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Sports Shorts: Manipur win National women's football for 17th time

Last updated on: May 12, 2014 20:34 IST

Sports Shorts: Manipur win National women's football for 17th time

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Manipur beat defending champions Orissa 3-1 in the final to win the 20th women’s National Football Championship, at the Golaghat stadium in Assam, on Monday.

Goals at the start of each half from Bala Devi and one from iconic India player Oinam Bembem Devi gave Manipur a 3-0 lead before substitute Sakina Nesa’s close-range shot in the dying minutes of the match reduced the margin for Orissa.

The north-eastern state, which last won the crown in 2010, emerged triumphant for the 17th time in the championship.

An elated Bembem, who captained the side, told www.the-aiff.com moments after the final whistle that though the victory appears facile, the young Orissa girls, mostly in the under-19 age group and playing for the first time, showed verve and a lot of promise.

“It was a good win. I am really happy to end a fairly good campaign on a high. But, more importantly, I would like to point out that the future stars who played in Orissa colours today have a lot of potential.”

It took the 16-time champions just three minutes to take the lead.

Orissa goalkeeper Sita Sharma failed to judge the flight of the ball from Bembem Devi’s cross from the right and Bala pounced on the chance to head home from close.

Such was Bala’s confidence that soon after her 31st goal of the campaign, the player of the tournament tried a cheeky dink on the half volley but the ball landed on the roof of the net.

The red shirts doubled their tally without fuss. A low cross inside the area by winger Mandakini Devi saw Bembem stab home with an expertly placed first-time finish. The match was 20 minutes old and Orissa, who had stormed into the final much like their opponents, were at sixes and sevens.

Manipur went into the beak with a 2-0 lead.

The second half started like the first, with Manipur all over Orissa’s citadel.

Following one such move, Mandakini, enjoying a field day at office, squared for Bala inside the area, leaving the 23-year old goal-poacher with the easiest of tap-ins to notch her brace and 32nd goal of the tournament.

Orissa, though, showed great character as they still searched for the elusive goal. Their doggedness paid dividends in injury time as substitute Sakina slammed home Subha Prava Rout’s through ball that sliced open the Manipur defense.

From the next move, the white shirts almost scored again, but Subha Prava missed a gilt-edged chance from six yards.

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Image: The Manipur players are all smiles as AIFF executive committee member Ankur Dutta presents the trophy to their captain, Bembem Devi.
Photographs: AIFF Media
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La Liga goes down to the wire after leaders held

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Atletico Madrid and Barcelona will play a La Liga title decider at the Nou Camp stadium next weekend after the front runners drew on Sunday to set up one of the most dramatic finishes in Spain's top flight for more than 60 years.

On a day of nerve-jangling tension, when leaders Atletico came desperately close to a late goal that would have clinched the championship, the Madrid club had to come from behind to rescue a 1-1 draw at home to Malaga while second-placed Barca were held to a 0-0 stalemate at Elche.

Real Madrid dropped out of the title race when they suffered a surprise 2-0 loss at Celta Vigo that left them five points behind their city rivals with one game remaining.

Atletico are top on 89 points from 37 matches, with Barca on 86 and Real, who were missing key players through injury including top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, on 84.

If Barca beat Atletico next Sunday they will be champions as they would have a better head-to-head record after the title rivals drew 0-0 at the Calderon in Madrid in January.

A draw would be enough for Atletico to secure their first domestic league title since 1996, when current coach Diego Simeone was in the team, and become the first side other than Spain's wealthy big two to win La Liga since Valencia in 2004.

The title has only twice been decided with a winner-takes-all clash on the final day and not since 1951 when Atletico pipped Sevilla.

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Image: David Villa of Atletico de Madrid reacts as his team fails to score.
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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Ibrahimovic savours second Ligue 1 player of year award

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Paris St Germain forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hailed what could be the best season of his career after being named Ligue 1 player of the season for the second year in a row.

The Swede, whose career include spells at Juventus, Inter, Barcelona and AC Milan, has scored 25 goals in 32 appearances this term to help PSG clinch the Ligue 1 title with two games to spare.

It is the second consecutive year in which PSG won the title and Ibrahimovic the player of the year award.

"I am very proud. It shows that PSG's season was very good," he told sports daily L'Equipe's website (www.lequipe.fr).

"Mine, too, maybe the best of my career."

The 32-year-old has also won the Dutch league twice with Ajax (in 2002 and 2004), the Serie A title with Inter Milan three times (2007-09), La Liga with Barcelona (2010), and the Italian title again with AC Milan (2011).

He also won back-to-back Serie A titles with Juventus in 2005 and 2006 but those championships were revoked because of a match-fixing scandal.

Ibrahimovic will appear for the last time this season on Saturday when PSG take on Montepllier in the final round of matches.

He will not be going to Brazil as Sweden failed to qualify for the World Cup finals.

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Image: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain FC
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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Nadal handed Madrid win as Nishikori retires

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Rafa Nadal won an unconvincing second straight Madrid Open title after Kei Nishikori sustained a back injury when closing on victory in the second set of Sunday's final and was forced to retire early in the third.

Japan's Nishikori, the 10th seed and one of the game's rising talents, made a blistering start on Nadal's favoured clay to win the first set 6-2 and was a break up in the second and serving at 4-3 when disaster struck.

After a long rally with the score at 15-30, the Japanese pulled up clutching his back and Nadal went on to win the game and the set 6-4 to force a decider.

In a tremendously disappointing finish to an entertaining encounter, Nishikori could barely walk to the net to shake hands after Nadal had raced into a 3-0 lead in the third.

"It was my hip and actually everywhere after the second set, my legs were hurting too much," Nishikori, who came through a gruelling three-set semi-final against David Ferrer, told a news conference.

"It was very sad, especially as I was winning, playing almost the best tennis in my life," added the 24-year-old, contesting his first Masters 1000 final and fresh from his debut title on clay in Barcelona last month.

"But there is some, you know, good side too. There is a lot of confidence I get from this tournament."

The premature end to Sunday's showpiece left the jury out on Nadal's form ahead of his bid for a record-extending ninth French Open singles title when the clay grand slam starts at the end of the month.

His latest triumph, his fourth Madrid crown, was the 27-year-old Majorcan's 63rd career title and 44th on clay, two short of Guillermo Vilas’s all-time record of 46. He has 27 Masters titles, also a record.

However, he has struggled on the red dust this season, losing in the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and there is a sense that his days as the king of Roland Garros may be numbered.

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Image: Rafael Nadal of Spain poses for a photograph with his winners trophy and model ball girls after victory in Madrid
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Former world number one Dinara Safina retires

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Former world number one Dinara Safina, whose career was wrecked by a series of back injuries, formally announced her retirement in a ceremony at the Madrid Open on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Russian, the younger sister of former men's number one Marat Safin, won 12 singles titles including Madrid and reached three grand slams finals but has not competed since losing in the second round in the Spanish capital in 2011.

"I took as much time as I could," Safina said in an interview on the WTA website (www.wtatennis.com).

"I am not this kind of person that I would say no, and then I would think and maybe come back," she added.

"I was having so much pain in my back, it was tough, everything was hurting me.

"Also when you don't compete your body is different, once you stop your body is in a big shock."


Image: Dinara Safina of Russia poses for a photograph after announcing her retirement with Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA Tour and Manolo Santana, tournament director
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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