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1. Dani Alves sentenced to four and a half years in jail over sexual assault12:41[-/+]
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Court in Barcelona finds former Brazil player guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman at a nightclub in 2022

The former Brazil footballer Dani Alves was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman and sentenced to four years, six months in prison on Thursday.

The ruling by three-judge panel in a Barcelona court followed a three-day trial this month. Alves, 40, denied any wrongdoing during the trial. He can appeal against the decision.

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2. The myth of the college football family has nothing to do with love | Tracie Canada12:30[-/+]
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Nick Saban’s departure from Alabama shocked me as a football fan. But as an anthropologist and ethnographer, I was more concerned with what the news meant for the players

Only a few days after the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship game, head coach Nick Saban announced his retirement from his post at the University of Alabama. Saban’s successor was announced the next day when the public learned University of Washington’s Kalen DeBoer, fresh off a loss in the national title game, would lead the Crimson Tide.

As someone who follows college football, I was shocked by the announcement. After almost two decades and six national championships in Tuscaloosa, Saban seemed a rock-solid fixture. But as an anthropologist and ethnographer who specializes in the intersection of race and sport, I was more concerned with what the news meant for the players, given how the timing of and secrecy surrounding these hires highlight a striking disconnect in football’s focus on family.

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3. England recall Robinson and Bashir for must-win fourth Test against India12:21[-/+]
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  • Robinson replaces Wood as England manage workload
  • Stokes declines to commit to bowling himself in Ranchi

Ben Stokes has made two changes to his XI for the must-win fourth Test against India that starts in Ranchi on Friday. It looks like a reaction rather than over-reaction, drafting in Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir on what he expects to be a spinning pitch.

Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed are the players to drop out from the 434-run defeat in Rajkot that sees the tourists 2-1 down with two to play, Stokes attributing the former’s omission to his heavy workload and a desire to ensure he can operate at maximum pace. While Bashir, 20, returns to win his second Test cap – the scruffy surface in Ranchi appearing more conducive to finger spin, certainly – it could be viewed as Jimmy Anderson having been preferred to Rehan Ahmed in the final shake-up.

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4. Jesse Lingard lands in Korea with club and player in search of former glories11:00[-/+]
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Former Manchester United midfielder has a chance to make an impact with FC Seoul in the physical K-League

Apart from rumours of the original Ronaldo’s agent offering his client to South Korean clubs towards the end of the Brazilian’s career, the K-League has not had a sniff of the high-profile players who have gone to China and Japan. Now, though, Jesse Lingard has joined FC Seoul to become the biggest name to head to the Land of the Morning Calm. This is no new Asian market muscling its way, Saudi-style, on to the global scene but the transfer is perhaps the most intriguing this year.

The former Manchester United forward was last seen playing for Nottingham Forest in April and arrived this month at Incheon International Airport, where he was handed a traditional wind instrument and an opportunity to breathe new life into a career that has stalled and a club that has been falling. Adding a new tune to Asia’s oldest professional league also wouldn’t go amiss.

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5. Antoine Dupont’s Olympic sevens adventure begins in Vancouver11:00[-/+]
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Scrum-half eschews Six Nations and sets out on quest for Olympic gold after World Cup heartache

“It’s the holy grail of sport,” Antoine Dupont declared on the Team France social media channels last week. As he sets out on his quest for Olympic gold, the Toulouse scrum-half has swapped this year’s Six Nations for the World Sevens Series, a competition he has been gearing up for since the turn of the year.

The 2021 World Player of the Year will be making his highly anticipated sevens debut in Vancouver on Friday evening and is set to be involved in the Los Angeles leg of the tour the following weekend as well. At BC Place, France will begin their campaign against the USA, before taking on Australia and Samoa in their other Pool B fixtures.

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6. Jayden Archer: Australian motocross star dies after crash during practice07:09[-/+]
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  • X-Games medallist was attempting difficult triple backflip
  • 27-year-old described as ‘a great human being and friend’

Australian freestyle motocross star Jayden Archer has died, reportedly crashing while practising the trick that made him famous.

Archer, 27, was the first motocross rider to land a triple backflip in competition, at the Nitro World Games in Brisbane in November 2022. Moments later, he proposed to his girlfriend.

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7. Molly Picklum and Jack Robinson score Australian WSL double with Hurley Pro wins05:27[-/+]
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  • New No 1 Picklum lands perfect 10 in final at Sunset Beach
  • Robinson follows with win over Kanoa Igarashi in men’s event

Molly Picklum’s love affair with Hawaii has continued, defending her title at Sunset Beach and clinching the yellow jersey as the World Surf League rankings leader.

And it was a double celebration for the Australian brigade in Oahu with Jack Robinson dominating the men’s final against Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi.

