The sports wrap 1 April 2019

Toulouse's Maxime Medard scores his side's second try in win over Racing 92

Champions Cup holders Leinster will face Top14 leaders Toulouse while Saracens face Munster in the cup semi-finals later this month after the Scottish challenge was ended with defeats for both Glasgow and Edinburgh  in the weekend quarter-finals.

In Paris, a 14-man Toulouse beat Racing in a thrilling all-French quarter-final. Antoine Dupont scored twice and Maxime Medard also crossed to give the four-time winners a dramatic 22-21 victory despite the early dismissal of Australian Zack Holmes. Tries from Teddy Thomas and Camille Chat kept the hosts in the contest but two yellow cards proved costly. Trailing by six points in the closing minutes, Chat’s try gave Racing a chance to take the lead but Maxime Machenaud missed with his conversion attempt. The home side had one further chance to clinch a win but Leone Nakawara’s last-gasp try was ruled out for foul play and Toulouse held on for a stunning victory.

In London, Saracens, European champions in 2016 and 2017, reached the last four with a clinical seven-try home victory against Glasgow Warriors at Allianz Park. Glasgow scrum-half Ali Price and Saracens full-back Liam Williams both scored in a frantic first five minutes. Momentum swung Sarries’ way after tries from David Strettle and Brad Barritt, before two Adam Hastings penalties reduced the hosts’ lead to nine. But second-half scores for Williams, Strettle, Jamie George and Nick Tompkins sealed the win for Saracens. Replacement scrum-half George Horne and number eight Matt Fagerson scored consolation tries for Glasgow, whose hopes of reaching the Champions Cup last four for the first time have ended.

In Dublin, Leinster’s pursuit of a fifth European title remains on track but only after they had to dig deep to see off a spirited Ulster at the Aviva Stadium. Tries by Ross Byrne and Adam Byrne helped the defending champions come from behind and snatch a 21-18 win. Kieran Treadwell’s early try gave Ulster the lead but a missed chance for Jacob Stockdale proved costly. Luke Marshall’s try drew the visitors level but Ross Byrne’s late penalty was enough to give Leinster the win. Ulster will have to count the cost of a demoralising defeat that also saw Ireland captain Rory Best suffer an ankle injury on what could prove to be the final club appearance of his career.

In Edinburgh, Munster came from behind at Murrayfield to edge past Edinburgh 17-13 and reach the semi-finals. The Scots, looking to reach the last four for the second time, led at the break thanks to Chris Dean’s converted try and a Jaco van der Walt penalty. Tyler Bleyendaal and Van der Walt traded penalties after the interval. But Keith Earls, whose clever early score put Munster ahead, went over in the corner with 10 minutes remaining as the two-time winners squeezed through.

Hamilton wins Bahrain GP as Leclerc loses power

Five times world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix for Mercedes on Sunday after engine trouble dashed Charles Leclerc’s hopes of a first Formula One victory in only his second race for Ferrari. Monaco’s Leclerc, who had started on pole position for the first time, lost power with 10 laps to go while leading and finished third with an extra point for the fastest lap. Valtteri Bottas, winner of the opener in Australia, took second place to stay top of the championship standings after the second race of the season by a point from team-mate Hamilton. Hamilton closed an eight-second deficit within three laps and swept by for his first win of 2019 with nine laps to go.

Lewis Hamilton toasts his GP victory in Bahrain

Leclerc would have slipped down to fourth behind Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen but was saved by a late race safety car. As victory slipped from his fingers, the despair in Leclerc’s voice was clear as he asked the team what had happened, and was told he had suffered a failure of the MGU-H, the part of the hybrid system that recovers energy from the turbo. It cost him 40km/h on the straights and left him helpless as first Hamilton and then Bottas closed in at five seconds a lap. His four-time world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel Meanwhile made yet another high-profile error, spinning his car while being passed by Hamilton for what at the time was second place with 20 laps to go.

