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Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Sports Wrap Digest

Not many weekends are normally packed with such level of rivalry and competition within the sports field as was witnessed this weekend. There was one of the oldest and utterly euphoric derbies, El Derbi de Espanol or El Clasico, pitting arguably two of the best teams in world football, Barcelona and Real Madrid. In England, the Manchester derby, pitting Manchester City and Manchester United was being played out at the Eastlands with a spot in the FA Cup final up for grabs.

To add icing to the cake, there was the match between Arsenal and the resurgent Liverpool at the Emirates stadium in London with Liverpool aiming to break an 11-year winless duck against the Gunners. The same city was hosting the 2010 London Marathon where Kenyans were expected to dominate. The F1 season was in Shanghai, China where Sebastian Vettel was aiming to win his third race of the Formula 1 season.

David Ferrer was the latest man who was being charged with the almost impossible task of screeching to a halt Rafael Nadal’s impressive record at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

Back home (in Kenya), the ‘Milk Derby’ was taking place. Not that two camels or donkeys were involved in a milk-spitting competition. No. It was the mighty Gor Mahia football club, sponsored by Tuzo – a dairy milk brand, squaring it off with Thika United, sponsored by parent dairy company, Brookside, in the Kenya Premier League.

How they all went.

Real’s El Clasico losing streak ends
Over the next two weeks, Real Madrid and Barcelona will face off four times with the Champions League, the Copa Del Rey and the La Liga titles up for grabs for either of the teams. Their first meeting however involved a league match at the Santiago Bernabeu where Barcelona, who you can say have won the La Liga title bar an enormous miracle, were aiming to extend their five consecutive winning streak against the El Merengues. It was a quality and dare-I-say equally contested match. At the end of the 90minutes, the teams were happy with a 1-1 draw with goals coming courtesy of a Lionel Messi penalty for Pep Guardiola’s men in the 52nd minute and a Christiano Ronaldo equalizer in the 82nd minute for Mourinho’s men. The stalemate ended Guardiola’s 100% and Barca’s five straight winning streak in the derby. Lionel Messi also broke the duck of not having scored against a Jose Mourinho-led side, while Ronaldo also broke his jinx of not having scored against Barca as player.

The teams next meet in Valencia for the Copa Del Rey final on Wednesday April 20. Although the venue for this match can be considered neutral, expect the game to be played out with the same gusto as it happens when either of the teams are in their own or the enemy’s territory.

Can a 10-man Barca Beat Real?
Well this is the question that the “Special One” Jose Mourinho threw to journalists during his post El Clasico derby press conference. Mourinho had just seen his 10-man team earn a deserved point against the Blaugrana, in spite of Real’s Raul Albiol being sent off after wrestling David Villa down to earn Barca their penalty and Messi his 30th league goal of the season. In their 5-0 humiliation at Camp Nou back in November, Mourinho’s worst defeat as a manager, Real’s Sergio Ramos was red-carded. This weekend, Raul Albiol was sent off and the former Porto, Chelsea and Inter manager felt hard done when Dani Alves stayed on the pitch after dragging fellow Brazilian, Marcelo down. With Cristiano converting the penalty, Real held on to share the spoils with their bitter rivals. But can a 10-man Barca beat 11-man Real Madrid?

Lewis Hamilton wins Chinese Grand Prix, makes history
British driver, Lewis Hamilton did not only win the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit this weekend but became the first driver in Formula 1 history to win the title twice. The s6-year-old MacLaren driver, who first won the circuit in 2008, charged ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who was looking for his third pole finish of the season, with four laps to go, thanks to his 3 pit-stop strategy that ensured he had fresh tires going into the last laps of the 56-lap race. Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was even more impressive gliding his tyres from 18th position to finish third, while Hamilton’s teammate and last year’s winner Jenson Button finished fourth.
Hamilton, the 2008 F1 champion, thus became the first man to win the Shanghai Grand Prix twice and stopped Vettel from following up his pole position finishes from Melbourne and Malaysia. German, Nico Rosberg took the fifth position for Mercedes while Brazilian Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was sixth ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso. Seven time F1 champion Michael Schumacher finished eighth. 
The win gave Hamilton his 15th career win and propelled him to second position with 47 points, 21 below Vettel who has 68 points. Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button has 38, one above Mark Webber. Alonso has 26 points.

