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The sports wrap 23rd April 2018

LanguedocLiving, Apr 22

Chelsea to play Man Utd in English FA Cup final.

French striker Olivier Giroud's brilliant second-half semi-final goal helped Chelsea beat Southampton on Sunday to set up a showdown with Manchester United in the FA Cup final on 19 May. Giroud received the ball from Eden Hazard and jinked his way past two Southampton players in a crowded area before he stabbed the ball home. Giroud was replaced by former Real Madrid player Alvaro Morata with 10 minutes to go and the substitute sealed safe passage with Chelsea's second when he headed in at the back post from Cesar Azpilicueta's cross. Southampton went close with Nathan Redmond's low drive from distance while Charlie Austin hit the post. The final is a repeat of 2007 when Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho guided Chelsea to a 1-0 victory over United in the first to be played at the rebuilt Wembley. United. Chelsea, last season’s Premiership champions, were beaten in the previous FA Cup final by Arsenal. In Saturday’s other semifinal, Ander Herrera's second-half winner sent United into a record-equalling 20th final and condemned Tottenham to their eighth successive defeat at this stage of the competition. Spurs fully deserved the early lead they took after only 11 minutes when Dele Alli slid home a finish from Christian Eriksen's cross. But United levelled on 24 minutes when Alexis Sanchez rose to direct an athletic header across Spurs keeper Michel Vorm. Eric Dier's deflected shot hit the post on the stroke of half-time but Spurs had lost vital momentum. In the English Premier League, Manchester City celebrated their winning of the title the previous weekend with a 5-0 thrashing of relegation-threatened Swansea City while long-serving Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s first match after his announcement that he was stepping down ended with a convincing 4-1 defeat of London neighbours, West Ham United.

Champions PSG beat Bordeaux to go 20 points clear

Champions Paris Saint Germain moved a staggering 20 points clear at the head of the Ligue 1 table with a 1-0 away win at Bordeaux on Sunday, thanks to a late second-half strike from Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso who rifled home a shot into the bottom left-hand corner. Last season’s champions Monaco fell further behind in second place after a shock 3-1 loss at mid-table Guingamp. Lyon, who beat Dijon 5-2, and Marseille who thrashed Lille 5-1, are both on 69 points, only one point behind Monaco, who have now lost successive matches – last week they were thrashed 7-1 by PSG to claim back the Ligue 1 title. In the Spanish Copa del Rey, Luis Suarez scored two goals as Barcelona produced a masterclass to beat Sevilla 5-0 and win the cup for the fourth successive season. Sevilla were 3-0 down at half-time to the runaway La Liga leaders, Suarez tapping home Philippe Coutinho's pass to open the scoring in Madrid. Lionel Messi doubled the lead before setting up Suarez for the third. Andres Iniesta added the fourth before Coutinho's penalty sealed Barca's first trophy since Ernesto Valverde took charge last May. It was the club's 30th Copa del Rey triumph. In Italy’s Serie A, Napoli are right back in the title hunt thanks to Kalidou Koulibaly's dramatic late header to give them a 1-0 away win over leaders Juventus. They are now one point behind Juve, who have won the past six titles, with four games to go - and the Turin side have yet to visit Inter Milan and Roma. Napoli dominated play but failed to create clear chances until centre-back Koulibaly powered home Jose Callejon's corner in the last minute. It was only a third home league defeat for Juventus in the past five years. In the German Bundesliga, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski scored his 39th goal of the season as Champions League semi-finalists Bayern Munich beat Hannover 3-0. Bayern, who host Real Madrid on Wednesday, have already wrapped up the Bundesliga title. Lewandowski is now the top scoring foreigner for a single Bundesliga club. FC Schalke, who did not play at the weekend, remain in second place one point ahead of Borussia Dortmund who beat fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen 4-0.

Racing 92 to play Leinster in European Champions Cup final

Racing 92 spoilt Irish hopes of an all-Ireland European Champions Cup final after a sensational first-half performance blew Munster away in Bordeaux on Sunday. The French side, who won 27-22, will now play Leinster in the final after the Irish Province thrashed the Welsh Scarlets 38-16. French international Teddy Thomas scored twice in a dazzling start by Racing and then set up Maxime Machenaud when already over the line. All Munster had to show at half-time was an Ian Keatley penalty. Munster improved after the break and Simon Zebo went over but despite late tries from Rhys Marshall and Andrew Conway, they never looked like winning. It means the Parisians will travel to Bilbao on 12 May for their second Champions Cup final. Racing stormed out of the blocks and crossed after five minutes when Thomas hit a Virimi Vakatawa pass at speed. The France winger added his second from a classy Vakatawa break, shortly after Keatley's penalty had got Munster on the board, before teeing up Machenaud for the third Racing try inside 23 minutes. Machenaud increased the deficit to 24 points with penalties either side of the half, putting the game beyond Munster despite the Irish province's late response. With Marc Andreu sin-binned for Racing - who brought on the legendary Dan Carter midway through the second half - Munster made their numerical advantage count as Conor Murray put Zebo in. The Irish province then had the momentum and a glimmer of hope when Marshall powered over with four minutes to go, but Conway's 80th-minute try ultimately proved only a consolation. In the second-tier European Rugby Challenge cup, Cardiff Blues, who beat Pau 16-10, will play Gloucester in the final after their 33-12 defeat of Newcastle.

