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The sports wrap 30th April 2018

LanguedocLiving, Apr 29

Hamilton wins in chaotic finish to Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton was handed victory in a chaotic finish to an incident-strewn Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday during which both Red Bulls sensationally collided with each other. Hamilton’s victory catapults him into the lead of the Formula One world championship. He came home first after team-mate Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture with three laps left while leading and ended a six race drought for the four times champion dating back to last October. It was the first victory of the season for champions Mercedes. In a race where the safety car again played a major part, with a series of crashes and smashes, Kimi Raikkonen finished second for Ferrari while Mexican Sergio Perez was third for Force India. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who had led the championship before Baku and looked to be on course for a 50th career win and third out of four this season, started on pole position but finished fourth. Hamilton now has 70 points to Vettel’s 66. Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo, last year’s winner in Baku and also in China two weekends ago, smashed into the back of team-mate Max Verstappen in a lap 40 collision that ended the race for both of them. “It was quite an emotional race. Valtteri did an exceptional job and deserved to win, Sebastian also did a great job so it feels a bit odd to be up here,” commented Hamilton on the podium. The Briton had started on the front row for the first time since he took pole in the Australian season-opener but never looked like winning until good fortune removed both Vettel and Bottas from the equation.

Man United beat Arsenal with injury-time Fellaini winner

Arsene Wenger's final trip to Manchester United as Arsenal manager ended in an agonising defeat on Sunday after an injury-time winner from Marouane Fellaini gave the home side a 2-1 win. The Belgium international flicked a header past Gunners goalkeeper David Ospina from an Ashley Young cross. Just three minutes earlier he had headed against the post, with Marcus Rashford bundling home the rebound from an offside position. United had opened the scoring on 16 minutes when a header from former Arsenal player Alexis Sanchez was knocked on to the post by Hector Bellerin and Paul Pogba stabbed home the rebound for his third goal in four league games. The hosts lost striker Romelu Lukaku to injury early in the second half, and moments later Henrikh Mkhitaryan was left in plenty of space to weave and strike through the legs of Victor Lindelof. The game's tempo petered out after the equaliser until Fellaini popped up to snatch the win for United, and secure Champions League football for next season. Their city neighbours, already crowned champions Manchester City, made a easy work of West Ham with a 4-1 away win. The Hammers are West Ham are only three points clear of 18th-placed Southampton, who occupy the final relegation place. In the Scottish Premiership, Celtic secured their seventh consecutive Premiership title with a chastening 5-0 home defeat of Old Firm rivals Rangers. The defending champions needed to win at Celtic Park to retain their crown, and they swept the visitors aside. Odsonne Edouard, with two, and James Forrest established a comfortable half-time lead. Tom Rogic and Callum McGregor rounded off the scoring after the break as Celtic confirmed their dominance.

Lyon move up to second place with 2-0 home win over Nantes

Lyon continued their French Ligue 1 resurgence with a 2-0 home win over Nantes that moved them up to second place behind champions Paris Saint Germain. Their prolific striker Memphis Depay scored for a sixth straight game, netting a superb strike in the 40th minute and then helping set up Bertrand Traore in the 68th. Depay has scored or created 14 of Lyon's 18 last goals. In the chase for an automatic place in next season's Champions League, Lyon are now one point ahead of last season’s champions Monaco, who again dropped points after drawing at home to Amiens 0-0. In fourth place are Marseille who could only draw at Angers on Sunday. The team finishing third has to go through the playoffs - unless Atletico Madrid wins the Europa League - but Depay is doing his best to help Lyon take the direct route to Europe. In the Spanish La Liga, Barcelona wrapped up the title in manager Ernesto Valverde's first season in charge after a Lionel Messi hat-trick gave them a 4-2 away victory over Deportivo La Coruna. Barcelona had led 2-0 with goals from Philippe Coutinho and Messi but Deportivo bravely fought to 2-2 with strikes from Lucas Perez and Emre Colak. Messi then struck twice in the final 10 minutes to seal the win. It is the 25th time Barcelona have won La Liga - eight behind the 33 won by rivals Real Madrid. Barca’s win sent Deportivo down.In Italy’s Serie A, Napoli's hopes of winning Serie A for the first time since 1990 suffered a setback as a big defeat at Fiorentina handed Juventus a clear advantage in the race for the title. A hat-trick by Giovanni Simeone secured the points for mid-table Fiorentina. Napoli played for 84 minutes with 10 men after defender Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off for kicking Simeone, the son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego. Champions Juve are four points clear with three games remaining after they scored two goals in the last three minutes for a dramatic 3-2 away win over arch rivals Inter Milan on Saturday. In the German Bundesliga, Niko Kovac suffered a heavy defeat against the club he will take charge of at the end of the season as Bayern Munich beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1. Niklas Dorsch, Sandro Wagner, Rafinha and Niklas Sule all scored for the champions, who made sweeping changes before Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg at Real Madrid. Sebastien Haller got the consolation for Frankfurt. Bayern are 24 points clear of nearest rivals Schalke with two games to go. 

