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The sports wrap 2nd April 2018

LanguedocLiving, Apr 1

Man City edge closer to title after defeat of Everton.

Runaway English Premiership leaders Manchester City beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday and will win the title if they beat arch-rivals Manchester United in the derby at home next weekend. Manager Pep Guardiola had failed to record a victory against Everton in three matches before this visit - but this result was never in doubt from the moment Leroy Sane volleyed home David Silva's cross after four minutes. Everton barely mounted even token resistance and City had effectively restored their 16-point advantage at the top of the table by half-time after Gabriel Jesus headed in Kevin de Bruyne's cross and Raheem Sterling applied a simple finish to another Silva delivery. Yannick Bolasie pulled a goal back for Everton after the break when he fired in via a post from 20 metres. At Old Trafford, Manchester United remained in second place with an easy 2-0 victory over 15th-placed Swansea City while Liverpool are two points behind after beating Crystal Palace 2-1 with a late strike from their prolific goal scorer Mohamad Salah. Tottenham Hotspur cemented their fourth place, two points behind, with their first victory over Chelsea in 28 years at Stamford Bridge. The 3-1 result, with two brilliant goals from England international Dele Alli, sends them eight points ahead of last season’s champions Chelsea who have now lost three of their last five Premiership matches. Arsenal remain sixth with a 3-0 home win over relegation threatened Stoke City.

Munster and Leinster reach semifinals of Champions Cup

Irish eyes were smiling as both Leinster and Munster won their quarter-finals to make it through to the last four of the European Champions Cup at the weekend. Leinster knocked out cup holders Saracens to set up a home semifinal against Scarlets while Munster came from behind to beat three-times European champions Toulon 20-19 and will now play Racing 92. Garry Ringrose crossed early on for Leinster before Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell traded penalties as back-to-back winners Saracens trailed 13-12 at the break. Leinster looked to have run away with it through tries from Dan Leavy and James Lowe before Blair Cowan replied. But the top seeds held on to end Saracens' hopes of a third straight trophy and give the Irish more joy after their Grand Slam success in the Six Nations. Andrew Conway's late try helped Munster to victory over Toulon.The visitors dominated the first half but were behind at the break after a moment of brilliance from Conor Murray.Two penalties from Francois Trinh-Duc either side of Chris Ashton's try saw Toulon retake the lead. But when the replacement fly-half missed touch, Andrew Conway weaved his way over the line to seal victory over the three-time champions. Munster, last crowned European champions in 2008, will now face Racing 92 in Bordeaux after they beat 2017 runners-up Clermont in the other last-four tie. Leone Nakarawa, Marc Andreu and Boris Palu all crossed for Racing as they shocked hosts Clermont at the Stade Marcel-Michelin 28-17. Welsh side Scarlets who face Leinster beat Champions Cup debutants La Rochelle 29-17.

