Premier League giants Liverpool are set to battle it out with… – The Hard Tackle

Premier League giants Liverpool are set to battle it out with rivals Arsenal in the pursuit of Borussia Moenchengladbach star Thorgan Hazard, who is cost around £35 million


Player Ratings: Real Madrid 3 – Athletic Bilbao 0; 2019 La Liga – Managing Madrid

A physical and frustrating opening first half left the match wide open with both teams failing to score. Neither team could find any sort of rhythm due to the stop-start nature of the game. But once again, it was a tale of two halves as Madrid came out with more intention in the second half. Asensio provided an inch perfect cross in the 47th minute to Karim Benzema to open the scoring. The Frenchman would ultimately net a hat-trick and see Madrid stroll to a comfortable 3-0 victory. Full match ratings below:

Keylor Navas—6.5: Had relatively little to do for most of the match, but came up big with a kick save to deny Inaki Williams in the 85th minute.

Dani Carvajal—5.5: A poor first half from Dani, who had some heavy touches and was sloppy in possession, having misplaced a number of simple passes. Improved in the second half and locked down the right side denying Cordoba or Yuri any opportunities.

Jesus Vallejo—7.5: A great performance from a young player who has managed just two minutes of La Liga play prior to this start. Battled all night long with Inaki Williams and kept him in his pocket. Looked strong in the air, aggressive to step out, and timed his interventions well. Made a crucial sliding tackle to deny a low cross to Inaki which would have almost certainly been a goal. Madrid immediately countered after that play and scored the opening goal of the game.

Raphael Varane—7: A very strong performance from Varane, who was assured in possession and a monster in the back. Completed 10 out of 11 long balls and had a team high of 9 clearances.

Marcelo—4.5: The effort was there, but the Brazilian lacked that final bit of quality— be it in the final pass, in his dribbling, or his 1v1 defending. All were a bit lacking today.

Casemiro—6.5: A typical Case performance, where he had 2 tackles and 5 clearances in a solid defensive display and then kept his game plan simple— finding Luka and Toni to build play out.

Luka Modric—6: A very poor first half, where Luka struggled to compete with the physicality in the match and had some misplaced passes. Like the rest of the team, kicked it up a gear in the second half and a had a team high 3 key passes.

Toni Kroos—7: One of the German’s best games for a while— was at the heart of most Madrid attacks, including driving at the Bilbao backline to help facilitate the opening goal. Completed 11 of his 11 long balls and was the metronome in the middle.

Lucas Vazquez—6: As always puts a tremendous amount of work into each match. Had a resounding six tackles from the right wing position and still managed two key passes. Lacked the final ball and failed to be decisive to the attack, thus his rating has been impacted despite the positive stats.

Marco Asensio—7: Deployed on the left today and had a few bright moments in the first half but overall was quiet. Then, in the second stanza, turned it up a notch and provided the assist on a beautiful one time cross to Karim Benzema’s head for the first goal. Grew in confidence as the match wore on and provided some lovely skills including a roulette on Yeray.

Karim Benzema—9: Hat trick hero. Has now scored 30 goals in all completions including 11 from headers. Scored two headers tonight and completed his hat trick with an open net in the 90th minute.


Isco—5: Came on on the 69th minute for Toni Kroos. Had two completed passes and circulated possession, but did little else.

Gareth Bale—6.5: Tried to get in behind the Bilbao defense on multiple occasions and successed twice. The first time missing a 1v1 with Bilbao goalkeeper Herrín and the second time providing the assist for Karim’s hat-trick.

Brahim Diaz—7: Fun 7 minute cameo from the youngster. Immediately ran at the Bilbao backline and drew an applause from the Bernabeu after some beautiful skill to beat his man 1v1.

Roger Federer: Will Swiss star have Monte Carlo Masters regrets after Rafael Nadal exit? – Express

That is the view of Amazon Prime pundit Greg Rusedski.

Federer will play on clay for the first time since 2016 next month when he competes at the Madrid Masters.

The Swiss began his preparations for the clay last week and appeared to be enjoying his return to the surface.

Despite winning 101 career titles, victory in Monte Carlo has remained elusive for the 37-year-old.

Federer has been runner-up four times in Monte Carlo, losing three times to Rafael Nadal and once to Stan Wawrinka.

But had Federer played in Monte Carlo this year and reached the final, Nadal wouldn’t have been in his way after he lost to Fabio Fognini in the semi-finals.

When it was suggested Federer might have some regrets about not playing, Rusedski said on Amazon Prime: “I don’t think Roger looks at it like that.

“He still looking at the Slams and major titles.

“And on clay physically, can he play that game where he takes the ball consistently early? Madrid and Rome suit him a lot more.

“These conditions this week have been wet, they’ve been a little bit heavier, it’s been windy so it’s been very tricky.

“I think Roger has got his preparation and his sights set on winning another major.

“And using the clay as a springboard for the grass court season.”

Federer’s decision to play on the clay has been universally backed with even Nadal calling it “positive news”.

