Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo has left the club by mutual consent after one season in charge in which they finished runners-up, the former European champions said on Monday.

Usually known simply as Nuno, the Sao Tome and Principe-born coach was halfway through his contract when he departed one day after his team suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at Moreirense in their last league game of the season.

Porto finished second in the league, six points behind champions and arch-rivals Benfica. They kept up the chase for most of the season until their challenge faltered with home draws against Feirense and Vitoria Setubal.

They also reached the last 16 of the Champions League before losing to Juventus and suffered a shock elimination on penalties at the hands of Chaves in the Portuguese Cup.

"Porto and Nuno Espirito Santo reached an agreement on this Monday afternoon to end the coach's contract by mutual consent," said the club in a statement.

Porto won the Portuguese league nine times in 11 seasons from 2002/03 to 2012/13 but their dominance came to an abrupt halt, with arch-rivals Benfica winning the last four.

Since 2013, they have appointed Paulo Fonseca, Julen Lopetegui, Jose Peseiro and Nuno as coaches, while Luis Castro and Rui Barros have also been in charge on an interim basis.

Goalkeeper Nuno's playing career took him to Vitoria Guimaraes, Deportivo La Coruna, Merida, Osasuna, Dynamo Moscow and Aves, though he spent much of his time as second-choice.

He had two stints at Porto, the first from 2002-04 when he played second fiddle to Vitor Baia and the second from 2007 to 2010, when Brazilian Helton stood in his way.

Nevertheless, Nuno won a Champions League, Intercontinental Cup and UEFA Cup, four Portuguese league titles and three Portuguese Cup winners medals during those two spells.

His coaching career began as assistant to Jesualdo Ferreira at Malaga. He was named Valencia coach in July 2014 but was fired one year and four months later.

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Chelsea's Antonio Conte was named Manager of the Year at a League Managers Association awards ceremony on Monday after leading his side to the Premier League title and FA Cup final.

The 47-year-old Italian, whose team finished seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, will lead Chelsea out against Arsenal in the Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

Chelsea's 93 points was the second highest total since the Premier League began in 1992 and they became the first Premier League team to register 30 victories in one season.

"I think I've had a lot of incredible emotions in my first season here in England. I want to say thank you to all the people who voted for me. It's great to receive this award. I hope I deserved this," Conte said.

"It's fantastic to read all the names that won this trophy and to stay with these managers is a great achievement for me. I hope to continue in the best way," he added after receiving the award from former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

Chris Hughton, 58, was named Championship (second-tier) manager of the year after guiding Brighton & Hove Albion into the Premier League as runners-up to Newcastle United.

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Angel Maria Villar was re-elected as the Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) president for the eighth consecutive time on Monday after he stood unopposed. The term of office for the 67-year-old, who got 112 votes with 11 abstentions and six spoiled ballots, will run until 2020, with Villar having been first elected in 1988.

The former Athletic Bilbao and Spain midfielder has presided over the most successful era in the history of the Spanish national team, who won successive European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and their first World Cup in 2010.

"We have received huge endorsement which has brought us an undeniable victory. We have worked and won cleanly, it is a legitimate triumph, ratified by a strong majority," Villar told reporters.

The president is elected by an absolute majority of the members of the assembly which includes 120 members representing the clubs, players, referees and managers/coaches, who in turn are elected by the federation's ordinary members.

The president's former secretary general, Jorge Perez, had said he would run against him for the post but instead brought a case against Villar to Spain's highest sports court over alleged irregularities in the election of the RFEF assembly.

Perez withdrew from the election in protest, deciding not to present his candidacy on May 5, and asked the Spanish Sports Tribunal (TAD) and Sports Council (CSD) to annul the election of the RFEF general assembly, which they did not do.

In response to Perez's accusations, the RFEF published a statement saying the assembly election process had been conducted with "absolute honesty and transparency" and that the criticism was "completely untrue and biased".

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Inter Milan forward Gabriel Barbosa has apologised for storming off the substitutes' bench when he realised he was not going to be used during Sunday's Serie A match at Lazio.

The 20-year-old Brazilian has had a frustrating first season at Inter, making just nine appearances, all as a substitute, and playing a total of only 111 minutes since his 30 million euros ($33.71 million) move from Santos last August.

He has managed one goal and picked up three yellow cards in that short period on the pitch.

His frustration boiled over during the 3-1 win at Lazio after he was not among the three substitutes brought on by coach Stefano Vecchi in the closing minutes of the game.

Television pictures showed him angrily leaving the bench before the final whistle.

"Inter supporters and team mates, during yesterday's game I suddenly adopted a thoughtless and inadequate attitude by leaving the pitch before the end of the game," he said on his Facebook page.

"Once the heat of the moment had died down, I realised, in calmness and with the support of my family, that the incident was unsporting and contradicted my professional values.

"I recognise my mistake and would like to register my sincere apologies to all the Inter fans who always supported me and to my team mates."

Gabriel, whose made his professional debut as a 16-year-old in 2013, emerged as one of Brazil's great hopes during three seasons at Pele's former club as he scored 57 goals and impressed with his pace, trickery, skill and clinical finishing.

He scored on his Brazil debut against Panama last year, went on to play at the Copa Centenario and won Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro with the under-23 team.

Vecchi said after the game that he expected the club to take action, although Inter have not commented since.

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James Davison said it will be bittersweet to fill in for the injured Sebastien Bourdais at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday but plans to do his best despite limited preparation time.

Davison completed 88 laps on the sprawling 2.5 mile oval speedway on Monday, with a best speed of 223.670 mph. It was the first time in two years the 30-year-old Australian, who has two previous starts in the race, was in the cockpit of an Indy car.

"It's certainly mixed emotions," Davison told IndyCar of replacing Bourdais. "No racing driver ever wants to secure an opportunity under these circumstances.

"I got to know Sebastien a little better when I was living in St. Petersburg a couple of years ago, and we were teammates together at KV Racing in 2014 when I was a rookie. He was very good to me there."

The 38-year-old Bourdais slammed head-on into the safety barriers when his Honda-powered car lost control on Saturday during qualifying.

Bourdais, who drives for Dale Coyne Racing, underwent surgery for pelvic fractures, officials said on Sunday.

Team owner Dale Coyne told IndyCar that Bourdais may not race again this year.

"He's got a plate, screws in his hip bone and plate on his pelvis. ... So it's at least 12 weeks, which may get him ready for Sonoma (in September), but why run one race?" he said.

"Let him rehab for the other four months and get ready to go for next year. Have him out and in January start testing with him and go at it."

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Sunderland manager David Moyes has resigned after the team's relegation from the English Premier League. The former Manchester United coach announced his decision at a meeting with the club hierarchy in London on Monday.

Owner chairman Ellis Short says "having worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League, David has chosen to leave the club without compensation, which is testament to his character."

Moyes lasted only one season at Sunderland.

The Scot says, "I wish the players and my successor well in their efforts towards promotion back to the Premier League."

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The team line-ups for the Under-17 World Cup (17th edition) to be held in India between 6 and 28 October 2017 are now complete, after the CAF (African Confederation) qualifiers were over on Monday.

Victories in their final group matches ensured Mali and Niger progressed to the tournament joining Ghana and Guinea, who had already sealed their qualification.

Niger made history by qualifying for a first-ever FIFA tournament after defeating Tanzania 1-0.

The 2016 AFC U-16 Championship held last year ensured Iraq, Iran, Japan and North Korea qualified for the tournament from Asia. Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States of America recently qualified from the CONCACAF (Central, North American and the Caribbean) region.

England, France, Germany, Spain and Turkey recently sealed their places for the FIFA event after finishing as the best 5 teams from the 2017 UEFA European Championship.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay are the final CONMEBOL nations that will participate from South America while New Caledonia and New Zealand have qualified from the OFC (Oceania) region. Hosts India qualified for the tournament directly.

Welcoming the 24 countries, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee Javier Ceppi said, "It is very exciting to know the 24 teams that will be playing the World Cup. The line-up is superb, with established powerhouses in the category (such as former World Champions Brazil, Ghana and Mexico) and teams making their debut, among them the hosts India. Having seen the teams and knowing of their quality, football fans are in for a real treat in October and it is key that they can start getting their tickets now and book their place in history before is too late".

With the 24 teams in place, the attention now turns to the official draw, which will take place on July 7 and determine the fixtures for each team.

The 24 teams are:  India, England, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Japan, North Korea, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, United States of America, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Mali, Niger, Ghana, Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand

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Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid lift their 33rd La Liga title on Sunday as he scored his 40th goal of the season within two minutes against Malaga to put Real in the driver's seat in their bid of dethroning FC Barcelona.

Real Madrid were three points ahead of Barcelona on the La Liga table and needed a draw or win against Malaga to win the 2016-17 title. Madrid beat Malaga 2-0, thanks to goals from Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, while Barcelona won 4-2 against Eibar. It was Madrid's consistency throughout the season that eventually proved to be the difference.

Despite the happiness of winning the domestic title, Ronaldo slammed the media for projecting him what he's not, saying he's "not a devil."

