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Soccer

Rio Ferdinand purrs over two Man Utd stars during Bournemouth win – ‘I was screaming’

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand purred over two Red Devils stars during Saturday’s Premier League win over Bournemouth. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were given an early scare at Old Trafford when Junior Stanislas’ solo goal put the visitors ahead. But United turned the game on its head and were 3-1 ahead by half time.

Teenage forward Mason Greenwood drew the hosts level, with his powerful left-footed strike bursting through the hands of Cherries goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Marcus Rashford scored his first since lockdown from the penalty spot before a stunning curling effort from 25 yards from Anthony Martial.

It was academy graduate Greenwood who Ferdinand first singled out at half time.

“Look at this, this step here, he takes a step forward with his right foot and absolutely cons [Adam] Smith,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport.

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“He takes the step in and then he’s got the licence then to take a touch and then boom, ruthless Greenwood.

“He’s a phenomenal talent this kid and if the game is there for him, he can do what he likes.

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“He’s got that much talent, if he keeps his head on his shoulders, which I think he will, he will be a player for many seasons to come.”

Martial’s goal was his 15th in the Premier League this season and 20th in all.

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The Frenchman has hit the ground running since the league’s resumption, netting his first career hat-trick against Sheffield United last week.

And Ferdinand says Martial looks a completely different person at the moment.

“This is just magic, this had me off my seat, I was screaming in the studio,” Ferdinand said of Martial’s first-half strike.

“He cuts in, you’ll see the next angle, he takes a look, looks at the situation and says: ‘Right, top bin here you come’ and it’s just an unbelievable strike.

“He looks like a different human, he looks like a different person. He looks like he is enjoying his football, he’s confident.

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“We see the pictures after, he’s smiling again. His first goal for Man United against Liverpool, he smiled.

“You could see that there’s a passion inside of him. Here again you see him smiling.

“He’s been known as someone who’s very moody, very just calm and not really interested.

“This guy is a different character right now under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.”

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Soccer

Manchester United team news: Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes passed fit for Bournemouth game

Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes both start for Manchester United against Bournemouth.

The midfielders line up against the Cherries as the Red Devils look to usurp Chelsea and take fourth place with a victory at Old Trafford.

Pogba and Fernandes’s fitness had been the source of speculation heading into the game.

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But both players are included in United’s starting line-up in pursuit of a fourth successive victory.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer meanwhile has paid tribute to his side’s mentality in recent weeks.

“They’re fit and they’re confident,” Solskjaer said. “When you’re confident it’s so much easier to go into the next one feeling that little bit sharper.

“We’re getting fitter and fitter the more games we have now.

“I’ve just been impressed by the attitude and the mentality of everyone.”

Man United starting XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Matic, Fernandes, Greenwood, Rashford, Martial

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Soccer

Leroy Sane’s new shirt number suggests Coutinho’s future has been decided

Bayern Munich’s latest signing Leroy Sane will take Philippe Coutinho’s No.10 shirt next season, suggesting Coutinho could be on his way out.

Bosses at the Bundesliga champions have given the prestigious squad number currently worn by Coutinho to Sane, the outgoing Manchester City winger, whose £44.7million-plus move back to his native Germany was confirmed on Friday.

Sane personally decided not to use the No.10 shirt in his official signing portrait on Thursday “out of respect” for Coutinho, Bayern indicated.

Coutinho “indicated his full understanding” of the decision, according to the club, and he will keep his old number for Saturday’s German Cup final and any Champions League games in August.

But the symbolic switch is seen as a further sign that Coutinho is set to leave Bayern.

The ex-Liverpool attacker, who went to Barcelona for £142million in January 2018 before going out on loan to Bayern the following summer, has been linked with a host of clubs around Europe.

The German side have declined to invoke their option to make the deal permanent.

Coutinho has once again been rumoured to be returning to Liverpool after the Reds fought tooth and nail to keep him two seasons ago.

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However, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has not completely ruled out swooping for Coutinho again, saying: “We’ll see if he still has a role to play with us or not.”

Barcelona are highly likely to want to sell the player as the Catalan club looks to slash its wage bill in order to manage the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Sane has thanked Man City fans for their support over the last three years.

He said in a statement: “It has been a really intense and successful time which I surely won’t forget.

“We won many games, scored a ton of goals, broke a couple of records and celebrated seven trophies together.

