VW Motorsport enters 10th year in India, unleashes rear-engine RWD Polo!

first_img2019 marks ten years of Volkswagen Motorsport in India. Volkswagen has been a very active part of the Indian Motorsport scene starting off with the Polo Cup one make series in 2010 fielding 1.6-litre 130 PS Polos. In 2012, the diesel engines gave way to 1.4-litre turbo petrol units with an output of 180 PS while transmission duties were transferred to DSG auto ‘boxes with an aim to bridge the gap between their Indian and international racing programmes.The VW Vento took over from the Polo in 2015 sporting the same drivetrain. Volkswagen’s motorsport programme in India took a giant leap in 2017 with the arrival of the Ameo Cup cars. Giant because for the first time, VW was fielding a completely localized race car built from the ground up at its facility in Chakan, Pune. The race-spec Ameo also marked the debut of the 1.8-litre TSI petrol mill mated with a sequential gearbox with paddle shifters churning out 205PS making it the most powerful car ever built by the team.VW Motorsport’s Customer Support initiative builds rally cars for customers looking to participate in the Indian National Rally Championship (INRC). It builds rally-spec Polos for the INRC1, INRC2 and INRC3 categories and provides support and spares at rally rounds across the country. Besides rallying, the Customer Support initiative has also seen the creation of the Vento ITC with a 1.8-litre TSI petrol restricted to 205PS. A Track Day derivative of the same without the turbo restrictions makes upwards of 230PS.Winter ProjectTo mark its tenth year in India, Volkswagen Motorsport went all out and created the “Winter Project”. Unrestricted by any racing regulations, this track day tool based on the Polo’s body shell features a rear-mounted 1.8-litre TSI petrol from the Ameo Cup car powering the rear wheels. Like the race-spec Ameo, the “Winter Project” aka Polo RX boasts a sequential shifter controlled with steering mounted paddles.advertisement Extensive work had to be done to accommodate the layout with the creation of mounts for the engine, gearbox and suspension at the back. With the intercooler occupying the space traditionally used by the fuel tank, the latter had to be moved to the front. The rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout helps the car’s dynamic abilities leaving the front wheels to focus on turn-ins while the driven rear wheels, with the weight of the engine and other components in the back, benefit from increased grip. Speaking about this special creation, Mr. Sirish Vissa, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport India said, “I am extremely excited about our ‘Winter Project’ car! It is commendable how the team has managed to pull off this project with limited access to high end software and technology. Young engineers and technicians in the team have shown real calibre by getting this masterpiece ready in less than three weeks!”For now, the Polo RX can be commissioned by customers for track day purposes. In the future, though, the company says the car can be adapted to regulations to suit various forms of motorsports such as autocross, circuit racing or rallying.ALSO READ | Maruti Suzuki Ertiga LXI and LDI variants discontinuedALSO READ | 2019 Ford Figo revealed ahead of launch on March 15, introductory price expected to be below Rs 5 lakhALSO READ | 2019 Maserati Quattroporte launched in India, price starts at Rs 1.74 crorelast_img read more

Could have won Khel Ratna if Punjab government had sent my nomination on time: Harbhajan Singh

first_imgVeteran Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was recently in the news after his nomination for the highest Indian sports honour was rejected by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Following the rejection, Harbhajan, has pleaded to the Punjab government (Sports Ministry) to look into the matter of the delay in his nomination for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, reaching the Central government.In a video posted on his official YouTube channel ‘Harbhajan Turbanator Singh’, the off-spinner made an emotional plea to the Sports Minister of the Punjab government, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi.”I have come to know from the media that my nomination filed by the Punjab government for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna has been declined by the Centre with the reason being that the papers arrived quite late. I’ve learned that due to this delay, I won’t be getting the award this year,” said Harbhajan.Harbhajan claimed that he had completed the formalities and submitted the form by March 20, 2019 itself and was curious to know how could the delay still occur.”I would like to plead the Sports Minister of the Punjab Government to start an inquiry into the matter as to why and how the delay occured. Because, as far as I can remember, I had got the forms submitted into his office by March 20, but still it got delayed. If it had been on time, I could’ve won the award this year,” reasoned Harbhajan.Harbhajan Singh also said that such instances could discourage sportspersons leading to a number of them getting ‘left behind’.advertisement”For every sportsperson, it’s an encouragement if his performances are recognised via awards. If such delays continue to happen, a number of players might get left behind and this is not right at some level. I hope that the the Minister concerned will definitely act on this and forward my nomination once again to the Centre,” concluded Harbhajan Singh.Read more | ‘Nothing confirmed yet’: Hasan Ali on marriage news with Indian girlAlso see:last_img read more




first_imgMiddle America is experiencing a propane fuel shortage as farmers and grain elevators need the product to help reduce the moisture content and dry their crops.Some homeowners and businesses also need the fuel to help heat their buildings since temperatures have dropped.Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says the shortage is more of a delivery problem:Audio Playerhttp://kscj.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/PROPANE1.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.OC…………spike in demand. :20Naig says he and the governor, and other officials, are working with stakeholders to see what can be done to increase the supply of propane:Audio Playerhttp://kscj.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/PROPANE2.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.OC……….couple of weeks. :16He says at least in the short-term, the price for propane may increase.Audio Playerhttp://kscj.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/PROPANE3.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.OC…..happening out there. ;25The Iowa Ag Secretary believes once the harvest is complete, theshortage issue will be resolved.last_img read more

So, Um, What’s Wrong With the Big 12 As It Stands?

