After one season in the English Championship, Newcastle United secured an immediate return to the Premier League by beating Preston North End 4-1 on Monday.

Under Rafa Benitez, the former Liverpool manager who won the Champions League during his time at Anfield, Newcastle enjoyed an impressive season although two defeats and a draw in its last three league games led to a few nerves at the north-east club.

One of England's best supported clubs which regularly attracts crowds more than 50,000 for home games, Newcastle sealed promotion with two matches remaining.

Championship leader Brighton and Hove Albion secured one of the two automatic promotion places a week ago. Brighton leads Newcastle by four points.

Benitez was unable to save Newcastle from relegation last season after being appointed for the last 10 games, but decided not to activate a clause in his three-year contract allowing him to leave if the club was demoted.

The former Real Madrid manager, after meetings with owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley, announced his intention to stay in May and his decision has been vindicated.

Despite selling Dutch midfielder Gini Wijnaldum to Liverpool for a reported 25 million pounds following relegation, Benitez has acted astutely in the transfer market.

The signings of striker Dwight Gayle from Crystal Palace and Scotland winger Matt Ritchie from Bournemouth have paid dividends, with Gayle scoring 22 league goals and Ritchie 12.

An awful start to the season when Newcastle lost its opening two league games was quickly erased with five successive wins, creating a momentum that stalled only in the past month, on the verge of promotion. It got there in the end.

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Manchester City look set to pip rivals Manchester United to the signing of highly-rated Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy, according to the Daily Star.

Both Manchester sides are in the market for a new left-back at the end of the season, with City keen to strengthen in this area come the summer.

United, meanwhile, are looking to replace Luke Shaw at left-back, with Jose Mourinho prepared to allow the England international to leave at the end of the season.

Mendy has been mooted with a possible Premier League switch in the past, with Liverpool and Arsenal also believed to be interested in the France international.

However, the 22-year-old will only consider a move away from Monaco for another team in the Champions League, which puts City in pole position to secure his services.

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Yamaha dominated the season's first two grands prix with Maverick Vinales, but Marquez won from pole in America and moved up to third in the championship, 18 points off new leader Valentino Rossi.

Honda ran first and second for most of the race with Dani Pedrosa and Marquez, while Vinales had an early crash from fourth, and though his pace faded Pedrosa was still able to finish third behind Rossi.

The Japanese marque will test at Le Mans next Tuesday with Marquez and Pedrosa, who will both be using the second day of their five-day allocation for the season.

All five of MotoGP's other manufacturers will also be present at the French track, with Aprilia also opting to hold a private two-day test this week at Mugello.

Marquez, who dislocated his shoulder at Jerez in February during his first private test day of the year, believes the Le Mans test will be crucial for improving the RC213V to be able to take on Yamaha.

"It's important [to win] because we are third again in the championship," said Marquez, who had crashed when leading the previous race in Argentina. "Before the race I was eighth, and I said 'OK, we need to start coming back.'

"Still I don't feel perfect with the bike, we are missing something. Now we have an important test at Le Mans and an important race at Jerez.

"We need to understand [the problem], because if we understand it there and fix this problem, we can fight strongly for the championship."

Marquez was unsure where Honda's improvement relative to Yamaha had come from at Austin and said he had not been comfortable with the bike even on the way to victory.

"I was playing a lot with the set-up, trying to find stability and have more confidence," he said. "For some reason we didn't find it, then I was looking to tyre life because the front tyre I was destroying a lot.

"On Friday with just 12 laps my front tyre was destroyed and impossible to ride fast. Then on Saturday we did a great pace, but we don't know if it was the temperature.

"[In the race] everyone suffered but we were able to manage quite well and I felt better. But still it didn't feel like I wanted."

Honda informed Marquez that Vinales had crashed via his pitboard, though the reigning champion said he had already seen a replay of the incident on the video screens.

"It didn't change my plan, which was to try and understand the situation," said Marquez when asked if knowing Vinales was out had influenced his subsequent riding.

"The mistake of Argentina was big and I didn't want to repeat it."