Post the match, Ronaldo was asked about a gesture he made to Celta Vigo players midweek during Madrid's 4-1 win over the Galicians insinuating that Celta had been offered bonuses to damage Madrid's title charge.

Ronaldo hit back at the press for making a mountain out of a molehill.

"People say things about me without knowing a thing and it bothers me. You (the media) say things about Cris without knowing the truth," Ronaldo retaliated.

"I am not a saint, but I am also not a devil like many people think I am," Ronaldo added.

Ronaldo further said that he has a family and such negativity about him in public affects them.

"I don't like this type of thing because I have a family, I have a mother, a son, and I don't like that they say stupid things about me."

The smile was back on Ronaldo's face when he was asked about his form lately. With the goal against Malaga, Ronaldo scored his 14th goal in the last nine games.

"I've prepared to be in top shape for the end of the season," he said.

Ronaldo said he was glad to be of help to his team that won Madrid's first title in five years.

"I've helped the team with my goals, my decisions and for that I am happy," Ronaldo added.

Real Madrid have their eyes set for a European double now as they prepare to face Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final on June 3 in Cardiff.

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Jenson Button says he feels no pressure ahead of his one-off Formula One comeback with McLaren in Monaco this weekend because he has nothing riding on it.

"If I get to Turn Two and I feel totally out of my depth, I will drive off into the sunset and not come back," the 37-year-old Briton told reporters on Monday, smiling as he said it.

"So it is fine. It is not a problem. I have no pressure."

The 2009 world champion and former Monaco winner left Formula One at the end of last season, handing over his seat to Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, and has moved to California where he has focused on triathlon.

He is returning for the showcase race as a replacement for Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard is missing the race around the streets of the Mediterranean principality in order to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on the same day, with the double champion qualifying fifth on Sunday.

McLaren are the only team yet to score a point this season, their Honda-engined car beset by engine problems and lack of performance.

But Button did not have to worry about that as he immersed himself in the McLaren simulator at the team's Woking headquarters.

He said negotiating Monaco's tight and twisty street circuit in the virtual world, which replicates every bump and curve and can be adjusted for different conditions, still had its difficulties, however.

"I also fell in the port twice today, and hopefully that's not going to happen," he said.

"After Turn One, you go up the hill and I fell off on the right hand side. And rolled. I've never rolled in the simulator before - but I rolled. Lucky enough, the impact isn't as big as in reality but you still get a jolt and a bit of G-force."

Despite McLaren's problems, Alonso managed to qualify seventh at the previous race in Barcelona and Button saw that as a positive sign that the car could be competitive in Monaco with new updates coming.

"What a step forward," Button said. "He obviously did a great lap but it shows how much improvement the team has made. It is massive.

"If Alonso can put it seventh in Barcelona then we should be looking sweet for Monaco," he said, adding one caveat: "First of all I've got to see if I still know what to do when I get in the car on Thursday."

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Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki's preparation for next week's French Open suffered a huge blow after she retired injured from her opening-round match against American Shelby Rogers at Strasbourg International on Monday.

Top-seed Wozniacki, who started the match with a 4-3 win-loss record on clay this year, failed to see off the first set as Rogers saved three set points to win 7-6.

The Dane was trailing 0-1 in the second set when she called for a medical timeout, and later served a pair of double faults before deciding to withdraw.

World number 55 Rogers, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last year, will face China's Wang Qiang in the round of 16 on Tuesday.

Wang defeated Risa Ozaki of Japan 6-4 3-6 6-3 in her opening round match on Sunday.

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Lionel Messi is set to draw level with Cristiano Ronaldo and win the European Golden Shoe for a record-equaling fourth time. He finished the Liga season as top scorer on 37 goals, giving him 74 Golden Shoe points with each goal worth two points in the table. Sporting Lisbon striker Bas Dost scored a hat trick in his final match against Chaves to go clear in second with 34 Portuguese Primeira Liga goals and 68 points.

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Gerard Pique: "The Ballon d’Or? Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and in history. This year he’ll win the Golden Boot as a goalscorer and he would deserve the Ballon d’Or another time. But it would be nice if Buffon won it. He has won the Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and he could still win the Champions League. He’s deserved it for his career, for this reason and because it would be nice to see another goalkeeper win it after Lev Yashin.”

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Arsenal are favourites to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final as they will be motivated to end their season on a high after failing to qualify for the Champions League, the Premier League champions' manager Antonio Conte said.

Chelsea began their title celebrations after beating relegated Sunderland 5-1 on Sunday and can win the domestic double by beating Arsenal, who fell short of a top four finish despite a 3-1 win over Everton, on Sunday.

"If you ask me who is the favourite now, it's Arsenal," Conte told reporters on Sunday. "They have this chance to find a good season, to have a successful season.

"Arsenal missed out on the Champions League and we must prepare in the right way. I'm not talking about tactically -- I'm talking about motivation.

"The right fire in our soul and heart. If we have more than Arsenal then we'll have the possibility to win."

Conte can become the second manager to win the double in his first season after fellow Italian Carlo Ancelotti achieved the feat in the 2009-10 campaign.

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German Alexander Zverev says he cannot rest on his laurels after beating Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open on Sunday and has set his sights on bigger titles in order to retain his place in the world's top 10.

The 20-year-old stunned world number two Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to become the youngest winner of a Masters 1000 tournament since the Serb himself in Miami in 2007.

The win also helped Zverev surge up to number 10 in the world rankings for the first time in his career.

"I could not imagine top 10 by the age of 20," Zverev told reporters. "It's something truly amazing. Getting there is one thing, but staying there is going to be very, very difficult.

"Even though I won this title, I will be back on the practice courts very soon trying to improve my game."

Despite an impressive claycourt season, Zverev downplayed his chances of winning the French Open, which starts on Sunday, saying nine-time winner Rafa Nadal would start as the man to beat.

Nadal had won all 17 matches on clay this year before losing to Austria's Dominic Thiem in the Rome quarter-finals.

"The strong favourite is still definitely Nadal. Novak is playing great again. Thiem has been showing he's been playing very well," he added.

"I just won here, so I've got to put myself on that list, even though I don't want to say that I'm the favourite myself. But the guys who have been playing the best over the past few weeks are definitely the favourites."

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Tottenham Hotspur have laid solid foundations over the last three years but must now start winning trophies, manager Mauricio Pochettino has said.

Pochettino took over in 2014 and has led the London side to a top-three finish in two of the last three seasons but has yet to win a trophy. They finished the 2016/17 Premier League campaign seven points behind champions Chelsea.

"After three seasons where we work a lot and set the bases it will be important in the next few seasons to try to win trophies," Pochettino told Sky Sports after Sunday's 7-1 win over Hull City.

Striker Harry Kane scored a hat trick against Hull to take his tally to 29 goals from 30 league games and win the Premier League's Golden Boot for the second consecutive season.

"For him to play 30 games and score 29 goals is unbelievable," Pochettino said.

"He is the top scorer again and it's fantastic for him, a big achievement. It helps the team to play well and finish second. Next season is a big challenge again."

Tottenham last won a major trophy in the 2007-08 campaign when they won the League Cup.

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After a disappointing football season with only one title, Bayern Munich have announced they are considering to invest a record over $100 million into new footballers.

Uli Hoeness, President of the German champions, announced that the club will overhaul its investment policy. More than 100 million euro ($112 million) will be made available to reinforce the current squad in order to attack Europe's top dogs in football such as Real Madrid, Juventus and FC Barcelona.

Hoeness made it clear that a single trophy is not enough to satisfy the club's ambitions. The 65-year-old is well aware that the club will have to go beyond its previous outlay, saying, "to make our squad better, we will have to buy some of the top players in world football", reports Xinhua news agency.

After the retirement of team captain Philipp Lahm, who will be succeeded by keeper Manuel Neuer and Spanish veteran midfielder Xabi Alonso, it will be hard for Bayern to keep the same level of quality.

Having been eliminated in the Champions League as early as in the quarter-finals by Real Madrid and in the German Cup in the semi-final by Borussia Dortmund, Hoeness said the club will be forced to pay sums that it had so far never considered but that are normal on the current transfer market.

The main task will be to find the right mixture of experienced and youth on a top level, Hoeness emphasised.

In addition to Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy (TSG Hoffenheim), rumours abound that international stars such as Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) and Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain) and FC Schalke's young midfielder Leon Goretzka are Bayern targets. "If Bayern wants a player, we'll definitely invest what is needed," Hoeness said.

Additional investments will increase expectations when it comes to head coach Carlo Ancelotti. The 57-year-old Italian star coach's second season is considered to be his last chance to satisfy the demands of the Bavarian club.

For now, the club's top management of Hoeness and CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge are willing to overlook the coach's lenient working style and his preference for experienced players over budding stars like Joshua Kimmich or Renato Sanches.

Insiders are saying that Ancelotti will be required to find a proper assistant to fill the gap left by Paul Clement's departure and that he will have to search for more youngsters.