PSG continue dominance with fifth successive League Cup

Paris St-Germain continued their domestic football dominance by winning the French League Cup for the fifth successive time with a comfortable 3-0 victory against last season’s Ligue 1 champions Monaco. PSG took an eighth-minute lead through Edinson Cavani's penalty, Angel di Maria firing in a second on 21 minutes. Monaco skipper Radamel Falcao saw a header ruled out by the video assistant referee (VAR) just before half-time. PSG sealed victory when Uruguay striker Cavani drilled in a late third. The Qatari-owned club have now won 11 of the 13 major domestic trophies on offer in the past five seasons and remain on course for their third treble in four seasons. Unai Emery's side are 17 points clear of second-placed Monaco in the league, while they are tied at 1-1 with Caen after the first leg of their French Cup semi-final. In the Spanish La Liga, Substitute Lionel Messi scored a sublime 89th-minute equaliser as leaders Barcelona came from 2-0 down to preserve their unbeaten league record. Sixth-placed Sevilla looked set to inflict a first league defeat on Barca for 11 months after goals by Franco Vazquez and Luis Muriel. Luis Suarez pulled a goal back from close range in the 88th minute before Messi equalised moments later. Barca's leading scorer curled home his 26th league goal from outside the area. Atletico Madrid remained second, 12 points behind, after a tight 1-0 home win over Deportivo La Coruna while city rivals Real Madrid are third after a comfortable 3-0 away win over Las Palmas. In Italian Serie A, champions Juventus took a big step towards winning the title again as a hard-fought victory against AC Milan moved them four points clear at the top of the table. Paulo Dybala put the hosts ahead with a powerful strike but Leonardo Bonucci, who left Juventus to join Milan last summer, equalised with a header. Ex-Chelsea winger Juan Cuadrado nodded in Sami Khedira's cross late on to restore Juventus' lead. Khedira then got a third with a clinical strike to seal the win. It was the perfect result for Juventus after second-place Napoli could only draw 1-1 with Sassuolo earlier on Saturday. In the German Bundesliga, Bayern Munich are one win away from retaining the title after humiliating rivals Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Saturday night. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick against his former side, while Thomas Muller, James Rodriguez and Franck Ribery also scored. Dortmund had no answer but remain third in the table - 21 points behind Bayern and four points behind FC Schalke. Jupp Heynckes can win his fourth Bayern title against Augsburg next Saturday - 29 years after his first.

Catalans lose again as St Helens stay top of Super League

Salford made it three successive home wins in Super League with victory over bottom-of-the-table Catalans Dragons who have now lost seven of their opening eight games under the leadership of former England coach Steve McNamara. Back-to-back tries from Jake Bibby and Niall Evalds gave Salford early control but Fouad Yaha replied to reduce Catalans' deficit to 12-4 at the break. Greg Johnson extended the Red Devils' lead before Yaha went 90 metres to keep the Dragons in the contest. Further tries from Josh Jones and Kris Welham eased Salford clear before Greg Bird's last-minute consolation score. Bird's effort, with the final meaningful attack of the game, gave a flattering look to the scoreline for the visitors. In the top-of-the-table clash on Good Friday, St Helens survived a second-half Wigan Warriors fightback to edge to a narrow 21-18 derby victory. Saints led 12-2 at the break after tries from Ben Barba and Zeb Taia, but the Warriors then rallied, crossing twice themselves through Joel Tomkins and Willie Isa to get back to 14-14. From Wigan's failed drop-goal attempt, Regan Grace's try won it for Saints. Danny Richardson converted, then also crucially added a killer drop-goal before Tomkins' brave second try. St Helens are now four points clear of Wigan.

Joshua beats Parker to unify heavyweight titles

Britain’s Anthony Joshua unified the WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight titles as a controlled performance saw him earn a unanimous points win over Joseph Parker at Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday night. Joshua used his left hand to telling effect throughout an intriguing affair, in which New Zealand's Parker displayed swift hands, movement and impressive durability. But his WBO title always seemed likely to end up round Joshua's waist as a significant points gap opened up, with the favourite landing a hard left uppercut in round eight and two stinging left hooks early in the 10th. Parker tagged his rival to howls of concern in the 11th and he won immense respect for becoming the first man to take Joshua to the scorecards, which read 118-110 118-110 119-109. Joshua raised his right hand on ring announcer Michael Buffer's reading of the cards and he now holds three of the four recognised world titles. Parker looked to the sky. But the New Zealander played his part in a compelling evening and brought colour to an intriguing build-up. Never before had two world champions from the glamour division met to unify titles on British soil.