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Following the news that Serena Williams was two months pregnant when she won the Grand Slam, Rev. Fred Nile MP, has called for the world champion to be stripped of the title, claiming “foetal personhood” means she was unfairly advantaged.

“She was playing doubles in a singles tournament!” Nile screamed at the ‘Day of the Unborn Child’ protest.

“I believe that ‘life at conception’ should be the law, and that clearly means two people won the Grand Slam,” said Nile, who is both an avid fan of professional tennis and aggressively campaigning to legislate how people use their uterus.

“That’s clearly against the rules!”

However, feminists argue Nile’s view that pregnancy is a sporting advantage shows ignorance to the realities facing those who are pregnant.

“Serena Williams was in control of her own body during the Grand Slam tournament, and as such has the right to her title, and the right, always, to bodily autonomy”, said Immy Grantson, an outspoken activist campaigning for progress on women’s issues.

“Williams, like all people, has the right to choose what she does with her body: whether that be powerful backhands, and/or be pregnant”, said Grantson.

This comes at a crucial time in New South Wales legislation. Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi’s End12 Campaign hopes to make it legal for world class athletes to choose whether or not they are pregnant.

When asked for comment by The Garter Press, Venus Williams, who lost to Serena Williams under the now contentious circumstances, said she was “excited to be an aunt”.

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Serena Williams, who announced her pregnancy last week, reclaimed the No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour on Monday. The 23-time Grand Slam winner takes over the top spot for the eighth time in her career and 317th week overall, third all-time behind Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. 

Williams will not play again in 2017 because of her pregnancy -- but plans to return in 2018 -- so her leap to the No. 1 position will be a temporary one. 

No. 2 Angelique Kerber will once again unseat Williams atop the rankings if she wins her first two matches at this week's Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. 

Williams, who got engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in December, posted a photo on Snapchat last Wednesday, prompting widespread speculation that she was pregnant with her first child. 

The 35-year-old Williams took a side-profile bathing suit mirror selfie with the caption "20 weeks" that showed her baby bump. A representative for Williams confirmed the pregnancy to the media later in the day. 

On Monday, Williams wrote a moving letter to her unborn child in an Instagram post, sharing her excitement in reaching No. 1 again. 

"My Dearest Baby, You gave me the strength I didn't know I had. You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can't wait to meet you. I can't wait for you to join the players box next year," Williams wrote alongside a photo of herself in a swimsuit. 

"But most importantly, I am so happy to share being number one in the world with you.... once again today. On @alexisohanian bday. ... from the world's oldest number one to the world's youngest number one. -- Your Mommy." 

Williams holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles of any player in the Open Era, clinching her 23rd at January's Australian Open, her last tournament

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Lionel Messi on Monday hailed Barcelona's dramatic 3-2 Clasico victory over arch-rivals Real Madrid as an "important step" in the race for the La Liga title. Messi's last-gasp goal marked his 500th for Barcelona and blew the La Liga title race wide open at Real Madrid on Sunday.

Victory takes Barca top of the table thanks to their better head-to-head record with both sides locked on 75 points, but Madrid have a game in hand. 

"We went to the Bernabeu to win and to continue to fight for La Liga," the five-time Ballon d'Or winner said on his Facebook page.

"There is still a long way to go, but we left with the joy of having taken an important step," added Messi, the top scorer in La Liga with 31 goals, alongside a photo of himself celebrating one of his goals.

Barcelona are bidding for a third straight La Liga and Spanish Cup double. They play Alaves in the Cup final on May 27.

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There are no two teams in sports history with this much rivalry, there is no single match that amasses greater footballing talents in one pitch, there is not a better derby in world football, El- Clasico, where the Galacticos from Madrid clash with Barca from Catalonia in a backdrop of over 600 million spectators across 185 countries in the world, this is football at its prime.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have met for 233 official Clasico matches, a rivalry that has span across 115 years. Out of the 233 encounters Los Blancos have won 93 while Barca have 91 wins, 49 of the games ended all square. The matches has always been too close to call as in the last 5 league fixtures each has two wins with the most recent match ending as a draw.