“Thanks to all the fans, to the staff and to my team-mates! I will always remember this time with great joy and pride.”

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Racing

Lewis Hamilton completes clean sweep in Austrian Grand Prix practice

Lewis Hamilton completes clean sweep of Austrian Grand Prix practice sessions as Briton makes promising start to championship defence

  • Lewis Hamilton finished fastest in all three practice sessions at the Austrian GP
  • He finished 0.147 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas in final run before qualifying 
  • The Briton will bid to make perfect start to championship defence in Spielberg 

Lewis Hamilton is on course to open his championship defence in style as he continued to dominate the Austrian Grand Prix.

After topping both practice sessions here in Spielberg on Friday, the Mercedes driver finished fastest again in the final running before qualifying.

The world champion was provided with a major boost in his quest for a record-equalling seventh title in the early hours of Saturday morning after Mercedes survived a Red Bull protest against their car.

Lewis Hamilton finished top of the pile during the Austrian Grand Prix practice sessions

Following a six-hour stewards’ investigation, Formula One’s sporting federation, the FIA, gave Mercedes the green light to continue using their controversial Dual-Axis Steering (DAS) system – priming Hamilton as the favourite to win Sunday’s race.

Hamilton finished 0.147 seconds clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen third, the best part of three tenths back.

Aside from Bottas, Verstappen looks set to provide Hamilton with the closest championship challenge.

Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished 0.124 seconds behind in the final practice

The Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished fifth and seventh respectively – both drivers more than half-a-second adrift of Hamilton.

The final track action before qualifying later on Saturday was temporarily suspended after rookie Nicholas Latifi crashed out.

Latifi lost control of his Williams on the exit of the opening bend, before slamming into the barriers.

Lewis Hamilton navigates a corner during the final practice session in Spielberg on Saturday

The session was red-flagged as the marshals recovered Latifi’s beaten-up car. Latifi’s Williams team will now face a race against time to get his machine ready for qualifying.

Sergio Perez ended the running in fourth as Racing Point continued to impress, with the London-born Alex Albon sixth for Red Bull.

McLaren’s Lando Norris finished 10th. His British compatriot George Russell was 16th for Williams.




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Soccer

Moyes admits West Ham's transfer plans are on hold

David Moyes admits West Ham’s transfer plans are on hold until Premier League survival is secured but hopes to plot signings if Hammers can win ‘next two or three games’

  • David Moyes says he’s buoyed by West Ham’s display in 3-2 win over Chelsea
  • Moyes is hopeful two or three more wins will be enough to secure survival
  • The Scot is then keen to plot transfers – but is wary of looking too far ahead 

David Moyes admits he cannot begin planning for next season until West Ham have secured their Premier League survival.

The Hammers put some much-needed daylight between themselves and the drop zone with a dramatic 3-2 win over Chelsea in midweek.

But any transfer plans remain on hold as they continue their battle to avoid relegation, with a trip to in-form Newcastle next up.

West Ham boss David Moyes won’t plan signings until Premier League survival is guaranteed 

Moyes says he was delighted with his side’s display in their 3-2 win over Chelsea on Weds

The Scot is hopeful that ‘two or three’ more wins will be enough to keep the Hammers up

‘I’d love to say I was looking forward completely, but I’m not taking my eye off the ball and I’m only looking at the next game,’ said Hammers boss Moyes.

‘I can’t think any further than how we can pick up the points and win the next two or three games, and then maybe it will give me a chance to look.

‘To be honest I’m not sure we even know when next season is starting, we don’t have confirmation of the date yet.

‘So from my point of view the big thing is to focus on what we can do at the moment and make sure we are a Premier League club.

‘We need to build on the performance we had against Chelsea, which was a really top performance by the players.

Tomas Soucek was one of three different goalscorers in West Ham’s win over Chelsea

Michail Antonio also scored in a man-of-the-match display at the West Ham Stadium

‘If we are capable of beating Chelsea we are capable of having a go against most teams. That’s the way I look at it so we will hopefully try and do that.’

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe this week said the relegation battle is ‘consuming’ him, and former Manchester United boss Moyes knows how he feels.

‘I don’t disagree,’ he added. ‘But football consumes you. When you are a football manager you’re consumed all the time.

‘We all realise we are very fortunate to be in the position we are in – but a lot of the managers work very hard and have to listen to a lot, shift a lot out and use what we think is right.