Catalans Dragons stay alive in cup with York City defeat

Catalans Dragons won a place in the Challenge Cup sixth round but were made to fight by York City Knights who were courageous in a 34-22 home defeat. The Knights, playing two divisions below their Super League opponents in League One, scored four tries but were just edged out by the Perpignan club. Elsewhere, Hull KR avoided a cup giant-killing with victory at Oldham, who dumped them out in the 2016 competition. With the Catalans in the midst of a terrible start to Super League 2018, it looked for at least an hour as though York had a chance, as James Ford's Knights continually punched holes in the Dragons defence. Tries from Joe Porter and Kieran Moss put them within six points with 25 minutes to play before the Dragons finally pulled clear, finishing with six tries. Tim Sheens' Hull Kingston Rovers ensured there would be no issues at Bower Fold with a thumping win, helped by Adam Quinlan's hat-trick try. Ben Crooks' brace of tries helped Leigh Centurions to a 40-0 victory in the cup against London Broncos. Featherstone join them in the next round after overcoming another brave League One club in Doncaster. Toronto continued their cup progress but Barrow - who managed a draw in their league meeting - ran them close in a tough 16-10 battle. Whitehaven ensured there would be a Cumbrian club gracing the draw, stinging Rochdale Hornets 38-0. The sixth round draw, which will include the introduction of the eight remaining Super League clubs, will take place on 25 April.

Nadal wins Monte Carlo Masters yet again to stay No.1

Rafael Nadal beat Japan's Kei Nishikori in straight sets in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters to retain his status as world No.1. The 31-year-old Spaniard won 6-3 6-2 in 94 minutes to claim a record-extending 11th triumph at the clay-court event. Nadal has won 36 straight sets on his favoured surface after proving too strong for world number 36 Nishikori. He had to win the Masters 1000 tournament to prevent Roger Federer overtaking him in the rankings.He was pushed by Nishikori at the start of the first set and fell a break down, but the 16-time grand slam champion hit back to take the opener in 56 minutes. And despite this week representing only his second tournament outing after sustaining a hip injury at the Australian Open, Nadal won five straight games in the second set en route to his record 31st Masters title.

United States to play Czech Republic in Fed Cup final

American Madison Keys battled past Pauline Parmentier of France 7-6(4) 6-4 to lead the U.S. into their second consecutive Fed Cup final in Aix-en-Provence on Sunday. They will defend their title on 10-11 November against the Czech Republic, who beat Germany 4-1 in Stuttgart in the second semifinal. Keys, who was named as a late replacement for CoCo Vandeweghe, rallied back from 4-1 down to claim the opening set before a decisive break in the ninth game of the second ensured the victory. Keys’ victory handed the defending champions an unassailable 3-1 lead over France in the semi-final tie before the hosts won the dead doubles rubber. The French pair of Amandine Hesse and Kristina Mladenovic edged Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4 3-6 10-6. Earlier in the day, US Open champion Sloane Stephens thrashed Mladenovic 6-2 6-0 to collect her second singles victory this weekend. Stephens was aided by 25 unforced errors from world number 20 Mladenovic, whose touch eluded her far too often in the match. The Americans extended their winning record to 12-2 against the French. In Miki, Japan, Great Britain's wait to play in the Fed Cup World Group continued after they were beaten 3-2 by Japan in their promotion play-off. Britain have not competed in the World Group since 1993. It is the fourth time in seven years that they have lost a promotion play-off.

Kenya’s Kipchoge wins London Marathon as Farah finishes third

Kenya’s great long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge defied soaring temperatures to win the London Marathon for a third time on Sunday, while four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah finished in an impressive third place, breaking the British record in the process. Kipchoge raced out of the start, with the leading group registering a blistering opening mile of four minutes 22 seconds, but the Kenyan could not maintain that pace as temperatures rose over 20deg. Farah, who overcame early problems with his drinks bottle, fell well behind Kipchoge but still registered a time of 2:06:21 to break Steve Jones’s British record achieved in 1985. Having taken a break from the London Marathon last year to try to run a sub-two-hour marathon in Italy, Kipchoge returned to add to his 2015 and 2016 titles with ease, finishing ahead of Ethiopia’s Tola Shura Kitata in 2:04:17, two minutes 20 seconds off Dennis Kimmetto’s world In the women’s event, Vivian Cheruiyot shocked favorite and fellow Kenyan Mary record. Keitany to win the London Marathon for the first time on Sunday but failed to break Briton Paula Radcliffe’s world record. Keitany, who set the women’s world record in London last year, ran this year’s race with the aid of male pacemakers, as Radcliffe did in 2003 when setting the unsurpassed time of 2:15.25 to break the “mixed race” record.

