Update: the state of play, Monday 22 June 2020

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Tom Davies hits the post as Everton nearly snatch a late victory over Liverpool

Liverpool draw with Everton as title surge resumes

Liverpool resumed their season as restrictions were eased in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown but could only emerge with a goalless draw against Everton at Goodison Park in the local derby on Sunday night. The runaway Premier League leaders are now 23 points ahead of defending champions Manchester City who resumed their season with a 3-0 home win over Arsenal last Wednesday. They play Burnley on Monday night. Liverpool now need five points to be sure of their first title in 30 years and can clinch the title against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday – but only if Manchester City lose on Monday. The Reds dominated possession against a very well-organised Everton, but it took a superb late save from Alisson to keep out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s flick before Tom Davies struck the rebound against the post. Alisson then saved well from Brazilian compatriot Richarlison as a largely tame game, with the surreal atmosphere of a derby played behind closed doors, sprang to life.

At Vicarage Road, Leicester City remained in third place with a 1-1 draw against Watford who had Craig Dawson to thank for a stoppage-time bicycle kick in a quick reply to Ben Chilwell’s 90th minute strike which looked to have given the Foxes all three points. Leicester twice thought they’d won it late on, first as Marc Albrighton rattled the post with a fierce strike before, seconds later, Maddison looked to have found the far corner only to be denied by an excellent low save from Ben Foster.

At Villa Park, Chelsea came from behind to beat relegation-threatened Aston Villa and strengthen their bid for a top-four finish and a Champions League place. The Blues dominated the first half but fell behind when Kepa failed to hold Anwar El Ghazi’s shot and Kortney Hause was on hand to bundle in. Chelsea fought back after the break and turned the game with two goals in as many minutes.First, substitute American international Christian Pulisic smashed Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross into the roof of the net at the far post before Frenchman Olivier Giroud drove in from 15 metres with the help of a slight deflection. The win restored their five-point advantage in fourth place over Manchester United and Wolves.

Sky Sports will make available “free to air” 25 games. Here’s the full breakdown of the restart programme: https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11661/11996682/premier-league-restart-kick-offs-and-sky-sports-matches-announced

In Germany, Robert Lewandowski scored twice for Bayern Munich and Erling Braut Haaland netted a double for Borussia Dortmund as both sides recorded victories in the penultimate round of Bundesliga games. Bayern, who had secured the title in their previous match, won 3-1 at home against Freiburg. Dortmund

Norwegian teenage striker Erling Braut Haaland scored both goals in Borussia Dortmund’s victory over RB Leipzig

guaranteed themselves second place with a 2-0 victory at third-placed RB Leipzig. Prolific Poland striker Lewandowski moved to 33 league goals for the season, becoming the record foreign goalscorer in Bundesliga history, and 47 overall in all competitions. Teenage Norwegian frontman Haaland took his Bundesliga tally to 13 for Dortmund – at a rate of a goal every 75 minutes – having joined the side in January from RB Salzburg.

In Spain, Real Madrid moved above arch rivals Barcelona at the top of La Liga on goal difference with a hard-fought 2-1 victory away to Real Sociedad on Sunday night. Striker Karim Benzema scored Real Madrid’s second goal to become their fourth highest ever goal scorer. The win followed Barcelona’s goalless draw at Sevilla, leaving the title race wide open with eight games remaining. Lionel Messi’s free-kick skimmed the bar in the first half but Barcelona were frustrated by Sevilla’s defence. Sevilla sat deep, often playing with five at the back, and it proved effective as the defending champions saw lots of the ball but failed to create many clear-cut opportunities.

In Italy, Romelu Lukaku scored his 18th league goal of the season as Inter Milan marked their return to Serie A action with a 2-1 win against Sampdoria. Former Manchester United striker Lukaku struck from 10 metres and celebrated by taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Lautaro Martinez made it 2-0 from Lukaku’s cross but Morten Thorsby pulled one back from close range. The win means Inter are third with 57 points, six behind leaders Juventus, who resume their season on Monday with a match at Bologna. Lazio are in second place one point behind the defending champions.

In France, stadiums will re-open to fans in France from 11 July as the country continues to lift coronavirus restrictions. Up to 5,000 fans will be allowed in arenas to watch live sport – a figure that may increase later in the summer. It means football’s French Cup and League Cup finals could be played in front of supporters after both were postponed to a date yet to be decided because of the pandemic. The Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons were cancelled in April when Prime Minister Edouard Philippe put a blanket ban on all sport until September but collective sports can now resume from Monday. Defending champions Paris Saint Germain were awarded the Ligue 1 title ahead of Marseille.