‘It’s a difficult job and obviously being at the bottom of the league, which I’ve been before, it comes with a different pressure.

‘But let me tell you, when your team’s at the top and you are expected to win every week it comes with big pressure as well.’




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Soccer

Man Utd fans annoyed with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decision for Bournemouth clash

Manchester United fans are annoyed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named Brandon Williams on the bench for this afternoon’s Premier League clash against Bournemouth.

Luke Shaw has been given the nod over Williams at left-back for every game since the Premier League restart last month.

It was thought the academy graduate could get a run out against relegation-threatened Bournemouth, but Shaw is named in the XI – and fans took to Twitter to question the selection decision.

“Brandon Williams should’ve started…” said one supporter.

“For the win!! We could have tried Williams and Fred tho,” commented a second.

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“Brandon > Shaw,” wrote a third.

“I would go with Brandon Williams over Luke Shaw and Bailly (is he not fit?) over Lindelof,” added a fourth.

A fifth fumed: “Brandon Williams deserves a run out.”

Another rationed: “That lineup is unbelievable but I still think Brandon Williams should be starting over Shaw.”

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While this fan said: “This line up is perfect but I prefer Williams over Shaw.”

Solskjaer has named an unchanged XI for the Cherries’ visit after battering Brighton and Hove Albion in the week. 

Bruno Fernandes will be expected to contribute once again after firing a brace against the Seagulls. He partners Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic in midfield. 

While Mason Greenwood continues in place of Daniel James on the right wing. 

Man Utd vs Bournemouth Teams

Man Utd: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Matic, Pogba, Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial

Subs: Romero, Bailly, Williams, Fred, Pereira, McTominay, Mata, James, Ighalo

Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Rico, Kelly, Ake, Smith, Brooks, Lerma, L.Cook, Stanislas, Solanke, King.

Subs: Boruc, Stacey, Mepham, Billing, Gosling, H. Wilson, Surman, Surridge, Danjuma.

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Soccer

Leicester's poor restart is holding Jamie Vardy back on 100 goal quest

Jamie Vardy has been stuck on 99 Premier League goals for FOUR MONTHS… now Leicester’s weak restart is holding back his fairytale journey from non league to rubbing shoulders with legends in the 100 club

  • Jamie Vardy may become the 29th player to reach 100 Premier League goals
  • Vardy reached 99 goals in March prior to the football hiatus amid Covid-19
  • He is likely to reach 100 goals faster than Romelu Lukaku and Wayne Rooney

Jamie Vardy is on the brink of becoming the 29th player to reach 100 goals in the Premier League.

The former England striker scored his 98th and 99th top-flight goals in Leicester’s 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa in March.

However, the enforced break in the football season due to coronavirus saw Vardy stranded one short of entering the exclusive 100 club.

Jamie Vardy need one more goal to become the 29th player to reach 100 Premier League goals

Should Vardy score again between now and the end of the season, he will have reached 100 Premier League goals in fewer games than Romelu Lukaku, Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Jermain Defoe.

Vardy’s achievement is even more impressive given his transition out of Halifax Town in the Northern Premier League over a decade ago, to becoming a Premier League winner with Leicester and the potential 29th member of the 100 Club.

JAMIE VARDY’S PREMIER LEAGUE RECORD

2014-15: Appearances – 34 Goals – 5

2015-16: Appearances – 36 Goals – 24

2016-17: Appearances – 35 Goals – 13

2017-18: Appearances – 37 Goals – 20

2018-19: Appearances – 34 Goals – 18

2019-20: Appearances – 26 Goals – 19

Total: Appearances – 202 Goals – 99

Fans questioned the club’s thought process when Leicester decided to spend £1million on Vardy in 2012 from then non-league Fleetwood Town.

Since then he has represented his country, scored in the Champions League, won the Premier League and netted 126 goals in 300 appearances for the club.

Nigel Pearson, who managed Leicester at the time, responded to fans criticisms of their new signing eight years ago.

He said: ‘When we signed him, people were saying we were mad,’ he told The Telegraph. ‘Early on, there was a period when he wasn’t scoring, and people were asking questions and moaning. There were rumours about him wanting to go back to Sheffield Wednesday, or even packing it in.

‘He had a crisis of confidence, but I said, ‘I’m just going to keep playing you’. There was a lot of ‘we believe in you’. It wasn’t all fluffy like that – there was probably some ‘f***ing get on with it’, too. We never envisaged him hitting the heights he did.’

