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The sports wrap 17 December 2018

LanguedocLiving, Dec 16

Liverpool beat Man United to stay on top of English Premier League.

Liverpool retained top spot in the English Premier League after an impressive 3-1 victory over old rivals Manchester United at home on Sunday, putting them a point ahead of title rivals and defending champions Manchester City who beat 3-1 Everton on Saturday. Tottenham Hotspur are in third spot after a last-gasp 1-0 home win over struggling Burnley. Chelsea won 2-1 at Brighton & Hove Albion to consolidate their hold on fourth place ahead of Arsenal, who were surprisingly beaten 3-2 at Southampton to end a run of 22 games without defeat. At Anfield, Juergen Klopp’s side won with two second-half goals from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri. Liverpool, the only unbeaten side left in the league, never looked in danger of letting that record slip in their home fortress and the only surprise was that it was not until the final 20 minutes that they made sure of the win. Sadio Mane had put Liverpool ahead in the 24th minute with a fine finish, bringing down a Fabinho pass on his chest before slipping the ball past David De Gea. United managed to get back on level terms when home keeper Alisson fumbled a low cross from Mane into the path of Jesse Lingard who scored an easy goal. But two second-half goals from Swiss international Shaqiri settled the match which left United 19 points shy of Liverpool in sixth place. At the Etihad Stadium, Gabriel Jesus ended a goal drought with two goals to help Manchester City beat Everton. Jesus had not scored a league goal since August - a run of 11 games and 487 minutes - but netted twice before Raheem Sterling added City's third. The 21-year-old Brazil forward, who signed for City in 2017 and extended his contract until 2023 earlier this season, has recently been joined in Manchester by his mother and said it had brought his confidence back. In the Scottish Premiership, Steven Gerrard's Rangers returned to the top of the Premiership after a slim 1-0 home win over Hamilton Academical. With Celtic losing 2-0 away to Hibernian, Rangers' three points were enough to move them above Kilmarnock on goal difference. Daniel Candeias fired Rangers into an early lead moments after Kyle Lafferty had headed the ball off the post.

Gilets jaunes protest fears force French Ligue 1 postponements again

Another black weekend for the French Ligue 1 with five matches postponed and another three rearranged because of security fears over the gilets jaunes protests across the country. Among clubs affected were runaway league leaders Paris Saint Germain whose away game against Dijon on Saturday was postponed. Third-placed Montpellier’s match at Nantes was also called off as was Marseille’s home match against Bordeaux. But second-placed Lille were able to consolidate second place with a 3-2 win away to Nimes. The win, Lille’s first league victory in Nimes since 1954, put the northern side on 34 points from 18 games, five ahead Montpellier, who have played two games fewer. Paris Saint Germain have 44 points from their unbeaten 16-game start. In the Spanish La Liga, Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and created another two goals as Barcelona thrashed 10-man Levante 5-0 away from home to regain a three-point lead at the top of La Liga. The champions were joined at the top by Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, who both claimed victories this weekend. But Messi stole the show once he crossed for Luis Suarez's opener. The Argentine executed two clinical finishes and popped home from close range, as well cutting the ball back for Gerard Pique's late fifth. Real Madrid are fourth after a 1-0 home win over Rayo Vallecano. In the Italian Serie A, Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty settled the Turin derby as champions Juventus maintained their unbeaten start to the season by beating city rivals Torino. Ronaldo scored his 11th league goal from the penalty spot after substitute goalkeeper Salvador Ichazo had brought down Mario Mandzukic in the box. Runaway leaders Juve have collected a possible 46 points from 48 and are eight points ahead of Napoli who won 1-0 away to Cagliari. In the German Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund continued their unbeaten start to the league season with a 2-1 home victory over Werder Bremen. Paco Alcacer opened the scoring to take his tally to 11 for the campaign, Marco Reus added the second, with Max Kruse hitting back for the visitors. Second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach's 0-0 draw at Hoffenheim allowed Dortmund to extend their lead at the top to nine points. Champions Bayern Munich stay third after thrashing Hannover 4-0 away from home.