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8. ‘Devastated’ Angus Brayshaw retires from AFL due to concussion04:17[-/+]
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  • Demons premiership player calls time on career at age of 28
  • Tiny changes detected in his brain during off-season

Microscopic changes in the brain of Melbourne’s AFL premiership-winning player Angus Brayshaw following a concussion last season has forced him to retire from the sport at the age of 28.

The West Australian was knocked unconscious in September’s qualifying final by a mistimed smother from Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard, for which the Pies player avoided suspension.

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9. Pepe still top dog as Arsenal’s new tricks fail to flummox Porto’s veteran | Nick Ames03:00[-/+]
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The 40-year-old’s experience at this level was obvious – as was Arsenal’s timidity in the face of Porto’s physicality

Almost an hour into a tie that burned imperceptibly until its unlikely late combustion, Arsenal were treated to a glimpse of exactly who was in charge. They had won possession just outside Porto’s penalty area and Kai Havertz, advancing with purpose, saw a chance to play Gabriel Martinelli through. Instead the ball ended up with Pepe, gimlet-eyed and perfectly positioned. Seconds later he had carried it 30 yards up the pitch before sliding a precise pass through the midfield to Evanilson, sending the hosts away once again. There was a sense he could have done it all again with a blindfold.

On Monday, Pepe will turn 41. Blowing out all those candles may take more exertion than a pallid Arsenal attack demanded but that moment of authority, the brushing aside of nascent threat, the upright strut that has been a feature of elite football for two decades, spoke of the bigger picture.

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10. ‘We will learn from this’: Arteta furious after Arsenal concede late goal in Porto02:46[-/+]
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  • Galeno gives Porto 1-0 lead in first leg of last-16 tie
  • Arteta: ‘You need to have much more aggression’

Mikel Arteta lamented Arsenal’s lack of purpose, aggression and threat as they slipped to a last-gasp 1-0 defeat at Porto in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

The Arsenal mana­ger was ­furious at the 94th-minute con­cession – curled home superbly from long-range by the Porto winger Galeno – saying his team had failed to manage the situation.

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11. Manchester United’s Luke Shaw facing months out of action with injury01:27[-/+]
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  • Left-back picked up injury in win against Luton on Sunday
  • Club to assess Shaw but expect him to miss ‘a few months’

The Manchester United defender Luke Shaw is expected to be out of action for “a few months” with a muscle injury.

Shaw had to come off just before half-time on Sunday in the 2-1 victory at Luton, a match for which he had been a doubt. The 28-year-old left-back had been substituted at the break in the 2-1 win at Aston Villa a week earlier in what the manager, Erik ten Hag, said was a precautionary move.

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12. Victor Osimhen strikes for Napoli to leave Barcelona tie in the balance01:22[-/+]
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Napoli fought back to hold the visitors Barcelona to a dour 1-1 draw in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday as Victor Osimhen cancelled out Robert Lewandowski’s opener.

The opponents, champions last year in the Spanish and Italian leagues and both struggling this season, played out a poor match in which both sides were toothless and lacking attacking flair.

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13. Charlie Woods, son of Tiger, to compete in pre-qualifier for PGA Tour event01:07[-/+]
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  • Son of Tiger Woods, 15, to bid for place in PGA Tour event
  • Charlie Woods will attempt pre-qualifying starting Thursday

Charlie Woods, the son of 15-times major winner Tiger Woods, will compete in a pre-qualifier event as he bids to secure a place in the PGA Tour’s Cognizant Classic next week in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The 15-year-old Woods will play on Thursday in an 18-hole event at Lost Lake Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, one of four pre-qualifying sites, the PGA Tour website reported on Wednesday.

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14. Liverpool four points clear after storming comeback win over Luton00:49[-/+]
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Liverpool’s 2019 vintage will always have Barcelona. The 2024 edition have Luton. Jurgen Klopp was compelled to draw comparisons between the two four-goal comebacks not because of the opposition or the occasion, clearly, but because of the circumstances, the character and the “thunderstorm” that unfolded inside Anfield. He will hope the similarities extend to silverware arriving as a result.

No excuses, the Liverpool manager had said while reeling off his injury list before Luton’s visit. The statement looked in need of revision when the league leaders trailed after an anxious 45 minutes against Rob Edwards’ enterprising team but, ultimately, no excuses were necessary. Liverpool restored their four point lead at the top with a storming second-half show and the belief it will take more than a few injuries to key players to derail their title challenge.