“For my side, the only thing that I can say is positive news, because having the best players playing in more events is better for our sport,” he said.

“Having Roger playing on clay, of course, is better for the tournaments that he gonna play. Is better for the fans.

“And that’s better for the players in general terms, too. Because when the top players are playing, the sport is bigger. So is good to have him.”

WATCH: Dale Steyn bowls the perfect yorker to get rid of Suresh Raina – The twelfth Man Times

Dale Steyn provided the much needed boost for the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling attack in IPL 2019 as he replaced Nathan Coulter-Nile, who has flown back to Australia after suffering a stiff back. Steyn’s last appearance in the IPL was in 2016 for the Gujarat Lions but he had played just one match for the franchise. The South African pacer had played for Royal Challengers between 2008 and 2010 in 28 matches and picked up 27 wickets before moving to Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The Royal Challengers led by Virat Kohli have been languishing at the bottom of the table after going winless in their first six matches and their inability to pick up wickets with the new ball and at the death has been a massive concern for Virat Kohli and Co. While the Royal Challengers still stand a chance to make it to the playoffs of the tournament, Steyn’s return might just galvanize the team to go on a winning run. 

Steyn had a pretty impressive return to the IPL, registering figures of 2/40 in his four overs while also picking up the important wickets of Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill in his spell. The South African speedster was once again on fire with the new ball in hand in the ongoing match against the Chennai Super Kings at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, picking up two wickets in two balls to give the home side the advantage defending a below par total of 162.

Steyn sent back veteran all-rounder Shane Watson with a ripping outswinger on the fifth ball of the very first over. The ball took the outside edge of Watson’s blade and flew in the direction of Marcus Stoinis at first slip, who grasped it comfortably. The next ball to Suresh Raina was a toecrusher which sneaked in between the southpaw’s bat and pad to knock off his off stump. Facing only his first delivery, Raina was left clueless and had absolutely no answer to it as he gave the impression of being bewildered before departing for a golden duck.

Watch the video here:

I backed Virat Kohli when MS Dhoni and Gary Kirsten had not heard of him: Dilip Vengsarkar – Hindustan Times

Former chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar Sunday claimed he had fast-tracked Virat Kohli’s entry into the Indian team when captain MS Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten “had not heard” of him.

Vengsarkar was speaking after launching the book ‘Howzzat’ penned by celebrated astrologer Greenstone Lobo in suburban Bandra.

“…Then I picked Virat Kohli in the (national) team straight away. To be honest with you, we used to play (the) Emerging Players tournament in Australia, and that time I was in charge of the selection committee.

“And I had gone to Australia to see the match and I had picked him (Virat) because they had won the Under 19 World Cup,’” recalled the former India captain.

The 116 Test veteran also said that Tamil Nadu batsman S Badrinath had to make way for Virat.

“And in the first game itself he (Virat) scored a hundred (in that tournament). And I was impressed (and thought) he is the boy (and has) exceptional talent. I came back and others had not heard of him.

READ: IPL 2019: Dale Steyn trolls Ravichandran Ashwin over ‘Mankad’ incident

“M S Dhoni was the captain, Gary Kirsten was the coach of the India team and they had not heard of him, so they said we should not pick him now at the moment and let him play few games and I was insisting that you must pick this guy, there is no question and they had to drop (S) Badrinath at that time,” said Vengsarkar, who is fondly known as ‘Colonel’.

Kohli, who made his India debut against Sri Lanka on August 18, 2008, has scaled heights in his ever rising career and will lead India in the upcoming World Cup, which begins May 30 in England.

In the same vein, the former captain, who has scored three hundreds at Lords claimed that it was on his insistence that Sachin Tendulkar was picked in the then Bombay side.

“Sachin Tendulkar was picked when I was the captain of the Bombay (now Mumbai) team, everybody was against him (saying) he was too small (young) at that time but I insisted that he (Tendulkar) should be picked,” he remembered.

Vengsarkar also recalled anecdotes of his playing days, while Lobo predicted that India would beat arch rivals Pakistan in the marqee clash in the World Cup.

First Published:
Apr 21, 2019 23:05 IST

Cardiff City vs. Liverpool – Football Match Report – April 21, 2019 – ESPN

Liverpool returned to the top of the table with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Cardiff City thanks to goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and a James Milner penalty.

Jurgen Klopp’s men had the better of the opening 45 minutes but were unable to break the deadlock.

Roberto Firmino in particular was guilty of blazing over when left with a one-on-one with Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

Cardiff, whose midweek victory away to relegation rivals Brighton had given them real hope of survival, looked determined to upset the odds and claim a valuable point as they created a few half chances early on.

However, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was rarely threatened and the visitors came out much the stronger in the second half — and their pressure finally told as they opened the scoring on 57 minutes.

Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s low corner came to Wijnaldum, who rifled an effort into the corner.

Cardiff defender Sean Morrison should have pulled a goal back for the hosts when he somehow completely missed a header when presented with an open goal as the ball hit his back.

Morrison’s day went from bad-to-worse as he conceded a penalty with 10 minutes remaining after tangling with Salah and Milner made no mistake from the spot.