When it comes to goals Leo Messi that is top of the scoring chats with 21 Clasico goals in 33 matches. He is followed by a Real legend Alfredo De Stefano with 18 goals, two more than Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Messi has been on a 6 game goal drought against Real and it is Neymar who has the best scoring and assist record against their rivals with 6 goals and 3 assists. Barca will clearly miss the services of the Brazilian attacker as his suspension is confirmed.

The best in the world have played in this fixture with the likes of Ronaldo De Lima, Luis Figo, Michael Laudrup and the current Barca coach Luis Enrique having played for both teams.

This editions Clasico will be as decisive as always as a win for Real Madrid will all but guarantee them the league title.

 

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Who will be the Barcelona manager next season? One of the names linked with the job is Laurent Blanc. He was a player at Camp Nou, knows the club and is currently out of work. After leaving PSG he decided he wanted to rest, now, according to his agent Jean-Pierre Menes, he is ready to work again.

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Former Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga has come out to praise the Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino for the key role he has paid in developing the career of his brother Victor Wanyama.  

The Kenyan International skipper has been a vital part of the Spurs midfield, prove of just how much Pochettino trusts Wanyama. Big Vic first played under the Argentine gaffer at Southampton and were later reunited at Tottenham last summer.

“He (Wanyama) said Pochettino is the coach who has made him. He’s the one who, when Victor came to Southampton, he taught him what to do and how to play, all the things. He’s the one who taught him everything and made even more qualities for Victor. He gave him exposure and confidence. If you don’t have confidence from the coach, you cannot perform well. He’s helped him a lot,” Mariga told ESPN.

Pochettino’s favorite 3-4-2-1 formation has suited Wanyama perfectly as he provides cover to the wing backs when they move forward to attack, something that has put Wanyama in favor with both the manager and the Spurs supporters.

The midfielder will be expected to take his spot back in the starting XI for the FA Cup semi-final meeting with Chelsea at Wembley this Saturday evening after a minor injury.

As the title race stiffens and Spurs still on track for the cup glory, Wanyama may just be the rock Tottenham needs to win the first trophy in over years.

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Slaven Bilic has confirmed that Andy Carroll is set to miss West Ham’s contest with Everton having sustained a recurrence of a groin problem in the draw with Sunderland.

Carroll suffered the injury in the opening minutes of West Ham 2-2 draw at Sunderland last weekend, when he mis-kicked a shot into the path of teammate Andre Ayew, allowing the Irons to open the scoring.

The 28-year-old – who has scored seven goals in the Premier League this season – will now miss out against Everton on Saturday but Bilic was eager to stress that Carroll’s latest set-back wasn’t major.

Bilic said to Sky Sports: “It’s his abductor muscle again. He felt it in the beginning of the game.

“We can talk about a mis-kick or an assist for Andre’s goal, but he said at that moment he felt it.

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A brilliant Monaco side that has taken Europe by storm, will not relent in their bid for glory after beating Borussia Dortmund to reach the Champions League semi-finals, promised coach Leonardo Jardim.

The team from the Mediterranean principality were too good for their German opponents in Wednesday’s quarter-final second leg, winning 3-1 at the Stade Louis II to advance 6-3 on aggregate.

“We have won nothing, but we have made history,” declared Portuguese coach Jardim after the game, as his side extended a run that began in the third qualifying round against Fenerbahce last July, nine months ago.

Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, skipper Radamel Falcao and substitute Valere Germain got their goals with Marco Reus netting for Dortmund on a memorable night for the hosts.

The last team to come through two qualifying rounds to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League was Dynamo Kiev in 1999, although the format was different in those days.

Nobody expected Monaco -- conquerors of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the last round -- to get this far but they have done it playing a superb brand of football that has yielded 141 goals so far this season.

Now they are preparing for their first semi-final appearance since 2004 as they join Juventus, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the draw.

None of those teams will fancy playing Monaco, who for all Paris Saint-Germain’s efforts in recent years will be the first French representative in the last four since Lyon in 2010.