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15. Swagger, soul … and patience: inside Ratcliffe’s plans for Manchester United | Sean Ingle00:36[-/+]
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Billionaire says he wants to bring glamour back to the club but warns fans success will not happen overnight

On the second floor of the Ineos office in west London, there are lingering reminders of Manchester United’s glory days. You see it in Eric Cantona’s No 7 shirt, collar upturned, hanging in the main meeting room. In the pristine match programmes from those famous European trophy nights. And, most of all, in the eyes of Jim Ratcliffe, as he promises to restore a swagger and soul to the club he has supported for 65 years.

“The Manchester United style of play is attacking football, exciting football, bringing the youth through,” he says, speaking publicly for the first time since acquiring a 27% stake in the club. “You want players that are committed. You want players that play 90 minutes or whatever the number is. At the end of the day we are in the entertainment business. You don’t want to watch bland or characterless football.”

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16. ‘I’ve never really been fearful’: Jess Park aims to make impact with LionessesСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Manchester City forward back in squad after missing World Cup
  • ‘Being here around the team just helps push you up a level’

Jess Park has had a phenomenal season for Manchester City, ­shining in the 1-0 win against Chelsea in the Women’s Super League. Now she is back with England after ­missing the World Cup with injury, and ­playing ­without fear as the ­Lionesses prepare for friendlies against ­Austria and Italy.

“As a player I’ve never really been fearful, I’m always willing to give it a go. If you don’t try, what’s the point?” the 22-year-old said at England’s warm-weather training camp in ­Marbella. “Being here in and around the team just helps push you up a level and take more risks.”

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17. Toto Wolff calls for transparency in Red Bull Horner investigationСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Mercedes team principal says F1 leaders should be ‘role models’
  • ‘It is not just a team issue. It is an issue for all of F1’

Toto Wolff has called for the investigation into Christian Horner for alleged “inappropriate behaviour” towards a female colleague to be conducted with transparency and said that senior figures in Formula One had a duty to act as role models.

Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, is the first senior F1 figure to address the allegations against his Red Bull counterpart since they became public on 5 February.

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18. Ben Stokes considering all-rounder role on 'interesting' fourth Test pitchСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • All-rounder set to break promise to physio after knee surgery
  • Stokes says pitch ‘dark and crumbly with quite a few cracks’

Ben Stokes is considering playing as an all-rounder in the fourth Test against India and on a pitch the ­England captain described pointedly as “interesting”.

Two days before a must-win Test for the tourists at 2-1 down, Stokes bowled heavily in training. A 20-­minute spell on the outfield was followed by 35 minutes against Jonny Bairstow in the nets – his first time to a batter since the Ashes last summer.

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19. ‘Cookies and a sauna’: Danny Care hungry for 99th cap and ScotlandСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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Scrum-half’s unique approach to career longevity has served him well as Steve Borthwick leans on his experience

Few players have heard more Calcutta Cup bagpipes over the years than Danny Care. His first Six Nations encounter with Scotland was in 2009 and the meeting on Saturday will be his 99th Test appearance for England. If any of the scrum-half’s younger colleagues want first-hand advice about Murrayfield and how to survive it, they need look no further.

It is among the reasons why the 37-year-old is still in the national squad; Steve Borthwick wanted a few seasoned individuals to set the tone for future generations. The boy Danny is now an elder statesman picked for his experience of high-pressure environments, particularly after Ben Youngs’s Test retirement and the untimely knee injury sustained last week by Northampton’s Alex Mitchell.

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20. Andy Murray succumbs in three-hour Qatar Open loss to Jakub MensikСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Czech teenager wins 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4)
  • Murray calls himself weak during match

Andy Murray’s considerable efforts to rebuild his faltering form took a crushing blow on Wednesday . Despite fighting hard for more than three hours, his nerves betrayed him in the decisive moments against the impressive 18-year-old Jakub Mensik and he eventually succumbed in the second round of the Qatar Open. At three hours 24 minutes, it was the longest match in the tournament’s history.

Throughout his dire past six months on the tour, Murray has insisted that he has been performing well in practice and he has simply struggled badly to produce the same level under pressure in matches. His performance on Wednesday further underlined that rather than his body betraying him, as would be expected from a 36-year-old with a metal hip, at the moment he simply cannot get out of his own head.

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21. Ratcliffe vows Manchester United will knock City and Liverpool ‘off their perch’Ср, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Billionaire talks of ‘three-year plan’ to revive club
  • Ratcliffe says decision is needed over Greenwood

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has outlined his plans to put Manchester United back on top of Europe, with a combination of glamorous football and hard-headed realism which he believes can knock Manchester City and Liverpool “off their perch” within three years.

Speaking less than 24 hours after taking control of football operations at Old Trafford, the 71-year-old ­billionaire admitted that United would have to learn stark lessons from the way their rivals had moved so far ahead in the 11 years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.