A lack of game time, combined with the coach's standard training methods that do not help to develop talented young players tactically and technically have resulted in a lost year for the German international Kimmich, as well as for Sanches and Kingsley Coman. Bayern's leading officials want to prevent Kimmich and others from going through another year like the last one.

It is an open secret that Bayern are keeping a close eye on Julian Nagelsmann, the 29-year-old coach of TSG Hoffenheim, who finished a remarkable season as fourth in the table. Rumours seem to suggest that Bayern's management expect Ancelotti to stay with the club for one more year and then depart if he is not willing to accept the demanded changes.

The club also recently opened its youth academy. A sum of 70 million euro ($78.5 million) have been invested and Hoeness expects results within the next few years.

Since David Alaba, none of the club's youth players have progressed to become a first team regular, said Hoeness. The club will have to catch up and improve, in the future. "The board's demands will increase," he warned.

The coach's name was not mentioned, but Hoeness' statement is a clear message for Ancelotti, because the coach has so far not shown himself to be much of a mentor for young players needing direction and practical advice.

Another underestimated problem is the absence of a sporting director. Hoeness and Rummenigge know it is vital to install a link between the club board and the team in order to identify problems and deal with them before they become public. For a long time, Matthias Sammer was the ideal man to solve conflicts and mediate, but he left the club some months ago.

Just recently, other problems have surfaced like Jerome Boateng's displeasure at being not picked for some games or Kimmich's frustration as he felt neglected by Ancelotti -- both of which could have been solved by a sports director.

According to Hoeness, Bayern will strive towards finding a solution within the next months. Both Lahm and Max Eberl, managing director of league rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach, have declined the job, indicating that their decision making powers would be restricted with Hoeness around.

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Manchester United must not underestimate Ajax Amsterdam in the Europa League final on Wednesday, defender Daley Blind has said. United finished sixth in the Premier League, 24 points behind champions Chelsea, while Ajax finished second in the Dutch league, one point behind champions Feyenoord.

"They fought to be in the final and they are there for a reason," he says. "When you reach a final you absolutely cannot afford to underestimate your opponents.

"They came second in their league by a point, we missed out on the top four...Right now there is only one game that counts, and that is the final."

Blind won four consecutive Dutch titles with Ajax before moving to United in 2014 while his father, Danny, also played for and managed the club.

"Everybody knows I support Ajax, I am from Amsterdam and I played there since I was seven, but now I am at United I am a Red and I want to win this final more than anything in the world," the 27-year-old said.

Blind was rested on Sunday as United beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in their final league game of the season.

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John Terry thanked Chelsea fans for standing by him throughout his career. Terry, who has led Chelsea as their captain since 2004, announced that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. “The best supporters in the world without a doubt,” he said while addressing the Chelsea fans after their final match of the season against relegated Sunderland.

“You have given me everything. From the age of 14 when I signed, you picked me up when I was down, you sung my name when I had bad games and disappointed you,” he said in his speech after the match. Since becoming captain, Terry has lifted the Premier League trophy five times under three different managers. “Thank you will never ever be enough. I am going to come back here one day, supporting this team,” he said.

Terry also thanked club owner Roman Abramovich. The Russian millionaire took over the club in 2004. His financial backing has helped Chelsea becoming one of the biggest brands in world football and also a European powerhouse. “I think we all have to thank Mr Roman Abramovich. I personally want to thank him and the board, for me the best owner in world football without a doubt. He cares and loves this club and looks to improve year and year out.”

Terry had hinted that he may be thinking of retiring from the game altogether after leaving Chelsea. He is yet to give any confirmed information about his future.

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Aleksandar Kolarov has insisted that Manchester City are "far and away the best team in the league", despite the 15-point gap on champions Chelsea.

The Citizens have endured an underwhelming first campaign under Pep Guardiola, failing to push on from a positive start and still yet to seal a place in the top four heading into the final round of fixtures.

Zabaleta is confident that improvements have been made since Guardiola took charge, however, and believes that it is just a matter of time until the trophies start flooding into the Etihad Stadium.

"If you don't win trophies at our club it's probably not a great season but we've improved a lot," he told Sky Sports News. "The main target for this club is to win domestic trophies and of course win the Champions League.

"The target of every big club is Champions League finals and the Champions League trophy. The most beautiful football is in Europe in the Champions League and that is a target for the team and our club for next season.

"We are a much better team even now from the start of the season. We are going to be there to win trophies again and I'm sure we are going to win. We are far and away the best team in the league."

City require a point from their final-day meeting with Watford at Vicarage Road to make certain of Champions League football next season.

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French Open favourite Simona Halep lived up to the billing with a comfortable victory over Kiki Bertens at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

Simona Halep's sensational form on clay showed no sign of abating on Saturday as the Romanian cruised into the Internazionali BNL d'Italia final with a straight sets win over Kiki Bertens.Sixth seed Halep has now won 10 matches in a row on dirt and could claim a second title in that run in Rome after a 7-5 6-1 triumph set up a final fixture with either Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina.

The 2014 French Open finalist soon hit her stride with a number of good combinations from the baseline, her backhand proving particularly sweet as she broke immediately.

Halep continued to hit deep, but impressively had the answer at the net when Bertens tried to mix things up.There was some fight from Bertens as she saved five set points in the opener - albeit with a slice of luck as the umpire and line judges noticed a wide first serve too late as she was trying to keep Halep at bay.

Halep was not to be denied three games later as she moved ahead and that seemed to destroy Bertens' fight, the world number 20 losing four games in a row in the second set before firing long to give up a sixth break of the match as the Roland Garros favourite underlined her title-winning credentials.

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Arsenal have the players and qualities to challenge for the Premier League title and their failure to do so is frustrating, striker Alexis Sanchez has said.

Arsenal's inconsistent performances in the second half of the season led them to a second-placed finish last campaign and the same problem affected them this season, with 10 wins in their last l8 league fixtures dropping them to the fifth position.

Sanchez, who is the club's leading scorer with 23 goals and 10 assists this season, said that his team could perform better.

"Sometimes when I look at the team we have and the players here... when it comes to winning the Premier League we often lose or draw against teams at home when we are superior," Sanchez told British media.

"Sometimes the frustration, more than anything is about the fact we could be challenging for the Premier League title."

Sanchez also said that the players' mentality is the reason for their recent three-game winning streak in the league.

"I've always said we have great players here, it's just about having the mentality of being a great player and going out on to the pitch already thinking about winning," he said.

"That's what we've done in the last three games. We had the mentality to win at all costs and we won and we won well."

Arsenal trail fourth-placed Liverpool by a point with one game left in the season and risk missing a Champions League spot for the first time during manager Arsene Wenger's 20-year reign at the club.

Arsenal can, however, win the FA Cup for the third time in four years when they face Chelsea in the final on 27 May but Sanchez remains uncertain if that would make the season a success.

"I don't know whether it would be successful or not, but I think it would be positive to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final."I think the players have the desire and mentality," he said.

Arsenal must beat Everton on Sunday and can finish fourth if relegated Middlesbrough draw with or win against Liverpool the same day.

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Garbine Muguruza will next face eighth seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who earlier upset Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 7-6(9). 

Garbine Muguruza flashed some impressive form ahead of her French Open title defence with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Venus Williams on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open in Rome.

The Spanish third seed, who reached the Rome semi-finals last year before going on to win her sole career grand slam, will next face eighth seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who earlier upset Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 7-6(9).

Muguruza used a solid forehand to power through the first set during which she hit just eight unforced errors but gave up 20 in the second as Williams forced a decider.

The Spaniard fell behind in the third set before responding immediately with a break. She clinched the match when seven-times grand slam champion Williams sent a forehand wide.

With the win, world number seven Muguruza will return to the top five in the rankings and be guaranteed a top-four seeding at Roland Garros for the year's second grand slam.

In other action, Romanian sixth seed Simona Halep swept into the semi-finals of the Italian Open in Rome by beating Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-4 on Friday.

She will now play Dutch 15th seed Kiki Bertens, who saw off Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3, in Saturday's semi-final on the red Foro Italico clay.

"Today was a good match, but I can say that I could finish earlier in the second set," said Halep, who raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set and broke Kontaveit in the opening game of the second before winning.

"But she turned it a little bit around ... she came back for a few games, and she played really, really well."

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Rafael Nadal's winning streak ended at 17 matches as he lost in straight sets to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open. Austria's Dominic Thiem dumped seven-times champion Rafael Nadal out of the Italian Open 6-4, 6-3 on Friday to reach the semi-finals, but will have to wait to find out his opponent at the Foro Italico.

The Austrian will face either world number two Novak Djokovic or Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro, whose quarter-final was suspended till Saturday after rain halted play with the Serb leading del Potro 6-1, 1-2.

Beaten twice by Nadal in the space of a month, in the Barcelona and Madrid Open finals, Thiem took his revenge by handing the 30-year-old Spaniard a first clay court defeat of the season in Rome.

The upset, after one hour and 51 minutes, ended Nadal's 17-match unbeaten run on clay.