Vardy won’t be the first non-league graduate to reach the 100 club, but he will be the oldest.

Ian Wright and Les Ferdinand became Premier League striking centurions after departing from non-league football when they were 12-years-old. Whereas Vardy was 27 when he made his top-flight debut. 

Les Ferdinand (above) and Ian Wright made 100 goal club after leaving non-league football

CLUB 100 MEMBERS

1. Alan Shearer – 260 goals

2. Wayne Rooney – 208 goals

3. Andy Cole – 187 goals

4. Sergio Aguero – 180 goals

5. Frank Lampard – 177 goals

6. Thierry Henry – 175 goals

7. Robbie Fowler – 163 goals

8. Jermain Defoe – 162 goals

9. Michael Owen – 150 goals

10. Les Ferdinand – 149 goals

11. Teddy Sheringham – 146 goals

12. Robin van Persie – 144 goals

13. Harry Kane – 136 goals

14. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink – 127 goals

15. Robbie Keane -126 goals

16. Nicolas Anelka – 125 goals

17. Dwight Yorke – 123 goals

18. Steven Gerrard – 120 goals

19. Ian Wright – 113 goals

19. Romelu Lukaku – 113 goals

21. Dion Dublin – 111 goals

22. Emile Heskey – 110 goals

23. Ryan Giggs – 109 goals

24. Peter Crouch – 108 goals

25. Paul Scholes – 107 goals

26. Darren Bent – 106 goals

27. Didier Drogba – 104 goals

28. Matt Le Tissier – 100 goals

Despite becoming one of the sharpest strikers in the Premier League, Vardy’s lifestyle has not always been by the book.

In his autobiography, he admitted to drinking port the night before matches during Leicester’s title-winning season and dissolving Skittles into his vodka.

Regardless of his unusual habits, Vardy has become an inspiration to Leicester’s youth players.

Vardy made his England debut in 2015 and went on to hit the ground running when the domestic season returned that year.

He scored and provided two assists in the first three matches before a record-breaking run of 11 consecutive games in which he found the net. 

Having broken Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record, Vardy was the driving force behind the Foxes unlikely league title in 2016.  

Vardy retired from international football in 2018 to prolong his club career at Leicester

Vardy is a club hero, scoring in 11 consecutive games to see Leicester win the title in 2016

Fast forward to now, and Vardy has 19 goals in the 2019-20 campaign so far and is currently leading the race for the Premier League Golden Boot.

Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Salah have more goals than him over the last two seasons.

However, Vardy is yet to find the net since returning to football following the coronavirus suspension.

Since returning to action, Leicester are not only getting fewer shots away per game; they are also having fewer opportunities from inside the box since the restart.

Vardy operates well within the penalty box and the lack of possession in such an area has seen him struggle to create valuable opportunities in his first three games back.

Leicester are also attempting more crosses from open play each game since the restart, which does not play to Vardy’s strengths.

Vardy has scored just 12 headers from his 99 goals across six seasons. Whereas his right foot has accounted for 62 of his goals.

Vardy is just one goal away from hitting 100, but has failed to score since football has returned

Leicester have failed to get the ball into the box as frequently, leaving Vardy short of options

That being said, Vardy is still producing the most shots on target for his side regardless of the drought.  

It is believed that Vardy’s withdrawal from International football has helped in flourish in the Premier Leauge.

The 33-year-old stepped aside from international duty in 2018 following England’s defeat in the World Cup semi-final against Croatia.

Rodgers believes the decision has allowed Vardy to ‘refresh’ and ‘do some work in isolation at the club’ to prolong his domestic playing career.   

Although time with eventually take its toll on Vardy, there have been no signs as of yet that striker, who turned 33 in January, will slow down.  

JAMIE VARDY BEST PREMIER LEAGUE GOALS 

1. March 11, 2015 West Bromwich Albion vs Leicester City 

Vardy picked up the ball along the halfway line, drove to the corner of the box and hammered home Leicester’s third goal into the far corner. 

2. November 28, 2015 Leicester City vs Manchester United

Vardy’s goal against Manchester United saw him break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record by scoring 11 goals in 11 games. Christian Fuchs floated a ball through for Vardy, who picked it up in behind the defence and slotted it home before celebrating with his team.

