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The sports wrap 9th April 2018

LanguedocLiving, Apr 8

Vettel holds on to win second GP of the season in Bahrain.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel held on to win a tense Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix in his 200th race start on Sunday. His tyres fading, the German championship leader took the chequered flag only 0.6 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas who piled the pressure on in the final 10 laps. Bottas’s team-mate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who had started ninth after a five place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, finished third. Vettel now leads Hamilton by 17 points after two of the 21 races. The win under the floodlights was the 49th of Vettel’s grand prix career and an unprecedented fourth at the Sakhir desert circuit. It also made the 30-year-old, who won in Melbourne two weeks ago, the first Ferrari driver since compatriot Michael Schumacher in 2004 to win the first two races of a season. “These tyres were done, done, in the last 10 laps,” a jubilant Vettel told his team over the radio after crossing the line. Vettel had led from pole position, with Bottas slotting into second place at the start from third on the grid, but ended up having to battle the Mercedes pair alone. Mercedes’ decision to go for the more durable medium tyres and a one-stop strategy, compared to Ferrari’s move to bolt on softer rubber in anticipation of a two-stop race, brought the evening alive. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was brought in to test the strategy, decided Ferrari in favour of keeping Vettel out. Raikkonen was given the green light to exit before his left rear tyre had been changed, with the Finn’s car then hitting a mechanic who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg while the driver retired.

Man City title celebrations on hold after defeat by city rivals United

Manchester City will have to wait at least another week before they pop the champagne corks to celebrate winning the English Premier League after letting slip a 2-0 lead against arch rivals Manchester United and going down 3-2 at home. City needed victory to be confirmed as champions but French international Paul Pogba scored two goals in two minutes to spoil the party and overturn City's first-half lead before Chris Smalling's volley completed the dramatic turnaround. City coach Pep Guardiola's side had delivered a first-half masterclass with captain Vincent Kompany scoring with a thumping header after 25 minutes and Ilkay Gudogan adding a second five minutes later after a clever turn and finish. But outclassed United remained in contention after Raheem Sterling skied two golden chances over the bar with the goal at his mercy and Gundogan headed straight at keeper David de Gea when unmarked eight yards out. It gave United hope and Pogba - out of form at Old Trafford recently - stole in to pull a goal back after 53 minutes and head the equaliser two minutes later. The remarkable turnaround was complete when Smalling, badly at fault for Kompany's goal, arrived unmarked to steer Alexis Sanchez's free-kick past the exposed Ederson in the 69th minute. City are still 13 points ahead of United who could be in a three-way contest with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur for second place, after the Reds drew 0-0 away to Everton in the local derby and Spurs won 2-1 at Stoke City. The North London side are now level with Liverpool on 67 points, four behind United. City will win the title next weekend if they beat Tottenham away at Wembley on the Saturday.

PSG salvage point and move step closer to Ligue 1 title

Ten-man Paris St-Germain moved a step closer to the Ligue 1 title after a 92nd-minute own goal by Mathieu Debuchy secured a point at Saint-Etienne to keep them 14 points ahead of defending champions Monaco who beat Nantes 2-1 at home. PSG led through ex-Newcastle forward Remy Cabella, who also had a penalty saved by Alphonse Areola. PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe was sent off for a second yellow card after 41 minutes, but former Newcastle defender Debuchy's own goal earned them a point. They need five points from the last six games to seal the title. Lyon are in third place seven points behind after thrashing Metz 5-0 away from home. In the Spanish La Liga, Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as runaway leaders Barcelona equalled the La Liga record of 38 games unbeaten with victory over Leganes. Messi curled home a fantastic 30-yard free-kick before latching on to Philippe Coutinho's through ball to make it 2-0. Nabil el Zhar pulled one back but Messi scored from Ousmane Dembele's pass to complete a 45th career hat-trick. Barca, who are seven games from an unbeaten La Liga season, are 11 points ahead of Atletico Madrid who draw 1-1 against city rivals Real Madrid, Atletico are four points above Real.In Italian Serie A, Argentine striker Paulo Dybala scored a hat-trick as Juventus beat Serie A's bottom side Benevento 4-2 to remain four points clear at the top. But Napoli scored two late goals to keep their title dreams alive with a 2-1 victory over struggling Chievo. Inter Milan missed the chance to go third behind Napoli as they lost 1-0 to Torino with Adem Ljajic scoring the only goal. In the German Bundesliga, Bayern Munich came from behind to wrap up their sixth consecutive Bundesliga title with a 4-1 win over Augsburg. Coach Jupp Heynckes' side picked up the Bavarian derby win they needed to become champions with five games to spare. They had trailed through Niklas Sule's own goal but Corentin Tolisso and James Rodriguez set them on their way towards a 28th German championship.Arjen Robben converted Rodriguez's cut-back and Sandro Wagner headed a fourth.

