going again. They eventually did so, two laps into the race.

Relatively clean start gives Hamilton the early lead

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Roger Federer reaches Indian Wells final against Wawrinka

Roger Federer might soon have to reset his goals for the year, seeing how well things are going for him.

Having won his record 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, Federer will pursue a record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open title after beating Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6 (4) Saturday to reach the final.

He takes on Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss title match after Wawrinka eased past Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3.

Federer was sidelined by various injuries for much of last year, forcing him to skip Indian Wells. Heading into this year, his plan was to play as far as the Miami event next week and then see how he felt.

“I was just happy to be feeling healthy again at the end of last year,” he said. “I was just happy to be playing another 10 events maybe.”

Now, Federer is poised to win his 90th career title in the final, keeping him third behind Jimmy Connors ( 109 ) and Ivan Lendl ( 94 ) for the most titles in the Open era.

“It’s not a goal of mine per se to play until I reach 100,” he said. “Could be. It’s a nice goal to have. But that stuff can change. Ask me again in three to six months how I’m feeling, if I won any more or not.”

Federer is 4-2 in finals at Indian Wells with his last title coming in 2012. He owns a 19-3 edge over Wawrinka, including 14-0 on hard courts, and has won their last three meetings, including in the Australian Open semifinals in January.

Two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova plays 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina in an all-Russian women’s final Sunday.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Monaco hurts Man City

Manchester City’s defensive frailties cost them as they crashed out of the Champions League with a 3-1 defeat at Monaco.

Manager Pep Guardiola named an attacking line-up for the second leg of the last-16 tie but that backfired as Monaco overturned a 5-3 deficit to win on away goals after a 6-6 aggregate draw.

First-half goals from Kylian Mbappe and Fabinho put the Ligue 1 leaders ahead and although Leroy Sane hit back for City, Tiemoue Bakayoko sealed victory with a header 13 minutes from time.

City were lacklustre on the night and Monaco made light of the absence of Radamel Falcao, scorer of two goals in the pulsating first leg, with a hip injury.

Guardiola perhaps got his selection wrong by naming the in-form Yaya Toure on the bench. With Fernandinho the only specialist central midfielder on the field, City were unable to make any impression in that area and Monaco came at them in waves.

That early pressure was quickly rewarded as Mbappe, who had already forced Willy Caballero to make one save, opened the scoring in the eighth minute. City’s defence were cut open as Benjamin Mendy drove in a ball from the left and Mbappe turned in with ruthless efficiency.

Mbappe thought he had claimed a second soon after but his powerful low strike was ruled out for offside.

City struggled to gain possession, made little use of the ball they did get and failed to repel Monaco’s continual raids.

It came as no surprise when they struck again to level the tie just before the half-hour mark. Mbappe again cut the defence open on the left before Mendy crossed and Fabinho made no mistake with a first-time finish.

City’s attacks were few and far between and those they did piece together fizzled out before they reached the box.

It was not until the second half that they started to assert themselves in any way and finally get the previously isolated Sergio Aguero into the game.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a hat-trick of chances came the Argentinian’s way in quick succession but he was unable to take any of them.

He could not be blamed the for the first as Andrea Raggi produced a superb challenge to pinch the ball from his toes as he lined up a shot from Raheem Sterling’s pull-back.

But the striker blazed over moments later following a lightning break by Sane and he was denied by a fine save from Danijel Subasic after smart turn by David Silva.

It did seem, however, that the tide had turned and Monaco were maybe starting to feel the pace after such a high-energy start.

Sane took advantage to put City back ahead on aggregate when he pounced from close range after Subasic palmed out a shot from Sterling with 71 minutes gone.

Yet that good work was quickly undone when poor set-piece marking allowed Bakayoko to thump home a header from a Thomas Lemar free-kick.

City’s hopes drained away and the Stade Louis II, a venue not renowned for its atmosphere, was rocking as the final whistle sounded.