Exeter end season top of the Premiership with win over Sale

Exeter ensured they would end the season top of the Aviva Premiership for the first time in their history as they ended Sale's faint play-off hopes with a 34-19 win. Byron McGuigan gave Sale an early lead before Nic White and Lachie Turner's tries put Exeter in front. Andrei Ostrikov's first league try cut the gap to three points at the break. Exeter's Jack Yeandle went over soon after the restart and McGuigan got a second try before Greg Holmes went over from close range to seal a bonus point. The victory means Exeter have an unassailable lead at the top of the Premiership. Saracens made sure of a home semi-final in the play-offs with a resounding 51-14 bonus-point victory at already relegated London Irish. The visitors only led 16-14 at the break, with Joe Cokanasiga and Johnny Williams responding to Saracens tries from Brad Barritt and Duncan Taylor. But Mike Rhodes, Marcelo Bosch, Richard Barrington, Alex Goode and Schalk Brits all crossed as Sarries' class told. Wasps sealed a play-off place and moved up to third in the Premiership with a 36-29 bonus-point win over Northampton. Christian Wade and Elliot Daly scored tries inside the first 20 minutes, but forwards Teimana Harrison and Api Ratuniyarawa replied for Saints. Wade's second, while Luther Burrell was sin-binned, and a try by Juan de Jongh saw the home side go 19 points clear. Saints hit back through Alex Mitchell and Ahsee Tuala before Jimmy Gopperth's fourth penalty sealed it for Wasps. Dai Young's side are now eight points clear of Leicester in fifth.

Montpellier wrap up first spot on Top 14 table with win over Pau

Montpellier Herault wrapped up first position on the Top 14 table when they cruised to a comfortable 45-13 bonus-point victory over Pau at the Altrad Stadium. Tom Taylor gave Pau a 3-0 lead in the 16th minute with a penalty but Ruan Pienaar responded for Montpellier in identical fashion six minutes later. Soon after that, the game burst to life, with Francois Steyn crossing the whitewash for the league leaders. Pienaar added the extras for a 10-3 lead. New Zealander Aaron Cruden got himself on the scoresheet when he dotted down in the 46th minute. Any hopes of a Pau comeback seemed to be permanently extinguished when Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo cantered over for his side's fourth and a 21-6 lead. Bismarck du Plessis, Paul Willemse and Louis Picamoles scored second-half tries to add gloss to the victory. With 81 points, Montpellier booked a place in the semifinals and are guaranteed to finish the regular season on top of the table as they look to win a first French title. Saturday's win was also their 13th in 13 games at home with 11 of those yielding bonus points. The battle is on for second place on the table after Racing 92, Stade Toulouse and Toulon all won. Racing 92 are in second place but only point ahead of Stade Toulouse after a convincing 39-15 victory at Bordeaux.

Catalans Dragons win to climb off bottom of Super League table 

Catalans Dragons sealed a dramatic drop-goal victory over Hull FC on Saturday to climb off the bottom of the Super League table. Tony Gigot's last-minute one-pointer gave the Catalans a tense and at times ill-tempered 25-24 home win. Scott Taylor and Hakim Miloudi tries put Hull FC up at the break, with Brayden Wiliame grabbing Dragons' four-pointer in response. New signing Josh Drinkwater and Gigot tries then edged Catalans ahead, only for Taylor to level it with his second effort. Both sides traded penalties and had players sin-binned in a fierce second half. Taylor ensured it remained tight with a stunning breakaway effort on 50 minutes. Kelly was then lost to injury and kicks were traded once more before Connor and Michael McIlorum found themselves in the middle of a melee - a confrontation that carried over onto the sidelines as they walked to the sin-bin. The drama intensified with Drinkwater landing a late penalty before Connor levelled with just three minutes remaining. But there was still time for Gigot to win it. Catalans now have six points, one ahead of bottom club Huddersfield Giants. St Helens remain top of the table with 22 points after an emphatic 60-10 away win over Salford Red Devils. 

World No.1 Rafael Nadal wins 11th Barcelona Open title

World No.1 Rafael Nadal produced an imperious display to win his 11th Barcelona Open title with a 6-2 6-1 win over Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday. The 31-year-old Spaniard, who won his 400th clay-court match 400th clay court match to reach the final, claimed two rapid breaks to take the first set in 40 minutes against the 19-year-old. World No.63 Tsitsipas, playing Nadal for the first time, went down in 77 minutes. Nadal has now won 19 successive matches, and 46 consecutive sets, on clay. After winning his 11th Monte Carlo title last weekend, this was his 55th title on clay and the 77th overall in his career. Light drizzle interrupted the match in the first and second games and Tsitsipas, who will become the first Greek player to break into the world top 50, held to love in his opening service game. But that proved to be as good as it would get for the the youngest Barcelona finalist since Nadal in 2005. Tsitsipas beat world No7 Dominic Thiem and world No10 David Goffin and did not drop a set en route to Sunday's final, but committed 15 unforced errors in the first set alone. 

Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic wins Tour of Romandie

Slovenia's Primoz Roglic won the Tour of Romandie as German Pascal Ackermann took victory in Sunday's final stage. It is a second World Tour stage-race win of 2018 for Roglic, after his Tour of the Basque Country victory. The 28-year-old former world junior ski jump champion kept his rivals in his sights on the 181.8km final stage between Mont-sur-Rolle and Geneva. Roglic, who rides for LottoNL-Jumbo, finished eight seconds ahead of Colombian Egan Bernal (Team Sky). Australia's Richie Porte (BMC), the outgoing champion, was 35 seconds back in third. Roglic held the yellow jersey from the opening stage and reinforced his grip on the race lead by finishing second in Saturday's climb-heavy fourth stage. Bora rider Ackermann edged ahead of Denmark's Michael Morkov (Quick-Step) and Italian Roberto Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates) to win the final stage.

Sweden’s Bjork wins maiden European tour title

Sweden’s Alexander Bjork won his maiden European Tour title at the China Open on Sunday, closing with a seven-under 65 to seal a one-shot victory over Spain’s overnight leader Adrian Otaegui. Bjork, who began the day in joint second at Beijing’s Topwin Golf and Country Club, shot seven birdies to finish at 18-under for the tournament. The 27-year-old edged out Otaegui who carded a final round of 67. “It’s tough to describe the emotions. I’m really happy and proud of myself the way I played today,” Bjork, who claimed his first European Tour title in his 44th event, said. “It’s probably one of the best rounds of golf I ever played, the best round in the situation. I made pretty much no mistakes today, I’m super happy.” Bjork began strongly with a birdie on the first hole and picked up further shots on the fourth and eighth. Four more birdies on the back nine helped him move into the lead. England’s Jordan Smith finished tied for third alongside compatriot Matt Wallace and Spain’s Jorge Campillo.

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

Calendar Keynotes: 30 April – 6 May

Monday, 30 April

Football: English Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur v Watford.

Tennis: ATP BMW Open, Munich (till 6 May), WTA Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic (till 6 May)

Tuesday, 1 May

Football: European Champions League semifinals – Real Madrid v Bayern Munich (agg 2-1).

Tennis: ATP BMW Open, Munich (till 6 May), WTA Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic (till 6 May) 

Wednesday, 2 May

Football: European Champions League semifinals – Roma v Liverpool (agg 2-5).

Tennis: ATP BMW Open, Munich (till 6 May), WTA Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic (till 6 May).

Thursday, 3 May

Football: Europa League semifinal – Atletico Madrid v Arsenal (agg 1-1), FC Red Bull Salzburg v Marseille (agg 0-2).

Rugby League: Super League – St Helens v Catalans Dragons.

Tennis: ATP BMW Open, Munich (till 6 May), WTA Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic (till 6 May)

Golf: USPGA Tour, Wells Fargo Championship, Quail Hollow Club, North Carolina, US (till 6 May).

Friday, 4 May

Football: English Premier League – Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion, French Ligue 1 – Amiens v Paris Saint Germain, Spanish La Liga – Sevilla v Real Sociedad

Rugby League: Super League –.Huddersfield Giants v Widnes Vikings, Leeds Rhinos v Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors v Salford Red Devils.

Tennis: ATP BMW Open, Munich (till 6 May), WTA Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic (till 6 May)

Golf: USPGA Tour, Wells Fargo Championship, Quail Hollow Club, North Carolina, US (till 6 May).

Saturday, 5 May

Football: English Premier League – West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur, Scottish Premiership – Rangers v Kilmarnock, Spanish La Liga – Villareal v Valencia, Italian Serie A – AC Milan v Hellas Verona, Juventus v Bologna, German Bundesliga – 1. FC Koln v Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund v Mainz 05, Borussia Monchengladbach v SC Freiburg, FC Augsburg v Schalke 04, VfB Stuttgart v 1899 Hoffenheim.

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – Bath v London Irish, Harlequins v Exeter, Newcastle v Wasps, Northampton v Worcester, Saracens v Gloucester, French Top 14 – Clermont Auvergne v Stade Toulouse, La Rochelle v Stade Francais, Lyon v Montpellier Herault, Pau v Toulon, Racing 92 v SU Agen Lot-et-Garonne.

Rugby League: Super League – Hull FC v Castleford Tigers.

Tennis: ATP BMW Open, Munich (till 6 May), WTA Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic (till 6 May).

Cycling: Giro d’Italia, Italy (till 27 May).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Wells Fargo Championship, Quail Hollow Club, North Carolina, US (till 6 May). 

Sunday, 6 May

Football: English Premier League –Manchester City v Huddersfield Town, Arsenal v Burnley, Chelsea v Liverpool, Scottish Premiership – Hearts v Celtic, French Ligue 1 – Lyon v Troyes, Caen v Monaco, Nantes v Montpellier, Toulouse v Lille, Marseille v Nice, Spanish La LIga – Atletico Madrid v Espanyol, Barcelona v Real Madrid, Italian Serie A – Udinese v Inter Milan, Lazio v Atalanta, Napoli v Torino, Cagliari v Roma.

Tennis: ATP BMW Open, Munich (till 6 May), WTA Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic (till 6 May).

Cycling: Giro d’Italia, Italy (till 27 May).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Wells Fargo Championship, Quail Hollow Club, North Carolina, US (final day).

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