Australia dominate Commonwealth Games after four days

Australia are dominating the Commonwealth Games on their home soil after four days of competition on the Gold Coast, topping the medals table with 31 golds, ahead of England’s 19 and putting on some dazzling performances in the swimming and track cycling events. The Australians have won 16 gold medals in the pool with Cate Campbell winning thre in the 50m butterfly, 50m freestyle and relay and the Australian teams posting victory in four relay events. However, the Canadian women have provided a stern test with Kylie Masse and seventeen-year-old Taylor Ruck winning three golds. Scotland's 20-year-old Duncan Scott also provided the shock of the swimming competition by winning the 100m freestyle, edging out South Africa's legendary Chad le Clos. England’s Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, 22, also won the 200m individual medley final with a dominant display to retain her title. Her gold medal also helped England stay in second place on the medals table ahead of Canada who have won seven gold medals. Australia have also won 10 gold medals in the track cycling events with Stephanie Morton picking up three and Matt Glaetzer two. As the athletics competition got under way on Sunday, Jamaica’s former world champion Yohan Blake sailed into the final of the 100m, living up to his top billing. The 28-year-old qualified fastest with a time of 10.06 seconds to raise his hopes of a maiden gold medal at the Games in Monday’s final. Blake hopes to claim the title as a stepping stone to restoring Jamaica’s primacy in the event following last year’s retirement of Usain Bolt. He said the sprint great, his former training partner, had texted him best wishes in the morning.

Exeter beat Gloucester to close in on home semi-final

Jack Nowell scored two tries on his Exeter return as the Aviva Premiership leaders and defending champions beat Gloucester 46-10 to move to the brink of securing a home semi-final. Owen Williams kicked the visitors into an early lead, but Alec Hepburn and Sam Simmonds hit back in quick succession. Ollie Woodburn touched down to make it 22-3, as Gloucester finished the half with Ruan Ackermann in the sin-bin. Callum Braley pulled a try back before Nowell's double and Gareth Steenson's try completed the bonus-point win. Victory, which guaranteed Rob Baxter's men a play-off place a week after they clinched the Anglo-Welsh Cup, means two points from their final three league games would also confirm a home semi-final. Exeter are eight points ahead of Saracens who scored 48 unanswered second-half points to thrash Northampton 63-13. The first half was even, with Reece Marshall scoring on his Premiership debut in between Sarries tries by Alex Lozowski and Schalk Brits. But the visitors ran riot after the break, with scores from Ben Spencer and Mako Vunipola sealing the bonus point. Liam Williams, Chris Wyles, Sean Maitland, Jackson Wray and Nathan Earle all went over in the last 22 minutes. Sarries boasted nine different try-scorers as they put their European Champions Cup defeat by Leinster last week firmly behind them, beating the 62 points they put past Northampton in January.

Montpellier Herault remain at Top 14 summit 

Montpellier Herault consolidated their Top 14 lead with a comprehensive 40-24 victory over La Rochelle at Altrad Stadium on Sunday. Tries from Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo, Louis Picamoles, Bismarck du Plessis, Kelian Galetier and a Jesse Mogg brace as well as five Ruan Pienaar conversions proved too much for La Rochelle who scored through Paul Jordaan, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Pierre Boudehent. Coach Vern Cotter’s Montpellier are now six points clear of Racing 92 who edged fourth-placed Toulon 17-13. It was La Rochelle who opened the scoring against Montpellier through Jordaan in the 11th minute. Mogg responded for Montpol in the 13th minute. However, Kerr-Barlow restored the lead for the visitors four minutes later. But once again the away side were pegged back when Nadolo went over to level the scores at 14-14 after Pienaar had converted with 25 minutes gone. Five minutes later, Picamoles crashed over to ensure the hosts took a 21-17 lead into the interval with the momentum well and truly back in their favour. Montpellier hooker Du Plessis made it 28-17 when he burrowed over six minutes after the interval before Galetier got himself on the scoresheet six minutes after that in the 52nd minute.It was beginning to look very one-sided when Mogg cruised in under the posts for his brace to give the Altrad outfit a commanding 40-17 lead.