England take control of second test against New Zealand

James Vince and Mark Stoneman's 123-run partnership helped England take control on the third day of the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch. The hosts, who won first 1st Test by an innings, were bowled out for 278 in the morning session to give England a slim first-innings lead of 29. Alastair Cook fell cheaply for 14 but Stoneman (60) and Vince (76) kept the New Zealand bowling attack at bay. Both players fell in the evening session before bad light ended play with England on 202 for three wickets, a lead of 231. Stuart Broad produced his best Test bowling performance for some time as he finished with 6 for 54, while James Anderson continued his strong winter with 4-76. Stoneman and Vince performed well but both players will be frustrated to not make three figures and secure their places at the top of the order. Joe Root (30 not out) and Dawid Malan (19 not out) will look to build on England's lead. In Johannesburg, Australia looked set to lose the fourth test and the series as they head into the fourth day with South Africa 401 runs ahead after deciding to bat again following Australia’s first innings total of 221. The hosts are 134 for three wickets after posting 488 in their first innings. Australia, rocked by a ball-tampering scandal which has resulted in heavy bans for captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft, are being captained by wicket-keeper Tim Paine who top-scored with a creditable 62, helping to take the visitors from a dismal 96 for six..

Dutchman Terpstra wins his second ‘Monument’ classic

Dutchman Niki Terpstra claimed an impressive solo victory on Sunday in Belgium to add the Tour of Flanders to his 2014 Paris-Roubaix title for his second triumph in a ‘Monument’ classic. The Quick Step Floors rider powered away from the group of favorites 28km from the finish line to win the 264.7 km one-day race. Smeared with dust on his face, he whizzed past three breakaway riders on the intimidating Oude Kwaremont, a 2.2-km cobbled climb at an average gradient of 4.2 percent, and never looked back. Denmark’s Mads Pedersen took second place ahead of last year’s winner Philippe Gilbert of Belgium, one of Terpstra’s team mates. A couple of hours after Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands won the women’s race after a solo breakaway, Terpstra used his tactical nous and his team’s strength to snatch an emphatic win after victories in Le Samyn and the GP E3-Harelbeke. Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky), Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First-Drapac) and Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) attacked with about 40 kilometres left but were caught by Terpstra at a key point of the race. After a cobbled sector, Vincenzo Nibali sped away from the group of favourites but Terpstra jumped on to his wheel. He was, however, too powerful and went solo, bridging the gap to the leading trio at the foot of the Oude Kwaremont. Terpstra was clearly the strongest and extended his lead in the final uphill cobbled sector, the Paterberg, and held off Pedersen and the group of favourites.

American Isner wins first Masters title at Miami Open 

American John Isner won his first ever Masters 1,000 title with a 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 victory over German Alexander Zverev in the Miami Open final on Sunday. In a nervous opening, the first set went with serve before world No.5 Zverev edged the tie-break. But 32-year-old Isner twice broke Zverev in the following sets and held his serve throughout the match. Zverev, 20, saved five break points in the decider but crowd favourite Isner served his 18th ace to seal the title. The world No.17 will now move back into the top 10 next week after the biggest win of his career. "I couldn't have scripted this. I came into this tournament, I had won one ATP [World Tour] match all year and was playing very poorly," Isner said. In the women’s singles, American Sloane Stephens kept intact her streak of never having lost a final as she defeated Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 7-6(5) 6-1 to claim the Miami Open title. After a tense first set, the U.S. Open champion reeled off six consecutive games in the second to beat the French Open winner and claim her first Miami title after a slow start to the season.

Poulter’s win in Houston secures place in the Masters

Ian Poulter secured a place at this week’s Masters after a dramatic play-off victory over Beau Hossler at the Houston Open in Texas on Sunday. The 42-year-old Englishman had forced a sudden death play-off after he sunk a lengthy birdie putt at the 18th to finish at 19 under alongside Hossler. The pair replayed the par-four final hole and American Hossler, 23, chipped out of a bunker into the water. Poulter then kept his cool and two-putted for par to secure victory. The event was Poulter's last remaining chance to qualify for the tournament in Augusta which starts on Thursday. A week ago he was told he had already qualified for the Masters having reached the last eight at the World Golf Championship Match Play. However, he was then informed 10 minutes before his quarter-final match against Kevin Kisner that he actually needed to reach the semi-finals to earn his Masters place - and he subsequently lost 8&6 to the American. 