In the constructors’ championship standings, Red Bull leads with 105 points, twenty ahead of second placed McLaren-Mercedes. Ferrari sits third with 50 points, Renault fourth with 32 points and Mercedes closes the top five list with 16 points. Turkey’s Istanbul Park is the next venue for the F1 season which will take place in May 8th. Hamilton won the Turkish leg last year and was followed by Jenson Button.

Murray and Ferrer Fall to Monte-Carlo master Rafael Nadal
World No. 1 tennis player, Rafael Nadal once again proved that he is the master in the clay court after a hard-fought but thoroughly deserved 6-4, 7-5 win over countrymate David Ferrer in the Monte Carlo masters final in France. The world number one thus won the Monte Carlo masters title for an unprecedented seventh time and remains unbeaten on clay since 2009. The Manacor-born 24-year-old reached the final after dismissing British top seed Andy Murray 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to book a final clash with Ferrer who beat Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2. Nadal extended his winning run in the tournament to 37 matches and aloso win over the world number 6 Ferrer has an 8-1.

Nadal now has his eyes and serving prowess focused on defending his French Open title in May.

Kenyans Tear the Field in London Marathon
Kenya’s Emmanuel Mutai led his compatriots Martin Lel and Partick Makau to a 1,2,3 podium finish for Kenyans in the 42km London marathon, further cementing Kenya’s dominance in long distance running. Mutai stopped the clock in a course record 2 hours 4 minutes and 40 seconds to win the race. Three-time champion Martin Lel and silver medalist at the world championships in 2009 Patrick Makau treated the London spectators to a fine sprint finish but both were given a time of 2:05.45 for second and third place respectively. Mutai’s time in the 31st edition of the London Marathon is the fourth fastest of all time. 
In the women’s race, Mary Keitany clocked 2:19:19, the second fastest time in the London Marathon women discipline, to win the women’s race. The 29-year-old world half marathon record holder beat Russia’s defending champion Liliya Shobukhova to second place, while another Kenyan Edna Kiplagat finished third.

Surely the organizers of the Dutch Utrecht Marathon must have watched this race closely.

Toure Makes the Difference in City versus United FA Cup Clash
Yaya Toure scored his 8th goal of the season for Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinal against bitter neighbours  Manchester United and extinguished the hopes of the premier league leaders winning a treble this season. Toure pounced on a misguided pass from Michael Carrick and weaved past United’s defenders before slotting the ball past Van Der Sar. United tried to bounce back and even hit the post but City held on to reach the final and give themselves the chance of winning a trophy for the first time since 1976. City will meet Stoke who hit five goals past a hapless Bolton in the final at London's Wembley Stadium on May 14.

Gor win first leg of the ‘Milk Derby’
Fresh from a Ksh. 38m boost from Tuzo, the Mighty Gor Mahia football club, K’ogallo, drowned their Brookside sponsored Thika United in the first leg of the ‘Milk Derby’ at the Thika Municipal Stadium. Midfielder Kevin Omondi came off the bench to score a brace in the 67th and 83rd minute after teenage striker Edwin Lavatsa had opened the scores in the 25th minute for coach Zico’s men. Moses Arita scored Thika’s only goal just 7 minutes after the break but no one was ever going to deny Gor their first win donning their Tuzo-branded shirt.

There were also wins for Gor’s perennial rival AFC Leopards who dismissed Gor’s conquers last weekend Nairobi City Stars 2-1, while Tusker maintained their lead at the top with a 1-0 win over Bandari. Bottom-placed Congo United suffered a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of KCB while defending champions Ulinzi piped Sofapaka to a 2-1 win on Saturday. The impressive Rangers gave Sony Sugar a 3-0 drubbing, Western Stima won by a solitary goal over Mathare while Sher Karuturi was sent into the bottom four by Chemelil who beat them one nil.

The matches continue this weekend.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!