On the European stage, this season’s Champions League and Europa League competitions will be completed in August with ‘final eight’ tournaments in Lisbon, Portugal and in cities across Germany. The Women’s Champions League will also be a knockout tournament, in northern Spain between 21 to 30 August.Competitions were suspended in March. UEFA  also confirmed that all 12 original host cities will stage matches in the delayed Euro 2020 finals.which will now start on 11 June 2021. The outstanding play-off matches will be staged during the international windows starting on 8 October and 12 November, respectively.

Webb Simpson wins RBC Heritage in South Carolina

Joint overnight leader Tyrrell Hatton shot a final-round five-under 66 but finished two shots behind RBC Heritage winner Webb Simpson in South Carolina on Sunday. The American Simpson carded a bogey-free 64, holing five birdies in the final seven holes, to win on a tournament record 22 under. Mexican Abraham Ancer shot a 65 as he finished second on 21 under at Hilton Head. Englishman Hatton, who shared the lead after round three with

Webb Simpson wins the RBC Heritage with a tournament record score

Simpson, Ancer and Ryan Palmer, had four birdies on his front nine as he finished 20 under. American Daniel Berger, who won last week at Colonial, had three birdies in his final four holes, including a chip-in two on the par-three 17th, as he shot a six-under 65 to join Hatton in third. It was a thrilling final day at the Harbour Town Golf Links course despite the PGA Tour’s second behind closed doors event finishing around three hours behind schedule because of a storm on the South Carolina coast. At one point six players shared the lead but Hatton, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March – the last PGA Tour event to be completed before the coronavirus hiatus – jumped clear to lead on 19 under with four birdies in five holes from the second.

Hamilton will have a faster car for first F1 race in Austria

World champion Lewis Hamilton will have a faster Mercedes for the first race of the delayed Formula 1 season as a result of a number of upgraded parts. The Briton has not driven the 2020 car since the end of testing in February. Mercedes technical director James Allison said they worked on getting developments designed in January, February and March on to the car. All F1 teams were shut down from the last week of March through April and May, and returned to work this month in preparation for the start of the season in Austria on 5 July. The number of upgrades they have managed to produce in that time will have a defining effect on competitiveness as the season starts up. Mercedes tested at Silverstone earlier this month with a 2018 car to give the team and drivers a chance to “blow off the cobwebs” and try out the new working practices aimed at avoiding any risks with coronavirus. Organisers have said they were still aiming for a reduced season of 15-18 races. The sport had already cancelled four races, including the showcase Monaco Grand Prix in May, with a revised and shortened provisional European schedule set to start in Austria without spectators.

Superbike season resumes on 31 July in Spain

The 2020 World Superbike season will return at Jerez in Spain from 31 July to 2 August, organisers have confirmed. A number of further rounds were announced in a statement issued by the World Superbike Championship organisers last Friday.  The series will go to Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal from 7-9 August and return to Spain at MotorLand Aragon from 4-6 September. The first round was held at Phillip Island on 29 February and 1 March. Meanwhile, motorcycling’s  premier competition,  the MotoGP, has announced a revised  calendar for 2020 consisting of a minimum of 13 races, and a maximum of 17, with the season to start on 19 July. Seven of the races will be held in Spain, including the first two at Jerez, with one in Barcelona, two at Aragon and another two in Valencia. There will be two races in Austria, two in Italy and one apiece in the Czech Republic and France.

Pandemic forces SA to cancel three-team cricket

Cricket South Africa has been forced to postpone its trial of three-team cricket after failing to win government backing for the original date of 27  over concerns about preparations following the Covid-19 pandemic. CSA had hoped to stage the unique fixture that would see a trio of sides compete in one 36-over match at SuperSport Park near Pretoria for what would have been a return to cricket for the likes of AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada. Meanwhile, England’s three-Test series against West Indies is set to start on 8 July. The matches are to be played behind closed doors in a bio-secure environment at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl and Lancashire’s Old Trafford.  Of those tournaments cancelled or postponed, The Hundred. The England and Wales Cricket Board’s new city-based tournament, will now take place next year.  If and when the 2020 season does begin, the ECB has already stated it will focus on delivering men’s and women’s internationals, as well as domestic first-class and limited-overs competitions, in the period between July and the end of September. However, it seems likely the majority of cricket would have to be played behind closed doors The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) has already been suspended “until further notice”.

Serena says she will play at the rescheduled US Open

Serena Williams says she intends to play at this year’s behind-closed-doors US Open and bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam. The event will be held without fans in New York from 31 August, despite some players voicing concerns. But Williams, 38, said: “I really cannot wait to return to New York and play the US Open 2020.” The ATP and WTA Tours, suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, will resume in early August. This year’s Wimbledon Championships were

Serena Williams lost to Bianca Andreescu in last year’s US Open

cancelled for the first time since 1945 as a result. Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu followed Williams hours later with confirmation that she will defend her US Open title, saying she had no doubt the United States Tennis Association (UTSA) had the “best plan to ensure our safety”. The US Open will be the first Grand Slam to take place since the pandemic, with the USTA saying the decision to hold it without fans was “not easy” but the “correct one”. A number of players have questioned the decision to hold a reduced event in New York, which has been one of the epicentres of the crisis. Williams needs one more Grand Slam victory to tie Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 victories. The American has lost four major finals – including the past two at the US Open – since returning from giving birth to daughter Olympia in 2017.