“We have taken France into the semi-finals. We want to go out and enjoy it but all four sides are capable of winning the competition,” warned Jardim, whose team were visited by Prince Albert in the dressing room afterwards.

Monaco are not just fighting for glory in Europe -- they are also top of the French league and in the French Cup semi-finals, but fatigue is their biggest foe now.

“It’s not easy to play in Europe and try to win the league. We are the team that has played the most games in Europe, so it’s tough,” added a coach who has been linked to Arsenal in the British media.

“Maybe if we had lost in the last 16 we would be fresher now, but we won’t ask our players to change their mentality. We just need to recover well.”

A crunch game at Lyon awaits in the league at the weekend as they look to keep going on all fronts.

“If I have to choose, it’s normal to prefer to win the Champions League, but maybe our chances of winning it are slimmer than winning the league. We will give everything in both,” added the coach.

For Dortmund, elimination was hard to take but the tie was overshadowed by the bomb attack on their team bus en route to last week’s first leg which left Marc Bartra with a broken wrist.

Bartra was there to support his teammates in Monaco but it was another difficult night as their bus was delayed in leaving for the ground, held up by police for security reasons.

“It was the worst thing that could happen a week after the attack -- everyone was on the bus ready to go but we were not allowed to,” said coach Thomas Tuchel.

The kick-off was delayed by five minutes but Dortmund’s concentration was again affected.

“It’s only eight days after the terrible attack so we shouldn’t lend too much significance to the team’s performance,” added Tuchel, who was taking charge of Dortmund for the 100th time.

“It was very difficult for the players so I can’t be too critical. We felt ready to push for a semi-final place before the tie but things changed dramatically.”

Dortmund are fourth in the Bundesliga and Tuchel added: “Our path does not end here. We will not be favourites next year but we need to qualify first and then be as unpleasant to play against as possible.”

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A distraught Neymar left the field in tears as Juventus held Barcelona to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to reach the Champions League semifinals 3-0 on aggregate.

Barca had overcome a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 with a dramatic 6-1 win back on home soil.

But Juventus showed why they boast the best defensive record in the competition as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were blunted as the Italians gained revenge for their defeat in the 2015 Champions League final.

“To not concede a goal in two games against Barcelona says a lot about the tactical level of the team,” said Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri. “They had more chances in Turin than they did tonight. The team defended very solidly tonight.”

Juventus join holders Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Monaco in Friday’s semifinal draw.

“We tried with all our might, but we couldn’t find the route to goal,” said Barca coach Luis Enrique. “We played a very poor first half in Turin and that has cost us dearly. I will remember what happened in the first half there.”

Straight from kickoff the visitors seemed determined to learn from the French champion’s mistakes.

Allegri’s men pressed high to prevent Barca dominating possession and enjoyed the better of the early chances.

Gonzalo Higuain volleyed over from the edge of the area before only a brilliant challenge from Gerard Pique prevented Juan Cuadrado’s cross providing Higuain with a tap in.

Barca had to wait 19 minutes for their first clear sight of goal as they intricately worked the ball around a packed Juventus box before Messi fired inches wide.

Messi then stung Gianluigi Buffon’s palms for the first time on the half-hour mark.

“Overall they were the better team and deserved to go through,” Pique told BeIN Sports Spain. “Little-by-little we started to create chances, but they built a mountain.”

At the other end, Higuain threatened again when he just couldn’t get enough power on Miralem Pjanic’s dinked cross to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Neymar had been Barca’s hero in a remarkable finish with two goals and an assist in the final minutes against PSG.

Yet, he found it far harder up against friend and former Barca teammate Dani Alves and his frustrations at a perceived lack of protection from referee Bjorn Kuipers spilled over as he was booked just before halftime.

Juventus also had the first big chance of the second half as Cuadrado fired across Ter Stegen but wide of the far post.

Ter Stegen was then forced to turn behind another driven effort from the Colombian.

Messi was being forced to come deep in search of possession, but he briefly had Juventus hearts in mouths with a low effort that was deflected fractionally wide.

Enrique forlornly turned to Paco Alcacer from the bench as the host played with four forwards for the final half hour.