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22. Shaken off: Taylor Swift concert forces Wales to switch match to TwickenhamСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Wales face world champions South Africa on 22 June
  • United Rugby Championship final takes place on same day

Wales will face South Africa, the world champions, at Twickenham in June as part of preparations for their tour to Australia. The Principality Stadium in Cardiff is unavailable with Taylor Swift performing there on 18 June and Foo Fighters appearing there the following week.

The Springboks’ first game since their World Cup triumph in France will take place on 22 June. The match will be followed by the Barbarians tackling Fiji. Twickenham last staged a Wales versus South Africa fixture during the 2015 World Cup, when the Springboks won a tense quarter-final 23-19.

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23. England need to realise fun cricket isn’t always smart cricket | Mark RamprakashСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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Ben Stokes has transformed the team’s mood, but there is still work to do on their mindset

Ben Stokes played his 100th Test in Rajkot last week, an occasion preceded by countless breathless profiles, articles that portrayed him almost as a superhuman, playing his own game, dancing to his own tune. He was described as an innovator, a visionary and a masterly captain. Well, sport has a way of putting you in your place and India certainly did that.

I don’t want to minimise Stokes’s achievements. Visiting Lord’s and the Oval during the Ashes series last summer I did a few Q&As with fans in lunch breaks. There is no doubt the public were enthralled by his team. As captain he inherited a group that were playing poorly and losing. He has taken the pressure off them, galvanised them and given them a method they are happy to use.

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24. Andreas Brehme was a giant for Inter in an era when Serie A ruled the world | Richard HallСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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The German won Italia 90 in Rome. He had already won plenty of hearts further north in Milan

By Richard Hall for The Gentleman Ultra

For Giuseppe Bergomi it was just too much. As the Italian paid tribute to his friend and former Inter teammate, Andi Brehme, the emotion got the better of him. His usual unflappable confidence and calmness disappeared, he hid his chiselled jawline behind his hands and sobbed. “I can only say that he was a true friend and teammate, a great person both on and off the pitch,” said Bergomi. “We had a special friendship. I was very close to him. We will miss him a lot.”

Brehme’s death at the age of 63 came as a shock and led to tributes from across the world. This was the footballer who scored the goal that gave West Germany victory over Argentina in the World Cup final in 1990. Everybody knew him for that penalty in Rome and, of course, as one of the “Three Germans” at Inter in an era that is now long gone but so well remembered. He enjoyed great success at Kaiserslautern and Bayern Munich, winning league titles with both German clubs, but Inter fans will find his passing especially hard to bear. He encapsulated a golden era in Italy, where Inter stood tall in a league of superstars.

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25. Harry Kane statue in storage for years and hidden from view in LondonСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Footballer’s sculpture was completed in 2019
  • Waltham Forest council unable to find site

Somewhere in the borough of Waltham Forest council, a statue of local hero Harry Kane lies unused. A sculpture of the Walthamstow-born, Chingford-raised record goalscorer for England and Tottenham was commissioned by the London borough in 2019, completed the following year at an expense of GBP7,200 but is yet to appear anywhere in public.

Attempts were made by local Conservative councillors to place the Kane statue on Chingford’s Weaver Line Overground railway station but that proposal was denied after a risk assessment carried out by Transport for London, on the grounds it could be targeted by rival football fans. TfL has suggested its placing should be near to – rather than in – the station, depending on local approval. Thus far, no local assent has been given to that suggestion. A further possible placing, in Ridgeway Park – Kane is an alumnus of local youth team Ridgeway Rovers – was also rejected.

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26. Show and tell: why Pep Guardiola taught Erling Haaland a lesson on body languageСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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By pushing his star striker, the Manchester City manager revealed his understanding of human nature and performance

“Body language is everything in life … If you are not positive in your mind and you cannot accept that you can make mistakes, and how you react to that, and how you can help when your mate makes a mistake, this kind of thing is far beyond the tactics. That is everything in life.”

Pep Guardiola’s recent urging to Erling Haaland reveals the sophistication of his leadership skills and understanding of human nature. This is culture-building, investing in the long term all the time, even when trying to win the match in the short term. It’s where he still differs from most other leaders in sport and beyond. How what others may see as “the small stuff” is actually “the big stuff”. The Manchester City manager works skilfully with our most crucial human performance tools in our personal and professional lives: mindset and behaviours.

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27. Bayern join Liverpool in chasing Xabi Alonso with Tuchel to leave in summerСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Leverkusen manager Alonso played for Liverpool and Bayern
  • Announcement on Tuchel follows three consecutive defeats

Bayern Munich will rival Liverpool in pushing to appoint Xabi Alonso as their manager after the ­Bundesliga champions agreed to part ways with Thomas Tuchel at the end of the season. Bayern’s announcement on Tuchel’s future follows a dismal series of results.