The aggressive eighth seed had Nadal rattled from the start and broke the Spaniard in the first and fifth games to go 5-1 up before Nadal fought back to 5-4.

Thiem then broke for a 4-3 lead in the second set with successive backhand and forehand winners and held on to leave Nadal serving in vain to stay in the match. The Austrian clinched victory on his first matchpoint as Nadal hit wide.

The Spaniard will now focus on the French Open, where he will be aiming for a 10th title at Roland Garros.

Despite the loss to Thiem, Nadal's current form makes him the favourite heading into the second Grand Slam of the year.

"I'm very happy with how I played during these four weeks and now remains Roland Garros," said Nadal.

Rising German star Alexander Zverev earlier reached the semi-finals with a 7-6(4), 6-1 defeat of world number six Milos Raonic.

Zverev, 20, will face John Isner for a place in the final after the American beat Croatian Marin Cilic 7-6(3), 2-6, 7-6(2).

"It's another stepping stone in my career," Zverev told the ATP's website. "I feel like I have played very well today. I returned very well.

"So I'm happy to be in the semis and playing John tomorrow, who I know very well from our Saddlebrook (Florida) days. It's going to be a great match."

Comment

The Bank of England Sports Centre in south London is likely to be busier than usual in June -- the venue is going to host Maria Sharapova, who has confirmed she wants to secure a place at Wimbledon through the grand slam's qualifying tournament.

Refused a wildcard for the French Open, Sharapova will need to negotiate three qualifying rounds if she's to reach Wimbledon's main draw.

"Because of my improved ranking after the first three tournaments of my return, I will also be playing the qualifying of Wimbledon in Roehampton, and will not be requesting a wild card into the main draw," said Sharapova, who is ranked 211 in the world, in a statement Friday.

"I have already started getting treatment on the injury I sustained a few days ago in Rome, and will begin my preparation as soon I get better."

Wimbledon qualifying provides 16 main draw places for men and 12 for women if they win through three rounds.

"All players receive ranking points and prize money and there is more money and ranking points on offer the more matches that they win," said Wimbledon's website.

Qualifying runs from June 26 to June, with the main tournament staged between July 3 to July 16.

Sharapova, 30, recently returned from a 15-month doping ban after admitting she had used the banned hormone and metabolic modulator meldonium.

The former world No. 1 reached the Stuttgart Open semifinals last month before losing to Eugenie Bouchard in the round of 32 in Madrid and retiring with a thigh injury in Rome.

With a world ranking above 200, she missed out on a place in French Open qualifying but has done enough for a spot in the Wimbledon qualifier.

French Open organizers declined to offer the Russian a wildcard at Roland Garros -- even for qualifying -- which drew a stinging response from Sharapova and the head of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Steve Simon.

"I do not agree with is the basis put forward by the French Tennis Federation for their decision with respect to Maria Sharapova," said Simon.

"She has complied with the sanction imposed by CAS.

"The tennis anti-doping program is a uniform effort supported by the Grand Slams, WTA, ITF, and ATP.

"There are no grounds for any member of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme to penalize any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters."

The French Open draw was already missing one of its biggest stars as the pregnant Serena Williams takes time out before the birth of her first child.

Sharapova is one of the most marketable stars in tennis and was estimated to be worth up to $195 million back in 2016.

Melodium was only banned at the beginning of 2016 but Sharapova said she had been taking it for over 10 years as she was magnesium deficient and had recorded several irregular electrocardiography (EKG) tests.

The five-time grand slam champion said that her team did not check the updated banned substance list and hence she tested positive for the drug at the 2016 Australian Open.

She was initially banned for two years but this was reduced to 15 months on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which stated she bore no "significant fault" and did not intend to cheat.

Comment

Genzebe Dibaba will return to the Prefontaine Classic on 26 May, the first day of the IAAF Diamond League meeting, and attempt to add the 5000m world record to her outstanding collection of achievements.

This year’s Friday night session has been named ‘Joan Benoit Samuelson Night’ in honour of the 1984 Olympic marathon champion. Six other elite international and national women’s events will be held and admission on Friday is once again free.

Dibaba often leaves pacemakers outdistanced, as she did two years ago on a perfectly warm afternoon in the Pre Classic 5000m, running by herself to set a US all-comers’ record of 14:19.76. It was just one of many triumphs in her racing career that includes setting a world 1500m record that summer at 3:50.07, breaking a mark that had stood for 22 years.

After a sterling indoor campaign last year saw her set a world record in the mile and win the 3000m at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Dibaba went on to take the 1500m silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

She returned to record-breaking form this year, setting an outright world 2000m record in an indoor race in February. She now has history’s fastest time indoors in six events from the 1500m to the 5000m.

Dibaba will renew her 10-year rivalry with Kenya’s Mercy Cherono. The 2013 world 5000m silver medallist beat Dibaba on four occasions in 2014, while Dibaba gained revenge four times from 2015 onwards.

Ethiopia’s Senberi Teferi edged Dibaba to the world 5000m silver medal in 2015. The 22-year-old will be making her US debut.

Compatriot Gelete Burka was the first woman to run faster than 4:00 for 1500m at the Prefontaine Classic. After winning the 2006 world cross-country title and 2008 world indoor 1500m title, Burka took the 10,000m silver medal at the 2015 World Championships.

Although she is a steeplechase specialist, Etenesh Diro has a 5000m PB of 14:33.30. The Ethiopian memorably qualified for the Olympic steeplechase final last year after losing her shoe in a collision in the heats.

Belaynesh Oljira earned two global bronze medals in 2013, first at the World Cross Country Championships, and then at the World Championships. Fellow Ethiopian Dera Dida took the silver medal in the junior race at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships and reduced her 5000m PB to 14:42.84 last year. Earlier this year she won the hotly contested Ethiopian cross-country title.

World cross-country bronze medallist Lilian Kasait Rengeruk will be returning to Hayward Field, three years after taking the world U20 5000m silver medal in Eugene. Fellow Kenyan Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, the African Games 5000m champion, will be competing in the US for the first time.

USA’s Molly Huddle set a North American record of 30:13.17 to finish sixth in the Olympic 10,000m final last year. Her 5000m PB of 14:42.64 stood as the North American record until late last year. Other US women in the field are Kim Conley, Marielle Hall, and Emily Sisson.

When Britain’s Eilish McColgan last competed at the Pre Classic, it was in the steeplechase. The 26-year-old ditched the barriers last year and reached the Olympic 5000m final.

Comment

Jose Mourinho says the Premier League’s unwillingness to help Manchester United prepare for their Europa League final will force him to pick youth players against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

United finish their league campaign against Palace at Old Trafford before facing Ajax in the Europa League final in Stockholm next Wednesday, a game they must win to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

With nothing riding on Sunday’s game for either United or Palace, who are assured of avoiding relegation, Mourinho believes it should have been moved forward a day.

“In any country in the world, the match would be Saturday because Sunday, we are sixth, doesn’t matter what, and Crystal Palace is safe,” the United manager told reporters after Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Southampton.

“So I think after the moment Crystal Palace beat Hull City and Hull City is relegated, and Swansea is safe, I think in that moment, the match has to be Saturday.

“In any country in the world, it would be Saturday. It’s going to be Sunday. It’s frustrating for me. And I hope you don’t kill me when you see my team.”

Asked if he had submitted a request for the game to be moved, Mourinho replied: “I don’t lose time. When I know that the battle is lost, I don’t fight the battle.

“You (journalists) are English, you are here since you were born. I’m here already, four plus three, seven years. I never saw any detail of trying to care about the English teams involved in European competitions.

“I never saw that with Chelsea, I never saw that with Manchester United, with (Champions League semi-finalists) Manchester City last year. I never saw.

“So I think it’s just a lost battle. We have to accept the way it is.”

The United manager has confirmed Sergio Romero will start the Europa League final and the Argentina goalkeeper seized a chance to shine at Southampton, plunging to his right to save a sixth-minute penalty from Manolo Gabbiadini.

Rather than restore his usual number one, David de Gea, to his starting XI against Palace, Mourinho said he would hand a league debut to 20-year-old third-choice goalkeeper Joel Pereira.

Mourinho said Axel Tuanzebe, who has started United’s last three league games, would be involved, along with his fellow academy graduates Demetri Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Matty Willock, Josh Harrop and Zachary Dearnley.

“I hope the fans at Old Trafford support the team, they forgive some naivety, they forgive some lack of confidence,” Mourinho said.

“And I hope that Big Sam (Allardyce, the Palace manager) shows he is a good friend and he goes slow. He tells (Wilfried) Zaha to go slow, he leaves (Christian) Benteke at home. I hope he goes soft on us.”

Mourinho also said centre-back Eric Bailly, who is suspended for the final, would feature, as well as Paul Pogba, who has been granted compassionate leave following the death of his father last Friday.

Marouane Fellaini came off rubbing the back of his right thigh against Southampton, but Mourinho said the Belgian midfielder was confident he had not torn his hamstring.

The result at St Mary’s was United’s 15th draw of a frustrating league season and means they are guaranteed to register their lowest number of wins in a campaign since the 1990-91 season.