3. February 2, 2016 Leicester City vs Liverpool 

Jamie Vardy’s goal against Liverpool was one of the most sensational volley’s to come from the 2016 season. Vardy struck the ball into the far corner of the goal from outside of the box to give the Foxes the lead. This was the goal that convinced the fans that the title-winning season was possible. 

4. September 20, 2014 Leicester City vs Manchester United 

This goal was the ‘birth’ of Vardy in the Premier League. The striker picked up the ball in United’s half and drove towards the corner of the box. Some quick feet saw him bypass the defender in a 1v1 battle, to then fire it home for the Foxes. His goal made it eight wins in a row for Leicester. 

5. March 10, 2018 West Bromwich Albion vs Leicester City 

Only Vardy could have scored such an impossible finish. The Leicester talisman timed his run perfectly and watched the overhead ball onto his foot with the upmost precision as he volleyed it home for the Foxes. Many players would have struggled to make contact with the ball, let alone score.  




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Rugby

Wests Tigers Joseph Leilua sin binned after off-the-ball coathanger on Dylan Edwards in Panthers win

The Penrith Panthers have claimed their sixth win of the season against the West Tigers in a spiteful clash at Bankwest Stadium.

A late field goal and try sealed the 19-12 win for the Panthers, the first time the side have lost just one game by the eighth round since their 1991 premiership season.

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The match was in the balance throughout but the blood was boiling as it exploded late in the game.

Seemingly stemming from a moment when Luciano Leilua was hit high when falling to ground with 22 minutes remaining.

While it led to a penalty goal that evened the scores at 12-all, his brother and Tigers centre Joey was showing clear concern and anger after the incident.

But it saw an ugly moment when Api Koroisau went to apologise to Luciano and started some push and shove with his brother.

“There’s no need for that,” Anasta said. “I understand it’s your brother BJ but come on mate.”

Joey Leilua was clearly furious and it spilt over late in the game.

With two and a half minutes left, Leilua hit Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards with a high shot off the ball in an ugly moment.

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Joey Leilua coathangers Dylan Edwards off the ball.Source:FOX SPORTS

“Jeez he comes up with some dumb plays BJ,” Anasta said. That is just so unnecessary.”

“That’s just crap,” Voss added.

“He needs to settle down, he has to go for that,” Anasta added. “He does some stupid things and he doesn’t need to. It’s been his achilles heel his whole career Joey, he just can’t control his temperament.”

Leilua was sent straight to the sin bin.

The match boiled over several times in the closing stages as the spite overflowed.

Post-match, Edwards said he was fine despite the ugly incident.

“There was a bit of emotion, I mean, two teams battling out for a win and Joey just had a brain snap there but what happens on the footy field stays on the footy field,” he said of the incident.

Leilua was slammed for the act, although Edwards bounced back.

Just because your brother copped an unlucky (unintentional) high shot doesn’t give you the right for a proper dog shot.

BJ. If that’s not a send off, what is? 🤦🏽‍♂️ #NRL

Joey Leilua. How predictable. Gifted talent but a liability to any team with that nonsense. #NRLTigersPanthers

BJ Leilua is an idiot but this has to be the worst take ever. https://t.co/yQ43WaZQ63

I liked you until 60 seconds ago Leilua #NRLTigersPanthers

While the spiteful end got the fans off their seats, it was a brilliant match as sides from Sydney’s west put in a thriller.

Although the Panthers scored in the first minute through Stephen Crichton, the Tigers were never going to hold back, hitting back with two tries of their own before halftime.

When Crichton scored his second, it was ripe for eruption when the powder keg moment happen for Leilua.

But when it came to finishing the game off, Nathan Cleary was mature, kicking the winning field goal before Edwards got the cherry with a long distance try to wrap up the win.

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Sports News

Jim Crowley craves first Classic win after amazing Royal Ascot

Hitting his rivals for six at Royal Ascot in one of the best jobs in racing, Jim Crowley has a burning ambition before he retires – to win a British Classic.

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's go-to rider has come close at Epsom before, with Secret Gesture's second in the 2013 Investec Oaks.

One of the favourites pre-race, Crowley hit the front on the filly two furlongs from home, but she was all at sea on the track as 20/1 stablemate Talent swept by.

Fourth in the 2017 Derby on Eminent, Crowley knows just how lucky you have to be to triumph, noting the 15-year wait for a certain colleague.