first_imgThe Big 12 is a complete and total mess. It is the worst of the Power Five conferences when it comes to football and probably overall perception. It can’t make up its mind about anything and has the largest millstone in the country (Texas) tied around its neck (and it is paying yearly to keep that millstone there).There’s also nothing wrong with the Big 12. Or there’s less wrong with it than what would be wrong with it if you tried to change it from its current status.Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports came out with a report on Wednesday that the Big 12 could fold in an additional $1B in revenue over the next eight years by expanding to 14 teams. Sounds great, right? Not when you read the fine print.[Fox and ESPN] are contractually bound to provide “pro rata” for any new Big 12 members. That is, any new members would be paid an equal share of the current Big 12 members — approximately $23 million per year.OK … great. What does that do for Oklahoma State and Texas Tech? The answer is, well, probably not a lot.While on its face that doesn’t necessarily help the 10 current members of the Big 12, opening the existing contract would allow for a negotiation beyond that $1 billion figure.So ESPN and Fox are going to pay beyond that $1B for Cincinnati, Memphis and Colorado State? I sort of doubt that. And while it is news that ESPN and Fox have to open the coffers for (presumably) any new teams that enter the Big 12, it still doesn’t get you where you need to be which is expanding the pie as a whole.There is the idea that a conference championship game could net you a couple extra mil, but is that worth the watering down your conference to basically become a glorified AAC buoyed by Texas and OU? To me, it is not.And I don’t think the schools think that it’s worth it either but they don’t really know what to do at this point. They’re as lost as the rest of us.“I really don’t expect we’ll make any decisions at the spring meetings, but that’s up to our presidents and chancellors,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Dallas Morning News. “My guess is they’ll want to be thoughtful about it, and they will get a whole bunch of data on a whole bunch of different topics and then they’ll want to go back to campus … and formulate a position on the different positions.”Formulate a position on the different positions. That sums up the Big 12 quite well right now doesn’t it.So we think the Big 12 Network ship has sailed, and we don’t really think expansion is a true option. How about this: Keep everything as it is and figure everything out when the TV contract is up in the mid 2020s. No, you aren’t making SEC or Big 10 money right now, but exactly what is the path to making that extra money?This entire conference screwed itself into the ground five years ago when it told Texas, “you can literally do whatever you want and we will bow down and worship at a 200-foot high golden idol of Darrell Royal if you deem us worthy to do such a thing.” There’s no reason to add Central Florida and BYU to try and right that misstep a half decade ago.All you end up doing is entangling yourself more when everyone tries to wrest themselves free here in about 10 years. It would be like breaking your leg in the middle of the street and asking your three-year-old kid to drag you to safety. Yeah, that will end well.So I say cut the BS, get on with the conference and plan for the future. Or hey, don’t tell anybody down in Austin, but you could lawyer up and go to the SEC. Call everybody’s bluff on the Big 12 grant of rights. How great would that be?Or merge with the Sun Belt. Whatever you want. It’s clear there’s not really a plan (or a planner for that matter) anyway.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!last_img read more

Game Time: Everything You Need to Follow Oklahoma State-South Alabama

first_imgGame day! Oklahoma State will go against USA on Friday evening in Mobile, Alabama so put on your treasonous orange attire, and let’s get up for Game 2.We will put everything you need to know about this week’s game into one post like this. From TV times and channels to Vegas lines and our preview pieces, this is your weekly one-stop shop to get initiated with the OSU game of the week.Teams• Oklahoma State: 1-0 (0-0)• South Alabama: 0-1 (0-0)• All-time series: 0-0-0• In Mobile: 0-0-0• Last meeting: 0-0-0Wagering• Line: Oklahoma State -29• First half: Oklahoma State -18• Over/Under: 67Time | Location• 7 p.m. CST• Mobile, Alabama• Ladd-Peebles Stadium (40,600)Television• Channel: ESPN2• Online: WatchESPN.com or WatchESPN app• Announcers: Adam Amin | Dusty Dvoracek | Molly McGrath  ESPN2SuddenlinkCoxDirecTVDish Stillwater36 | 236–209143 Radio• Cowboy Radio Network• TuneIn• Sirius (83)• XM (83)Preview Pieces• OSU’s title hopes could be tied to newcomers• Ramon Richards on what makes OSU different this year• It might be time to recalibrate what OSU can be• Film study: S. Alabama• Is this Troy 2.0?• On OSU’s unselfish receivers• Three things to know about S. Alabama• King of the game vs. S. Alabama• Three and out: Pokes must limit mistakes• Glenn Spencer thinks the defensive issues can be correctedPFB Coverage Tonight• We won’t have anyone at the game tonight, but we’ll have coverage rolling all night on the blog.•  Our postgame show with Kyle Porter and Carson Cunningham will go out on Facebook, Twitter and on the blog and it is tentatively scheduled for 11 p.m.Time to rock!If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!center_img Tulsa32 | 23226209143 OKC–28209143last_img read more