Messi had another big chance after a rare Buffon handling error from a corner, but unfortunately for Barca it fell on his right foot and the Argentine fired well over.

Sergi Roberto was Barca’s unlikely hero with the 95th-minute goal that sealed the 6-1 win over PSG six weeks ago.

He nearly delivered another important and rare goal, but when the right-back’s effort flew just wide 20 minutes from time so did Barcelona’s hopes.

Juventus comfortably saw out the final stages to register their eighth clean sheet in 10 Champions League games this season.

And the only negative news of the night for the Bianconeri was a yellow card for Sami Khedira that will rule the German international out of the first leg of their semifinal. (AFP)

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Porsche boss Andreas Seidl says that he is perfectly happy with his team's current driver line-up and has no intentions of eventually making room for Fernando Alonso next year.

The McLaren drivers' self-proclaimed ambition to win the Triple Crown, which entails victory at Monaco in F1, at the Indy 500 and at Le Mans, has led many to believe he could be vying for a seat with the German manufacturer in 2018 to tackle the 24-hour classic.

But targeting a drive at Le Mans with Porsche could simply be a waste of time for the two-time F1 world champion who will be racing in the Indy 500 next month.

"We have six drivers with whom we are very satisfied -- and with whom we are planning for the long term," said Andreas Seidl.

"Alonso is an interesting driver and two years ago we could have put something together. But now we do not have a third prototype -- and there are currently no plans to change," he added.

McLaren has hinted that it could also be interested in a return to Le Mans, a race it won with its legendary F1 GTR in 1995.

But Alonso is only interested in an LMP1 drive as it is the only opportunity for achieving outright victory in the Sarthe.

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People have been overheard having sex during an ATP Challenger Tour match in Florida. The wild moans could be heard as Frances Tiafoe played Mitchell Krueger in the first-round match.

The woman’s moans grew so loud Tiafoe was put off his serve.

Tiafoe (pictured) giggled to himself with Krueger grabbing a ball and smashing it out of the court to where the euphoria was coming from.

Tiafoe then yelled out: “It can’t be that good!”

Commentator Mike Cation thought the noise was coming from a video of a fan’s phone.

“Well, that is the most bizarre situation,” Cation said on the Challenger Tour live stream. “I don’t know how to put this, folks, but somebody’s phone is going off in the stands ... and it was an adult video.”

Cation then realised the noise was coming from a nearby house.  

“No, that’s not a phone, that’s an apartment across the lake,” he said. “Oh my God.”

Tiafoe went on to win the match in straight sets 6-3 6-2.

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Serena Williams is expecting a baby this year her spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday, hours after the tennis great hinted at the news in a Snapchat post. "I'm happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall," Los Angeles-based publicist Kelly Bush Novak said in a statement emailed to AFP.

While Williams won't play again this year, "she looks forward to returning in 2018," Bush Novak said.

Williams' Snapchat post, quickly highlighted in US media, showed the 35-year-old in a yellow swimsuit that revealed an apparent baby bump.

But the post was quickly taken down, lending an air of mystery to its meaning.

"The GOAT herself @serenawilliams took to Snapchat to announce she's 20 weeks pregnant! Congratulations Serena!" the US Tennis Association, organisers of the US Open which Williams has won six times tweeted, using the acronym for "Greatest Of All Time".

But the Women's Tennis Association deleted a congratulatory tweet and acknowledged in a statement they had not had confirmation of the news.

It was hours before they could tweet: "It's official! @SerenaWilliams and @AlexisOhanian are expecting a baby this fall."

In December, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, first sharing that news on the Reddit social media site.

If Williams is 20 weeks into her pregnancy, that means she was already expecting when she won her record-setting 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January — where she beat her elder sister Venus in the final.

For fans the announcement underscored Williams' superwoman status.

Williams hasn't played since her Australian Open triumph, which saw her surpass Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open Era.

Only Australian Margaret Court has won more, capturing 24. The last of those came in 1973 — the year after Court gave birth to a son.

Williams cited a knee injury in pulling out of tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in March.

