World Sports News in Brief

Mesmeric Messi fires Barca to dominant Cup final win

Sunday, 2021-04-18 09:57:05
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Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - 2020/21 Final - FC Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao - Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla, Seville, Spain - April 17, 2021 FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi in action with Athletic Bilbao's Dani Garcia. (Photo: Reuters)
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Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona thrashed Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in Saturday (Apr 17)'s Copa del Rey final to win the trophy for a record-extending 31st time.

The Argentine hoisted the trophy for a seventh time while Dutch coach Ronald Koeman earned his first piece of silverware as Barca coach to add to the glut of honours he won as a player with the the club, including a Copa triumph in 1990.

* Mexico's Patricio O'Ward put Arrow McLaren on pole on Saturday for the IndyCar season opening Alabama Grand Prix while Frenchman Romain Grosjean made a strong impression in his series debut, qualifying seventh.

* Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo clinched pole position at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Saturday, while six-times MotoGP champion Marc Marquez will start sixth on his return to the grid after a season-ending crash last year. Quartararo was promoted to the top of the grid for Sunday's race after Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia had his record-breaking lap cancelled over a yellow flag infringement in the closing moments of the qualifying session.

* Ronnie O'Sullivan started his World Championship defence with a 10-4 win over Mark Joyce on Saturday as fans were allowed back into sporting events in England for the first time this year. More than 600 tickets were sold for the three sessions at the Crucible as part of the government's pilot scheme to help sport out of lockdown after an easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

* Sheffield United's relegation from the Premier League was sealed when they lost 1-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. The defeat left the Yorkshire club 19 points behind fourth-bottom Burnley with a maximum of 18 remaining.

* Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said his side were closing the gap with Manchester City and their "benchmark" coach Pep Guardiola after the Londoners' 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win on Saturday. The victory for the Blues - Tuchel's first over Guardiola - contrasted with a 3-1 drubbing at home by City in early January, which hastened the departure of former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard and his replacement by Tuchel.

* Norwich City clinched promotion to the Premier League with five games to spare on Saturday after rivals Brentford and Swansea City failed to win their Championship matches, guaranteeing Daniel Farke's leaders one of the automatic promotion places. The Canaries sealed an immediate return to the top flight having finished bottom of the Premier League in the 2019-20 campaign.

* Lewis Hamilton celebrated his 99th Formula One pole position after seeing off Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on Saturday. Hamilton did enough with his first flying lap of one minute 14.411 seconds, but Perez came close at the end with an effort only 0.035 slower.

* Teenager Jamal Musiala scored twice in the first half to steer Bayern Munich to a nervous 3-2 victory at third-placed VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday to move seven points clear at the top of the Bundesliga with five matches left to play. Bayern, on track for a record-extending ninth straight league crown, are on 68 points, with RB Leipzig in second place on 61 after their goalless draw against Hoffenheim on Friday.

* Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo will miss his side's crucial trip to Atalanta on Sunday with a thigh injury, with his coach Andrea Pirlo insisting the setback comes from playing too many matches. Juve are 12 points behind leaders Inter Milan with eight games left, and with a 10th successive Scudetto seemingly out of reach they will be aiming to hold on to a top-four spot in the race for the Champions League qualification places.

* The Spanish Grand Prix will go ahead without spectators on May 9 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya said on Saturday. The race is scheduled to be the fourth of the season, following on from Portugal on May 2, and a home one for two times world champion Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

* Major League Soccer (MLS) has said that Inter Miami's signing of French World Cup-winning midfielder Blaise Matuidi last year was not in compliance with their roster and budget rules and that the club could face sanctions. The side co-owned by David Beckham recruited Matuidi on a free transfer after he left Italian champions Juventus in August. The league said last month it would launch a formal review of the deal.

* Qatar's foreign affairs minister said on Saturday his country is ready to host the World Cup next year and has been in talks with vaccine providers to ensure all attendees are vaccinated, Qatar's state news agency QNA reported.