Arsenal team news & likely line-up

first_imgPremier League Arsenal Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Bournemouth Chris Wheatley Last updated 2 years ago 14:15 9/9/2017 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) Arsene Wenger Alexis Sanchez Getty Premier League Arsenal A. Sánchez Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth Everything you need to know ahead of the Premier League clash at Emirates Stadium on Saturday Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger aims to right the wrongs of the Gunners last two Premier League games by getting back to winning ways against Bournemouth on Saturday.The Frenchman has had a busy few weeks following the closure of the transfer market which saw Arsenal hold onto Alexis Sanchez, despite the Chilean’s desire to join Manchester City on deadline day.Arsenal 15/2 to beat Bournemouth 2-0 Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Wenger was prepared to let Sanchez leave if they could bring in a world class replacement to the name of Monaco livewire Thomas Lemar, but the France international opted to stay at he Ligue 1 giants after late offers from Arsenal and Liverpool were accepted.”I have no doubt about Alexis’ mind and mentality that people question,” said Wenger.”He needs to come back to full fitness what he was not at Liverpool, it was his first game. He suffered and had a negative experience with Chile and he’s strong mentally and hopefully he’ll be back quickly to his best.”I believe the transfer market is over, there was a lot going on on that front so overall it’s very difficult for me to speak about that because the most important for us now is to focus on the next game.”A tough-looking league game against the Cherries awaits Arsenal on Saturday afternoon but they be confident of securing all three points if their front three of Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil are firing on all cylinders.ARSENAL INJURIES Wenger will make late decisions on whether the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey will be involved on Saturday following their national team excursions earlier in the week.Sanchez has been ruled out with an abdominal strain for the first two league games of the season but played in the defeat at Liverpool and could start against Bournemouth.”We don’t know yet because Sanchez, Ospina, Ramsey are players coming back together,” admitted Wenger in his pre-match press conference. “We’ll check that throughout the day. At the moment we have no injuries and everyone is looking to come back well. Wilshere is getting stronger every day.”Bournemouth is at team who can give problems to everybody. I believe we have to just focus on our performance. We know our season will be judged on how strong we are at home.”I haven’t decided if he’ll [Wilshere] be in the squad or not. He still needs some fitness work but he’s in a positive trend and getting better and better.”Long-term injured midfielder Santi Cazorla will step up his recovery at London Colney today but is unlikely to be involved in first team matter until the turn of next year.”He’s having his first run today so that’s quite positive,” said Wenger. “The flexibility of his ankle is good, his mobility is good now it’s about getting back to full fitness without any setbacks. It’s very difficult to set a time. Not before Christmas which is why I didn’t involve him in the Europa League squad.”wilshereARSENAL SUSPENSIONS Arsenal have no players suspended for this game.Arsenal Bournemouth Dabble BetARSENAL POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UPSummer signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac could start against Bournemouth after being benched at Anfield.Mesut Ozil comes into the game off the back of two impressive performance for Germany while Laurent Koscielny will feature in defence despite an injury scare on international duty.Wenger has a decision to make in central midfield where Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey lacked positional discipline against Liverpool, with a defensive midfielder in Mohamed Elneny or Francis Coquelin likely to start.Rob Holding could play alongside Koscielny and Monreal after Shkodran Mustafi saw his late transfer deadline day move to Inter break down over personal terms.Arsenal Bournemouth XIBOURNEMOUTH TEAM NEWS Bournemouth have yet to record a victory in the league this season after defeats to West Brom, Watford and Manchester City.Eddie Howe was heavily linked with the Arsenal manager’s job last season as Wenger delayed making a decision on his own future, and it’s understood that the Englishman is rated highly among members of the club’s board.Howe’s side recorded an impressive 3-3 draw against the Gunners last season and were unlucky not to have come away with all three points after Olivier Giroud nodded in a late equaliser.Callum Wilson remains on the road to recovery from a cruciate ligament rupture while Simon Francis, Junior Stanislas and Nathan Ake are all injury doubts.Eddie Howe Bournemouth Premier LeagueBEST OPTA MATCH FACTS Arsenal’s three home meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions have all ended in victory, with the most recent being a 3-1 win in November last season. Bournemouth have only avoided defeat once in all competitions against the Gunners – this came at the Vitality Stadium last season, when the Cherries let a three-goal lead slip to draw 3-3 in January in the Premier League. Arsenal have won their last 23 home Premier League matches against sides who started that day in the relegation zone, since drawing 4-4 with Spurs in October 2008. Arsenal have not lost three of their opening four games to a league campaign since 1982-83 (W0 D1 L3 – finished 10th). The Gunners haven’t suffered three successive Premier League defeats since January 2012. Arsenal have conceded on average 1.43 goals per league game in 2017, their highest rate in a calendar year since 1965 (1.77). Since winning three of their first four Premier League trips to London (L1), Bournemouth have lost five of their last six (D1), losing most recently 0-4 to Spurs in April last season. Arsenal have allowed their opponents an xG (expected goals) total of 5.3 in their three Premier League games this season; this is higher than their own xG total of 4.6. TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME The match is not being televised live in the UK and kicks off at 15:00 BST.  Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

City were on brink of signing Alexis – Bravo

first_imgTransfers Man City were on brink of signing Alexis, claims Bravo Robin Bairner Last updated 2 years ago 23:28 9/9/2017 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Alexis Sanchez Arsenal Getty Images Transfers Manchester City Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth Manchester City v Liverpool Arsenal Premier League A. Sánchez Had the Gunners managed to seal a replacement for the former Barcelona man, he would now be wearing the blue of Pep Guardiola’s side Claudio Bravo has outlined just how close Manchester City were to signing Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal this summer.The goalkeeper claims that the long-running deal fell through because the Gunners failed to sign a replacement – and that the former Barcelona star was not happy about the outcome.He spent the transfer deadline with the 28-year-old while on international duty and has spoken about the frustration Alexis felt as the deal fell through. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing “The transfer didn’t happen because a player didn’t go to Arsenal and everything collapsed,” he revealed after helping City to a 5-0 win over Liverpool.“We were talking in Chile. He went from happiness to bitterness in a few hours, although it’s all in the past now. We would have loved to have him here, but the market gives you these time limits and the rush is not good. “This time it was not possible, but hopefully we have him here in the future.”Alexis is out of contract at the end of the season and, therefore, available to leave on a free transfer. He was left out of the starting XI for the Gunners’ Premier League fixture at home against Bournemouth on Saturday. Meanwhile, Bravo also started the afternoon on the bench but was unexpectedly called into action when Ederson was carried off after being kicked in the head by Sadio Mane, whose red card changed the course of the fixture.The keeper has indicated that he felt referee Jon Moss’ decision was the correct one.”These things are avoidable, you can easily avoid putting your foot in somebody’s face so you don’t do them damage. At first I thought that he had hit him in the hip, but then I saw clearly that he got him with the face,” he said before explaining how he coped with the sudden call.”You go from being on the bench watching the game and within seconds you are out there playing. Us goalkeepers know this can happen but you never expect it. “I’m calm, all of us here are completely ready and we have a competitive mentality. We are all very happy for the win. I wouldn’t have wanted to play for a reason like this, an injury to a team-mate, but you always have to be prepared.”last_img read more

Dembele’s massive Barca contract leaked

first_imgTransfers Five times the money! Dembele’s massive Barcelona contract reportedly leaked Goal Last updated 2 years ago 05:25 23/9/2017 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(18) HD Ousmane Dembele Barcelona Alex Caparros Transfers Barcelona Ousmane Dembélé Borussia Dortmund Primera División Bundesliga The former Borussia Dortmund star made the move to La Liga this summer, and it’s easy to see why after the numbers from his deal were leaked The massive contract that Barcelona handed to 20-year-old Ousmane Dembele this summer has reportedly been seen by German outlet Spiegel, and the numbers involved in the deal make it easy to understand why the youngster decided to make the move, and why Borussia Dortmund were willing to sell. According to the report, which claims that the outlet received the contract from Football Leaks, the youngster received a contract worth five times what he was earning with the Bundesliga outfit, a whopping €12 million per year, up from the €2.4m he earned per season with BVB. Girona and Barcelona to draw at 5/1 Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘I’m getting better’ – Can Man Utd flop Fred save his Old Trafford career? Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Dembele’s personal deal also reportedly includes the possibility of a €3.3m bonus should the Catalan side win a treble. The report also alleges that Dembele cost €105m up front, with the possibility of €40m in add-ons. Among those add-ons is an obligation for the Spanish club to pay €5m when the forward reaches each of 25, 50, 75 and 100 matches played. While the numbers are astounding, Dembele’s injury will, at the very least, save Barcelona some money in the short run. With the forward expected to be out until January after tearing his hamstring, it will be difficult for him to reach any of those match numbers before the end of the season.last_img read more