The club will hold discussions over Alonso, whose ­transformation of Bayer Leverkusen has made him a target for Liverpool, where a vacancy is also pending this summer with ­Jurgen Klopp stepping down. There is no release clause in ­Alonso’s ­contract but he will be allowed to leave if he decides to pursue a new ­challenge. Alonso played for ­Liverpool and ­Bayern, finishing his career in ­Germany in 2017.

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28. The Spin | Goswami still rankled by row that overshadowed India playing farewellСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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Legendary fast bowler is vexed about how England reacted to Deepti Sharma’s run-out of Charlie Dean at Lord’s in 2022

Lord’s, 24 September 2022: a day that was all about Jhulan Goswami – until it wasn’t. A final bow to her 20-year international career; a guard of honour by the England players as she walked out to bat for one final time; taking two wickets to complete a career haul of 355. Then, with England on the verge of an unlikely victory, Deepti Sharma ran out Charlie Dean backing up, and all hell broke loose.

A year and a half later Goswami is enjoying retirement: she spends time with her family, works for her state association in West Bengal, helping to bring through the next generation of female cricketers, and has an inaugural Women’s Premier League title under her belt in her capacity as bowling coach and mentor for the Mumbai Indians. But this giant of Indian women’s cricket is still vexed about the way her retirement match ended.

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29. Tim David hits final-ball boundary as Australia seal opening T20 win over New ZealandСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Singapore-born player blasts 31 off 10 balls to reach 216 target
  • Captain Mitch Marsh lays foundation with 72 off 44 balls

Tim David has produced a final-ball win for the ages, striking a boundary as Australia chased down New Zealand’s 3-215 for a six-wicket win.

Needing four to win, David thumped Tim Southee to the mid-wicket boundary as Australia won the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy opener in dramatic fashion in Wellington on Wednesday night.

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30. MLS 2024 predictions: Can anyone stop Lionel Messi and Inter Miami?Ср, 21 фев[-/+]
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The new season kicks off this week. Our panel of writers deliver their verdicts on the MVP, champions, ‘Season Pass’ team and the young players to watch

A full season of Lionel Messi in MLS. The GOAT made an immediate impact for Inter Miami last year, but his best moments came in the Leagues Cup and US Open Cup. There’s no guarantee of success for Inter Miami (see their chaotic pre-season). Messi, however, will surely produce some magic - assuming he can stay fit. Graham Ruthven

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31. The Knowledge | Uncapped wonders: snubbed players with multiple European Cup medalsСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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Plus: more players putting the extra ‘and’ into ‘club and country’, games with all-headed goals and more

“I read today of Horst Blankenburg, who won the European Cup three times with Ajax, but never played for his country, West Germany. Have any other uncapped players won as many (or more) European Cup/Champions League medals?” asks Robbie Paterson.

Horst Blankenburg had the misfortune to play in a position as specific as sweeper at a time when Franz Beckenbauer was the boss of world football. We only know of one team that has played with two sweepers, and that was Steve Coppell’s Crystal Palace away at Nottingham Forest in 1990-91. Blankenburg played with Beckenbauer only once: in the Common Market Match of 1973, a celebration of the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community.

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32. Marko Arnautovic gives Inter slim last-16 lead over Atletico MadridСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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A late goal from substitute Marko Arnautovic gave Inter Milan a 1-0 home victory against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

The Austria striker, who had replaced the injured Marcus Thuram at half-time, redeemed himself after several missed chances by squeezing the ball home after Lautaro Martinez’s shot was saved by goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 79th minute.

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33. Big hitters return as England look to power their way to Calcutta Cup gloryСр, 21 фев[-/+]
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  • Manu Tuilagi, Ollie Lawrence and George Martin back in squad
  • England’s Bath contingent hatch plan to contain Finn Russell

England head to Scotland for­­ ­Saturday’s crucial Calcutta Cup clash boosted by heavyweight power, according to Kevin Sinfield who said his side are braced for “niggle” from their opponents at Murrayfield.

Steve Borthwick has Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence at his disposal again to power up his midfield after both missed England’s opening two matches with groin and hip injuries respectively. The hard-hitting Leicester forward George Martin is also available again for his first Test appearance since his stunning display in England’s narrow World Cup semi-final defeat by South Africa last October.

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34. Andreas Brehme: 1990 World Cup hero for West Germany – video obituaryВт, 20 фев[-/+]
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Andreas Brehme, the scorer of the goal that won West Germany the 1990 World Cup against Argentina in Rome, has died at the age of 63. During a distinguished career which earned him 86 international caps, he also lifted the Bundesliga, Serie A and the Uefa Cup among other trophies. After he retired from professional football he began coaching, returning for a spell at his prior club, Kaiserslautern.