Liverpool back on top after late winner against Spurs

Toby Alderweireld’s late own goal gave Liverpool a priceless 2-1 victory over third-placed Tottenham Hotspur and put them back on top of the English Premier League. Visitors Tottenham looked on course to earn a point – and even wasted chances to go in front – after Lucas Moura deservedly equalised Roberto Firmino’s first-half header for the home side. Liverpool were on the brink of losing ground to Manchester City – 2-0 winners at Fulham on Saturday – until the title race took another dramatic twist in the closing moments in front of the Kop. Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris failed to hold Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah’s routine far-post header and the ball ricocheted into the net off Alderweireld. It was sheer elation for Liverpool, who are now two points clear of City having played a game more, but misery for Spurs, who are in a real fight for a top-four place and were left to regret Moussa Sissoko’s glaring miss when through on goal minutes earlier. Manchester City’s win at Craven Cottage has virtually doomed Fulham to relegation while Crystal Palace’s 2-0 home win over Huddersfield sent the Yorkshire club down after two seasons in the top tier. Looking the most likely to join them are Cardiff who went down 2-1 to Chelsea who scored two late goals, one glaringly offside. At the top, behind Spurs in fourth place on goal difference are Manchester United who were fortunate to beat Watford 2-1 at Old Trafford despite being outplayed for much of the game. Fifth-placed Arsenal can overtake both Spurs and United if they beat Newcastle on Monday night. In the Scottish Premiership, Celtic moved 13 points clear of Rangers at the top of the table after a pulsating Old Firm derby that featured three goals, two red cards – one after the final whistle – off-the-ball flashpoints and an 86th-minute winner by James Forrest. The 2-1 win means that Neil Lennon’s side have now all but secured an eighth consecutive top-flight title with only seven league games remaining following their second derby win of the season.

PSG stay 20 points clear after beating Toulouse

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint Germain remained 20 points clear at the top of the table with a narrow 1-0 win away to Toulouse on Sunday evening.  French international Kylian Mbappe broke the deadlock in the 74th minute as mid-table Toulouse battled to keep the Parisians at bay. Lille stay in second place after a 3-2 win at Nantes while Lyon are four points behind after a 1-0 victory at Rennes on Friday night.  In Lille, Racing Strasbourg won their third French League Cup title when they beat Guingamp 4-1 on penalties after the final had ended in a dull goalless draw after extra time on Saturday. Lionel Carole scored the winning spot-kick. Guingamp shocked Paris Saint Germain, League Cup winners in the last five seasons, in the quarter-finals.

In the Spanish La Liga, Atletico Madrid thrashed fifth-placed Alaves 4-0 on Saturday to keep alive their faint hopes of winning the title as they stayed 10 points behind leaders Barcelona in second place in the standings. Diego Simeone’s side dominated at Mendizorroza and triumphed with goals from Saul Niguez, Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and Thomas Partey. Barcelona however kept up their relentless charge with Lionel Messi scoring twice in the second half, including a chipped free-kick, to beat Espanyol 2-0 in the local derby. Messi dinked his first goal from the edge of the box, with Espanyol defender Victor Sanchez failing to head clear as he ran back towards the goal-line. The Argentine finished off a counter-attack late on to take his tally to 31 goals for the season.

In the Italian Serie A, teenager Moise Kean came off the bench to score the winner as Juventus edged past Empoli 1-0, now needing just 13 points for an eighth straight league title. Kean, 19, latched on to Mario Mandzukic’s knock down to fire in a cool finish just three minutes after appearing as a second-half substitute. With nine games remaining, Massimiliano Allegri’s side have already clinched a place in next season’s Champions League group stage. They were without injured Portugal skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, who picked up a thigh problem on international duty. Napoli stayed in second place 15 points behind Juve after an easy 4-1 away win over Roma.

In the German Bundesliga, Spanish striker Paco Alcacer scored twice in the last five minutes as Borussia Dortmund beat Wolfsburg to go back to the top of above last season’s champions Bayern Munich. With nine games remaining, two points separate the pair – and they face each other next week at the Allianz Arena. Alcacer scored from a free-kick in the 90th minute, before converting young English international Jadon Sancho’s ball from the right four minutes into stoppage time. Bayern dropped points at Freiburg, coming from a goal down to draw 1-1. Lucas Holer fired in for the home side after three minutes before Poland striker Robert Lewandowski equalised with a brilliant volley in the 22nd minute. It was his 199th goal in the German top flight.

Beziers slip to 7th on Pro D2 table after another loss

Beziers made it two losses in a row and moved down to seventh place and out of the Pro D2 qualifying places as they crashed 28-0 at Soyaux Angouleme in front of a 5,000 strong crowd. It followed a 23-13 home loss to Biarritz the previous week and marks the worst possible run-in to the dogfight for a finals spot at the end of the season. Midi Libre called it a nightmare night and the need to recover quickly for the hosting of mid-table Provence Rugby in the 27th round.