Keane: ‘Cheating’ David Luiz is lazy

first_imgChelsea ‘Cheating Luiz is lazy’ – Chelsea defender hammered by Man Utd legend Keane Chris Burton Last updated 2 years ago 15:20 28/9/2017 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(7) David Luiz Chelsea Getty Chelsea David Luiz Atlético Madrid v Chelsea Atlético Madrid UEFA Champions League The Brazilian has seen his contribution to the Blues cause questioned, with a needless penalty conceded against Atletico Madrid in his latest outing David Luiz has been branded “lazy” by Roy Keane, with the Chelsea defender accused of “cheating” against Atletico Madrid.The Brazilian centre-half was responsible for the Blues falling behind during a Champions League clash in the Spanish capital on Wednesday.CFC 11/1 to beat City, Morata 1st goal Article continues below Editors’ Picks Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A needless tug on Lucas Hernandez at a corner saw Atletico awarded a penalty and Luiz given a yellow card, with Antoine Griezmann converting from the spot.Chelsea hit back to snatch a dramatic 2-1 win, but Keane was quick to slam the decision-making of a man who threatened to undermine the efforts of Antonio Conte’s side.The Manchester United legend told ITV: “It’s madness really. It’s a form of cheating.“Why he’s doing it is beyond me. He’s lazy and he’s letting his team-mates down. “He knows himself. There’s no need. We see a lot of that going on, so I’m glad he got punished for it. It’s a form of cheating.”Roy Keane David Luiz Chelsea cheating lazySteven Gerrard has also questioned Luiz’s recent displays and his contribution to the Chelsea cause.On top of conceding a penalty against Atletico, the 30-year-old centre-half was sent off in his most recent Premier League appearance against Arsenal.“It’s the second time he has let his team-mates down (after) getting the sending off at Stamford Bridge last week,” Liverpool icon Gerrard told BT Sport.“This is a moment of madness at a time when Chelsea were totally dominating this game and looked likely to make the first breakthrough.”Alvaro Morata restored parity for the Blues against Atletico, before Michy Batshuayi snatched a last-gasp 94th-minute winner.Chelsea are next in action against fellow Premier League title hopefuls Manchester City on Saturday, with Luiz set to sit that game out as he continues to serve a domestic ban.last_img read more

Ronaldo’s all-time XI: Messi in, CR7 out

first_imgLionel Messi Messi and Maradona make Ronaldo’s all-time XI, but Cristiano misses out Chris Burton Last updated 2 years ago 23:10 10/6/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(50) Ronaldo Brazil World Cup 2002 Getty Images Lionel Messi Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo Zinédine Zidane Barcelona Milan Juventus Primera División Serie A The former Brazil international has selected star names from the likes of Barcelona, Real, Juventus and Milan, along with iconic countryman Pele Ronaldo’s all-time XI is littered with star names such as Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, but namesake Cristiano Ronaldo misses out.The legendary Brazilian was asked to piece together the greatest team in history by Esporte Interativo.Ronaldo 2/1 favourite to be CL top scorer Article continues below Editors’ Picks Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. Two of those he lifted the World Cup alongside in 2002 make the grade, in buccaneering full-backs Cafu and Roberto Carlos, while iconic countryman Pele is also included.Stars of the modern era from Juventus, Real Madrid and AC Milan are sprinkled throughout the side, with a formidable selection boasting eight Ballon d’Or/World Player of the Year awards between them.Ronaldo’s team is unlikely to find itself short of goals, with a wealth of firepower at their disposal.Pele found the target over 1,000 times in his glittering career, while Ronaldo himself plundered more than 400 for club and country.World Cup winners Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and Andrea Pirlo also knew their way to the back of the net, while boasting remarkable creative talent.A mix of Italian strength and Brazilian flair at the back should help to keep things interesting, with Gianluigi Buffon widely acknowledged as one of the finest goalkeepers to have ever played the game.Of the 11 players to make Ronaldo’s side, only Paolo Maldini and Messi do not boast a World Cup medal.That is the standard required to make the cut, with there no room for Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo despite his record-breaking achievements in the modern era.last_img read more

Wenger: Penalty was scandalous

first_imgWatford v Arsenal Penalty was a ‘scandalous’ decision, claims Wenger Rob Lancaster Last updated 2 years ago 04:45 10/15/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) HD Arsene Wenger Arsenal BEN STANSALL Watford v Arsenal Watford Arsenal Premier League Arsène Wenger A controversial penalty decision helped Watford fight back to beat Arsenal on Saturday, leaving the Gunners manager fuming at the call Arsene Wenger accused referee Neil Swarbrick of making a “scandalous” call as a dubious second-half penalty helped Watford rally to beat Arsenal 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.Club captain Per Mertesacker celebrated his first Premier League appearance in 532 days with a thumping header to give the visitors a first-half lead.Tadic 11/2 FGS v Newcastle Article continues below Editors’ Picks Why Barcelona god Messi will never be worshipped in the same way in Argentina Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. However, after Alex Iwobi and Mesut Ozil failed to convert glorious opportunities to double Arsenal’s lead, Swarbrick judged Hector Bellerin had fouled Richarlison inside the area, enabling substitute Troy Deeney to score an equaliser from the spot in the 71st minute.Watford went on to grab an injury-time winner too, as Tom Cleverley popped up in the right place to slam home a loose ball and hand Arsenal their first defeat in eight games.#WFCvAFC pic.twitter.com/I7DgDc3cGf — Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) October 14, 2017 “It was a scandalous decision to give a penalty like that,” Wenger told BBC Sport. “But we have to deal with it. We had many times the chance to score the second goal. When one-on-one with their goalkeeper, we missed them. In the end, we were punished for it.”The referee was much closer than me [for Watford’s penalty], so you trust his decision. Having seen it again on replay, however, it’s difficult to understand.”We missed a few final balls as well, where we should have been better. But as long as you don’t score that second goal, any decision can hurt you.”Deeney’s impact off the bench made a real difference to the game, with Watford switching from three at the back to a 4-4-2 system following the introduction of their club captain.Wenger, though, felt Arsenal’s attempts to hold on for a point were dealt a blow when Laurent Koscielny – who was playing for the first time since the 2-0 win at West Brom on September 25 – was forced off through injury in the 85th minute.”We didn’t know if Koscielnly would survive for 90 minutes,” he added.”When I looked to change Iwobi with [Jack] Wilshere, Koscielny was not right. In the end, we suffered a bit centrally.”last_img read more