Pro14 tournament returns from 22 August

The Pro14 will return from a five-month Covid-19 pandemic hiatus with derbies from 22 August. Teams from the same nation play against each other home and away before the season is concluded via semi-finals and a final. Those finishing in the top two places in Conference A and B will contest the semi-finals. That final is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 12 September with the venue to be confirmed. The remaining eight rounds of fixtures scheduled will not be completed, meaning the regular season will be cut from 21 games to 15. Four consecutive weekends from the restart date have been earmarked to conclude the campaign. Defending champions Leinster and Edinburgh lead Conference A and B respectively. European qualification will be based on finishing positions after round 13, which has already been finalised along with the unplayed games deemed draws. Meanwhile,  English Premiership Rugby, which has nine rounds remaining,  is planning to resume its 2019-20 campaign on 15 August. The Premiership had been aiming to resume on 27 June and play the season to its conclusion before, after a short break, starting the 2020-21 campaign on time. Rugby at all levels in Europe has been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sagan says he’ll focus on Giro and Tour de France

Three-time former world champion Peter Sagan says he will skip most of the one-day classics this year to ride the Giro d’Italia after the Tour de France. Sagan, 30, will target a record eighth green points jersey at the rescheduled Tour from 29 August to 20 September. He will then make his Giro debut from 3-25 October, missing ‘monument’ races the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, both of which he has previously won. “I promised the Giro before the date changed,” said Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sagan. The Giro, which was scheduled for 9-31 May, was moved to follow the Tour and now overlaps with most of the one-day classics that were set to take place in Belgium and the Netherlands across March and April. Slovakia’s Sagan added he will race the season-opening Strade-Bianche one-day classic on 1 August before targeting Milan-San Remo on 8 August, the first ‘monument’ – cycling’s oldest and most prestigious races – of the season, which he has twice finished second in.  The Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, two of cycling’s three Grand Tour races will overlap during October,  part of a packed schedule across just over three months from 1 August.

Still hope for London Marathon to be run in October

London Marathon organisers have “not given up hope” of holding the event in October, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The 40th edition of the race was originally scheduled for 26 April but was pushed back to 4 October at the start of the outbreak. Race director Hugh Brasher said he “hopes that the world will have found a way through coronavirus” by October. It is the first time the race, first run in 1981, has been postponed. Meanwhile, The Great North Run, which was due to attract more than 55,000 runners, has been cancelled.  The famous half-marathon from Newcastle to South Shields was scheduled for  13 September, in what would have been its 40th year. Athletics premier competition, the Diamond League,  plans to hold three meetings in August in Monaco, Gateshead and Stockholm followed by September events in Lausanne, Brussels, Paris, Shanghai and possibly Rome or Naples. Meetings in Eugene, Doha and China have been scheduled for October. Along with the London Diamond League event, Rabat and Zurich have also been cancelled.

NBA plan to resume season sparks concerns

The NBA’s plan to resume its season in an Orlando bubble at Disney World in Florida may be running into trouble. There is a growing concern among players, executives and the league office, according to ESPN, as coronavirus cases in Florida continue to swell. The state has become a hot spot of late, with a record 4,049 new cases on Saturday.  NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently had a “tense” call with high-level team executives in which he acknowledged the surge of cases in Florida, ESPN said.The league is “closely monitoring the data in Florida and Orange County and will continue to work collaboratively with the National Basketball Players Association, public health officials and medical experts regarding our plans,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN. The NBA is planning to bring 22 teams to Orlando, with games set to begin on 30 July and a potential champion crowned by October.  Major League Soccer (MLS) is also planning to move en masse to Florida, taking over a Disney hotel for a World Cup-style tournament that will run from 8 July through to 11 August.  All 26 teams will take part in the “MLS is Back Tournament” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in the Orlando area. The league play has been suspended since 12 March. The NHL have suspended their season and Major League Baseball (MLB) organisers, team owners and players are still discussing a plan to start playing in empty stadiums in July.