Her inactivity saw her drop to second in the world rankings. But she is set to regain the top spot from Germany's Angelique Kerber on Monday when the latest standings are published.

Williams wouldn't be the first top women's player to return to competition after having a baby, but she would be the oldest.

Belgium's Kim Clijsters came out of retirement at the age of 26 after having a child and won three Grand Slam titles. Former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 27, won the Indian Wells and Miami titles in March of last year before missing the rest of the season as she awaited the birth of her first child in December.

Since the birth of son Leo, Azarenka has returned to training and plans to return to competition at the WTA tournament in Stanford, California, in July.

But Williams has proved herself capable of returning to top form after long absences from competition. She was sidelined for almost 12 months after her 2010 Wimbledon victory, returning from a potentially life threatening pulmonary embolism.

Over the past year Williams' schedule has included few tournaments outside the Grand Slams. Her appearance at the Australian Open tuneup event in Auckland, New Zealand, marked her first tournament since a semi-final exit at Flushing Meadows last September.

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Mesut Ozil's second-half strike secured an unconvincing 2-1 win for Arsenal away to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough that keeps their top-four hopes alive. The Germany international's seventh Premier League goal of the season sealed the victory after Alvaro Negredo had cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's stunning set-piece opener.

Arsene Wenger's side slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last time out, prompting the manager to experiment with a 3-5-2 system at the Riverside Stadium – with Rob Holding in a back three – in an effort to encourage a more resolute display. Chances were scarce in a poor first half, but Sanchez swept in a fine free-kick to break the deadlock just before the break, only for Negredo to equalise five minutes into the second half.

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Brighton and Hove Albion promoted to Premier League to end 34-year wait for return to top flight

Brighton & Hove Albion all but mathematically secured a place in the Premier League following a 2-1 victory over relegation-battling Wigan Athletic at the Amex.
 
A goal in each half from Glenn Murray and Solly March put the Seagulls 2-0 in front before Nick Powell’s late header halved the deficit late on.

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Pique on Barca's problem: "We don't feel solid with three or four at the back. We are not at our best in terms of confidence. If you feel solid, everything is different. Juventus and the Clasico are closely related. [A comeback] will gather a lot of momentum. If not, the Madrid game will be more complicated."

Neymar

"We have to believe we can do it. We can be behind any team, but at Barcelona it's always the same: we can do it. If everything goes well, another comeback will happen, I believe in the team and in our potential.

"Everything is lost, so we have nothing to lose and everything to win

"Juventus are a great team, very well structured, so it will be difficult to have to turn the tie. It is the same as the situation against the PSG. We have a one percent chance of qualifying and the remaining 99 percent is work, faith and, god willing, goals. They are going to arrive."

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Chelsea confirm that John Terry will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season

Terry has made 713 appearances since rising through the Chelsea academy.

Terry said: "After 22 years there is so much to say and so many people to thank at this great football club. From coaches, team-mates and staff to the fans who have given me so much support down the years, I can't thank you enough. There will be opportunities for me to speak further about this over the coming weeks.

"I will decide on my future in due course, but for now I am committed to helping the team achieve success this season. The club and I have always had a fantastic relationship, which will continue beyond my playing days. We had some really positive talks but with everything taken into careful consideration I have decided it's the right time for me to leave.

"I've always been conscious that I depart at the right time, in the right way, and I feel that the end of this season is the right time for the club and I. I feel I still have plenty to offer on the pitch but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited for me. I'm eager to carry on playing and so will be looking to continue with a new challenge. I will of course always be a Blue and am desperate to end my final season as a Chelsea player with more silverware.

"Finally, words cannot describe the love I have for our football club and our amazing Chelsea fans. I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for the unbelievable support you've shown me over the years. You mean the world to me and every trophy we've won during my time at the club we've won together. I will never forget the incredible journey we've been on. Thank you so much for everything."

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Fininvest has completed the sale of the entire stake owned in AC Milan - equal to 99.93% - to Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.

The closing is the last step of the purchase agreement signed on August 5th 2016 and renewed on March 24th by Fininvest CEO Danilo Pellegrino and David Han Li, as a representative of Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux.