Mexico holds off Poland in World Cup warm-up

first_imgPoland 0 Mexico 1: Hosts struggle again as Lewandowski sits out Matt Dorman Last updated 2 years ago 05:42 11/14/17 Raul Jimenez - cropped Getty Images Mexico added to their encouraging draw with Belgium last week by comfortably accounting for a sub-par Poland. Poland fired a second successive blank in the absence of captain Robert Lewandowski as Mexico eased to a 1-0 friendly win in Gdansk on Monday.Adam Nawalka’s men piled on 13 goals over their final three World Cup qualifying matches but, with Lewandowski resting an injured thigh, were held to a 0-0 home draw by Uruguay on Friday.And further questions over the team’s attacking depth were raised by a second toothless display. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Raul Jimenez’s 13th minute goal proved the difference in a muted affair as both managers looked to experiment with their options for the World Cup.Poland had caught the eye in collecting eight wins from 10 in qualifying, but it was El Tri who finished the international window the happier of the two teams as they registered a first clean sheet in five matches.Se acabó el último partido del año ¡Victoria en campo ajeno para cerrar la gira por Europa!@Citibanamex presenta el Marcador Final:#SoyMéxico pic.twitter.com/3aC58ga8uI— Selección Nacional (@miseleccionmx) November 13, 2017Match-winner Jimenez spurned an early chance to open the scoring when he headed straight at Wojciech Szczesny from Jonathan dos Santos’ cross, but the striker made no mistake with his next opportunity.Javier Aquino’s dribble into the area ricocheted off a defender and broke kindly for the Benfica man, who lashed a thumping first-time strike into the top left corner.Poland saw a goalmouth scramble come to nothing on 20 minutes and were forced to wait until after the half-hour to create a clear sight on goal, only for Piotr Zielinski to spray his half-volley harmlessly over the bar.Jesus Corona was finally forced into his first real save shortly before the hour as Maciej Rybus attempted to sneak a low finish inside the near post.But it was Mexico who came closest to a second as substitute Oribe Peralta twice tried his luck, the misses ultimately mattering little in a comfortable victory for the visitors. read morelast_img read more

Ronaldo makes history with UEFA nomination

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo Record Ronaldo nomination as Real Madrid dominate UEFA Team of the Year candidates Peter Hanson Last updated 1 year ago 20:13 11/22/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(4) Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Tottenham 17102017 Getty Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Real Madrid v Málaga APOEL v Real Madrid Juventus v Barcelona Barcelona Juventus PSG Tottenham Hotspur UEFA Champions League Primera División The Portuguese has made more history in a 50-man shortlist, in which Premier League champions Chelsea remarkably only have one player Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in UEFA’s Team of the Year nominees for a record 14th time as part of an 11-strong contingent from Real Madrid, in a list that also includes fellow usual suspects Lionel Messi and Neymar.Madrid dominated on the domestic and European front last season, clinching a first La Liga title since 2012 and becoming the first team to defend the Champions League.Los Blancos 11/2 to win CL Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Portugal superstar Ronaldo was typically at the forefront of their success, scoring 25 league goals and a further 12 in Europe’s premier competition.Madrid team-mates Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Casemiro, Isco, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos – who earned the highest percentage of votes in last year’s poll – also made the cut.Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Atletico Madrid Champions LeagueBarcelona great Messi was prolific despite the Catalans having been mainly overshadowed by their fierce Clasico rivals, while Neymar – who departed Camp Nou for a record-breaking move to Paris Saint-Germain in the last window – is also part of the 50-strong list.Juventus, who won a Serie A and Coppa Italia double while also reaching the Champions League final, also have strong representation.Legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is joined by Argentina star Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro, Giorgio Chiellini and Miralem Pjanic, while Leonardo Bonucci – who left Juve for AC Milan – is also included.Chelsea coasted to the Premier League title last term, but Eden Hazard is the Blues’ only representative.UEFA Team of the Year is…L I V E !Supporting @ ICRC ‘s vital work with land mine victims in AfghanistanPick your team https://t.co/FrSI9Vv5zX #TOTY #EqualGame pic.twitter.com/fd3ECqCF94 — UEFA (@UEFA) 22 November 2017 Manchester City’s creative king Kevin De Bruyne is nominated alongside team-mate Sergio Aguero, as are Spurs quarter Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, and Davinson Sanchez – who spent the first half of 2017 with Europa League finalists Ajax.Manchester United, who beat Ajax in the Europa League final, are represented by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia and David de Gea.The Team of the Year is voted for by fans on UEFA’s official website.last_img read more

