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Real Madrid's Bale says fit for Bayern semi-final

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Gareth Bale

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale is fit and ready to play in their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich on Tuesday after missing their 4-0 league win over Osasuna at the weekend with flu, he said on Monday.

Bale had been rested for the league win but is expected to feature in the starting lineup alongside Cristiano Ronaldo who netted twice against Osasuna.

Real are eyeing their 10th European crown and lead 1-0 from the first leg in Madrid last week.

"I feel good. I've had a few days training," Bale told reporters. I'm hoping to play tomorrow and looking forward to it. We are ready to give it 100 percent, our best shot. I don't feel like we've qualified for the final yet."

Real will need all their firepower as the Germans plan an all-out assault to score more than one goal against a team that kept them at bay in the first leg and is extremely dangerous on the counter attack.

"We have a slight advantage from the first leg coming here but that is it," Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters.

"We know tomorrow's game is going to be very difficult. We are not that stupid as to think we have already qualified."

Sports Shorts: See how Barca's Alves responds to racist taunt

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Barcelona's Dani Alves and Villarreal's Giovani Dos Santos vie for possession during their La Liga match at the Madrigal stadium in Villarreal on Sunday

Barcelona defender Dani Alves responded to a racist taunt when a banana landed at his feet by picking up the fruit, peeling and then eating it before proceeding to take a corner kick during a game at Villarreal on Sunday.

(Here is a video grab of the incident, posted on Alves’s Instagram page).

Alves said after the match that humour is the best way to combat racism in sports.

"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said.

"You have to take it with a dose of humour. We aren't going to change things easily.

"If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."

Alves has often been subjected to racist taunts and called fighting racism "a lost war" in January 2013, after segments of Real Madrid's fans abused him with monkey chants during a match.

During the match on Sunday, Alves had already played a key part in sparking his team's 3-2 comeback when his off-target shot was turned into an own goal Gabriel Armando in the 65th.

And shortly after the banana incident, Alves launched a cross that Mateo Musacchio headed into his own goal in the 78th before Lionel Messi scored Barcelona's winner.

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Liverpool's Suarez is English PFA Player of the Year

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Liverpool's Luis Suarez

Controversial Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was named the English Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) player of the year on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Uruguayan, who will lead his country at the World Cup in Brazil in June, has scored 30 goals and contributed 12 assists this season as Liverpool head the Premier League table with two matches remaining.

"The Premier League is full of really great players and so it is a great honour when these players recognise your work on the pitch," Suarez said.

He claimed the honour ahead of team mates Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge, as well as Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard, ManchesterCity's Yaya Toure and Adam Lallana of Premier League surprise packages Southampton.

The irrepressible Suarez, the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush in 1986-87 to score 30 league goals in a season, has helped the likes of fellow striker Sturridge to flourish.

His personal haul has arrived despite missing the first five league games of the season as he served the remainder of a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last April.

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'He's a world-class player who is enjoying his football and long may it continue'

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and teammate Luis Suarez

That incident occurred just before Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale claimed last season's award and the announcement of Suarez in the Premier League team of the year was met with rumblings of discontent.

Suarez tried to engineer a move to Arsenal in the off-season, before returning to Liverpool with devastating effect, leading the Anfield club back into the Champions League and taking them to the brink of a first title in 24 years.

He has tormented top-level defenders with his speed, guile and deadly finishing and none of his 30 goals have come from the penalty spot.

"He's a remarkable player. His determination and his desire is at such a high level. He gets his rewards," manager Brendan Rodgers said of Suarez after he scored a hat-trick against CardiffCity last month, his third of the season.

"He's a world-class player who is enjoying his football and long may it continue."

Suarez was one of three Liverpool players named in the PFA team of the year along with midfielder Steven Gerrard and fellow striker Daniel Sturridge.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, defender Gary Cahill and midfielder Eden Hazard were also included as well as Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany and midfielder Yaya Toure, Southampton left back Luke Shaw and midfielder Adam Lallana, and Everton right back Seamus Coleman.

Hazard was named PFA young player of the year.

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La Liga: Barca beat Villareal 3-2 to keep alive title race hopes

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
FC Barcelona players observe a minute's of silence in memory his coach Tito Vilanova during the La Liga match against Villarreal at El Madrigal stadium in Villarreal on Sunday

Lionel Messi struck a late winner to help Barcelona keep their Spanish title hopes alive after a 3-2 win at Villareal on Sunday.

Earlier, hosts Villareal held a 2-0 lead through goals scored by Cani and Manu Trigueros.

Messi, Platini lead tributes to former Barca coach Vilanova

For Villarreal, defenders Gabriel Paulista and Mateo Musacchio both scored own goals to put Barca level.

Messi steered in the winner from close range as Barca moved into second place.

The Catalan club is now four points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid with three matches left.

The pair goes head-to-head at the Nou Camp on the final day of the La Liga season, although Atletico -- who beat Valencia earlier on Sunday -- will become champions for the first time since 1996 if they beat Levante and Malaga in their next two matches.

The odds are still heavily stacked against Barcelona retaining the title which they won less than 12 months ago under the guidance of late Tito Vilanova.

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Atletico Madrid keep La Liga title hopes alive

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Atletico de Madrid's Raul Garcia celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Valencia during their La Liga match at Estadio Mestalla in Valencia on Sunday

Atletico Madrid have got an advantage in the race for the La Liga title after defeating Valencia 1-0 at a away win to lead the top Spanish football division with four points.

Atletico still have three games in hand and will bag the Spanish league title for the first time in 18 years if the win two games from their remaining games, the last of which is against second placed Barcelona.

According to CNN, Raul Garcia's goal, just before halftime, helped Atletico to register a ninth straight win in their relentless march to the La Liga title.

Garcia tweeted after the match that they wanted to win for Atletico and for all the people who came to Valencia, adding that their support is essential.

Atletico are placed at the first place in the La Liga standings with 84 points, four points ahead of second placed Barcelona and six points ahead of Real Madrid, the report added.

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Indian women's hockey team lose 2-4 to Korea

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
A dejected Indian women's hockey team after the match

The Indian women's hockey team lost 2-4 to Korea in their opening match of the Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow.

The Indians opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Vandana Katariya's field goal.

The Koreans, however, struck back immediately and restored parity in the 14th minute when Mihyun Park sounded the board.

They again scored in the 24th and 25th minute for a 3-1 lead at the end of the first session.

India maintained a steady attack in the second half but was unable to stop their opponents from scoring again in the 42nd minute from a penalty-corner.

The Indians reduced the margin in the 69th minute through a field goal from Poonam Rani.

India play hosts Scotland on Tuesday in their second match in Pool A.

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Sharapova rallies to beat Ivanovic for Stuttgart title

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Maria Sharapova

Sixth seed Maria Sharapova fought back from a set and a break down to beat Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 and win her third consecutive Stuttgart title on Sunday.

Former World No1 Ivanovic raced to a 5-0 lead before taking the first set and breaking early in the second as the Serbian seemed set for victory. Sharapova, however, had other ideas and took 11 of the final 13 games.

"For the first half of the match I thought it might not be my day today, but somehow I turned it around," the Russian told reporters after winning the 30th WTA title of her career.

"I had quite a slow beginning to the year, but me and my team have been working hard to get in the position to win titles again."

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Nishikori first Japanese to win Barcelona Open

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori claimed his fifth career title as he became the first Japanese to win the Barcelona Open on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Santiago Giraldo.

Nishikori dropped his opening service game against Giraldo, who was facing the biggest match of his career, but quickly found his rhythm and broke back with the Colombian losing his serve on a double fault.

Giraldo was hitting the ball well but Nishikori showed his superiority from the base line as he invariably won the longer rallies and broke twice more to take first set comfortably.

A demoralised Giraldo immediately went 2-0 down in the next set and was unable to find the winning shots that had seen him knock out Nicolas Almagro in the semi-finals. There was no mercy from Nishikori who broke twice more on his way to victory.

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Dimitrov claims Bucharest title with win over Rosol

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria celebrates

Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov won his second ATP title of the year on Sunday by defeating Czech tennis star Lukas Rosol 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 in the final of the Bucharest Open.

Dimitrov had previously won in Acapulco where he defeated Andy Murray in the semi-finals.

Initially, he struggled against big-hitting Rosol in the first set, but managed to wrap up the first set in 58 minutes in spite of a tie-breaker.

He then maintained the momentum in the second set to move on to his 20th match win in 2014, Sport 24 reports.