Beziers fly-half Thiboud Suchier tries to get his line                moving in Beziers heavy defeat

The first half was totally dominated by the Charentais who scored four converted tries against a lacklustre Biterrois defence, going in 28-0 at the break. The second half was more of the same but the visitors showed more steel to keep the Angoumoisins at bay. Oyannax remained top of the Pro D2 table despite a horrific 51-14 loss to the in-form Biarritz, conquerors of Beziers last week. Bayonne, who  were three points behind in second place, also lost, 23-18 at fifth-placed Vannes, allowing Brive to move ahead of them, one point behind Oyannax, after their nail-biting 29-27 home win over Mont-de-Marsan.

Dragons slump to heavy defeat against Wigan

Wigan’s Joe Burgess scored his first tries since recovering from a serious knee injury to help the champions thrash Catalans 42-0 in the Super League on Sunday. George Williams picked him out with a high kick for his first before half-time and after the break the England wing scored in the corner following a neat move. His third was a length-of-the-field effort, replicating what Oliver Gildart had done for his own try earlier. Zak Hardaker and Jarrod Sammut then crossed to cap an emphatic win. The Dragons’ loss, their fourth of eight matches played, moves them down to seventh place on the table while  Wigan move to eighth after securing back-to-back wins for the first time this season. At the top of the table, unbeaten leaders St Helens overcame a Hull KR fightback for a 36-24 victory to make it eight wins out of eight this season. Saints had looked to be heading for an easy victory when they raced into an early 16-0 lead, before conceding 18 straight points to trail at half-time. Rovers battled in the second period but after an exchange of scores, back-to-back tries from Kyle Amor and Aaron Smith finally put the hosts back ahead. Regan Grace crossed late on to make sure of a hard-earned win.

Federer beats Isner to win Miami Open in straight sets

Roger Federer captured his fourth Miami Open title with an emphatic 6-1 6-4 win over defending champion John Isner. The 37-year-old world No.5 broke in the opening game and took the first set in 24 minutes. In his 50th Masters final, the Swiss fourth seed produced some typically sublime groundstrokes and wrapped up the match in an hour and three minutes. It is his 28th Masters title and the 101st overall for a player who has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles. Following his victory at the Dubai Championship, Federer becomes the first two-time champion on the ATP Tour this season, ending a streak of 19 different winners in 2019. Isner came into the first meeting between the pair in Miami having not dropped a set throughout the tournament, winning nine of the 10 sets in the process by tie-break. In the women’s singles,

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty on the way to winning the Miami Open and go into the top 10 for the first time

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty claimed the biggest singles title of her career with victory over former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova. The 22-year-old will move into the world top 10 – the first Australian to do so since Samantha Stosur in 2013 – after a 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 win. She hit a career-high 15 aces against the Czech to earn a fourth title. After a tightly contested first set, Barty dropped just five points in the final four games to seal victory. The 5ft 5in Australian’s win in Florida means the first 14 events of the 2019 women’s singles season have all been won by different players. Barty’s victory continued her remarkable renaissance since returning to the sport in February 2016 having quit two years earlier to play professional cricket.

Colombian Lopez wins Tour of Catalunya

Astana’s stunning start to the season continued when Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez won the Tour of Catalunya on Sunday. Lopez, who snatched the lead by winning an uphill finish at La Molina on the fourth stage on Thursday, held off his rivals in the final stage which ended in Barcelona. The 25-year-old beat Briton Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who went on the attack on Sunday, by 14 seconds in the overall classification and fellow Colombian Egan Bernal (Team Sky), recent winner of Paris-Nice, by 17 seconds. It was the Kazakh-funded outfit’s 21st victory of the season after stage wins on Paris-Nice and Tirreno Adriatico as Lopez added to his Tour of Colombia title. The stage was marred by a crash in a descent that took down Romain Bardet, who finished second in the 2016 Tour de France and third a year later. AG2r-La Mondiale rider Bardet, along with fellow Frenchman Romain Barguil, the 2017 Tour’s best climber, abandoned the race.