Roberto Carlos: Ronaldo will win many more

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo Roberto Carlos believes Cristiano Ronaldo has even more awards ahead of him Sacha Pisani Last updated 1 year ago 10:22 12/8/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) cristiano ronaldo - cropped Getty Images Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Lionel Messi Primera División A pair of Real Madrid legends heaped praise on the club’s current star, who won the Ballon d’Or for a record-equalling fifth time on Thursday Roberto Carlos backed Cristiano Ronaldo to add to his Ballon d’Or collection after the Real Madrid star equalled Lionel Messi’s record haul of five.Ronaldo retained football’s most prestigious individual prize for the second year running on Thursday, named France Football’s player of the year ahead of Barcelona rival Messi.The 32-year-old claimed the Ballon d’Or for the fourth time in five years after guiding Madrid to La Liga and Champions League glory in 2016-17, while he moved past 600 career goals with a brace in last season’s European final against Juventus. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Iconic Madrid full-back Carlos lauded Ronaldo following the ceremony in Paris by saying: “He will get more. There will be more trophies to come.”He’ll get much more trophies.”Another dream come true. Unbelievable feeling. Thanks to my family, friends, teammates, coaches and everyone that stood by my side throughout the years. pic.twitter.com/A9jyYswePD— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) December 7, 2017Another Madrid legend was in attendance in the French capital – Brazil great Ronaldo.A two-time Ballon d’Or winner, who also won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times, Ronaldo heaped praise on his Portuguese namesake.”He deserves the award. And here we are to celebrate with him,” the 41-year-old said.last_img read more

Lulic sends Lazio to Coppa semis

first_imgLazio 1 Fiorentina 0: Lulic books Coppa Italia semi-final spot Joe Wright 06:23 12/27/17 senad lulic - cropped Getty Images Lazio’s quest for a third Coppa Italia final appearance in four seasons continued, with Senad Lulic securing their spot in the last four. Lazio booked their place in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia with a 1-0 victory over Fiorentina on Tuesday.A first-half strike from Senad Lulic was enough to send last year’s runners-up into the last four and keep alive their hopes of a third final appearance in four seasons.Fiorentina controlled the majority of the possession at the Stadio Olimpico but Lazio provided the clinical touch, with Lulic collecting Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s throughball before cutting onto his right foot and slotting low past goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski after only five minutes. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Jordan Veretout and Federico Chiesa came closest to an equaliser but Dragowski was called upon to deny Lulic and Felipe Anderson as Lazio threatened to snatch a killer second.Vitor Hugo headed over a good late chance but Simone Inzaghi’s side held on to secure their spot in the last four, where they will meet either AC Milan or Inter, who play in their quarter-final on Wednesday.#TIMCup #LazioFiorentina Scocca l’ora di gioco all’Olimpico, #AvantiLazio  pic.twitter.com/iiDCZyJGs4— S.S.Lazio (@OfficialSSLazio) December 26, 2017last_img read more

Arsenal fans’ thirst for change remains unquenched after yet another AGM

first_img Ivan Gazidis heckled at Arsenal AGM as he defends club’s spending Share on Pinterest The small shareholders then opposed the equally routine reappointment of Kroenke’s son, Josh, and the farcical process was repeated, burning another 15 minutes and clearly testing Arsène Wenger’s patience – the manager temporarily vacated his seat at the top table. It was easy to see this as quintessentially Arsenal; the wholehearted pursuit of a forlorn cause. But more seriously, it advertised the theme of the meeting and of recent times – the thirst for something, anything, to change at the club.Nobody could remember there being a poll vote at a previous AGM and it was a humiliation for Keswick and Kroenke Jr. Keswick’s day would not get any better. As the chairman it is his duty to lead the meeting and to answer many of the questions, which are pre-submitted by the shareholders. He did so with the air of a man who, in the words of one of the rank and file, was worried that his luncheon was in danger of going cold.Keswick attracted a few hecklers and moments of incredulity during the scripted part of the Q&A, most notably when he declared, with reference to the board, that “we have a diverse and modern organisation”. He noted how Arsenal had been “the first club to receive the advanced equality standard”. There was also a taster of what was to come when he simply ignored a question he did not like. Why had Usmanov, who holds a 30% stake, not been offered a seat on the board? On we went.It was in the closing moments, when Keswick dared to open the floor for a few questions – with the emphasis on the few – that the frustration boiled over. A woman asked when the composition of the board might truly change but he did not hear a question. “Thank you for your statement, madam.“Yes, sir,” Keswick added, turning to the next questioner.There was uproar. “If I understood it rightly, it was when are we going to move, or move on and start again,” Keswick said. More uproar. The woman tried again and Keswick ignored her again.“Would you like to ask your question,” he said, looking once more at the next person in line. Even more uproar. “Ladies and gentleman,” Keswick said. “You get respect from this side of the hall. I would ask you to show a little from the other.” By now, Keswick had lost the audience. Everything he said was met by jeers. Yet he seemed determined to lob a few more metaphorical grenades.Why had Kroenke said nothing during the meeting? Because he did not have to, according to the rules of the AGM, Keswick replied. But how are the fans supposed to know what the owner of 67% of their club thinks? “Read the Daily Telegraph today and you’ll find out,” he added, with reference to an interview in which Kroenke once again voiced his support for the status quo. In other words, himself and Wenger.There were boos and, for Keswick, it was time to bail. He declared that the meeting was closed. One final shareholder tried to jam in a question but Keswick was on his heels. “I have stopped the meeting,” he said. “I have been very polite to you, so thank you. Would you write in if you’ve got a problem.” Cue the slow handclap.The shareholders had come for answers but in their hearts they knew they would not get them. Perhaps, on that level, they could not be disappointed. No one knows better than them how these kind of occasions work. This is the modern-day Arsenal.But it was, nonetheless, another occasion when grown men and women were reduced to head shakes and exasperation; when the fault lines at this grand old club were laid bare. Keswick said that Gazidis was doing a fabulous job. Gazidis said the same about Keswick. Good work is being done, according to all of the directors, but is it narrowing the gap to the top? Kroenke and Usmanov will not work together and nor will they trade their shares. There is impasse; the continued sense of a club sprinting to stand still.Wenger spoke well, as he always does, and he was warmly applauded. He remains the club’s only persuasive orator. But perish the thought that this AGM ought to be instructive. Why not embrace the intelligence of the 250 or so in attendance rather than insult it? It might serve to break down barriers.Keswick was in no mood to do that and the subtext to it all chimed with the ill-judged line from his predecessor, Peter Hill-Wood, at the 2012 AGM: thank you for your interest in our affairs. It was actually quite an entertaining spectacle, unless you were an Arsenal shareholder. Share on LinkedIn Business Arsenal features Reuse this content Share on Facebookcenter_img Share on Twitter Topics Share via Email Share on WhatsApp Read more Share on Messenger The Arsenal AGM had started badly for Sir Chips Keswick. The club chairman was up for re-election to the board and such things are normally routine. In this case Keswick had the support, by proxy, of the largest shareholders – Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov – who, between them, control 97%. In other words, it was a done deal.The minor inconvenience did not stop the smaller fry in the Woolwich suite at the Emirates from making their point; their protest. Overwhelmingly, the show of hands from the floor opposed Keswick’s appointment. David Miles, the club secretary, was obliged to request a second show and he did so with what amounted to a plea. Guys, this is pointless, he pretty much said. Again the hands shot up in opposition.And so we went through the pantomime of Miles calling for a poll vote. Cards were distributed to the shareholders in the room; they marked them and queued up to hand them in. The whole thing took about 15 minutes. And at the end of it the proxy votes of Kroenke and Usmanov held sway. Keswick was re-elected.last_img read more