Catalans squander 21-point lead and go down to Wigan

Wigan Warriors fought back from 21 points behind to claim a thrilling 32-23 Super League win at bottom side Catalans Dragons who seemed to have turned the corner with last week’s victory over Huddersfield Giants but have now lost eight of their first 10 matches (see separate story). Catalans led by 15 at the break, with Tony Gigot kicking a penalty and a drop-goal to add to tries from Benjamin Jullien and David Mead.Ben Garcia went over to stretch the lead, but Dan Sarginson's try sparked the Warriors revival soon after. Wigan added five more as Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, Liam Farrell, Sam Tomkins and Tony Clubb sealed the win. The Dragons had no such excuses for the other five tries, and they remained at the bottom of the table on four points, heaping the pressure back on head coach Steve McNamara. Wigan stay second behind St Helens who ran in four tries to comfortably beat Hull FC and extend their lead at the top to six points. Zeb Taia gathered Theo Fages' fifth-tackle grubber to score in the first half before Mark Percival extended Saints' lead after half-time. Albert Kelly pulled one back for the visitors, but Taia's second and Luke Thompson ensured Saints a ninth win in 10 games this season.

Spain, US, France and Croatia through to Davis Cup semifinals

Spain, the United States, France and Croatia have won through to the last four of the Davis Cup with Spanish player David Ferrer providing the greatest drama in the historic competition with a thrilling five-hour marathon decider as his team roared back from 2-1 down against Germany on Sunday. The 36-year-old toppled Philipp Kohlschreiber after world No.1 Rafael Nadal thrashed Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-4 6-4. Ferrer beat Kohlschreiber 7-6(1) 3-6 7-6(4) 4-6 7-5 in the final rubber at Valencia’s sun-drenched Plaza de Toros to wrap up a 3-2 victory. Spain will now meet France in the semifinals after the holders reached the last four for a third year in a row with Lucas Pouille fighting back to beat Fabio Fognini 2-6 6-1 7-6(3) 6-3 in Genoa and clinch a 3-1 victory over Italy. Croatia also made it into the last four as Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic crushed Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1 6-1 6-1 in Varazdin to seal their tie 3-1. Croatia will meet the United States in the semis in September. The U.S. sealed their place in the last-four on Saturday after victory in the doubles gave them an unbeatable 3-0 lead over Belgium in Nashville. Americans Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison rallied from a set down in a tight doubles rubber to ensure the United States became the first team to advance to the last four with a 3-0 victory over Belgium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Reed wins first major in Augusta as McIlroy fades

Patrick Reed defied fellow Americans Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler to claim his first major title with a one-shot win at the Masters at Augusta on Sunday. The world No.24, who had led since the second round, led Rory McIlroy by three shots overnight. McIlroy, chasing his first Green Jacket to complete the Grand Slam, faded with a two-over 74, while Reed made par on the last to shoot 71 and win on 15 under. Fowler (67) ended second, one ahead of Spieth, who had nine birdies in a 64. The scene was set for a classic duel between the final pair, Reed and McIlroy, with expectations for a repeat of their epic match at the 2016 Ryder Cup which the American shaded by one hole. But McIlroy, who surged into contention with a bogey-free 65 on Saturday, cut a disconsolate figure in dropping five shots and was the only one of the top 16 finishers to return an over par final round. For McIlroy, although it was not the collapse of his 2011 when he squandered a four-shot lead with a final round of 80, he was unable to produce his sparkling best and made only one birdie in the closing 14 holes. Reed is the ninth first-time major winner in the last 12 Masters and all four major championships are now held by Americans - Spieth won last year's Open, Brooks Koepka the US Open and Justin Thomas the PGA Championship. 