But United were already guaranteed to finish sixth, while Southampton, who have not scored in four successive top-flight home games for the first time, remain eighth.

—AFP

Comment

Second seed Novak Djokovic said he is on track to raise his game for the French Open after reaching the Rome Masters quarter-finals Thursday with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

Djokovic, beaten in the final by Britain’s Andy Murray last year, will now face Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters after the unseeded Argentinian’s 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 win over Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori.

Rafael Nadal, enjoying his best season on clay in two years, booked a quarter-final clash against Austria’s Dominic Thiem, whom he beat in the Madrid Masters final last week, after an “aggressive” 6-3, 6-4 win over American Jack Sock, seeded 13th.

The Spaniard, a seven-time champion in Rome and now on a 17-match claycourt winning streak, also swept Djokovic aside in the semis in Madrid.

But French Open champion Djokovic said: “I’m getting closer, I feel like today’s match was one of the better ones I’ve played on clay this season, and in the past couple of months.

“It’s coming at the right time, we’re getting closer to Roland Garros. All the players are looking to raise their game for Paris.

“I’ve been doing my best to optimise my game to get it to the highest possible level at the moment ... right now, as days are passing by, I feel more comfortable on the court, more confident hitting the ball.”

It kept Djokovic on track to meet Nadal in the semis after the Spaniard ended Sock’s hopes in 1hr 20min.

“It was a good victory against Jack, he’s a tough opponent. He hit the ball hard with a lot of spin,” said Nadal.

“I played a more aggressive game and I’m serving better. I can play a bit more aggressive than the way I played tonight, but overall I’m happy.

“Tomorrow I’m up against Dominic, he’s a player who’s having more success on clay so it will be another tough battle.”

Thiem saved three match points in beating Sam Querrey 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7).

Another playing looking to up his game for the French Open is 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka but the world number three said a lack of confidence was to blame for his shock 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 defeat to big-serving American John Isner, who is ranked 24th in the world.

“When you lack confidence and rhythm, against opponents like (Benoit) Paire and Isner, it’s not ideal,” said Wawrinka, who had beaten Frenchman Paire 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday.

“I had some chances to break him at the start of the match, but I didn’t push him hard enough.

“My game and my physical condition are there. But confidence, you can lose it quickly. But I’ll keep fighting.”

Isner, meeting Wawrinka for the first time in six years, will now meet Marin Cilic after the sixth seed from Croatia beat Belgian David Goffin, the ninth seed, 6-3, 6-4.

In the women’s tournament, Venus Williams overcame determined Briton Johanna Konta to win their third-round clash 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

In the absence of sister and defending champion Serena, she will now meet Spain’s Garbine Muguruza on Friday for a place in the semis and a possible match-up with Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova.

Williams, competing in Rome because “I still have a lot to give”, was more circumspect about her chances of emulating Serena by winning Roland Garros.

“It’s so different when you’re talking about it or when you’re playing it,” she said.

“When you’re playing it, it’s a lot of work. There is not even one point that is given.”

Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, the seventh seed, suffered a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 defeat to Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova.

Gavrilova will meet Dutch 15th seed Kiki Bertens after she beat unseeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (7/3), 6-1.

Comment

Harry Kane’s first ever four-goal haul propelled him to the top of the Premier League scoring charts with the Tottenham striker in the “driving seat” to finish top scorer when the final league games are played on Sunday.

The 23-year-old, whose goals along with a double from Korean star Son Heung-min saw this season’s runners-up hammer last year’s champions Leicester 6-1, added he hoped Hugo Lloris could also win the Golden Glove for the least goals conceded when they round off their league season at relegated Hull.

Kane tops the Golden Boot charts with 26 goals, two ahead of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku with Arsenal’s Chilean marksman Alexis Sanchez third, a further goal adrift.

“I wanted to get one or two goals at least and take it to the final game,” Kane told Sky Sports.

“I am in the driving seat but there’s still one more game. I am not resting on my laurels but I hope to get four more.

“Hopefully I can get the Golden Boot and hopefully Hugo Lloris can get the Golden Glove.

“It is disappointing to concede but hopefully we can keep a clean sheet against Hull,” added Kane, who has scored five hat-tricks for his club in just over two years.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said he was proud how Kane had shown he is one of the best strikers in the world in again contesting to be leading scorer despite two spells out injured.

“It is fantastic for him,” he told Sky Sports.

“It is a season again where he fights to be the top scorer in the Premier League. He is great, he is one of the best strikers in the world.

“He will try to keep going in the next game and try to finish in the best way.”

The 45-year-old Argentinian said he was not worried Kane would leave in the close season as Spurs were in a position to keep the players they wanted to keep.

“It is very clear we will keep the players we want to keep and we will maybe sell the players we want to sell,” said Pochettino.

“We are so, so calm about our key players. They are happy here, we have an exciting project.”

Comment

Work has been completed on the first proposed venue for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - the Khalifa International Stadium. More than five years before the tournament kicks off, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has confirmed extensive renovations on the 40,000-seater venue are now finished.

The renovations include the installation of revolutionary cooling technology promised during Qatar's successful bid, which will keep the pitch at an optimum 26 degrees and the stands somewhere between 24 and 28 degrees.

SC secretary general H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi said: "The completion of our first stadium more than five years before the Qatar World Cup begins is an important milestone that reflects our determination to deliver a tournament the entire Arab world is proud to be a part of.

"As we promised in our bid, our innovative stadiums offer an unrivalled experience to fans and players alike. I'm proud we can show these off to the world and welcome fans with the hospitality this World Cup will be remembered for."

The stadium, originally constructed in 1976, will first host the 2017 Emir Cup final on Friday and will also be the venue for the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Qatar Football Association (QFA) president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani added: "Khalifa International Stadium is close to Qatari hearts and has seen some of Qatar's biggest sporting occasions over the years since it was first launched in 1976.

"It is therefore a fitting venue for the biggest match of Qatar's football calendar, the 2017 Emir Cup final between Al Rayyan and Al Sadd, and we look forward to welcoming fans into the magnificent remodelled stadium on Friday evening."

Comment

Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson headlines a galaxy of stars competing at the 14th staging of the Jamaica International Invitational on Saturday (20), the first meeting of the 2017 IAAF World Challenge.

Thompson, the fastest 100m/200m sprinter last season, has continued her rich vein of form this year showing her challengers a clean pair of heels. Her recent exploits on the Asian legs of the IAAF Diamond League series, in Doha and Shanghai, winning the 200m (22.19) and 100m (10.78) respectively by daylight, shows she’s currently in a different time zone. On Saturday she competes in the women’s 200m, the final event, with her stiffest challenge perhaps coming from the breeze.

Thompson’s MVP teammate Shericka Jackson, the 400m world and Olympic bronze medallist, has looked strong in the shorter sprints this season improving her personal bests in the 100m (11.24) and 200m (22.57). Jackson will relish the challenge of going faster. Simone Facey and Jura Levy complete the Jamaican quartet in this field.

American sprinter Shalonda Solomon, fourth at the 2011 IAAF World Championships, is making her third straight appearance in this event. Solomon who finished third last year and her teammate Candyce McGrone, fourth at the 2015 World Championships, as well as Bahamian sprinter Tynia Gaither are capable of preventing a Jamaican sweep.  

De Grasse Vs Merritt In The 200M

Triple Olympic medallist, Andre De Grasse, will race for the first time in Jamaica in the men’s 200m. The Canadian, who collected silver in the 200m behind Usain Bolt in Rio, is searching for his first win this season. His shocking fifth place finish in the men’s 100m (10.21) at the IAAF Diamond League opener in Doha was almost classified as fake news. Twelve days later in Guadeloupe, De Grasse, who only started training in January after finishing his degree, ran a season’s best 10.10.

He will confront LaShawn Merritt who topped last year’s 200m world list. It will be Merritt’s third 200m outing this season. The two-time world and Olympic champion is coming off a morale boosting 400m victory (44.99) in Guadeloupe after back-to-back losses in Doha and Shanghai.

It won’t be a two-man race though as 2013 IAAF World championships silver and London Olympics bronze medallist Warren Weir is also entered. Nickel Ashmeade, a semi-finalist in Rio, Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes and reigning Commonwealth Games champion Rasheed Dwyer will also add spice to this epic encounter.

Felix Still Chasing Elusive Kingston Victory 

Legendary American sprinter Allyson Felix makes her third visit in five years. Interestingly, the 2012 Olympic champion and three-time world champion has never tasted victory here. On previous trips in 2013 and 2015 she placed no higher than third in the 100m.  Felix is again entered in the 100m, her first race in that event for two years.

Looking to extend Felix’s wait for that elusive win are Rio 100m finalists Michelle-Lee Ahye and Christania Williams as well as IAAF World Indoor tour 60m champion, Gayon Evans. Jenna Prandini, Morolake Akinosun and Shillonie Calvert-Powell are other noteworthy challengers in the field.  