Source – Football365

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Reborn Leicester City defeat Sevilla

Up went the ball, into the night sky, and there it seemed to hang: spinning, swirling, planning, plotting. Down below, Pablo Sarabia swirled underneath it, gauging its trajectory, unsure whether he wanted it to land or not. Out of the corner of his eye, he would have seen Marc Albrighton and Wilfried Ndidi chasing him down like hungry hounds. Sarabia leapt, and so did they.

A dull thud of shoulders. The ball bounced out for a throw. Leicester v Sevilla was eight seconds old.

There is a sort of dark magic to the long ball, football’s oldest tactic yet perhaps one of its least understood. You might even call it beauty: the fanciful optimism of relinquishing the ball at your feet and casting it to the skies, to the winds, to gravity, to randomness, to chaos. You play the long ball when you want to entrust yourself to fate. You play it if you are feeling lucky.

Most football teams see chance as their enemy: the enemy of certainty, the enemy of control, the enemy of all those thousands of hours spent pausing and rewinding scouting videos, scrawling on chalkboards, training and drilling.

Not Leicester. They do all that stuff, too, of course, but crucially they also know what you cannot control. This is hardly surprising. When your 5000-1 title shot has come in, then you are probably inclined to believe chance is your friend. When the opposition are palpably better than you – with all due respect to your Danny Simpsons and Robert Huths – then chance is the leveller. When allied with a greasy pitch, a partisan crowd and an unshakeable belief, then chance is your best chance.

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Also France knows who Memphis Depay is after score astonishing goal!

Former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay scored an incredible goal from the halfway line during Lyon’s 4-0 win against Toulouse on Sunday.

The Dutchman left Old Trafford for Ligue 1 in January in a deal worth around £15million and he’s impressed during his short time in France.

The 23-year-old arrived at the Theatre of Dreams with a big reputation from PSV Eindhoven but he left after a frustrating 18 months at the club.

United installed a buy-back option into Depay’s contract when he moved to Lyon and they might be looking at activating it after the Netherlands international’s stunning goal against Toulouse.

The winger swiveled in the centre circle before launching an amazing effort over the Toulouse goalkeeper, who he spotted off his line.

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Controversial late penalty helps Juventus beat Milan 2-1

Fino alla fine (Until the end) is the Juventus motto and it lived up to it again as Paulo Dybala converted a penalty with the last kick of the match to beat AC Milan 2-1 and go 11 points clear in Serie A on Friday.

Teen goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma appeared to have earned Milan a precious point with some fine saves but Juventus was awarded a disputed penalty deep in stoppage time after Mattia De Sciglio was judged to have handled Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross.

Milan players surrounded the officials and goal-scorer Carlos Bacca had to be pulled away from the referee by coach Vincenzo Montella after the final whistle.

“We exaggerated at the end of the match and I apologize for the final uproar, but I hope … they can understand why there was a lot of tension,” Montella said. “Regardless of the interpretation of the incident, we should transmit more positive and calmer messages.

“I say we should let the officials make mistakes in peace. I don’t like to hear too many complaints: We all need to be cautious and calm and accept the verdict on the pitch.”

Juventus, which plays Porto in the second leg of its Champions League last-16 matchup on Tuesday, extended its Serie A record to 31 consecutive home wins.

It moved 11 points clear of second-placed Roma and 13 ahead of Napoli. Roma visits Palermo on Sunday, shortly after Napoli hosts Crotone.

“When decisions go against us no one says anything. When they’re in our favor bedlam happens,” coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Ours is a deserved victory.

Milan remained seventh, a point behind Inter Milan, which hosts fifth-placed Atalanta on Sunday.

Juventus took the lead on the half hour through an unlikely goal-scorer. Medhi Benatia beat the offside trap to control Dani Alves’ chipped pass and smash it past Donnarumma from close range for his first goal for the club.

Milan leveled two minutes from halftime following great work from Gerard Deulofeu, who sprinted down the left from inside his own half, cut inside, and threaded the ball through for Bacca to fire into the bottom right corner.

Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was merely a spectator for most of the match and had plenty of time to admire his heir apparent.

Donnarumma turned 18 only last month but he has already played more than 60 times in Serie A and made two Italy appearances.

He notably kept out a Miralem Pjanic free kick then denied Sami Khedira with the help of De Sciglio’s goal-line clearance. He also managed to deflect Pjanic’s shot onto the crossbar.

Milan midfielder Jose Sosa was sent off following a second booking in the third minute of stoppage time and Juventus upped the pressure.

Gonzalo Higuain’s acrobatic effort was parried by Donnarumma but the ball was crossed back into the area and struck De Sciglio’s arm from point-blank range.

Donnarumma guessed the right way but was unable to keep out Dybala’s spot kick, unlike in the Italian Super Cup where he kept out the Argentine’s effort in the penalty shootout, won by Milan.

Source – TheJakartaPost

Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Benfica

Borussia Dortmund are into the Champions League quarter-finals, after beating Benfica 4-0 in their second round second leg to overturn a first leg deficit.

The German side took just four minutes to wipe out their first leg loss, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang heading home from close range after Christian Pulisic had flicked on Ousmane Dembele’s corner kick.

 Benfica came back into the game, but two quick-fire goals early in the second half, first from Pulisic, the American teenager, then Aubameyang, put the tie beyond doubt.

That pair combined again for the fourth, Aubameyang turning home from close range for the third time after Pulisic’s low cross.

But who really impressed? And who flopped? Player Ratings from the Westfalenstadion…

Barcelona creates football miracle

Football may witness the most entertaining game ever as Barcelona welcome Paris Saint-German (PSG) to the Nou Camp on Wednesday for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 showdown. 

The Catalan have a four-goal deficit to overturn from the first leg, a feat that has never been achieved by any team in the history of the competition.

However, if there is a team that can achieve the impossible its Barcelona, especially, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar in their fold.

The MSN can create football’s biggest miracle on a night the attention of the global football audience will be glued to the 22 players on the pitch inside a supercharged atmosphere.

Valentine Blues

Barcelona defeated Alaves 6-0 away from home in La Liga before the Champions League game against Paris Saint-German where they were tagged favourites.

But they were shocked by a smooth PSG side on Valentine’s Day and Luis Enrique’s men were handed one of their biggest defeats in the first leg of a two-legged tie.

Angel di Maria grabbed a brace while Edinson Cavani and Julian Draxler added the other in a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing. The win came with relative ease as the French champions outplayed Barcelona and the scoreline could’ve been worst.

MSN on a mission

On normal circumstances, it is game over after a 4-0 first leg win but with Messi, Suarez, and Neymar in their monstrous best, football fans across the globe can expect a miracle performed by these three wise men.

“There is a dispute to settle. We will do everything to show another image and show people the real Barcelona,” Suarez told France Football.

“It will be difficult to reverse the situation, but not impossible. If a team can overcome such a score, it is Barca. We have the qualities and the character to get out of this complicated situation.”

Barcelona have won all four fixtures after that grueling defeat against PSG, scoring 15 goals and conceding just four in the process with the MSN responsible for nine of the goals.

The huge plus for out-going Enrique going into this fixture is the return to form of the trio but more importantly Messi and he showed just why he has picked up five Ballon D’Or titles with a brilliant solo goal in the 5-0 win against Celta Vigo at the weekend.

Match verdict

Paris Saint-German are a fantastic side and Cavani seems to have rediscovered his best form since Zlatan Ibrahimovic left for Manchester United.

The addition of Julian Draxler has helped bring out the best in Di Maria while Marco Verratti is an absolute gem in the holding midfield role.

Nevertheless, it won’t be an easy game for the French champions as Barcelona will come at them with everything in their arsenal and getting an early goal could open the game to a wonderful spectacle. But a PSG goal will kill off Barcelona’s drive. The game is for Paris SaSaint-Germano lose now but with the MSN on their game, never rule the Spanish champions out.