Sagan wins first Paris-Roubaix title in sprint finish

World champion Peter Sagan won his first Paris-Roubaix title in a sprint finish against Silvan Dillier. Sagan, 28, made the decisive move with 54km of the 257km one-day classic to go, leaving the peloton behind to join a breakaway group containing Dillier.The pair stayed away to the finish in the outdoor velodrome in Roubaix, with Sagan kicking clear on the final bend. The Slovak is the first reigning world champion to win Paris-Roubaix since Bernard Hinault in 1981. It is his second win in the 'monuments' - cycling's five most prestigious one-day races - following his Tour of Flanders victory in 2016. Dutch rider Niki Terpstra, the 2014 Paris-Roubaix champion, broke clear of the chasing group to finish third, with defending champion Greg van Avermaet fourth. Race organisers said Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts was in a “life-threatening condition after suffering a cardiac arrest” during the race. TV footage showed Goolaerts, 23, receiving CPR treatment from medics by the side of the road after crashing. Paris-Roubaix director Christian Prudhomme told Reuters that Goolaerts had to undergo a scan at the Lille hospital.

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

For full coverage of the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast from 4-14 April go to:

Calendar keynotes: 9-15 April 

Monday, 9 April

Football: German Bundesliga – RB Leipzig v Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Tennis: ATP US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas (till 15 April)

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

Tuesday, 10 April

Football: European Champions League quarter-finals – Manchester City v Liverpool (agg 0-3), Roma v Barcelona (agg 1-4)

Tennis: ATP US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas (till 15 April)

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

Wednesday, 11 April

Football: European Champions League quarter-finals – Bayern Munich v Sevilla (agg 2-1), Real Madrid v Juventus (3-0)

Tennis: ATP US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas (till 15 April)

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

Thursday, 12 April

Football: Europa League – CSKA v Arsenal (agg 1-4), FC Red Bull Salzburg v Lazio (agg 2-4), Maarseille v RB Leipzig (agg 0-1), Sporting Lisbon v Atletico Madrid (agg 0-2)

Rugby League: Super League – Widnes Vikings v Hull FC

Tennis: ATP US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas (till 15 April)

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

Friday, 13 April

Football: French Ligue 1 – Angers v Nice.

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – Newcastle v Sale Sharks

Rugby League: Super League - Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors

Formula One: Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai (till 15 April)

Tennis: ATP US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas (till 15 April)

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

Saturday, 14 April

Football: English Premier League, Southampton v Chelsea, Liverpool v AFC Bournemouth, Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City, French Ligue 1 – Lyon v Amiens, Caen v Toulouse, Spanish La Liga –, Sevilla v Villareal, Barcelona v Valencia, Italian Serie A – Atalanta v Inter Milan, German Bundesliga – Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich v Borussia Monchengladbach.

Formula One: Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai (till 15 April)

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – Gloucester v Harlequins, Leicester v Northampton, Wasps v Worcester, French Top 14 – Toulon v Montpellier Herault, Clermont Auvergne v Bordeaux, Pau v SU Agen Lot-et-Garonne, Lyon v Stade Francais.

Rugby League: Super League – Warrington Wolves v Hull KR

Tennis: ATP US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas (till 15 April)

Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast, Australia (final day, Closing Ceremony) 

Sunday, 15 April

Football: English Premier League – Newcastle United v Arsenal, Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion, Scottish Cup semifinal – Celtic v Rangers, French Ligue 1 – Montpellier v Bordeaux, Troyes v Marseille, Paris Saint Germain v Monaco, Spanish La LIga – Atletico Madrid v Levante, Malaga v Real Madrid, Italian Serie A – AC Milan v Napoli, Juventus v Sampdoria, Lazio v Roma, German Bundesliga – FC Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen v RB Leipzig.

Formula One: Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai (race day)

Rugby Union: Aviva Premiership – London Irish v Exeter, Saracens v Bath, French Top 14 – La Rochelle v Castres, Stade Toulouse v Racing 92.

Rugby League: Super League – Huddersfield Giants v Salford Red Devils, Wakefield Trinity v St Helens, Castleford Tigers v Catalans Dragons.

Tennis: ATP US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas (till 15 April)

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