Kisner beats Kuchar in Match Play final

American Kevin Kisner claimed his first WGC title with victory over compatriot Matt Kuchar in the Match Play final in Austin, Texas, on Sunday. The 35-year-old world No.50, who beat Italian Francesco Molinari in the semi-finals, atoned for last year’s 7&6 defeat in the final by Bubba Watson. Kuchar beat Lucas Bjerregaard earlier in the day but only had two birdies in the final as Kisner ground out a 3&2 win for his third PGA Tour title. Molinari beat Tiger Woods’ conqueror Bjerregaard 4&2 to claim third place. Kuchar was one down after 10 when his tee shot at the par-three 11th came up well short and plummeted into the water. The world No.24 then failed to get up and down from the right of the 15th to slip three behind. From 250 yards at the par-five 16th he found the green with his second but left his eagle putt short and Kisner holed from 20 feet for a birdie to close out the match. Kisner had ended the 10-game winning match play run of Open champion Molinari in their semi-final encounter. Danish debutant and No.52 Bjerregaard, who beat Woods in the quarter-finals  on Saturday, made only two birdies against Kuchar but was never more than a hole behind, with the American making a birdie at the 16th and finishing one up.

Australia sound cup warning with Pakistan rout

Australia’s top order fired once again as they completed a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan, winning their seventh consecutive ODI with a 20-run victory in Sharjah, despite a fine hundred from Haris Sohail. Sounding a warning to opponents in this year’s World Cup, all of Australia’s top four passed 50 on Sunday as the tourists racked up an imposing 327 for seven wickets, Usman Khawaja leading the way with 98 –his seventh score in excess of 50 in his last 10 ODIs, including two centuries. Skipper Aaron Finch contributed 53 to an opening stand of 134 and finished the series with 451 runs, while Shaun Marsh added 61 and Glenn Maxwell provided excellent acceleration late on with a typically flamboyant 70 from 33 deliveries. Haris compiled 130 from 129 balls in reply and shared century partnerships with Shan Masood (50) and Umar Akmal (43) to keep Pakistan in the hunt. However, the respective dismissals of Umar and Haris in the 40th and 41st overs left Pakistan with too much to do and they fell short on 307 for seven wickets despite an unbeaten 50 from stand-in captain Imad Wasim.  In Hyderabad, Australian David Warner and England’s Jonny Bairstow set a record for the highest opening stand in the Indian Premier League (IPL), with both players notching centuries for Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday. Warner and Bairstow put on 185 in just 16.2 overs in a 118-run victory over Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore, surpassing Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn’s opening stand of 184 against Gujarat Lions in the 2017 season. Former Australia vice-captain Warner, 32, is fighting for a spot in their World Cup squad after completing a 12-month suspension for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town last year.

Kenya’s Obiri makes history in cross country title win

Kenya’s Hellen Obiri made athletics history on Saturday when she won the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, to become the first woman to lift world titles indoors, outdoors and at cross country.

Hellen Obiri on the way to her cross  country title in Denmark

Obiri emulated Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, the only man to achieve the treble, as she powered away from Ethiopian Dera Dira to win by two seconds over the 10.24km course in 36 minutes 14 secondsIn the men’s event, Joshua Cheptegei became the first Ugandan to win the senior men’s title, making amends for the agonising near-miss in front of his home fans in the previous edition in Kampala two years ago when he faded calamitously in sight of victory. This time, he forged clear of team-mate Jacob Kiplimo, as the pair also led the Ugandan men to a first-ever team gold, and Kenya’sdefending champion Geoffrey Kamworor to win convincingly by 25 metres in 31:40.

Thunder Snow races into record books 

Thunder Snow became the first horse to win back-to-back US$12 million Dubai World Cup titles after a thrilling finish at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday. The Saeed bin Suroor-trained five-year-old won the prestigious race last year and repeated the feat with Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon, scooping US$7.2 million in prize money in one of the world’s richest horse races. Thunder Snow, a 4-1 shot, was locked in a battle with Gronkowski on the final stretch and it was the Godolphin horse that was given the verdict in a photo finish. The 2-1 favourite Capezzano finished last of the 12 runners. Thunder Snow’s victory was one of four Group One triumphs in a day for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s Godolphin team.

For reports on all the weekend sporting events go to:

Calendar Keynotes: 1-7 April

Monday, 1 April

Football: English Premier League – Arsenal v Newcastle United.