The terms of the agreement are the same disclosed in August and reflect of an aggregate evaluation of AC Milan equal to EUR740 million, which includes the club’s indebtedness, equal to EUR220 million as of June 30th 2016. A EUR90 million refund for AC Milan’s running costs anticipated by Fininvest from July 1st 2016 hitherto add up to the evaluation.

The buyers also confirmed their commitment to undertake significant capital increases and liquidity injections aimed at strengthening AC Milan’s financial structure.

Tomorrow, Friday April 14th, AC Milan’s shareholders’ meeting will resolve , inter alia, on the appointment of the new governance bodies of the company.

Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux was supported by the financial adviser Rothschild & Co. and by the law firms Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners and Gattai, Minoli, Agostinelli & Partners. Fininvest was supported respectively by Lazard and Studio Chiomenti.

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Drogba had been without a club since leaving MLS outfit Montreal Impact in November, after rejecting a move to Brazilian giants Corinthians in February.

However, the 39-year-old Ivorian striker has finally found a home in Phoenix, where he will also be part of their "MLS expansion franchise ownership group."

Phoenix are in their fourth season in the USL, 12th in the Western Conference with one win after three games.

"I have taken my time in deciding what I wanted to do next and am really excited about the opportunity at Phoenix Rising FC," said Drogba.

"After seeing firsthand the potential for expansion of the sport in North America and getting to know the ownership group in Phoenix, I am convinced that I can help them develop their organization on and off the pitch.

"I look forward to their continued success in the USL, and no city is better positioned than Phoenix for expansion into the MLS."

Drogba - a two-time African Footballer of the Year – scored 23 goals in 41 competitive appearances for the Impact, having won four Premier League titles and the Champions League among other trophies with Chelsea.

"We want our club and our city to be synonymous with international excellence, and Didier Drogba is a testament to Phoenix Rising FC's commitment to that mission,” said Phoenix Rising club governor Berke Bakay.

"Soccer is an international language understood by sports fans all over the world, and we want to help inspire fluency among new fans everywhere we play throughout North America."

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Manchester United defender Luke Shaw believes   current Manchester United squad is capable of winning Europa League, and no team seem to be able to stop them.

“Every single game is massive now, but I think the one on Thursday is huge,” Shaw said ahead of Europa League quarterfinal against Anderlecht.

“We have to treat every game in that competition now like it’s a final. We want to win that tournament.

“The Europa League is a massive thing for us now – it’s a trophy and it gives us qualification for the Champions League.

“With the players we have got, we can be unstoppable,” the left-back concluded.

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On-line betting company Dafabet will make their first major move into motorcycle racing in 2017 with the sponsorship of the RC Express Racing Team.

The move will see the team, which will compete under the Dafabet Devitt Racing banner, sport a striking new livery for the 2017 International road races with riders Ivan Lintin and Steve Mercer contesting all classes at the Isle of Man TT, North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix.

Dafabet have offices around the world, including the Isle of Man and the Philippines, specialising in online sports betting and gaming and rank amongst the world’s top e-gaming operators.

The company have a high profile involvement in other sports and are main club sponsors for Celtic, Sunderland and Burnley football clubs together with title sponsorship of some of professional snookers biggest tournaments, notably the Masters.

Roy and Ben Constable, Team Co-owners said on the completion of the Dafabet sponsorship; “The support of an international business with such a strong sporting profile is not just great for the team, but great for the sport. We’re over the moon to welcome Dafabet to the racing family and we’re looking forward to developing the relationship over the next few years.

“Having tasted success in the Lightweight class, with three successive Isle of Man TT wins and victories at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix too, the aim now is to make our mark in the Superbike and Supersport categories. Winning a Senior TT is the team’s goal and with the support we now have from Dafabet, Devitt, and our other loyal sponsors, this is a fantastic opportunity for us.”