Saracens, Toulouse and Racing 92 retain 100pct record in Champions Cup

English Premiership champions Saracens, Toulouse and Racing 92 all won at the weekend to make it four wins out of four to top their respective pools in the European Champions Cup. In Pool 3, Owen Farrell’s 16 points helped Saracens to a hard-fought 26-14 win at Cardiff Blues. Farrell kicked four penalties and two conversions as Saracens completed a European double over Blues in six days. Tries from Rey Lee-Lo and Dan Fish gave Blues a 14-13 lead at half-time, after Saracens had built an early advantage through a Sean Maitland try. But Farrell's boot and a late Jamie George try clinched it for Saracens. In Pool 1, Toulouse ended Wasps' hopes of reaching the knockout stage with a bonus-point 42-27 victory. Yoann Huget, Joe Tekori, Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont crossed for the four-time European champions. Josh Bassett, Willie Le Roux and Ross Neal replied for Wasps, with 12 points coming from the boot of European debutant Billy Searle. Defending champions Leinster are two points behind Toulouse afer a 42-15 drubbing of Bath. In Pool 4, Racing 92 all but ended Leicester Tigers’ hopes of the knockout stage with a 34-11 defeat at Welford Road. The French side achieved their bonus-point win through tries from Teddy Iribaren, Juan Imhoff and Virimi Vakatawa. Full-back George Worth crossed for the Tigers, who are third in the pool. Leicester are eight points behind second-placed Ulster with two pool games left to play. In Pool 5, Edinburgh stayed on top with 15 points after a 21-8 away win over the Newcastle Falcons. They are four points ahead of Montpellier who recorded their second successive victory with a surprisingly easy 34-13 win over former champions Toulon, who sit at the bottom with only six points. In Pool 2, Munster remained on top despite a narrow 13-12 home loss to Top 14 champions Castres, who are now on nine points, three points behind but only one point ahead of Exeter and Gloucester, the Devon side winning 29-17 in Friday’s match.

Rose misses out on No.1 spot after poor last round in Indonesia

Justin Rose missed out on a return to the top of the world rankings by one stroke after carding the worst round of his weekend at the Indonesian Masters on Sunday. The Englishman headed into the final day knowing a top-12 finish at Royale Jakarta Golf Club would see him overtake American Brooks Koepka. But he posted a three-over-par 75, including a triple bogey, to miss out on a tie for 12th by one shot. Thailand's Poom Saksansin finished on 20 under par to win by three strokes. Saksansin won from compatriot Jazz Janewattananond, with Sweden's Henrik Stenson another three shots back on 13 under. Rose became No.1 for the first time in September, becoming the fourth Englishman to do so after Sir Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. The Olympic champion and 2013 US Open winner lost top spot to American Dustin Johnson later that month and has since tussled with US Open and PGA Championship holder Koepka to be ranked as the world's best. After two rounds of 68 before a 71 on Saturday, Rose was tied for fourth at nine under par heading into Sunday's play and looked well placed to regain top spot. However, the 38-year-old carded two bogeys and a double bogey in his opening five holes.

Mexican Alvarez becomes three-division world champion with easy win

Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez proved too strong for Britain’s Rocky Fielding as he delivered a third round TKO on Saturday to easily win their WBA super middleweight title fight at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The 28-year-old heavy favourite imposed his will from the opening bell, delivering punishing body shots and knocking down his outmatched opponent four times. Alvarez, whose record improves to 51-1-2, sealed the win with a left hook that caused Fielding to take a knee and the referee to end the bout. Alvarez landed 35 body shots in all. Despite standing taller at and enjoying a 7cm reach advantage, Fielding (27-2-0) entered the night as a clear underdog. Alvarez, whose lone defeat came at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in 2013, showed why as he became a three-division world champion and put himself in line for another headline fight against a more formidable opponent.

Belgium beat the Dutch to win first men’s hockey World Cup title

Belgium won a tense penalty shootout 3-2 against three-times champions Netherlands to win their first men’s hockey World Cup title at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday. A goalless stalemate in regulation time forced the shootout which also resulted in a 2-2 deadlock after five penalties each. Florent van Aubel then converted to put Belgium ahead before the Netherlands’ Jeroen Hertzberger shot wide to dash their hopes of a fourth title as Belgium became the sixth nation to win the World Cup. Earlier, two-times defending champions Australia thumped England 8-1 in the third-place playoff match.

Australia set up thrilling finale to second Test against India

Australia built up a 175-run lead by the end of the third day of the second Test against India in Perth to set up a thrilling finish in the host’s bid to level the series after the visitors won the opening match. India added 111 to their overnight 172 for three, with captain Virat Kohli advancing from 82 to 123, before they were bowled out for 283 - a deficit of 43. The Australian openers moved to 59 before Marcus Harris was bowled, while Aaron Finch retired hurt after a blow to the hand. The hosts lost regular wickets but Usman Khawaja made 41 not out to help his side to 132 for four by close of play. The third day had started with Australia spinner Nathan Lyon, who took five for 67, quickly removing Ajinkya Rahane, who had failed to add to his 51. Hanuma Vihari (20) and Rishabh Pant (36) helped Kohli, who made his sixth century in Australia to equal the tally of India legend Sachin Tendulkar - and the first hundred scored at the new Perth Stadium.