“It was prepared to be a proper banana skin and we knew that, the boys were unbelievable,” Klopp said. “It was clear, difficult for all of us.

“The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do. Their attitude is outstanding and it’s a tough season but a very positive one as well.”

Liverpool return to the Premier League’s summit with Manchester City, who are two points behind travelling to rivals United on Wednesday to play their game in hand.

Cardiff remain in the drop zone, three points behind Brighton, who have a game in hand.

Vidal’s performance a work of Art for Barcelona against Real Sociedad – Barca Blaugranes

Before the game against Real Sociedad kicked off, most Cules were expecting that Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez or Ousmane Dembele would be the probable match-winners in a game Barca normally win relatively comfortably.

The Basques were, for all intents and purposes, there for the taking, given their record at the Camp Nou where they’d not managed to stop Barca from scoring since 1983!

If ever there was what can be termed a ‘home banker,’ this was it. Only it didn’t quite pan out like that.

Clearly, La Real hadn’t read the script, and for all of Suarez’s physicality, Dembele’s pace and Messi’s guile, the Catalans should doff their caps and thank Arturo Vidal for the win.

The Chilean often gets a bad press, but with the Blaugranes only two more wins away from another title, Vidal can lay claim to having won leagues in three different countries – and having played the fullest part in all of them.

He covered every blade of grass on Saturday night, breaking up play as often as he was able and not allowing the opposition to get a foothold in his area of the pitch.

Importantly, his presence also afforded Ernesto Valverde the opportunity to rest Sergio Busquets for the most part, something that could be crucial for the next 2-3 weeks in particular.

Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba will get the plaudits for the goals, but for an all-round performance Vidal takes the honours.

He almost managed to get himself on the scoresheet too, but somehow skied the ball when well placed in the second half.

It’s interesting to note the sway in public opinion from the locals towards him too. They prefer their heroes to be technical exponents rather than battering rams, but just as Paulinho won them round eventually, Vidal has done the same.

The working class supporters who make up the majority of the attendance at the Camp Nou love the player who gives his all. Who leaves everything out on the pitch and who mirrors their own ethic.

Barca’s history is littered with some of the most skilful players to have ever played the game, but there’s always been room for a ‘minder’ for want of a better term.

Frankly, every top club needs one.

A hard-as-nails competitor whose style of play frees those more adept at the intricacies that Barca are known and loved for.

With Arthur still not up to a full 90 minutes in his first season in Europe, Vidal, at the very least, gives Valverde options.

If truth be told though, he gives the coach much, much more than that.

IPL 2019: AB de Villiers in awe of ‘irrepressible’ Virat Kohli – Times of India

Virat Kohli scored a century in
Royal Challengers Bangalore‘s (RCB) win on Friday. Victory is something that has eluded RCB consistently this season, with just two in nine matches. So it required a special knock from Kohli (100 off 58 balls) against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who came close to upsetting Kohli & Co before losing by 10 runs. And Kohli’s heroics saw
AB de Villiers singing praises of his skipper.

“The tallest trees catch the most wind, runs an old Afrikaans saying.” That’s how de Villiers began his column for the The Times of India on Sunday.


“Virat has endured a challenging campaign, like all of us at RCB — although we’re not dead yet in this tournament — but he produced the perfect T20 innings in Kolkata, batting from the first over until the last ball, scoring a masterful century, leading his team to victory.”

De Villiers then dissected Kohli’s winning knock, comparing his death-overs onslaught to the famous volcano in Italy.

“He initially accepted responsibility to anchor the innings, skillfully working the ball into gaps while Moeen Ali led the charge; and then, in the closing four overs, like a cricketing Vesuvius, Virat erupted in a blaze of dazzling stroke-play, crashing 45 runs from only 16 balls,” the South African wrote.

He suggested that Kohli has the “skill and courage” to lead and perform, while his moves are closely watched and invite widespread reactions.

“He captains RCB and India from the front, with skill and courage in equal measure. As such, he lives and plays under intense scrutiny, with every act, decision and word dissected and debated by tens of millions. It is my privilege to watch him work, to watch him practice and plan, to watch him perform and, as a man and cricketer, he has my total admiration,” the former South Africa captain added.

De Villiers also reserved special praise for chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who plays for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

“In Indian cricket, and indeed world cricket, there are a few taller trees than the irrepressible Kohli, the superstar batsman and captain, and (Kuldeep) Yadav, the left-arm spin bowler who has made a wonderful impact across all three formats in recent years.”

He reckoned Yadav could be the ace in India’s pack at the World Cup beginning May 30 in England and Wales.

“Make no mistake, aged 24, Yadav is a proper champion. Armed with a quick wrist and great disguise, he’s famously difficult to pick — very often, it’s impossible to know which way the ball is going to turn. And he’s not conservative: he’s gutsy and brave, unafraid to give the ball flight in the quest for wickets, and I’m backing him to play a major role in India’s forthcoming campaign to win the World Cup,” de Villiers concluded.