England clinch first World Cup shootout win amid sea of yellow

first_img Pinterest Reuse this content World Cup 2018 Colombia (Football) Colombia (World news) England’s historic World Cup penalty shootout win triggers wild celebrations – video Read more A Colombia fan is consoled following their side’s defeat in Moscow. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images Play Video Oh Co-lombia! South London expats whistle and sing – but are silenced Read more Her work on the mental side of the game seemed to pay off as England regained their composure after the hammer blow of Colombia’s late equaliser cancelling out a Harry Kane penalty.In the shootout, England’s Jordan Henderson was the first to miss, but then Colombia missed two in a row – Mateus Uribe hit the bar and Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca – before Dier delivered the decisive penalty.The red and white clad Spartak stadium, 15km outside central Moscow, resembled downtown Bogotá an hour before the match. In front of a 24 metre tall statue of gladiator Spartacus, a middle aged couple were joined in their salsa dancing by an elderly man wearing a Colombia tricolour poncho.It was the most intimidating atmosphere England have experienced so far this World Cup, the players being jeered as they entered the pitch for the warm-up. The vibrant Colombia fans belted out their national anthem and bounced in unison, swinging scarves above their heads. England beat Colombia on penalties in World Cup last 16 – in pictures View gallery Topics England Facebook Pinterest Colombia’s James Rodriguez, centre, celebrates from the stands after Yerry Mina scored the equaliser. Photograph: Joe Danborn/AP Twitter Share on LinkedIncenter_img Share on Pinterest Twitter Jordan Pickford Share on Facebook There was earsplitting noise from 30,000 Colombia fans who thought they were heading home and briefly had hope again as Pickford punched the goalpost in frustration and supporters in the second tier of the stadium climbed atop each other’s shoulders.They might have been outnumbered in the stadium but earlier in the day, at Bistro restaurant on one of Moscow’s main shopping streets, England’s modest following made their presence felt. Fans from Reading, Morecambe and Stockport hung St George’s flags on the wall and recited the full back catalogue of fan anthems, from Vindaloo to Three Lions and World In Motion. They drank and chanted, increasing the volume as a group of colourfully dressed Colombians passed by. For them, and for England, the party goes on. For all the talk about games of darts at their Russian training base and a sense of togetherness between players from different clubs, the strongest piece of evidence yet that English football has changed came with victory in a penalty shootout. A brilliant save by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and a decisive penalty by substitute Eric Dier sent England through to a World Cup quarter final against Sweden in Samara on Saturday.England had faced penalty shootouts three times at a World Cup before, in 1990, 1998 and 2006, and lost them all. History was against them when, after 120 minutes of play, they found themselves in that all too familiar position of having to decide who would step up to the spot. Southgate had an even tougher task to rouse the troops because they came within seconds of winning the game in normal time, only to concede a goal in the 93rd minute with Colombia’s final attack of the match.“I am so pleased for everybody involved,” Southgate said. “We deserved to win and played really well in a big game under pressure. It couldn’t have been a crueller blow on the final whistle.“Shootouts are tough. We had talked long and hard about owning the process of a shootout. They kept calm. The players have taken it all on board; it’s a special moment for us.” Share on Messenger Share via Email news Amid frayed tempers and the heat of the occasion, Kane kept a cool head, directing his penalty high and into the centre of the net.The stadium shook in the third minute of stoppage time as defender Yerry Mina rose above the crowd and directed a powerful header off the ground and past Pickford. The Colombia bench celebrated as if they had won the match outright, the water carrier bursting into tears. Share on WhatsApp 1:05 After he had delivered broadcast interviews, Southgate returned to the pitch to applaud England’s 5,000 travelling supporters, who have been heavily outnumbered at every stage of their World Cup journey so far. The 47-year-old has his own personal connection with penalty shootouts, having missed a decisive one against Germany at Wembley which sent England crashing out of Euro 1996. Until Tuesday night, England had won only one penalty shootout in seven attempts.But at their training base in Repino on the Gulf of Finland and back home at St George’s Park, the squad has paid a great deal of attention to the art, even employing psychologist Pippa Grange to prepare the players. Facebook England knock Colombia out of World Cup in last-16 penalty shootout Colombia’s Wílmar Barrios was fortunate not to be sent off in the first half after slow motion replays appeared to show him headbutting England midfielder Jordan Henderson as a fracas erupted around the awarding a free kick. The penalty which led to England’s breakthrough was awarded in the 52nd minute as midfielder Carlos Sánchez, who had been lucky to escape punishment for previous incidents, wrestled the England skipper to the ground. It was a full four minutes before Kane was able to step up to the spot as the South American players harangued the American referee Mark Geiger. World Cup Share on Twitter “Football’s coming home” blared over the speakers at Moscow’s Spartak stadium and ecstatic coach Gareth Southgate jumped into the arms of his support staff after England won a knockout game at a major tournament for the first time since 2006, defeating Colombia 4-3 on penalties after the teams were tied 1-1 after extra time.last_img read more