"Look how long it took Frankie (Dettori)," said the 41-year-old.

"The Derby is the most important race to win. You can't do that if you are sat in the weighing room.

"There are no rules – we have seen horses win from last, such as Pour Moi and others have made the running.

"Epsom is a very unique test for a thoroughbred."

Crowley rides Emissary in Saturday's Investec Derby, a half-brother to 2010 winner Workforce.

He went to Hugo Palmer's Newmarket stable this week to get to know his big race mount.

And one thing's for sure, he will try to savour the experience in 2020, despite the meeting being run without spectators.

"I didn't enjoy either day to be honest (Secret Gesture and Eminent's runs)," he said.

"I thought Secret Gesture would win and she finished second to her stablemate.

"Eminent wasn't beaten that far. We got squeezed out a furlong from home. It was a tough race for him.

"I think Emissary is a great ride to pick up.

"He's only had two starts in his life and he will improve a lot for his run at Goodwood.

"His half-brother Workforce won the Derby and I don't think his team would be run if they didn't think he was up to this level."

Win, lose or dead-heat at Epsom, Crowley will still have his six Royal Ascot successes to savour.

Born in the hospital a stone's throw away from the racecourse, it is a place he holds dear- and Battaash finally winning the King's Stand Stakes is a memory that tops the lot.

"I was buzzing to get three winners on the first day, it set me up for the rest of the week," Crowley said.

"I have been to Ascot many times hoping for winners and you can leave there licking your wounds.

"For Battaash it was important for him to win after finishing second twice.

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"He is so fast it's unbelievable. It's like driving a very nice car, it's as simple as that.

"I rode him work the week before Royal Ascot and was grinning from ear to ear.

"He's not a normal horse, he's a freak."

When Battaash tries to add a fourth King George Stakes to his record at Goodwood, Crowley will be closing in on 2,000 career winners.

As well as his immediate ambitions, he remains quietly keen on adding another jockeys' title to his 2016 heroics.

"If I get to Goodwood and I'm reasonably close, I might give it another go," he said.

"2000 winners would be a nice milestone to reach.

"But I really want to win a Classic, that's got to be number one.

"The Oaks or the Derby, there's nothing like it. It would be a great thrill.

"Even if there is no-one there, I will take it."

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Soccer

Armenian league suspended amid huge match-fixing scandal

45 lifetime bans slapped on club owners, players and coaches, FIVE teams disqualified and an entire league suspended after huge match-fixing scandal rocks Armenian football

  • Armenian football has been rocked by a massive match-fixing scandal 
  • The country’s second tier has been suspended after ‘undeniable evidence’ arose 
  • 45 people have been handed lifetime bans and five clubs have been disqualified 
  • Suspicious results included 12-0, 0-12, 1-8 and 9-2 for Lokomotiv Yerevan 

The Armenian Football Federation (FFA) suspended the country’s second tier with immediate effect and disqualified five teams after receiving ‘undeniable evidence’ of their involvement in match-fixing.

About 45 people, including club owners, players and coaches, have been handed with life bans and another 13 were banned for different periods for being involved in manipulation of matches, the FFA said.

Local media reported that club owners with Russian passports, Russian players and coaches, as well as Ukrainian, Latvian and Belarusian footballers were among those banned.

Armenian football has been rocked by a match-fixing scandal, with the second tier suspended

Lokomotiv Yerevan, level on points with second division leaders FC Van, Aragats, Torpedo Yerevan and Masis were disqualified from the championship following suspicious results, including 12-0, 0-12, 1-8, 9-2, 0-7, 0-8 and 8-2.

FC Yerevan, who had withdrawn from the 2019-20 Premier League in February due to financial and technical problems, were also disqualified for match-fixing.

‘The decisions were made after the FFA received undeniable evidence from international organizations and law enforcement agencies,’ FFA President Armen Melikbekyan said in a statement.

45 lifetime bans have been handed out and five teams have been disqualified from the division

‘The evidence that we received from our international colleagues will be transferred to the Armenian law enforcement agencies.’

Melikbekyan promised transparent FFA leadership after his election victory in December.

There have been media reports of widespread match-fixing and corruption in the South Caucasus country for years.

‘Our goal is to eradicate corruption and the system of fixed games in the Armenian football,’ Melikbekyan said.

‘This process, however, does not end. The Expert Group created by the FFA will continue to work to identify all possible adverse events.’




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