Hometown hero Asafa Powell, the most prolific sub-10 second 100m runner in history with 97 wind-legal times, gets another opportunity to go one step closer to the 100 sub-10 clocking milestone. Powell will definitely be pulled or pushed to that target by Yohan Blake, the 2011 world champion and second fastest man over the 100m and 200m.

American Mike Rodgers fresh from his win in Guadeloupe and compatriot Ronnie Baker, the only man in the field under 10 seconds this season, are potential spoilers. Jamaican-born Turkish sprinter Jak Ali Harvey, Kemar-Bailey Cole, Nesta Carter and Julian Forte will also face the starter.

The men’s 400m looks enticing with Jamaica’s domestic champion Javon Francis being hard pressed to defend home turf. Francis, who dipped under 45 seconds six times last season, will square off American Tony McQuay, a consistent member of the 44-second club. The Rio 4x400m relay gold medallist, who was shut out of a podium spot on his last visit three years ago, demonstrated decent form in his Diamond League opener in Doha clinching third spot in a season’s best 44.92 seconds.

One man who could raise eyebrows is emerging 24 year-old Demish Gaye, the third fastest Jamaican quarter-miler this season. On 4 May the two-time inter-collegiate champion clocked 44.85 chopping almost four-tenths of a second off his previous 45.24 PB set a month earlier. Gaye was impressive at the IAAF World Relays helping his team to 4x400m bronze. Rusheen McDonald, Jamaica’s national record holder (43.93), Fitzroy Dunkley, who anchored Jamaica to an amazing 4x400m victory at the recent Penn Relays and 2011 world bronze medallist, Belgium’s Kevin Borlee, complete this competitive line-up.

A fierce contest looms in the women’s section as it features an all Jamaica versus U.S.A clash. Natasha Hastings, Ashley Spencer, Courtney Okolo and Phyllis Francis will lock horns with Novelene Williams-Mills, Stephenie-Ann McPherson, Christine Day and Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby.

More US Vs Jamaica In The Sprint Hurdles

The battle for supremacy spills over in the sprint hurdles as the Americans seek to maintain their dominance over the Jamaicans. The Williams’ sisters, Shermaine and reigning world champion Danielle, alongside the pint-sized Megan Simmonds will take on two-time world indoor champion and Rio silver medallist Nia Ali and her teammates Sharika Nelvis, currently ranked second in the world, and meet record-holder Jasmine Stowers (12.39).

US champion Devon Allen, who finished fifth in the men’s 110m hurdles final in Rio, will want to open his debut performance in Jamaica with victory. Allen along with teammates Ronnie Ash and last year’s winner Jarrett Eaton will match strides against Jamaican trio Tyler Mason, the national junior record-holder, and Rio semi-finalists Andrew Riley and Deuce Carter.

Bershawn Jackson literally stands head and shoulders below his opponents at the start of any men’s 400m hurdles race. However, whatever he lacks in height he makes up for in speed and tenacity. Jackson annihilated a world class field, which included Olympic champion Kerron Clement, at last Saturday’s IAAF Shanghai Diamond League meeting en route to a 48.63 meeting record.

The 34-year-old American is in his swansong season and definitely looking to sign off his Jamaican chapter with a memorable victory. He won’t be granted any favours though as Michael Tinsley, a double world and Olympic silver medallist, Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson, two-time world silver and Olympic bronze medallist and two-time World U20 champion Jaheel Hyde will prove to be his greatest obstacles.

Ibarguen Primed For Her Season's Debut

Two-time world and Rio Olympic triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen will make her season debut. The confident Colombian, one of two women to sail beyond 15m last year, will have her meeting record (14.87m) set two years ago in her sights. Jamaica’s Shanieka Thomas-Ricketts, currently ranked among the top ten on the world listing, could make it a riveting contest in the sand pit.

The women’s high jump contest will see the continuation of Brigetta Barrett’s comeback journey. The London Olympics silver medallist reversed last year’s retirement decision and is competing again. Barrett (26) cleared 1.91m in April to win at the Long Beach State Outdoor Invitational. Also springing into action are St. Lucia’s Levern Spencer, who finished sixth in Rio, Nigerian record-holder Doreen Amata and hometown favourite Kimberly Williamson.

Rio bronze medallist, Sam Kendricks, start as favourite in the men’s pole vault. Kendricks, after a pair of impressive victories at the Drake Relays (5.80m) and in Shanghai (5.88m), could erase his countryman Brad Walker’s meet record (5.60m) set in 2015. Kendricks’ greatest challenge should come from Beijing World champion Shawn Barber.

Discus world leader Fredrick Dacres (68.88) will face tough opposition from Andrew Evans, Mason Finley and Sam Mattis.

Comment

The IAAF is looking to add a Head of Event Operations to our event delivery team. 

Working under the guidance and direction of the Competition and Events Director in Monaco, the successful candidate will manage the event coordination aspects of all World Athletics Series (WAS) events and Olympic Games.

The full job description and details of how to apply are available on the employment page of the IAAF website.

Comment

On Wednesday 7 June, the worldwide running community will unite once again for the second 'Global Running Day'. Global Running Day is a grassroots initiative where people of all abilities and from all paths of life come together to celebrate their passion for running and inspire others to get moving.

"The IAAF fully supports the Global Running Day and is proud to invite all of our Member Federations to join us and the world’s leading race organisers in this massive celebration of the sport," said IAAF CEO Olivier Gers.

In 2016, more than 2.5 million people from 177 countries, including nearly 700,000 kids, pledged to run 9.2 million miles, or nearly 15 million kilometres, on Global Running Day. The day received more than one billion impressions on social media, with running activities taking place across the globe from New Zealand to New York.

"The targets for this year are even more ambitious: 10 million miles, one million kids – and more importantly, all of the world’s countries and territories," Gers added.

The second annual Million Kid Run, which aims to have a million kids around the world pledge to run on 7 June, will once again be the centerpiece of Global Running Day. The Million Kid Run is about making fitness fun and inspiring kids to embrace running as a way to get moving and stay healthy. From a school administrator pledging students, to a youth coach pledging their running team, to a parent pledging their child, kids around the world will come together to celebrate the power and benefits of running and fitness. Participation is easy and can include any activity from a solo lap around the block to a game of tag with your kids. 

Many of the world’s top professional runners will be serving as role models, including eight-time Olympic champion and the world’s fastest man, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt.

“I’m happy to support Global Running Day and encourage young people all over the world to run on June 7,” Bolt said. “From those who run to win races to those who walk, jog or run to improve their health and fitness, physical exercise is extremely important for people of all ages.”

The world is welcome to engage with Global Running Day socially by using the #GlobalRunningDay hashtag and creating a customized Global Running Day bib. Global Running Day toolkits for events, communications and social media are also available on the GlobalRunningDay.org website.

Runners of all ages and abilities can pledge to take part in the day via GlobalRunningDay.org or the pledge form below.

Comment

Retired long distance and cross country runner Dieudonné Disi has challenged Rwandan athletes to roll up their sleeves and end a decade -long jinx at the Kigali International Peace Marathon ahead of the 2017 edition set for Sunday.

Started in 2005, as a way to use sports in the healing and reconciliation process after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and a medium to spread peace beyond the borders, the Kigali International Peace Marathon has grown into one of the region’s prestigious events.

However, Rwandan athletes have remained minnows in their own race, with Kenyans dominating it year after year.

Disi, now 36, who won gold in the men’s half marathon in 2006, has challenged the current crop of athletes to up their game.

Since 2006, no other Rwandan has won either the full or half marathon, in both men and women categories.

“Our athletes should get rid of the myth that Kenyans are born winners, if you are going to race against a Kenyan why do you feel they will finish in front of you even before the race has started, if you get tired in the midst of the race don’t give up, you should instead know that he (Kenyan) is a human being and might also get tired,” said Disi in an exclusive interview with Times Sport.

Rwanda’s most decorated long and middle distance runner, advised that, “Team work is crucial for them to win, they need to work together along the course, give each other pace and one, not all of them, should pick water for all of them in order not to lose time and then towards the finish, the stronger one, can sprint.”

In 2015, Jean Baptiste Ruvubi came close to making history in full marathon but fell short to finish second behind Kenya’s Ezekial Omullo Kemboi (2:18:15), who finished 48 seconds ahead of the Gicumbi-born runner.

Last year, fast-rising female athlete Salome Nyirarukundo also came close to winning the women half marathon but also had to settle for second in a race that was won by Kenyan Anges Jeruto.

According to the organizers, Rwanda Athletics Federation (RAF), this year’s edition is expected to attract about 6,000 athletes from across the world.

Comment

With the title and relegation issues in the Premier League settled long before the final day, the only outstanding question left to be answered is who will finish in the top four? Manchester City and Liverpool are in the driving seat to join Chelsea and Tottenham in the Champions League qualification spots, with Pep Guardiola's team needing a point at Watford, while Liverpool will join them if they can beat relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield.

Arsenal must beat Everton at the Emirates and hope City lose (and end up with a worse goal difference), or Liverpool lose or draw to keep alive their hopes of a 21st top-four finish under Arsene Wenger.