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

For full coverage of the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast from 4 April go to: www.gc2018.com

Calendar Keynotes: 2-8 April

Monday, 2 April

Rugby League: Super League – Castleford Tigers v Warrington Wolves, Hull FC v Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos v Salford Red Devils, Wigan Warriors v Hull KR, Widnes Vikings v St Helens, Catalans Dragons v Huddersfield Giants.

Tennis: WTA Volvo Cars Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 8 April)

Cricket: New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Christchurch (till 3 April), South Africa v Australia, 4th Test, Johannesburg (till 3 April).

Tuesday, 3 April

Football: European Champions League quarter-finals – Juventus v Real Madrid, Sevilla v Bayern Munich

Tennis: WTA Volvo Cars Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 8 April)

Cricket: New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Christchurch (till 3 April), South Africa v Australia, 4th Test, Johannesburg (till 3 April) 

Wednesday, 4 April

Football: European Champions League quarter-finals – Barcelona v Roma, Liverpool v Manchester City, French Ligue 1 – Rennes v Monaco, Italian Serie A – AC Milan v Inter Milan.

Tennis: : WTA Volvo Cars Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 8 April)

Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast, Australia (till 14 April) 

Thursday, 5 April

Europa League – Arsenal v CSKA Moscow, Atletico Madrid v Sporting Lisbon, Lazio v FC Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig v Marseille.

Golf: USPGA Tour, The Masters, Augusta, Georgia (till 8 April)

Tennis: WTA Volvo Cars Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 8 April)

Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast, Australia (till 14 April)

Friday, 6 April

Football: French Ligue 1 – Saint-Etienne v Paris Saint Germain.

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – Sale Sharks v Wasps.

Rugby League: Super League – St Helens v Hull FC

Formula 1 – Bahrain Grand Prix (till 8 April)

Tennis: Davis Cup World Group quarter-finals, WTA Volvo Cars Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 8 April)

Golf: USPGA Tour, The Masters, Augusta, Georgia (till 8 April)

Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast, Australia (till 14 April) 

Saturday, 7 April

Football: English Premier League – Everton v Liverpool, Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City v Manchester United, French Ligue 1 – Monaco v Nantes, Bordeaux v Lille, Toulouse v Dijon, Spanish La Liga – Celta Vigo v Sevilla, Barcelona v Leganes, Italian Serie A – Benevento v Juventus, Roma v Fiorentina, German Bundesliga – FC Augsburg v Bayern Munich, Hamburg SV v Schalke 04.

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – Bath v Leicester, Northampton v Saracens, Harlequins v London Irish, Worcester v Newcastle, French Top 14 – Castres v Stade Toulouse, Bordeaux v Pau, CA Brive v Lyon, Stade Francais v Clermont Auvergne.

Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast, Australia (till 14 April)

Sunday, 8 April

Football – English Premier League – Arsenal v Southampton, Chelsea v West Ham United,Scottish Premiership – Hamilton Academical v Celtic, French Ligue 1 – Nice v Rennes, Metz v Lyon, Marseille v Montpellier, Spanish La LIga – Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid, Valencia v Espanyol, Italian Serie A – Torino v Inter Milan, Napoli v Chievo, Udinese v Lazio, AC Milan v Sassuolo, German Bundesliga – Borussia Dortmund v VfB Stuttgart.

Rugby Union – Exeter v Gloucester. French Top 14 – Montpellier Herault v La Rochelle, racing 92 v Toulon.

Rugby League: Super League – Huddersfield Giants v Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity v Leeds Rhinos.

Formula 1 – Bahrain Grand Prix (race day)

Tennis: Davis Cup World Group quarter-finals, WTA Volvo Cars Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (final day)

Golf: USPGA Tour, The Masters, Augusta, Georgia (final day)

Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast, Australia (till 14 April)

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