Tennis:  WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 7 April).

Tuesday, 2 April

Football: English Premier League – Watford v Fulham, Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United, Coupe de France – Lyon v Rennes, Spanish La Liga – Atletico Madrid v Girona, Espanyol v Getafe, Villareal v Barcelona, Italian Serie A  – AC Milan v Udinese, Cagliari v Juventus, German DFB Cup – SC Paderborn 07 v SV Hamburg, FC Augsburg v RB Leipzig.

Tennis: WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 7 April).

Wednesday, 3 April

Football: English Premier League – Chelsea v Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester City v Cardiff City, Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace, Scottish Premiership – Aberdeen v Motherwell, Hibernian v Kilmarnock, Rangers v Hearts, St Mirren v Celtic, French Ligue 1 – Montpellier v Guingamp, Coupe de France – Paris Saint German v Nantes, Spanish La Liga – Valencia v Real Madrid, Italian Serie A – Empoli v Napoli, Genoa v Inter Milan, Roma v Fiorentina, SPAL v Lazio, German DFB Cup – Bayern Munich v 1. FC Heidenheim 1846, FC Schalke 04 v Werder Bremen.

Tennis: WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 7 April).

Cycling: UCI World Tour – Dwars door Vlaanderen – A Travers La Flandre, Belgium.

Thursday, 4 April  

Football: Spanish La Liga – Sevilla v Alaves, Italian Serie A – Atalanta v Bologna.

Rugby League: Super League –  Hull KR v Leeds Rhinos.

Tennis: WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 7 April).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Valero Texas Open, TPC San Antonio, Texas, US (till 7 April).

Friday, 5 April  

Football: English Premier League – Southampton v Liverpool, French Ligue 1 – Bordeaux v Marseille.

Rugby Union: Gallagher English Premiership – Sale v Harlequins.

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

Tennis: WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 7 April).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Valero Texas Open, TPC San Antonio, Texas, US (till 7 April).

Saturday, 6 April

Football: English FA Cup semi-final – Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion, Scottish Premiership – Hearts v Hibernian, Celtic v Livingston, Dundee v Aberdeen, Kilmarnock v St Johnstone, French Ligue 1 – Lyon v Dijon, Guingamp v Monaco, Nimes v Caen, Spanish La Liga – Real Madrid v Eibar, Rayo Vallecano v Valencia, Barcelona v Atletico Madrid, Italian Serie A – Juventus v AC Milan, Sampdoria v Roma, German Bundesliga – Bayer 04 Leverkusen, FC Schalke 04 v Eintracht Frankfurt, VfL Wolfsburg v Hannover 96, Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund.

Rugby Union: Gallagher English Premiership – Bath v  Bristol, Saracens v Newcastle Falcons, Wasps v Worcester Warriors, Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs, French Top 14 – Toulon v Toulouse, Montpellier v Agen, Grenoble v Stade Francais, Bordeaux Begles v Perpignan, Catres v La Rochelle.

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

Tennis: WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 7 April).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Valero Texas Open, TPC San Antonio, Texas, US (till 7 April).

Horse Racing: Grand National, Aintree, Liverpool (17:15 start local time).

 Sunday, 7 April

Football: English Premier League – Everton v Arsenal, English FA Cup semi-final – Watford v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Scottish Premiership – Motherwell v Rangers, French Ligue 1 – Reims v Lille, Toulouse v Nantes, Nice v Montpellier, Paris Saint Germain v  Strasbourg, Spanish La Liga – Alaves v Leganes, Getafe v Athletic Bilbao, Real Valladolid v Sevilla, Italian Serie A  – Inter Milan v Atalanta, Lazio v Sassuolo, Napoli v Genoa, German Bundesliga – Borussia Monchengladbach v Werder Bremen.

Rugby Union: Gallagher English Premiership – Northampton Saints v Gloucester, French Top 14 – Pau v Lyon, Clermont Auvergne v Racing 92.

Rugby League: Super League – Salford Red Devils v Hull FC.

Tennis: WTA Volvo Car Open, Charleston, South Carolina, US (till 7 April).

Golf: USPGA Tour, Valero Texas Open, TPC San Antonio, Texas, US (till 7 April).

Cycling – UCI World Tour – Ronde van Vlaanderen, Belgium.