Brehme established himself as a formidable defender at the national and club level, often scoring his trademark long-distance shots. His death comes less than two months after that of Franz Beckenbauer, who coached West Germany to that 1990 triumph.

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35. Carl Lewis derides plans to eradicate long jump fouls as early April Fools’ jokeВт, 20 фев[-/+]
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  • Worlds Athletics will trial new ‘take-off zone’ this year
  • Olympic legend says it will take key skill away from event

Radical proposals that could see foul jumps eliminated from the long jump have been criticised as an “April Fools’ joke” by four-time Olympic ­champion Carl Lewis.

The World Athletics chief executive, Jon Ridgeon, confirmed on Monday that the governing body would be trialling a new “take-off zone” from which competitors can leap into the pit instead of the usual fixed wooden board. Ridgeon said the proposal would virtually eliminate the possibility of a foul – as athletes would be measured from where they began their jump rather than from the board.

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36. 'I'm so sorry': Pep Guardiola apologises to Kalvin Phillips for 'overweight' comment – videoВт, 20 фев[-/+]
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The Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, apologised to Kalvin Phillips for saying that the player was ‘overweight’ on returning from the World Cup in December 2022. The apology comes after Phillips gave an interview in which he admitted Guardiola’s comments had had 'a big knock on my confidence'. When asked if he regrets his comments, Guardiola said: 'I'm sorry, yeah, I'm sorry. Once in eight years is not bad, but I'm so sorry. I apologise to him'.

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37. Football Daily | Newcastle’s Dan Ashworth, a very expensive suit and a pair of secateursПн, 19 фев[-/+]
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As the days get longer and the temperatures warmer, there’s plenty to be getting on with for those of a green-fingered bent. Vegetable beds need to be prepared, seed potatoes need to be chitted ahead of planting and fruit crops need to be netted to protect them from our hungry feathered friends. Once you’ve taken care of all that grunt work, your winter-flowering shrubs and wisteria will need pruning, while heaven forfend you should forget to cut back your deciduous ornamental grasses to make sure there’s plenty of room for spring’s new growth. With so much to do and so little time to do it, Dan Ashworth can consider himself lucky to have been put on gardening leave by his employers at Newcastle United after being approached by Manchester United to become their new director of football.

I wonder how many readers plugged ??? ?? into Google Translate to make sure you’d got it right (Friday’s News, Bits and Bobs). I was one who checked and was hoping for some conjugation error that would’ve translated to something like ‘He done did one’; but you were spot on. Well done one!” – Jim Christie.

For a very brief moment I had the notion to check the translation of ??? ??. After an even briefer moment I decided getting a life would be more beneficial” – Kevin Worley.

Is there anything more mind numbing than the ongoing, revisited, regurgitated Kylian Mbappe leaving PSG saga? Well is there?” – Russell D Pulford.

As far as I’m concerned, the only way the everlasting and tired Mbappe transfer saga can be made even remotely interesting again is if Wolverhampton Wanderers were suddenly rumoured to gazump Real Madrid. The Boy Who Cried Wolves!” – Peter Oh.

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38. 'What's happened here?': Young fan wanders on court to disrupt basketball game – videoПн, 19 фев[-/+]
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An overenthusiastic young fan broke onto the court and looked to join in the action during a British Basketball League match between the Leicester Riders and the Sheffield Sharks. The young supporter was quickly retrieved by his mother and placed back in the stands.

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39. Jannik Sinner beats Alex de Minaur in Rotterdam Open final – video highlightsВс, 18 фев[-/+]
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Jannik Sinner followed his grand slam breakthrough at January's Australian Open by claiming the Rotterdam Open title with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Alex de Minaur. The top seed, Sinner, who lost to Daniil Medvedev in last year's Rotterdam final, missed set points against his Australian opponent before wrapping up the first set with a late break.

There was another trade of breaks midway through the second set, but Sinner tamed his opponent's serve once more to lead 4-3 and went on to beat the Australian for a seventh time in as many career meetings, capturing the 12th singles title of his career. It was the Italian's 15th straight win and will lift him to third in the world rankings on Monday.

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40. Chess: Carlsen beats Caruana in freestyle final while Ding finishes lastПт, 16 фев[-/+]
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The world No 1 recovers from a slow start to defeat young rivals Firouzja and Abdusattorov while China’s world champion is unable to shake off a losing spiral

“Freestyle chess” is a new name for the variant where the back rank pieces are placed randomly, so as to make the game more a test of skill and imagination than memory of book openings. It used to be called Fischer Random after its inventor, then Chess 960 or Chess 9LX after the number of possible starting positions.

