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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekend Sports Wrap Digest

Madrid Set Stage for a Thrilling Champions League Clash

After picking up the Copa Del Rey trophy at the Estadio de Mestalla in midweek with a win over Barcelona, Real Madrid moved back to the famous stadium to meet the home team, Valencia, as they tried to pile more pressure on league leaders Barcelona. A Gonzalo Higuain hat-trick and a brace from Kaka and Karim Benzema gave Jose Mourinho’s side a 6-3 win over Valencia, whose goals were scored by Roberto Soldado, Jonas and Jordi. It was Valencia’s eighth loss of the season but a morale-boosting win for the Los Blancos heading into their crunch two-leg champions league matches against Barcelona.

The win temporarily moved Real to within 5-points of leaders Barca who were to play Osasuna much later. When they did, David Villa ended his goal drought as he put the Blaugrana ahead within 24-minutes of kick off to break an 11-game run without finding the back of the net.

The impressive Lionel Messi then scored his record-breaking 50th goal of the season to give Barca a 2-0 win over the hard fighting Los Rojillos and reestablished Barca’s 8-point gap that puts them well in pole to win their third successive La Liga title as only five games remain.

Pep Guardiola rested Messi, Iniesta and Xavi but they were all introduced in the second half as Osasuna looked likely to snatch a point from Camp Nou.

Liverpool Hit Birmingham for Six

The biggest win in the English Premier League over the weekend was the 5-0 whitewash of Birmingham against Liverpool. Maxi Rodriguez scored his first hat-trick for Liverpool as the Europe-chasing club ran riot at Anfield. The Argentine international scored a brace in the first half as Liverpool headed into the break with a 3-0 scoreline with Dirk Kuyt scoring the other goal, his 7th in six matches. Maxi then hit a volley from a Luis Suarez cross and substitute Joe Cole completed the rout as Kenny Dalglish’s men moved to within three points of fifth placed Tottenham Hotspur who drew 2-2 with West Brom, although Spurs still have a game in hand.

Europe dreams are still very much alive for the Reds and a win for them against Newcastle this coming Sunday, coupled with a loss for Spurs against the in-form Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will take Dalglish’s men on top of their London rivals for the first time this season. Liverpool’s +12 goal difference is superior to Spurs’ +8.

A Javier Hernandez header in the 83rd minute was enough to give Manchester United a solitary goal win over Everton and tighten their grip at the Premier League apex. Torres scored his debut goal for Chelsea to help the Blues win 3-0 against bottom-placed West Ham and keep the pressure on the Red Devils. Israeli international, Tamir Cohen scored an emotional last-minute winner for Bolton against Arsenal and surely put an end to the Gunner’s title charge. Bolton took the lead via a Daniel Sturridge header just seven minutes before the half time break.

Robin Van Persie equalized just three minutes into the second half but Cohen’s 90minute header won it for Owen Coyle’s men.

Milan Winning Scudetto Race

In Italy, Robinho scored for AC Milan the only goal as Massimilano Allegri’s side dismissed Brescia 1-0 at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti to breathe life into their hopes of winning the Scudetto for the first time since 2004. The Samba start scored in the 82nd minute to restore Milan’s 8point gap over city rivals Inter Milan as they marched towards an 18th Serie A title.

Earlier, Samuel Eto’o scored in the 53rd minute to finish Inter’s comeback against Lazio at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Mauro Matias Zarate had put the home team ahead after a well taken penalty in the 24minutes when Nerrazuri custodian Julio Cesar had fouled him in the box, earning him a straight red card. Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder pulled a goal back for the visitors with a well-hit free kick just five minutes before the break and Eto’o finished the comeback 8 minutes after the break to give Leonardo’s men a fighting chance.

Bari were relegated to Serie B after a 1-0 loss to Sampdoria with Nicola Pozzi scoring the only goal through a penalty, while Udinese’s champions league hopes were given a blow when they lost 0-2 to Parma with Amauri scoring a goal either side of the half.

Marseille Retain French Cup

Nigeria left-back Taye Taiwo drove in a low shot in the 80th minute to give Ligue 1 title chasers Olympique de Marseille a 1-0 victory over Montpellier in the French Cup final at the Stade de France.

The win meant that the Les PhocĂ©ens became the first side to win the French League Cup in successive seasons. It was Montpellier’s second loss in six days to the Ligue 1 defending champions following a 2-1 home defeat last weekend in the league. Taiwo, also scored the winner during that game with a well-taken 82nd-minute penalty. The victory also put Didier Deschamps’ men on road to repeating a domestic double it achieved last season.

Kubica Leaves Hospital

With no F1 races till the 8th of May Turkish grand prix at Istanbul Park, the biggest news coming out of the racing circuit was the departure from hospital of Polish Formula One driver Robert Kubica. The Renault driver left the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure, Italy, where he has spent the last 10 weeks nursing injuries he sustained in a rallying accident back in February 6.

There were fears that Pole may never race again after the freak accident which put him under a seven-hour surgery process. It’s still unclear whether or how soon he will get back behind the wheel but he said, "I am starting to feel a lot better now. My recovery is moving in the right direction. My strength and weight are increasing day on day." 

German driver Nick Heidfeld (currently placed 8th in the F1 standings) replaced the 26-year-old on the Renault team this season.

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