Leinster to face Saracens in Champions Cup final after suffocating Toulouse

first_img Quick guide The weekend verdict Champions Cup Like Saracens, too, they are smart in the way they recruit from overseas to complement their well-stocked academy. Scott Fardy was only starting because Rhys Ruddock pulled out ill but the Australian back-row was a constant thorn in Toulouse’s side, as was their energetic New Zealand wing James Lowe. For all the individual spark of the brilliant Cheslin Kolbe, the visitors were never able to break free for long enough to threaten Leinster’s fifth appearance in a European final.As yet they have yet to lose one and the “drive for five” gold stars on their blue jerseys should not be underestimated. For the second consecutive day it was a tough day to be wearing red and the cry of “Allez les Bleus!” at one stage almost certainly hailed from a Dublin postcode. Aside from the opening seconds, when Toulouse began with a touch of elan in their own 22, there was not a lot for the travelling French fans to shout about. “The best team won, definitely,” said the Toulouse coach, Ugo Mola. “They’re not the best team in Europe by chance.” Share via Email Share on WhatsApp As long ago as October the smart money was on Leinster and Saracens contesting the Champions Cup final and a brutal Anglo-Irish slugfest duly awaits. On the evidence of this weekend’s semi-finals there is no doubt the best sides in Europe are heading for Newcastle, nor that the finale will be anything less than thunderous. Share on Twitter match reports Pinterest Share on Messenger Topics Thank you for your feedback. Read more Was this helpful? Show The Breakdown: sign up and get our weekly rugby union email. Hide Read more Toulouse are clearly a regathering European force but there remains a gap between their individual merits and the collective cohesion that has become Leinster’s trademark. “A lot of their players are the best in their positions in the world,” said Jerome Kaino, the former All Black and captain of Toulouse. “As a system and a team they’re definitely world class.”Saracens will be keen to test that thesis and Sexton acknowledged that Leinster will face one of the biggest battles of their careers to become the first team in history to win five European titles. “Saracens are an outstanding side and I’ve heard them repeatedly referencing our game against them last year,” he said.“They felt they didn’t fire as many punches as they wanted to and Billy Vunipola wasn’t playing. That’s why you flick the switch straight away and start thinking about them. I think it’s going to be the toughest game this group will probably play.” Toulousecenter_img Give Leinster an inch and, at Europe’s top level, they take a kilometre. Thomas Ramos can be a thrilling catalyst at full-back but two costly first-half errors played directly into Leinster hands. The first came when an overcooked restart gave Leinster a scrum back on halfway and supplied the platform for the home team’s opening try. There was still much to do, admittedly, when Cian Healy fed Lowe wide on the left but he displayed skill and determination to crash over in the corner.Sexton’s fine conversion compounded French pain and further trouble soon materialised after Ramos had an attempted clearance charged down, allowing Leinster more prime territory in which to operate. In his desperation to halt Irish momentum, Richie Gray stuck out an illegal hand at a ruck to earn a yellow card and, with the weakened Toulouse pack under pressure, Luke McGrath burrowed over for his side’s second try. Team of the weekend15 Alex Goode Saracens 14 Damian Penaud Clermont 13 Chris Farrell Munster12 Robbie Henshaw Leinster 11 James Lowe Leinster10 Owen Farrell Saracens 9 Morgan Parra Clermont1 Clément Castets Toulouse2 Jean-Charles Orioli La Rochelle3 Tadhg Furlong Leinster4 Devin Toner  Leinster 5 George Kruis Saracens6 Semi Kunatani Harlequins7 Grégory Alldritt La Rochelle 8 Billy Vunipola SaracensAshton good value for Sale Sale’s battling 24-20 defeat at La Rochelle in the first of the weekend’s European Challenge Cup semi-finals suggested they can make the Premiership’s top six. Chris Ashton returned to score a try and was close to his England form of the autumn. Sale are also busy recruiting for next season. The Wasps tight-head prop Jake Cooper-Woolley is heading north and he looks likely to be joined by the Wales and Ospreys loose-head Nicky Smith following the decision by the Springbok Steven Kitshoff to stay at the Stormers.Smith a rising power at No10Harlequins may not have prevented Clermont Auvergne from making it an all-French European Challenge Cup final but Paul Gustard’s inconsistent side produced a rousing comeback at Stade Marcel Michelin to go down 32-27. Apart from an explosive appearance off the bench from their Fijian back-row Semi Kunatani there was an eye-catching display at No10 from Marcus Smith. The fly-half, who has just turned 20, could be a bolter for Eddie Jones’s World Cup squad should the England head coach continue to ignore the claims of Danny Cipriani to go to Japan as cover for Owen Farrell and George Ford.Try of the weekendJames Lowe (Leinster) v ToulouseThe wing scored a poacher’s try to turn things Leinster’s way after an early Toulouse barrage. Sean O’Brien slipped the New Zealander a clever pass but Lowe made a try from nothing, breaking two tackles to power over from 15 metres out.  … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Warren Gatland set to return as Lions coach for 2021 South Africa series Billy Vunipola helps Saracens power past Munster into Champions Cup final Facebook Support The Guardian Reuse this content Rugby union As Toulouse were bluntly reminded on a beautiful clear blue Dublin afternoon, the defending champions are not obviously in the mood to relinquish their crown meekly. In common with Saracens their rugby is usually more efficient than effervescent but its effectiveness is self-evident. If the “Slog on the Tyne” is not a particularly sexy promotional tagline, a high-class collision of immovable objects looms next month.Leinster were certainly too good on the day for their French opponents, whose offloading game was mostly suffocated at source and who finished a distant second in terms of the aerial contest.Tactically, not for the first time, the Irish province were a step or two ahead and their returning international totems Johnny Sexton, Sean O’Brien, Devin Toner and Robbie Henshaw showed enough to suggest there is still plenty of Celtic tiger in the tank this season. Leinster James Lowe reaches for the line to score the first try of the match. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images Since you’re here… Toulouse badly needed a break and enjoyed one when a deliberate knockdown close to his line by Henshaw earned him a visit to the sin-bin and Ramos trimmed the deficit to 17-6. The visitors were also reprieved when a midfield obstruction involving the busy Jack Conan ruled out a potential second try for Lowe, although Henshaw’s pass to the wing looked forward anyway.To reverse the tide Toulouse needed to score the next try but it was Fardy, hard as nails, who stretched over after 53 minutes. Sexton, playing his first game of the calendar year for Leinster, slotted another conversion and at 24-9 it was effectively game over. Share on Facebook Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterestlast_img read more