Elite grandmasters like it, and this week a $200,000 event took place at the Weissenhaus resort on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast. Half of the eight competitors, including the world No 1, Magnus Carlsen, and the world champion, Ding Liren, were over-30s, while the other four were under-21s.

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41. Martin Tyler: ‘I put some air in my lungs, shouted Aguero’s name and kept going’Пт, 16 фев[-/+]
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Veteran commentator on describing that 2012 title winner, his desire to meet Lionel Messi and coaching in non-league

“I get asked to shout two things in the street,” Martin Tyler says wryly on a drizzly afternoon in Surrey. “The first is ‘And it’s live!’, which I do, while the second is the Aguero moment which I don’t do because you need to go somewhere special for something truly extraordinary.”

A moment that perhaps best captures the addictive drama and madness of the Premier League came in May 2012 when Manchester City needed two goals in stoppage time to beat QPR and win their first league championship since 1968. When the ball fell to Sergio Aguero, and he struck the winner that meant City had clinched the title on goal difference from Manchester United, Tyler’s gloriously strangled cry of “Agueroooo!” echoed around the world.

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42. Caitlin Clark breaks NCAA career scoring record with 35-foot three-pointer – videoПт, 16 фев[-/+]
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"I don't know if you can really script it any better," said Iowa's Caitlin Clark after she brok the NCAA women’s basketball scoring record after scoring 49 points in her team’s 106-89 win over Michigan. Clark, who needed eight points to break the record previously held by Kelsey Plum, reached the threshold with a three-pointer from 35 feet. The 22-year-old only needed two minutes and 12 seconds to break the record before going on to set a single-game points record for Iowa. Clark now has 3,569 points in her career and can break more records with the AIAW major-college record of 3,649 being held by Lynette Woodard.

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43. Sport quiz of the week: Super Bowl, Asian Cup and Women’s Super LeagueПт, 16 фев[-/+]
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Have you been paying attention to the big stories in football, rugby league, athletics, the NFL and synchronised swimming?

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44. Red Bull reveal more than RB20 as silence surrounding Horner is broken | Giles RichardsЧт, 15 фев[-/+]
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Team forced to face issue of inquiry into team principal with stage management you would expect of F1’s world champions

Ever since the investigation into Christian Horner over allegations of inappropriate behaviour began this month, the silence surrounding him, his Red Bull team, the inquiry, even the accusations themselves, has been deafening. On Thursday, at the launch of Red Bull’s new car, it was finally broken amid the Sturm und Drang of flashing lights and thumping music, albeit on a set that at times seemed stage-managed to deliver a message as much as for the spectacle itself.

Red Bull have been Formula One world champions for the past two seasons with a car that was the class of the field and have every expectation of repeating the feat in 2024. This event, planned long before any complaint was made about Horner, was doubtless expected to be a celebratory, euphoric affair.

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45. Fitba corner returns and are Bayern Munich in crisis? – Football Weekly Extra podcastЧт, 15 фев[-/+]
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Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Nicky Bandini, Philippe Auclair and Ewan Murray as Bayern Munich lose 1-0 to Lazio in the Champions League

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

On the podcast today; just a few days after Bayern Munich’s disastrous loss against Bayer Leverkusen they follow it up with a 1-0 defeat to Lazio in Rome. The panel debate Thomas Tuchel’s credentials and whether Harry Kane has a tendency to go missing in the big games.

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46. Moving the Goalposts | Clash of the titans: Chelsea meet Manchester City with WSL title on lineЧт, 15 фев[-/+]
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With three points separating the top two, it’s all to play for at Kingsmeadow – here’s where the game could be won and lost

There are few weekends in a Women’s Super League campaign that feel as pivotal as the one ahead. The course of this season’s title race could be decided as the top two go head-to-head. Under the lights at Kingsmeadow, Chelsea will host Manchester City knowing victory will give them a six-point lead at the summit and one hand on the trophy with eight games remaining. Conversely, a win for the visitors would pull them level on points with the reigning champions, setting up a mouthwatering race to the finish line.

Form: Both sides are in a strong vein of form. Chelsea are unbeaten in all competitions since their 4-1 defeat away to Arsenal in early December. They have turned Kingsmeadow and Stamford Bridge into fortresses, winning their past 22 league matches at home – a WSL record. City are on an equally eye-catching run and are undefeated since a surprise home loss to Brighton in November. While Chelsea have a slightly higher goals per game average (3.15 to 2.69), City boast the tightest defence in the league, having conceded only eight. Part of this is down to the stability of their starting XI with Alex Greenwood and Laia Aleixandri almost ever-present in the backline while Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly and Khadija Shaw are invariably the front three.

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47. Jody Cundy: ‘I don’t know what the real world is like. That scares me’Чт, 15 фев[-/+]
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At 45 the veteran Paralympian – multi-gold medallist in the pool and velodrome – is going for glory in Paris after a year of turmoil

Around the bikes go at the Manchester velodrome, faster and faster, interrupted only by the occasional hooter. For once Jody Cundy is sitting in the stands, wearing a T-shirt despite the cold percolating in from the wind and sleet outside.

Beside his easygoing grin, Cundy is a sporting phenomenon who won three Paralympic and three world titles in the pool before switching disciplines to jump on a track bike. He has since collected five more Paralympic gold medals (in the C4/5 kilo and the mixed team sprint) and 20 world championship titles. Paris will, incredibly, be his eighth Paralympics.

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48. 'Emotional and surreal': Lewis Hamilton attends his final car launch with Mercedes – videoСр, 14 фев[-/+]
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Lewis Hamilton has admitted he finds it an 'emotional and surreal' experience to be starting his last season with Mercedes after it was announced he will join Ferrari in 2025. The seven-time world champion said: 'I came here in 2013, 11 years with the team, this is the start of my 12th. It is such a privilege to work with people to see the work they’re doing over the winter.'

Despite his impending move to Ferrari, Hamilton insisted he remains fully committed to Mercedes and was proud of the efforts they had made during the close season. 'The focus through the whole of winter training is getting the team back to where we once were. We have had these difficult couple of years which have been really grounding for us. It has helped us regroup and really look at things.'

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49. Football’s biggest points gaps between one position and the next | The KnowledgeСр, 14 фев[-/+]
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Plus: muted international goal celebrations, more short multi-divisional stadium-hopping and Greece taking an 1896 beating

“Without points deductions, what is the biggest points gap between two positions in a high-ish level European top flight?” tweets Daniel Storey. “I ask because this is second to third in Turkey, as it stands.”

Galatasaray are now top of the Super Lig, though Besiktas remain 24 points behind the team in second, now Fenerbahce with 64 points. As Eoghan Kelly points out, there was an even bigger gap between second and third in the Premier League in 2018-19, when Liverpool were runners-up to Manchester City, with 97 points. The best of the rest were Chelsea, who finished 25 points behind Liverpool.

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50. The Breakdown | Hitting the Wonderwall: Twickenham struggles to make own entertainmentВт, 13 фев[-/+]
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Rugby union has become another sport that seems confused about how to satisfy existing fans while attracting new ones

After the US invasion of Panama in 1989, it took their army 10 days to persuade the dictator Manuel Noriega to come out of his hiding place in the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See. Their soldiers famously surrounded the building with loudspeakers and played, among other things, AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long, Van Halen’s Panama, and Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up day and night, until Noriega lost the will to resist. Five minutes into the half-time interval at Twickenham last Saturday, the thought occurred that they could perhaps have got the job done a lot quicker if, like the RFU, it had hired stadium DJ Tony Perry instead.

Which is nothing against Perry, whose act must be just the thing if you’re four tequilas deep on Ocean Beach in Ibiza. Somehow, though, it doesn’t quite go over so well when England are nine points down against Wales and you and your grandfather are trying to talk about whether or not the referee was right to give that scrum penalty while shuffling through the queue for the loos at Twickenham on a freezing cold afternoon in February.

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51. Michelle Mone winning the Grand National is a result racing will fear | Talking HorsesПн, 12 фев[-/+]
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As long as Monbeg Genius remains on course for the Aintree race, the sport can expect to be fielding awkward questions

The Grand National at Aintree in early April has been seen as “The People’s Race” for much of its 185-year history, and the fact that it is a handicap with – until this year, at least – 40 or more runners has also ensured that a broader sweep of owners have seen their colours go to post for the world’s most famous steeplechase than would be case in a level-weights event like the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

That, in turn, has meant that a steady trickle of “celebrity” owners from other walks of life, sport and entertainment have had National runners, and winners, down the years.

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52. Cheslin Kolbe: ‘People getting stabbed and killed … that was normality’Пн, 12 фев[-/+]
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South Africa’s double World Cup winner on childhood, global glory and the gangland violence in Cape Town he is trying to tackle

“As I’m sitting here, something is definitely happening out there which is the same as the mental image I have from growing up,” Cheslin Kolbe says of the danger he senses on a quiet morning in Cape Town. When he was a boy Kolbe saw people being shot and stabbed on the Cape Flats and he describes the terrible murder of a childhood friend, whose tongue was also cut out, just before the Springbok wing won the first of his two World Cup winner’s medals in 2019.

Kolbe is now one of the best and richest players in world rugby. On a break back home, before he returns to Japan to resume playing for Tokyo Sungoliath, the 30-year-old is in the mood to reflect on his extraordinary journey from poverty and gangland violence, and to explain how rugby has the capacity to offer hope in a brutalised country.

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