SPORTS DAY: Russia rejoices in Spain and suffering
Your roundup of the sporting news of the day
Russia beats Spain to reach World Cup quarters
Hosts Russia beat Spain 4-3 on penalties on Sunday to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals where they will face either Denmark or Croatia. Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke’s and Iago Aspas’s spot kicks in their first penalty shootout yet to send the hosts through following a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes. Spain, who have never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10th own goal of the tournament. The 2010 world champions controlled the game with their slick passing but did little more, failing to create another scoring chance in the first half.
Verstappen quick off the Merc to take Austrian GP
Max Verstappen made the most of a rare Mercedes double retirement on Sunday by claiming his first win this year, and Red Bull’s first at “home”, in an incident-packed Austrian Grand Prix. The Dutch tyro grabbed victory after Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas pulled up with power and gearbox failures respectively as their team’s run of four straight Austrian wins came to an abrupt end at the Red Bull Ring. It was the first time Mercedes had suffered a double retirement since Verstappen won on his Red Bull debut at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix after Hamilton collided with team mate Nico Rosberg on the opening lap. It was Verstappen’s fourth career victory as he came home ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, who regained the lead in the drivers championship ahead of Hamilton by a single point.
French team firmly rooted in Africa
France’s thrilling 4-3 victory over Argentina in their World Cup Last 16 clash on Saturday has confirmed their potential as global champions this year and much of their success has come from players with deep African roots. There are 15 of them in their 23-man squad. In 2011, a race row erupted in France when former World Cup winner Laurent Blanc was coach of the side and it was mooted that the number of young footballers with dual nationalities (read mostly African) should be capped in the country’s academies at 30%. This was in part because France did not want to spend money developing players that would go on to choose to represent Algeria‚ Morocco‚ Tunisia and so on‚ but also‚ with more sinister tones‚ it was suggested it be done to preserve “our culture‚ our history”.
RUGBYDe Bruin backs Lions captain after Sharks defeat
Lions coach Swys de Bruin backed returning captain Warren Whiteley’s decision making after his charges squandered a position of promise to crash to a first defeat in 21 conference matches against the Sharks on Saturday. The Lions took a 21-11 lead into the break and despite considerable huffing and puffing short of the Sharks goalline in the second half‚ the visitors could not blow the hosts’ house down. Instead, the Sharks grew with confidence in their obdurate defence and made the Lions pay for not kicking at goal when kickable penalties presented itself. “We were scrumming them at that stage‚” said De Bruin about the ascendancy the Lions enjoyed in that facet which guided Whiteley’s decision to scrum rather than kick for goal.
Olympic champ Chalmers upset in Pan Pacs trials
Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers was upset by Elijah Winnington in the 200m freestyle at Australia’s Pan Pac swimming selection trials in Adelaide on Sunday. Winnington, 18, held off the fast-finishing Chalmers in the final lap to win by just 0.03 of a second in 1:47.01. “Kyle is a world-class swimmer and I was breathing away from him, but you can feel him creeping up alongside you,” Winnington said. “In that last 10m my coach has put it into me day in and day out that it’s all heart and all legs and no pain; you’ve just got to put your head down and go for it and it paid off.” The race also featured Olympian Tom Fraser-Holmes, who returned to competitive swimming with fifth place in the 200m freestyle. Fraser-Holmes was banned for a year for missing three drug tests and only joined a training squad eight weeks ago.
Williams calls for fair treatment over doping
Serena Williams demanded fair treatment from US doping chiefs after the former Wimbledon champion was subjected to a series of tests in June. Williams arrived at Wimbledon this week on the heels of a report that she was unhappy at excessive targeting from US Anti-Doping Agency drug testers. A Deadspin article revealed Williams’s anger about an unannounced test in June where the tester refused to leave her Florida house. The tester visited outside Williams’s specified “whereabouts window” and found her not at home. No athlete is obliged to comply with a testing visit if it is not made during the 60-minute window for which the athlete identifies their whereabouts in advance each day. The seven-time Wimbledon champion made it clear she didn’t expect to have been tested so often this year. “It’s unfortunate but I guess when you’re in my position, you mention my name, people overhear things and they want to tell the press. It’s something I’ve dealt with for a long time. That’s okay,” she said on Sunday.
CYCLINGTour de France formally blocks Froome: report
Tour de France organisers have formally blocked four-time champion Chris Froome from competing in this year’s race, Le Monde reported on Sunday, but he is expected to fight the move. The Team Sky star has been under a cloud since he was found to have twice the permissible amount of asthma drug Salbutamol in his system during September’s Vuelta a Espana, which he won. Five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault, who worked for the Tour organisation for many years, called for the peloton to strike if the British rider lines up at the start of this year’s event next Saturday. Froome responded on Wednesday that he will compete in this year’s race. Cyclingnews.com quoted Team Sky as responding to Sunday’s report that they are “confident that Chris will be riding the Tour as we know he has done nothing wrong”. A final decision is expected to be made by the French National Olympic and Sports Committee on Tuesday, Le Monde.
Lee nets historic win in Malaysia Open
Malaysian veteran Lee Chong Wei beat young Japanese shuttler Kento Momota 21-17, 23-21 on Sunday to grab the Malaysia Open title for an historic 12th time. The home favourite, Lee executed a sensational attack strategy that left the rising star Momota confused and flat footed. In the women’s singles final, top seed Tai Tzu Ying from Taiwan saw off China’s He Bingjiao 22-20, 21-11. Lee, 35, triumphed in 71-minutes to avenge his defeat to Momota, 23, in the semifinals of the Asian Championships in April. The defeat brought an abrupt end to Momota’s 21-match winning streak.
Stormers endure worst season yet
After a season that started with optimism and promise‚ the Stormers’ 2018 Super Rugby campaign has unravelled to become the worst in the franchise’s history. Saturday’s 25-14 loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires was the Stormers’ 10th defeat in 2018 and the first time that the Cape side has suffered as many losses in a single season. After 15 games‚ this represents a 66.6% losing ratio this year. They have conceded 55 tries in 2018 – only the Sunwolves (80) and Reds (61) have conceded more and, unsurprisingly, they are below the Stormers on the standings.
India’s Bumrah, Sundar out of England T20I
Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and batsman Washington Sundar have been ruled out of the three-match Twenty20 international series against England, which starts on Tuesday, owing to injury, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has said. Bumrah sustained a fractured left thumb during India’s opening T20 match against Ireland last Wednesday, and missed the following match. He will be replaced by Deepak Chahar for the England series. The board said Sundar, who last played for India in their T20 win over Bangladesh in March, sustained a right-ankle injury in training before the first Ireland match and is expected to miss both the upcoming limited-overs series.
AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE