Champions League: Bayern Munich 6-1 FC Porto (agg 7-4)

Bayern use huge first half to demolish Porto to reach semifinals

Bayern Munich made light work of a 3-1 first-leg deficit as they battered Porto 6-1 to sail into the last four of the Champions League with a 7-4 margin on aggregate.

It was supposed to be a night that would test Bayern boss Pep Guardiola’s mettle after last week’s disappointing defeat in Portugal, but his charges made a mockery of such predictions with five goals in 26 minutes in the first half.

Thiago Alcantara, Jerome Boateng, Robert Lewandowski (two) and Thomas Muller caused the damage as they mercilessly tore their Primeira Division opponents apart with scintillating passing, breathtaking movement and ruthless finishing.

Porto went into this clash unbeaten in the competition so far and they were given a brief glimmer of hope when Jackson Martinez headed in, but their evening got worse still when Ivan Marcano was sent off late on and Xabi Alonso fired in the resulting free-kick.

The reigning Bundesliga champions, who were even missing key players such as injured duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, now march on to their fourth consecutive Champions League semi-final after a fantastic night.

It was clear that Julen Lopetegui, who was a former team-mate of opposite number Guardiola at Barcelona in the 1990s, was happy for his Porto side to sit deep and try to protect their first-leg lead from the off.

But chinks appeared in Porto’s gameplan as early as the 10th minute when Lewandowski hit a post – and half an hour later they found themselves 5-0 down on the night.

Thiago, who scored Bayern’s consolation at the Estadio do Dragao last week, kicked off the rout by nipping in front of his marker at the near post to nod home from Juan Bernat’s superb cross after 14 minutes.

Amid the hostile environment of a raucous Allianz Arena Porto began to fall apart and Bayern levelled the contest on aggregate in the 22nd minute, with Boateng heading in his first goal of the season after Holger Badstuber nodded Thiago’s corner back across goal.

The Germany international’s effort had just enough pace to creep past Fabiano, but questions will have to be asked about the Porto keeper after he seemed slow to react.

The visitors could have no complaints about Bayern’s truly exquisite third, which completed a three-goal 13-minute salvo to totally turn the tie around.

First, Philipp Lahm showed his class with an inch-perfect cross on the volley, before Muller unselfishly flicked the ball onto Lewandowski’s head and the Polish striker made no mistake from close range.

Muller twisted the knife with a somewhat fortuitous, somewhat hilarious, fourth as his low shot from distance was deflected off Bruno Martins Indi and totally caught poor Fabiano off-guard as the ball trickled through his legs when he tried in vain to clear on the floor.

With Porto shell shocked, Lewandowski was hardly feeling charitable as he picked up the ball from Muller around the penalty spot and showed ice-cool composure to work an opening before firing it low past Fabiano with deadly accuracy.

Understandably the pace relented from the hosts after the interval, but they were still in complete control of proceedings before Martinez gave the visitors a glimmer of hope.

The striker, who has been linked with a summer move to the Premier League, caught Bayern’s under-worked backline out to head in Hector Herrera’s cross in the 73rd minute, even though replays showed he was clearly offside.

With that goal reducing the aggregate deficit to back to 6-4, Martinez went close with a shot from distance that had Manuel Neuer flustered before it went wide, but that was as close as Porto got to creating a tense finale.

Things got even worse for them when Marcano picked up a second yellow card for a wild lunge on Thiago with five minutes left and Alonso fired in the free-kick with aplomb to complete the scoring.

Read more at ESPN

Champions League: Barcelona 2-0 PSG (agg 5-1)

Neymar stars as Barcelona ease past PSG into Champions League semifinals

Barcelona reached the Champions League semifinals for the seventh time in eight years after comfortably brushing aside the challenge of Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca did most of the damage in the first leg with a 3-1 win in Paris and they finished the job off with relative ease at the Camp Nou, with two first-half Neymar goals earning a 2-0 win.

Luis Enrique’s in-form side will now go into Friday’s mouthwatering draw for the last four along with Bayern Munich, with one of last season’s two finalists — Atletico and Real Madrid — joining them, as well as either Juventus or Monaco.

The 5-1 aggregate victory also keeps Barca firmly on course for the Treble, having already reached the final of the Copa del Rey and boasting a two-point lead in La Liga with six games to go.

Neymar broke the deadlock in the first leg and it was the Brazilian who got things up and running on Tuesday as well, although it was some Andres Iniesta magic that made it happen.

Iniesta, wearing the captain’s armband, missed the weekend win over Valencia through injury but showed no sign of any ill-effects as he brilliantly beat three players as he charged through the PSG midfield before threading a perfect pass into Neymar’s path.

The Brazilian did the rest, rounding Salvatore Sirigu and slotting into an empty net.

Dani Alves tested Sirigu with a long-range piledriver that the PSG keeper did well to parry, but he was beaten for a second time in the 33rd minute as Barca further strengthened their grip on proceedings.

Alves teased former Barca team-mate Maxwell on the right before floating in a left-footed cross that Neymar, having ghosted in behind David Luiz, easily headed past Sirigu.

The tie was as good as over, although PSG continued to battle and another of their ex-Barca contingent Zlatan Ibrahimovic — who had an effort correctly ruled out for offside in between Neymar’s strikes — almost brought them a goal midway through the second half.

The Sweden international, who missed the first leg due to suspension, ignored the run of an unmarked team-mate to try his luck from 25 yards out and his well-struck effort drew an awkward save out of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Edinson Cavani and Blaise Matuidi then tried to scramble the ball home with 10 minutes left as the French champions continued to probe, albeit against a Barca side that already knew the job was done.

Substitutes Lucas Moura and Ezequiel Lavezzi both also spurned openings to get on the scoresheet for Laurent Blanc’s men before Lionel Messi fired a shot just wide at the death for Barca, who have now won 23 of their 26 competitive games in 2015.

Read more at ESPN

Clio 182 Championship: Season promises full grids

With the start of the Clio 182 Championship only a few days away, we have a quick round up of some the new entrants and liveries you can look forward to in 2015.

The Clio 182 Series has been given Championship status for 2015 and with 36 drivers currently registered, the first race of the year at Brands Hatch already has a full grid of 32 drivers.

This year promises full grids and lots of close racing.

A familiar name in motorsport, Mark Fish makes his competitive return.

Mark Fish returns to racing in the Clio 182 Championship
Mark Fish returns to racing in the Clio 182 Championship

Mark Fish said “After 3 years of trying to get something together, it looks like I will finally be back out racing.  Very excited at the prospect of racing again, but with some trepidation.  There is a huge amount I need to reacquaint myself with, having only done 4 races since the Clio Cup in 1993 – I am interested to see if I can become competitive again”

New to the championship is Daniel Gibson.  Although not new to racing, Daniel has swapped his Fiesta for a Clio.

Daniel Gibson testing at Brands Hatch (Photo: Joshua Barrett Photography)
Daniel Gibson testing at Brands Hatch (Photo: Joshua Barrett Photography)

Another new face for this this year is James Bark.

James Bark testing at Cadwell
James Bark testing at Cadwell

James will be one to watch, particularly at Cadwell Park.  During testing he beat the Clio 2014 lap record by 0.2 seconds.

Able Heath Motorsport have two cars out this year:

Able Heath Motorsport 2015 line up
Able Heath Motorsport 2015 line up

These cars will be driven by Matt Holtom in his second year and Damien Heath who is new to the championship.

Finally, a few pictures from some returning drivers, but with new liveries for 2015.

Mat Pewsey testing at Brands Hatch (Photo: Renaultsport UK)
Mat Pewsey testing at Brands Hatch (Photo: Renaultsport UK)


Martin Bentley testing at Brands Hatch (Photo: Joshua Barrett Photography)
Martin Bentley testing at Brands Hatch (Photo: Joshua Barrett Photography)


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MotoGP: Rossi wins in Argentina after clashing with Marquez

Valentino Rossi takes a sensational victory after a masterful ride at the Gran Premio Red Bull de la República Argentina.

The sun had come out and track temperatures had risen to 37 degrees for the start of the MotoGP™ race at the Termas de Rio Hondo. The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez, along with CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, decided to switch to the hard rear tyre on the grid, unlike Rossi and Lorenzo who both decided to use the extra hard compound rear.

Aleix Espargaro led into the first corner, but Marquez passed the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR almost immediately and used his hard tyre to create a four-second gap at the front. At about mid-race distance Marquez’s tyres appeared to start to lose performance meaning that the chasing pack, led at this point by Valentino Rossi, started to close in on the leader. “The Doctor” had worked his way through the pack from 8th on the grid and could sense victory, as he was lapping almost a second quicker than Marquez.

The nine-time World Champion eventually caught Marquez with just 2 laps to go with the two riders touching, before Marquez clipped the back of Rossi’s bike and crashed out of the race. Rossi went on to take the race win by over 5 seconds ahead of Andrea Dovizioso in 2nd, with Cal Crutchlow stealing the final podium spot from Andrea Iannone on the very last corner.

Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo finished in 5th ahead of Bradley Smith on the Satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike. Aleix Espargaro ended the race in 7th, ahead of his brother Pol, with Scott Redding and Maverick Viñales completing the top ten.