Geraint Thomas wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2018. The Team Sky rider, 32, became only the third Briton to win the race, after Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. "I take great pride in representing Britain and Wales," he said on Sunday. "It has been a great year for British sport and long may it continue." In a public vote, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton finished second while footballer Harry Kane was third. Thomas - who was presented with his award by 2017 winner Sir Mo Farah - is the first Welshman to win Sports Personality since footballer Ryan Giggs in 2009. The French Rugby League side, Catalans Dragons were also featured during the gala night as the first-ever non-British side to win the Challenge Cup in 122 years. The Dragons were represented by President Bernard Guasch, Coach Steve McNamara, Captain Rémi Casty and outstanding player Toni Gigot.

For full reports on all the weekend sporting events go to:

http://www.bbc.com/sport, http://www.espn.com, http://www.lequipe.fr, http://www.reuters.com/news/sports, www.skysports.com, www.eurosport.fr.

Calendar Keynotes: 17-23 December

 Monday, 17 December

Football: Italian Serie A – Atalanta v Lazio. Spanish La LIga – Alaves v Athletic Bilbao,

Cricket: Australia v India, 1st Test, Perth (until 18 December). 

Tuesday, 18 December

Football: Club World Cup semi-final – River Plate v Al Ain FC, EFL Cup quarter-final – Leicester City v Manchester City, Middlesborough v Burton Albion. Scottish Premiership – Aberdeen v Dundee. Club World Cup –French Ligue 1 – Caen v Toulouse, Italian Serie A – Bologna v AC Milan, German Bundesliga – Borussia Monchengladbach v 1. FC Nuremberg, Fortuna Dusseldorf v Borussia Dortmund.

Cricket: Australia v India, 1st Test, Perth (final day). 

Wednesday, 19 December

Football: EFL Cup quarter-final – Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth. Scottish Premiership – Celtic v Motherwell, Hibernian v Rangers, Club World Cup semi-final – Yoshima Antlers v Real Madrid, German Bundesliga – Mainz 05 v Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig, Werder Bremen v 1899 Hoffenheim.

Cricket: Australia v India, 1st Test, Perth (final day). 

Thursday, 20 December

No major events scheduled.  

Friday, 21 December

Football: English Premier League – Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool. German Bundesliga – Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Monchengladbach.

Rugby Union: Gallagher Premiership – Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints. 

Saturday, 22 December

Football: Club World Cup final, English Premier League – Arsenal v Burnley, Chelsea v Leicester City, Manchester Cty v Crystal Palace, Cardiff City v Manchester United, Scottish Premiership – Aberdeen v Hearts, Celtic v Dundee, Hamilton Academical v Kilmarnock, Hibernian v Livingston, Club World Cup, French Ligue 1 – Angers v Marseille, Bordeaux v Amiens, Lille v Toulouse, Monaco v Guingamp, Montpellier v Lyon, Paris Saint Germain v Lyon, Rennes v Nimes, Strasbourg v Nice, Spanish La Liga – Atletico Madrid v Espanyol, Barcelona v Celta Vigo, Italian Serie A – Lazio v Cagliari, AC Milan v Fiorentina, Napoli v SPAL, Chievo v Inter Milan, Juventus v Roma, German Bundesliga – RB Leipzig v Werder Bremen, Eintracht Frankfurt v Bayern Munich.

Rugby Union: Gallagher Premiership – Leicester Tigers v Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs v Saracens, French Top 14 – Agen v Stade Francais, Toulon v Lyon, Racing 92 v Perpignan, Pau v La Rochelle, Grenoble v Montpellier.

Sunday, 23 December

Football: English Premier League – Everton v Tottenham Hotspur, Scottish Premiership – St Johnstone v Rangers, French Ligue 1 – Spanish La Liga – Valencia v Huesca, Leganes v Sevilla.German Bundesliga – 1899 Hoffenheim v Mainz 05.

Rugby Union: Gallagher Premiership – Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester, Wasps v Bath, French Top 14 – Castres v Bordeaux Begles, Clermont Auvergne v Toulouse. 

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