Dimitrov, who now has three career titles, said that he felt good after his win over Rosol whom he described as a very good player capable of hitting some outstanding winners.

Dimitrov had earlier entered the final after semi-final French opponent, Gael Monfils, retired within 16 minutes with an injury.

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Del Piero leaves Sydney FC

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Alessandro Del Piero acknowledges the crowd after a Sydney FC match

Former Italy and Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero has played his last match for Sydney FC and will not renew his contract, the A League club said on Monday.

The 39-year-old striker's two-year contract expired with the club's 2-1 defeat to Melbourne Victory in the A-League elimination play-offs earlier this month.

"Two years ago Sydney FC signed one of the greatest players to have ever worn a football shirt, Alessandro Del Piero," Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow said in a statement.

"At the time, if you had said Del Piero would be playing in Australia, few people would have believed it possible.

"His signing was the biggest in Australian football history and it lifted Sydney FC and the A-League onto the world stage.

"Together we have achieved a lot and Sydney FC has grown in every way, with record crowds and memberships and huge interest in our club both domestically and internationally."

Del Piero's arrival in Australia on a A$4 million ($3.78 million) deal in 2012 was hailed as a coup of sorts for the league.

The club will now have discussions with the talismanic striker, who scored 24 goals in the two seasons, to see if they could continue their relationship with him.

"Today is bitter-sweet. While we would have liked to see Alessandro remain at Sydney, his decision now allows us to further our discussions about some exciting new opportunities for our ongoing relationship and to build on the legacy that has been started," Barlow added.

"On behalf of everyone at Sydney FC I would like to say thank you to Alessandro for the enormous contribution he has made to our club over the last two years.

"It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have him at our club and we look forward to seeing him in the near future when he is next back in Sydney."

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Ajax Amsterdam clinch fourth successive Dutch title

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Ajax's Frank de Boer and his players celebrate at Polman stadium in Almelo, The Netherlands on Sunday

Ajax Amsterdam captured their fourth successive Dutch League title, and 33rd overall, with a 1-1 draw at Heracles Almelo on Sunday.

Lasse Schone’s early goal set up Ajax for an afternoon of celebration but Simon Cziommer’s equaliser in the 22nd minute ensured a nervy finish as Ajax opened up an unassailable lead at the top of the table to seal the title with one match remaining.

The draw moved Ajax to 70 points, out of the reach of the chasing pack, and helped them put last week's shock 5-1 loss to PEC Zwolle in the Dutch Cup final behind them.

Schone struck home a free kick via the underside of the crossbar from some 30 metres out to put Ajax into a 12th minute lead.

But Cziommer equalised in similar circumstances and Heracles might have spoilt the party had it not been for a key save from Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen 10 minutes into the second half.

With Heracles needing a point to ensure their top flight status for next season, the match petered out to a tepid finish, followed by the presentation of the trophy to Ajax.

Feyenoord secured the other Champions League berth for next season as they confirmed second place with a 5-1 win over SC Cambuur, followed by an emotional farewell to coach Ronald Koeman who leaves the club at the end of the season.

Twente Enschede sealed third place and a Europa League slot after recovering from conceding a first minute goal to beat NEC Nijmegen 5-2 away.

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PSG made to wait for Ligue 1 title

Last updated on: April 28, 2014 23:52 IST
Marco Verratti of PSG and Sanjin Prcic of Sochaux vie for possession during their match on Sunday

Paris St Germain fell short of securing the Ligue 1 title on Sunday as Thiago Silva's own goal handed Sochaux a second-half equaliser and a 1-1 draw.

Edinson Cavani had scored in the 24th minute to raise hopes that Laurent Blanc's side could clinch their second successive Ligue 1 title on their visit to third-from bottom Sochaux.

"We didn't deserve to win this game, we didn't play as (well as we) usually do," said Paris St Germain president Nasser al Khelaifi. "We must clinch title at home."

Sochaux's own hopes for staying up next season were boosted by the result.

Dimitar Berbatov's double strike on Saturday helped second-placed Monaco crush bottom club Ajaccio 4-1 to keep the title race alive.

PSG, who won the French League Cup by beating Olympique Lyon 2-1 last weekend, have 83 points with three games remaining. Monaco are eight points adrift.