If Arsenal draw 1-1 with Everton, and Liverpool lose 2-0 to Middlesbrough, there would be a play-off between Arsenal and Liverpool to decide who finishes fourth to enter the Champions League qualifying round.

Comment

World number one Andy Murray will be ready for Roland Garros despite his poor recent form, nine-time French Open champion Rafa Nadal has said. Nadal has won all three clay competitions this season while Murray struggled in Madrid and Monte Carlo and lost out in the semi-finals in Barcelona.

Since the start of the year, Murray has won just one of seven tournaments but Nadal is confident the Briton will be prepared for the French Open, which starts at the end of the month.

"He's a great player, unbelievable player," said Nadal after booking his spot in the last 16 of the Italian Open on Wednesday. "He will be ready for Roland Garros. He has one week and a half to practice, and he will be one of the candidates (for the title)."

Former world number one Nadal also said that being at the top had no impact on a players' performance but tiredness could play a role.

"I don't think being No. 1 affects on play ... I don't see a reason why. But at the same time, it's so difficult to be on the top of your game and mentality for every week," Nadal said.

"He had an unbelievable year last year, winning almost all the matches ... and that's tough. Physically, mentally, it's tough to do what he did at the end of his season."

Nadal will face American Jack Sock later on Thursday in Rome.

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French prodigy Kylian Mbappe was once again the centre of attention as Monaco clinched their first league title in 17 years on Wednesday, taking his tally to 15 goals for the season to add further fuel to speculation of a possible departure.

The 18-year-old, the youngest player in the top five European leagues to reach 14 league goals in the 21st century, has been linked by European media with a possible move to Juventus, Barcelona or Real Madrid. 

Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyiev, however, is hoping Mbappe, who is also the first player to score in each of his first four knockout games in the Champions League, would stay at least one more season.

"Our intention is that he stays, we are going to do everything we can so that he can stay with us," the Russian said.

"I have not discussed with any club, because what the player wants is the priority."

French media have reported that Mbappe is keen to stay at the club for another season.

The forward became a regular starter in October when Argentine striker Guido Carrillo sustained an injury and since then there has been no stopping him.

"He reminds me of Neymar at a young age," said Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema of his compatriot. 

Mbappe's pace, technical ability and cool head make him one of the most feared strikers in Europe. 

To put his impact in context, at the same age, Arsenal great Thierry Henry scored three goals in the French top flight during the 1995-96 season with Monaco.

"He reminds me of Thierry Henry," said Argentine striker Delio Onnis, Monaco's record scorer with 223 goals between 1973-80.

On Wednesday, Mbappe was in devastating form again, beating St Etienne keeper Stephane Ruffier with a deft feint to put the hosts ahead in a 2-0 win at Louis-II stadium.

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Chelsea FC take on West Bromwich Albion on Friday Night, a match that would see them seal the Premier league title win if they win. Chelsea have a seven-point gap between them and second place Tottenham Hotspurs, and this will their second EPL title in three years.
They have been in fantastic form this season under new manager Antonio Conte, and the Italian will be happy to lift the trophy in his first season of English football. West Brom manager Tony Pulis however has plans to delay Chelsea’s celebrations, but singled them out for their consistent displays this season. ``They deserve to be where they are, they have been the most consistent team in the league this year and they have come to our place with a chance of winning it,’’ he told a pre-match press conference.
West Brom are 8th on the Premier League table, and a finish in that position will be their best performance in EPL history. It will also be Tony Pulis’ best finish as a manager in English football.

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The Red Devils took a one-goal advantage into the return match after winning in Vigo last week, and Jose Mourinho's side ensured that they would make the final with a 1-1 draw in the second leg, which produced two red cards late on.

The 20-time English champions will take on Ajax in the final of the competition in Stockholm on May 24, with the winner gaining an automatic spot in the group stage of the 2017-18 Champions League.

United 1-1 Celta Vigo (2-1 on agg). The Reds reach the Europa League final where they will face Ajax!

Former Ligi Ndogo striker John Guidetti missed at the death with the last chance of the match eight yards from the goal to send Celta through.

Ajax lost 3-1 to Lyon but progressed to the final thanks to their 4-1 win in the first leg.

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A "motivated" Eugenie Bouchard beat Maria Sharapova - the woman she called a "cheat" - in a marathon three-setter in the second round of the Madrid Open. Bouchard criticised Sharapova as she made her comeback from a 15-month drugs ban at the Stuttgart Open in April.

The Canadian finally came through a brutal encounter 7-5 2-6 6-4 after almost three hours on court.

"I was inspired because I had a lot of players coming up to me privately, wishing me good luck," said Bouchard.

"They were players I don't normally speak to and I got a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me. I wanted to do it for myself, but also for all these people."

Bouchard will play Angelique Kerber, who is set to replace Serena Williams as world number one, in the third round.

"Some girls in the locker room were coming up to me and really wishing me good luck which doesn't normally happen," added the world number 60.

"It showed me that most people have my opinion and they were just maybe scared to speak out."

Speaking after Sharapova made her return from a ban for the use of meldonium in Stuttgart, Bouchard said: "She's a cheater and I don't think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play again.

"I think from the WTA it sends the wrong message to young kids: cheat and we'll welcome you back with open arms.

"I don't think that's right and she's not someone I can say I look up to any more."

When Bouchard's comments were put to her, Sharapova said that she was "way above" responding.

Though there was no apparent frostiness between them as they entered the court and knocked up, what followed was a fluctuating and full-blooded encounter in which both players refused to give ground.

With breaks exchanged in the first set, Bouchard looked to have blown a huge chance in the 11th game when she missed a forehand into open court with Sharapova stranded.

But the former Wimbledon finalist recovered to take her fourth break point at the end of a 12-minute game and served out to win a first set that last for 70 minutes.

Sharapova, though, found an extra gear in the next stanza, winning four straight games to take the second set as mistakes crept into Bouchard's game.

The decider was a sapping affair, with each player coming from 0-40 down to avoid being broken - in Sharapova's case, the Russian did it in successive service games.

A third save from 0-40 was too big an ask for Sharapova, but even then it was not decisive for Bouchard, who surrendered her serve in the next game.

But, from 40-15 up, Sharapova was broken and, in the next game, Bouchard took her second match point for her first victory over the five-time Grand Slam champion at the fifth time of asking.

After two hours and 51 minutes, the players exchanged the briefest of handshakes at the net.

"She said 'well played'," said Bouchard. "And I think she's been playing really well in her so-called comeback, if you want to call it that."

For Bouchard, this represents her biggest win and best run at a tournament since reaching the semi-finals in Sydney in January, while Sharapova still has work to do secure a place in Wimbledon qualifying.

"I think I would be worried about myself if I sat here and said I'm pretty happy with losing a tennis match, no matter who I face, no matter what round it is, whether it's the first round or final of a Grand Slam," said Sharapova.

"I'm a big competitor. What you work for so many hours every single day is to be on the winning end of matches.

"Today was just not that day. Of course, I'm disappointed. That's what's going to make me a better player. That's what's going to win me more tournaments and more Grand Slams."

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Chelsea moved to within one win of the Premier League title and confirmed Middlesbrough's relegation with a consummate performance and emphatic victory at Stamford Bridge.

Antonio Conte's side can become champions with victory against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Friday night while Middlesbrough must contemplate a future back in the Championship after they were swept aside on Monday.

The Blues had already created a succession of chances before Diego Costa turned in man of the match Cesc Fabregas' pass after 23 minutes.

And the contest was effectively over when Marcos Alonso scored at the far post via the legs of Middlesbrough keeper Brad Guzan 11 minutes before the break.

Fabregas created Chelsea's third which Nemanja Matic converted as the hosts laid siege to Boro's goal, with the final whistle bringing contrasting emotions.

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Jose Mourinho on Arsenal fans and Wenger: "I leave Highbury they were crying. I leave the Emirates, they were crying, walking the streets with heads low. Today they leave waving their scarves.You think I enjoy a big club like Arsenal not winning trophies? I don’t enjoy. But today I tried to win. Arsene Wenger is not a small manager, he’s a big manager, to have that record of winning so many matches is not normal. Normal is win, lose, draw. We shook hands but during the game I don’t like what I never like. He puts too much pressure on the fourth official every time.”

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Juan Mata: “We are fighting for a Champions League spot through the Europa League, but as well through the Premier League and we came here with this aim but unfortunately we couldn’t win. We have a really important chance to play Champions League through the Europa League but in the Premier League anything can happen. We will try to win our remaining games and maybe we [will finish] in the top four.”

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Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris questions Spurs' mental strength after their loss to West Ham:

"At this stage of the season, it's the same for every team. We're all tired physically, mentally. The difference is mental. You have to cope on the pitch and get the result that you need. We were not capable of doing more. You need to do more, more.

To push to your limit. And unfortunately we were not capable to do that."

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Antonio Conte is being lined up for a shock move away from Chelsea to Barcelona, according to the Express.

Barca are looking to replace Luis Enrique who announced in February that he would be standing down but they have yet to get someone in place.

