World Sports News in Brief

Messi on song as Barca ease into Copa quarters

Friday, 2020-01-31 10:13:07
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Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - Round of 16 - FC Barcelona v Leganes - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - January 30, 2020 Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores their fifth goal. (Photo: Reuters)
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A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona eased past Leganes 5-0 on Thursday to reach the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Barca were joined by underdogs Mirandes in the last eight after the second tier team stunned La Liga high-fliers Sevilla 3-1 in Thursday’s final last-16 tie. Real Madrid, Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, Granada, Real Sociedad and holders Valencia are the other sides in Friday’s draw.

* Wyndham Clark shot the best score of his PGA Tour career, a 10-under-par 61, to take the first-round lead at the Phoenix Open in Arizona on Thursday. The second-year player, who lowered his previous best round on the Tour by three shots, had a two-stroke lead over fellow American Billy Horschel while J.B. Holmes, boosted by a hole-in-one from 175 yards at the fourth, was next on 64. Former world number one Jordan Spieth and defending champion Rickie Fowler both battled to three-over 74s.

* Olympique Lyonnais's unbeaten streak in 2020 continued when Houssem Aouar's last-gap penalty earned them a 2-1 win at Nice and a French Cup quarter-final spot on Thursday. Aouar converted the spot kick two minutes into stoppage time after Adam Ounas had cancelled out Moussa Dembele's first-half opener one minute from time. Lyon will take on Olympique de Marseille for a place in the last four with Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain travelling to Dijon and fourth division side Belfort hosting holders Stade Rennais.

* AS Roma captain Alessandro Florenzi has joined Valencia on loan until the end of the season, the La Liga club said on Thursday. Florenzi, who has 35 caps for Italy, came through the youth setup at Roma, playing in both defence and midfield for his boyhood club. He was part of the team that reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2018.

* Villarreal have signed Spanish forward Paco Alcacer from Borussia Dortmund, the La Liga club announced on Thursday. The Spain international, who has netted 12 times in 19 games for the national team, has penned a five-and-a-half year deal at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

* Hertha Berlin have completed the signing of Polish forward Krzysztof Piatek from AC Milan, the Bundesliga club said on Thursday. Piatek netted 11 times in his first season at Milan, having joined the club in January, but he has scored only five goals in this campaign and lost his starting position to Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

* Manchester United have completed the signing of Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon on a 5-1/2 year contract, with an option to extend for a further year, the Premier League club said on Thursday. Sporting had said on Wednesday that United will pay an initial fee of 55 million euros (US$61 million) for the player, although the overall cost of the deal could increase with performance-related add-ons worth 25 million euros. Fernandes recorded 63 goals and 52 assists in 137 appearances for Sporting, and had been linked with a move to Old Trafford over the last six months.

* Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo has completed a return to his native Argentina with a move to Estudiantes, the Superliga club announced on Thursday. Rojo, who came through the youth ranks at Estudiantes, has been restricted to just nine appearances for United in all competitions this season and has not played since the 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton & Hove Albion in November.

* Six times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton says he is yet to start talks with Mercedes to extend his contract beyond this year, despite media reports they had stalled already over wage demands. Reports in Italy had suggested Hamilton was seeking US$60 million a year. The Briton, who joined Mercedes from McLaren at the end of 2012, gets on well with Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas and has said going elsewhere would not be an easy decision.

* The top eight drivers in this year's all-female W Series will earn points towards a Formula One super-licence, organisers said on Thursday. In order to race at grand prix level, a driver needs to have accumulated 40 points over a three-year period.

* An injury-hampered Roger Federer gave himself only a "3% chance" of beating Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open on Thursday but was more upbeat about his hopes of recovering to win another Grand Slam following his semi-final exit. Federer, who suffered a groin problem in the quarter-final against Tennys Sandgren, bowed out of Melbourne Park after a comprehensive 7-6(1) 6-4 6-3 defeat to the defending champion Serb. There was little sign of the injury as the Swiss charged out to a 4-1 lead in the opening set but he was unable to go full bore to drag himself back into the match once Djokovic steadied and ratcheted up the pressure.

* Breaking into a first final at a hardcourt Grand Slam would seem a good excuse for a jubilant post-match celebration but a small fist pump and a steely glance at the players box was all Garbine Muguruza allowed herself at the Australian Open on Thursday. Muguruza continued her sudden and sparkling revival at the year's first Grand Slam by downing Simona Halep 7-6(8) 7-5 in a semi-final played in scorching heat. Unseeded as a result of a largely dismal 2019 season, Muguruza will meet the 14th seed, American Sofia Kenin, in Saturday's title match.

* Sofia Kenin sent world number one Ash Barty spinning out of the Melbourne Park semi-finals 7-6(6) 7-5 on Thursday to reach her maiden Grand Slam final, crushing Australian hopes of a first home-grown champion in 42 years. American 21-year-old Kenin, seeded 14th at the year's first Grand Slam, had a breakthrough 2019 season when she won all three of her singles titles to reach a career-high ranking of 12, the United States' number two behind Serena Williams.

* La Liga leaders Real Madrid host neighbours Atletico on Saturday, with the visitors on their worst run of results since Diego Simeone took charge in 2011. The Argentinean coach has revolutionised Atletico's fortunes over the past nine years. But their form has nosedived this season, culminating in an embarrassing Copa del Rey elimination at the hands of third-tier side Cultural Leonesa last week. Winless in their last four in all competitions, having drawn nine of their 21 La Liga games this season, they dropped out of the top four at the weekend.

* Wolverhampton Wanderers have completed the signing of Portuguese winger Daniel Podence from Greek side Olympiakos Piraeus, subject to international clearance, the Premier League club announced on Thursday. Podence, who can play on either flank, signed a 4-1/2 year deal to give Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo a fresh attacking option for the second half of the campaign.

* Olympique Lyon have confirmed the signing of Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes from Athletico Paranaense on a 4-1/2 year contract for a transfer fee of 20 million euros (US$22.2 million), the French Ligue 1 side said on Thursday. Guimaraes, targeted by several European clubs including Atletico Madrid, will arrive in Lyon on Feb.10 or Feb. 11 after he fulfils commitments with the Brazil under-23 team in a qualifying event for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.