France’s Pinot takes out Tour of the Alps ahead of Froome

French rider Thibaut Pinot took overall victory in the Tour of the Alps as British four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome finished fourth, 16 seconds behind Pinot after an eighth-placed finish on the final stage in his last race before the Giro d'Italia starts on 4 May. The 27-year-old Pinot becomes the second French winner after Luc Leblanc in 1997. Ukraine's Mark Padun won the fifth and final stage, making a late break to beat New Zealand's George Bennett. It was the 21-year-old Bahrain-Merida rider's first professional victory. Italy's Domenico Pozzovivo finished overall second with Colombian Miguel Angle Lopez third. It's a very important race. Pinot said it was one of the greatest victories of his career. “Without a doubt, the Tour of the Alps is a mythical race for climbers, so for me to add it to my palmarès is amazing and on top of that to do it against riders of the highest level," he said. In the Liege-Bostogne-Liege one-day classic, Luxembourg's Bob Jungels claimed a surprise victory on Sunday. Quick-Step Floors rider Jungels rode to a solo victory, with Canada's Michal Woods winning a sprint finish for second for EF Education First-Drapac. France's Romain Bardet claimed third for AG2R La Mondiale. Fleche Wallonne winner Julian Alaphilippe took fourth, as the challenges of Vincenzo Nibali and Michael Matthews failed to materialise.

Marquez claims first MotoGP win of the season in Austin

Four-time world MotoGP champion Marc Marquez claimed his first race win of the season with victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday. The 25-year-old Spaniard was handed a three-grid penalty for slow riding in qualifying, but recovered to win by 3.5 seconds. Fellow Spaniard Maverick Vinales was second and Andrea Iannone third. Cal Crutchlow, who became the first British rider in 38 years to lead the standings last time out, span off after eight laps and finished 19th. Honda rider Marquez has won the previous two championships; a first victory this year moved him up to second place with three races complete. "I was pushing from the beginning, got away and opened the gap. That was the tactics. In Spain they will be happy," said Marquez. Italian Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso finished fifth in the United States to take Crutchlow's place at the top of the standings. 

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

Calendar Keynotes: 23-29 April  

Monday, 23 April

Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (till 29 April), WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (till 29 April)  

Tuesday, 24 April

Football: European Champions League semifinals – Liverpool v Roma.

Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (till 29 April), WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (till 29 April)   

Wednesday, 25 April

Football: European Champions League semifinals – Bayern Munich v Real Madrid.

Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (till 29 April), WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (till 29 April).

Thursday, 26 April

Football: Europa League semifinal – Arsenal v Atletico Madrid, Marseille v FC Red Bull Salzburg.

Rugby League: Super League – Salford Red Devils v St Helens.

Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (till 29 April), WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (till 29 April).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Louisiana (till 29 April), PGA European Tour, Volvo China Open (till 29 April).  

Friday, 27 April

Football: French Ligue 1 – Montpellier v St Etienne, Spanish La Liga – Levante v Sevilla, German Bundesliga – 1899 Hoffenheim v Hannover 96.

Formula One – Azerbaijan Grand Prix (till 29 April)

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – Leicester v Newcastle.

Rugby League: Super League –.Castleford Tigers v Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves v Huddersfield Giants, Widnes Vikings v Wigan Warriors. 

Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (till 29 April), WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (till 29 April).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Louisiana (till 29 April), PGA European Tour, Volvo China Open (till 29 April).

Saturday, 28 April 

Football: English Premier League – Liverpool v Stoke City, Swansea City v Chelsea, French Ligue 1 – Lyon v Nantes, Monaco v Amiens, Strasbourg v Nice, Spanish La Liga – Real Madrid v Leganes, Villareal v Celta Vigo, Italian Serie A – Roma v Chievo, Inter Milan v Juventus, German Bundesliga – Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Schalke 04 v Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayer 04 Leverkusen v VfB Stuttgart.

Formula One – Azerbaijan Grand Prix (till 29 April)

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – Exeter v Sale Sharks, Gloucester v Bath, Worcester v Harlequins, French Top 14 – Toulon v Castres, Montpellier Herault v Pau, Oyonnax v Lyon.

Rugby League: Super League – Catalans Dragons v Hull FC.

Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (till 29 April), WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (till 29 April).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Louisiana (till 29 April), PGA European Tour, Volvo China Open (till 29 April).

Sunday, 29 April

Football:,English Premier League – West Ham United v Manchester City, Manchester United v Arsenal, Scottish Premiership – Celtic v Rangers, French Ligue 1 – Rennes v Toulouse, Angers v Marseille, Paris Saint Germain v Guingamp , Spanish La LIga – Alaves v Atletico Madrid, Valencia v Eibar, Deportivo la Coruna v Barcelona, Italian Serie A – Bologna v AC Milan, Fiorentina v Napoli, Torino v Lazio, German Bundesliga  –  Mainz 05 v RB Leipzig, Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund.

Formula One – Azerbaijan Grand Prix (race day)

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – London Irish v Saracens, Wasps v Northampton, French Top 14 – Bordeaux v Racing 92, Stade Toulouse v La Rochelle.

Rugby League: Hull KR v Leeds Rhinos.

Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (till 29 April), WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (till 29 April).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Louisiana (till 29 April), PGA European Tour, Volvo China Open (till 29 April).

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