Conte has however caught the eye of the Barcelona hierarchy with his transformation of Chelsea's fortunes and they are ready to have a go at luring him to Spain.

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Tottenham kept pace with Premier League leaders Chelsea after a 2-0 win over Arsenal in the north London derby at White Hart Lane.

Dele Alli scored his 17th league goal of the season to break the deadlock on 55 minutes and Harry Kane picked himself up to score from the penalty spot three minutes later.

The three-minute second-half spell settled the match, with Kane, who has scored in five consecutive league meetings with the Gunners, once again their nemesis.

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Manchester United held on for a goalless draw in a frantic Manchester derby at the Etihad after midfielder Marouane Fellaini was sent off. The Belgian lost the plot in the 84th minute in a moment of madness when he was booked for bringing down Sergio Aguero, and seconds later he walks over to the Argentine and delivers a headbutt. The referee Martin Atkinson had no choice but to show him a straight red card.

City, who dominated most of the game, thought they had a late winner when Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus noded home a Sergio Aguero cross from a close range but was flagged offside. The young Brazilian, who was put on as a late substitute for his first appearance since being injured in February, took some time to realise his goal won't stand.

The draw leaves City in fourth place, still a point and a place  ahead of their local rivals as Unites extends their unbeaten run to 24 league games.

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Manchester will be at a stand still when City welcomes United in the third Manchester derby of the season. Champions League qualification spots are at stake an incentive that will psyche up the players more for the encounter, as if any extra drive was necessary.

The Citizens are a point ahead of their rivals at fourth with 64 points. They will be hoping the FA Cup semi final exit at the hands of Arsenal won't affect their League form. They are however on the back of two consecutive Premeir League wins. 

Pep Guardiola is looking forward to the game and insists United are a very good team with a very good squad. "They are good, good rivals, good quality, in good form. They've had big series without defeat in the Premier League. They have a lot of quality, history. We're looking forward to the game," said the City boss.

United on the other hand remain undefeated in the League since October, remarkable as that might be, most of their results have been draws. They have however collected maximum points in the last 3 league games including a 2-0 win over leaders Chelsea. A run that see them move within a point of top four.

Jose Mourinho affirmed his main target is to qualify for the Champions League and not to finish above their city rivals. Of course United still have the Europa League route to the Champions League.

"It means nothing. If we finish fifth and they finish sixth and we are above them it means nothing," said Mourinho. "If they finish third and we finish fourth they are above us, but it means a lot," he added.

The match will be played at 10pm local time.

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Real Madrid played one of the best games of the season and they thrashed (2-6) Deportivo de la Coruña at Riazor. It wasn’t an easy stadium -Barcelona lost and Atlético Madrid drew- but Los Blancos made an exhibition. Again, the substitutes show Zidane that they deserve more minutes. Especially Isco, again brilliant.

Zidane might think in giving the opportunity in the big games to some of these players. Isco, Asensio or Morata are highlighting every time they have the chance. Kovacic or James Rodríguez show also a great quality when they have minutes. If Modric, Bale or Benzema are not fit, perhaps these are the solutions. Today, they play one of the best games of the season.

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Messi four goals shy of another milestone at Camp Nou.

Messi is only 4 goals away from his 200th league goal at the Camp Nou.

188 appearances

196 goals

  70 assists

 

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The 2017 CAF Champions League Draw was done earlier today in Cairo, Egypt.

The CAF Champions League is Africans' premier club football competition that sees top African clubs in their countries go ahead to head to be crowned champions.

The first round of group fixtures will start on the weekend of May 12. The groups are as follows:

GROUP A
Group A consists of Tunisia powerhouse Etoile du Sahel, Sudanese sides Al Hilal, and Al-Merrikh SC and Mozambique's Clube Ferroviario de Maputo.

GROUP B
Five time Champions League winners  Zamalek lead Group B. They play Zimbabwe Premier League champions CAPS United, USM Alger of Algeria, and Ahli Tripoli of Libyan.

GROUP C
African champions Mamelodi Sundowns will fight to retain their CAF Champions League title following tbeir group stage draw with AS Vita. The South African club will have a score to settle with AS Vita from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a side that was disqualified in last year’s edition to give the Brazilians a way back into the competition despite being knocked out.
The Brazilians will face AS Vita  as well as Saint George S.C. of Ethiopia and Espérance Sportive de Tunis of Tunisia in group C.

GROUP D
Egyptian giants Al Ahly who are on their way to claiming yet another Premier League title, play Wydad Athletic Club, Coton Sport and Zanaco in Group D.

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The Gunners went into their Wednesday Premeir League clash against Leceister with only a win to suffice as they try to keep their Champions League hopes alive.

The match against the champions was cagey as they were happy to stay back and let Arsenal kick the ball around with no goal mouth action. It was Mahrez who got the first shot on target, a free shot resulting from a corner but the Algerian drove it right on Cech's path who punched it away.

Leceister showed little gimpses of their old self the little time they had the ball with Vardy and Mahrez hitting the side netting.

Granit Xhaka controlled the midfield as he occasionally sprayed long balls to the wings but the Leicester defence was solid. Theo Walcott got Arsenal's first shot on target when he dipped the ball past a Leicester defender and drew a superb save from Kasper Schmeichel.

Alexis Sanchez had a frustrating first half as he lost possesion on a couple of ocassion but showed what he is capable of on the brink of half time when his shot at the esge of the box hit the crossbar. Level it went at half time.

The second have started on a similar note with Leicester resolute at the back and Arsenal keeping the ball with no break through. Both teams made changes and it was the introductoon of Olivier Giroud for Arsenal that provided presence in the Leicester box. With 4 minutes to go Sanchez's deflected cross aimed at Giroud was knocked back to Nacho Monreal who drilled it towards goal and the ball took a wicked deflection on Roberth Huth for an own goal. 1-0 to the Gunners.

With 4 added minutes Arsenal tried wasting time with Sanchez trying some tricks that landed him in the referee's book with a yellow card. The vital win moved Arsenal to sixth with Leicester's relegation worries back.

In other games, Middlesbrough got one past Sunderland to take them within 6 points of safety at 27 points while Sunderland remain rooted at the bottom with 21 points.

Tottenham got a vital 1-0 away win against Crystal Palace to keep them in touching distance to the league leaders.

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The 14th edition of the CAF Confederation Cup Draw held in Cairo, Egypt is out.

CAF Confederation Cup is the second African football club competition organised by Confederation of African Football, CAF after the CAF Champions league. This seasons competition has extended participants in the grouo stage from 8 clubs to 16. The winner of the Confederation Cup will face the winner of the CAF Champions League in the 2018 CAF Super Cup.

Jesse Were's Zesco United is drawn in Group C while defending champions TP Mazembe are drawn in Group D alongside Supersport United.

The full Draw of the knockout stages are as follows:

GROUP A
FUS
Club Africain
Rivers United
Kampala CCA

GROUP B
C.S.S
Platinum Stars
MC Alger
Mbabane Swallows

GROUP C
Zesco United
Club R.D. do Libolo
Al Hilal Elobeid
Smouha

GROUP D
TP Mazembe
Supersport United
Horoya AC
CF Mounana

First matches are set to be played between 12-14th of May.

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Burnley midfielder Joey Barton has been banned from football for 18 months after an FA hearing over breaches of betting rules according to Sky Sports.

 Barton accepted a misconduct charge in February and requested a personal hearing after he was accused of placing 1,260 bets on football over a span of 10 years.

An FA statement read: "Joey Barton has been suspended from football and all football activity for 18-months with immediate effect after he admitted an FA misconduct charge in relation to betting.

"It was alleged that between 26 March 2006 and 13 May 2016, he placed 1,260 bets on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, football matches or competitions in breach of FA Rule E8.

"Following the Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, the Burnley midfielder was also fined £30,000 and warned as to his future conduct.

Barton wrote in his own statement: "The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football. To be clear from the outset here this is not match fixing and at no point in any of this is my integrity in question.

"I accept that I broke the rules governing professional footballers, but I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for other less controversial players. I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem. I'm disappointed it wasn't taken into proper consideration."

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Chelsea took a giant stride towards the second title in three seasons when they dismantled Southampton 4-2 at Stamford Bridge thanks to a Diego Costa double.

Diego Costa set up Eden Hazard for the first goal five minutes into the match. The Saints were yet to settle when Hazard plunged it in the far corner. After the goal Southampton showed they were no walkovers as they kept the ball better. They were rewarded with an equaliser through Romelu who followed up on a Manolo Gabbiadini's shot from a corner.
The match appeared to be going to the break all square but Cahill had other ideas in the additional time when he headed Chelsea to the lead after a Diego Costa spectacular overhead kick.

Chelsea started the second half on a high and it took 10 minutes for Costa to head in his first from a Fabregas cross. The last nail in the coffin came in the 89th minute after a lovely one-two between Costa and Hazard then Pedro getting rhe assist gor Costa. Southampton got a second late in the game through Bertrand.

Chelsea now need four wins to to undisputed premier champions.

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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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