Tiz the Law wins Belmont Stakes to cheers of nobody

Heavily favoured Tiz the Law won an unprecedented Belmont Stakes, claiming victory Saturday at the first race of a rejigged Triple Crown schedule in front of eerily empty grandstands. The three-year-old colt from upstate New York charged to the lead turning for home and now can set his sights on the 5 September Kentucky Derby and 3 October Preakness. All three legs of this year’s Triple Crown schedule were postponed due to the

Tiz the Law wins the Belmont Stakes

coronavirus pandemic. Belmont, usually the series capper, was initially scheduled for 6 June. Tiz the Law gave New York a hometown champion in its first major sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic seized the area. He’s the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont since Forester in 1882 The 4-5 favourite won by 3 3/4 lengths, covering the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.53. Dr Post finished second, and Max Player was third. In most every way, this Belmont States was unlike any of the 151 that preceded it. The Long Island track can pack in nearly 100,000, but this race had about 100 on hand, including jockeys, media and park staff. Masks were mandated for all but the horses — even the jockeys wore face coverings. Meanwhile at Royal Ascot, veteran jockey Frankie Dettori landed a 150-1 treble to finish the week on a high as the leading rider. It started with Campanelle (9-2) in the Queen Mary Stakes before Alpine Star (9-2) took the Coronation Stakes. The treble was completed with a second Group One win of the day thanks to Palace Pier (4-1) for John Gosden in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Trump eases into last four of Tour Championship 

World champion Judd Trump eased into the semi-finals of the Tour Championship with a 9-4 victory over John Higgins in Milton Keynes on Sunday. In a repeat of last year’s world final, Trump, 30, edged a scrappy first session to lead 5-3 at the interval. But a blistering start to the evening session that included a break of 135 saw him pull clear of Higgins. Trump will now face Scotland’s Stephen Maguire in the last four of the eight-man tournament. Maguire surprised Australian Neil Robertson 9-5 on Saturday.

For full coverage of sporting events go to: 

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Calendar Keynotes: 22-28 June

Competition has been postponed or cancelled in most major sports because of Covid-19 but football has returned in major European countries and the USPGA golf circuit has resumed.

Monday, 22 June

Football: English Premier Legue – Manchester City v Burnley, Spanish La Liga – Villareal v Sevilla, Leganes v Granada, Italian Serie A – Fiorentina v Brescia, Lecce v AC Milan, Bologna v Juventus.

Snooker: Tour Championship, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK (till 26 June).

Tuesday, 23 June

Football: English Premier League – Leicester City v Brighton & Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United, Spanish La Liga – Levante v Atletico Madrid, Real Valladolid v Getafe, Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao, Italian Serie A – SPAL v Cagliari, Hellas Verona v Napoli, Genoa v Parma, Torino v Udinese.

Snooker: Tour Championship, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK (till 26 June).

Wednesday, 24 June  

Football: English Premier League – Manchester United v Sheffield United, Newcastle United v Aston Villa, Norwich City v Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers v AFC Bournemouth, Liverpool v Crystal Palace, Spanish La Liga – Alaves v Osasuna, Rel Sociedad v Celta Vigo, Real Madrid v Mallorca, Italian Serie A – Inter Milan v Sassuolo, Atalanta v Lazio, Roma v Sampdoria.

Thursday, 25 June

Football: English Premier League – Burnley v Watford, Southampton v Arsenal, Chelsea v Manchester City, Spanish La Liga – Eibar v Valencia, Real Betis v Espanyol.

Golf: USPGA Tour, Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut, US (till 28 June).

Snooker: Tour Championship, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK (till 26 June).

Friday, 26 June

Football: Spanish La Liga – Sevilla v Real Valladolid, Italian Series A – Juventus v Lecce.

Golf: USPGA Tour, Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut, US (till 28 June).

Snooker: Tour Championship, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK (final day).

Saturday, 27 June

Football: Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers, FA Cup quarter-finals – Norwich City v Manchester United, Spanish La Liga – Athletic Bilbao v Mallorca, Celta Vigo v Barcelona, Osasuna v Leganes, Atletico Madrid v Alaves, Italian Serie A – Brescia v Genoa, Cagliari v Torino, Lazio v Fiorentina, German Bundesliga – 1. FC Union Berlin v Fortuna Dusseldorf, Borussia Dortmund v 1899 Hoffenheim, Borussia Monchengladbach v Hertha Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt v SC Paderborn 07, FC Augsburg v RB Leipzig, SC Freiburg v FC Schalke 04, Werder Bremen v 1. FC Koln, VfL Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich.

Golf: USPGA Tour, Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut, US (till 28 June).

Sunday, 28 June

Football: English Premier League –  Watford v Southampton, FA Cup quarter-finals – Sheffield United v Arsenal, Leicester City v Chelsea, Newcastle United v Manchester City, Spanish La Liga – Levante v Real Betis, Villareal v Valencia, Granada v Eibar, Espanyol v Real Madrid, Italian Serie A – AC Milan v Roma, Napoli v SPAL, Sampdoria v Bologna, Sassuolo v Hellas Verona, Udinese v Atalanta, Parma v Inter Milan.

Golf: USPGA Tour, Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut, US (till 28 June).

Snooker: Tour Championship, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK (till 26 June).