John Cruces, Head of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Dafabet added; “In recent months we’ve been looking at diversification in terms of the sports we’re involved with sponsorship wise and motorsport ticks a lot of the right boxes for the demographic of player we want to put our brand in front of. The RC Express team impressed us with their forward thinking ideas of how best the partnership could work. Plus in riders Ivan and Steve, the engineering team and the bikes, we believe we could be looking at a successful season in world renowned road races such as the Isle of Man TT, the North West 200 and the Macau Grand Prix. We’re looking forward to the season and being involved with the team and the sport.”

The team has made significant efforts over the last 12 months to expand its commercial opportunities, with sponsors and partners that are new to the world of road racing and to build on the platform that prepares them for future success. Ian Ayre, the teams Sporting Chairman said, “We could not be happier. The team has done a fantastic job at securing the support of Dafabet and we look forward to a long and successful future with them, but to maintain the ongoing relationship with Devitt Insurance at the same time is fantastic. Devitt have been a loyal supporter of the team and we are all thrilled by the opportunity that 2017 brings for Dafabet Devitt Racing.”

William Hughes, Managing Director of Devitt Insurance added, “We’re delighted by the progress the team has made over the last year and we’re pleased to continue our involvement in 2017 and beyond. Bringing Dafabet on board is another indication of the huge ambitions of Dafabet Devitt Racing and we’re looking forward to future success.” 

Dafabet Devitt Racing kick off the season with the Spring Cup at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough on April 22-23 with the first international meeting taking place in May at the North West 200.

Comment

Carlo Ancelotti led Real Madrid to Champions League glory in 2014 and now he is hoping to dump the holders out of this season's quarter-finals as coach of Bayern Munich.

The two giants are familiar foes and they meet for the 23rd time – a record in European competition – at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday in the first leg of a heavyweight tie.

Madrid traditionally have fared very poorly in visits to Germany and Bayern are unbeaten at home in more than a year, winning their last seven on the bounce before their own fans.

Bayern fans will never forget their crushing 4-0 loss to Ancelotti's Madrid in the 2014 semi-finals, however, the result remaining their heaviest home loss in Europe.

Having masterminded the Spanish side's run to glory that campaign, Ancelotti was brought in to Bayern to take them all the way in a competition in which they suffered three straight semi-final losses under Pep Guardiola.

His opposite number this midweek will be Zinedine Zidane, his former assistant who led Madrid to Champions League glory last season.

"Your experience as a player is only partially useful when you become a manager, because you also have to study, you have to keep up to date and gain your own experiences, and Zidane has done that," Ancelotti said in an interview with Uefa.com.

"He's charismatic and the players really respect him, and that's very important."

The two sides, top of their respective leagues, both come into the game with defensive worries.

Already without Raphael Varane, Madrid saw Pepe suffer two fractured ribs in Saturday's 1-1 derby draw with Atletico Madrid. Meanwhile, centre-back Mats Hummels is out after he injured an ankle in training on Sunday, a day after Bayern crushed Borussia Dortmund 4-1.

Atletico test Leicester revival

Only city rivals Real have eliminated Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid from the Champions League in the last three campaigns, so last year's runners-up are unlikely to fear a showdown with Leicester City.

The English champions have undergone a revival since Claudio Ranieri – who had an unhappy stint as coach at the Vicente Calderon in 1999/2000 – was replaced by Craig Shakespeare in February.

The Foxes beat Sevilla in the last 16 and had won six games on the bounce before losing 4-2 at Everton in the Premier League on Sunday.

"They won the English league and now they are a different side to when the draw was made. It will be a difficult game, tough, against a team who are similar to us in many respects," warned Simeone.

Top of the French league, Monaco are still gunning for glory on numerous fronts as they go to Dortmund for the first leg of their quarter-final.

The tie brings together two of the most exciting attacking outfits on the continent, and Monaco were boosted by the return to their starting line-up of top scorer Radamel Falcao at the weekend – his goal secured a 1-0 win at Angers.

Thomas Tuchel's Dortmund will look to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for inspiration up front, and it will be a special occasion for the forward against one of his old clubs.

Aubameyang played for Monaco on loan from AC Milan in the first half of the 2010/11 season, scoring twice in 19 appearances.

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