CWW LCR Honda’s Jack Miller took the Open class victory as he finished in 12th, just 0.075s ahead of Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati.

Rossi now has a six-point lead over Dovizioso in the MotoGP™ World Championship standings, and is 30 points ahead of Marquez.

Read more at MotoGP

BTCC: Champion trio delivers at Donington Park

The three most successful drivers in the British Touring Car Championship field took a win apiece in a thrilling triple-header at Donington Park.

With seven drivers’ championships between them it was the class of Jason Plato, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal that rose to the surface on a brilliant day of racing in Leicestershire.

Left slightly disappointed that he couldn’t convert his superior free practice pace into pole position, Team BMR’s Plato wasted little time in reaching the race one summit.

He immediately blasted by Gordon Shedden’s Honda Civic Type R off the line and had enough grunt in his VW CC to be nudging the sister car of Turkington into the first corner. Reigning champ Turkington held on for much of the opening lap but eventually had to give way to Plato on the run to the final chicane. Plato powered away by more than a second before sustaining the gap for the remainder of the race.

Attention turned to the battle for second which resulted in some epic mid-race action. After trading places, Shedden’s Honda slid slightly wide at Redgate on lap seven and Turkington promptly angled his VW down the inside of the Japanese machine. The Ulsterman only held the position for a split second, however, as his Honda rival fought back brilliantly by returning the favour on the run to the Craner Curves.

The Scotsman managed to keep the #1 car at a relative arm’s length until the finish and celebrated second by also setting the fastest lap. The new lap record holder would now start race two from pole position ahead of Turkington.

Team BMR’s Turkington made it by the pole-sitting machine of Shedden on lap one, and although the pair scrapped ruthlessly early on, the VW eventually pulled away to take a comfortable victory. WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan took his first podium of the season to complete the rostrum.

Such has been the competitiveness to the start of the 2015 BTCC season that Turkington became the fifth different driver to win in the opening five rounds.

It was to be Matt Neal who earned bragging rights as the first double victor of the year after he came out on top of a relentless multi-car battle in the final bout.

Power Maxed Racing’s impressive rookie Josh Cook started the race from pole position and despite losing out off the line to Rob Collard’s BMW, he soon re-passed and did an absolutely stellar job at the front for the first few laps, but his hard work was soon to be undone.

The race was neutralised on lap six when Sam Tordoff’s BMW and Jack Goff’s MG had a coming together at the final chicane. Both cars were fired off into the gravel and out of the race with the Safety Car being deployed to allow marshals to retrieve both stricken vehicles. This eroded Cook’s lead and set up a spectacular end to the day.

There were changes aplenty behind as Plato’s VW, Jordan’s MG and the Mercedes of Morgan tussled in the early stages.

Aron Smith had already blazed a trail from 12th on the grid up to third prior to the incident and was into second shortly after the restart. He immediately reeled in the race-leading Chevrolet of Cook ahead of him which led to a pulsating scrap over the following few tours. The pair touched through the ultra fast Craner Curves and both cars bounced across the grass in dramatic fashion. The wild sliding VW of Smith made it back onto the track right amongst the chasing pack while Cook rejoined behind them. It was an incredible escape for both drivers but the episode left Collard out front.

Neal, who had already clashed with Jordan’s MG at the Old Hairpin, hauled in the WSR car and squeezed his Honda into the lead with just two laps to go. Jordan made it through too and he was eventually sandwiched between two Hondas as Shedden made the last step on the podium after his own stellar drive from 14th on the grid.

Collard claimed fourth ahead of an incredible drive from teenager Aiden Moffat. Not only did the Mercedes youngster make the most of the incidents ahead of him but he also made impressive late moves by previous race leaders Smith and Cook. Despite his dramas, Cook takes the lead in the Jack Sears Trophy table.

Neal leads the standings by two points from Turkington, with Shedden a further five points adrift in third. Honda takes the lead in the manufacturer/constructor standings, while Team BMR head the teams’ table.

The championship now heads to Thruxton in Hampshire on 9/10 May.


F1: Lewis Hamilton cruises to Bahrain GP win, Raikkonen second

Lewis Hamilton took a controlled win in the Bahrain Grand Prix as team-mate Nico Rosberg was beaten to second by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton led from the start and was always in control as he took his third victory in four races this season.

Rosberg battled the Ferraris throughout and lost second to Raikkonen with a braking problem with two laps to go.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel wrecked his podium chances by going off track and damaging his car while racing Rosberg.

Raikkonen, who nipped past Rosberg at the start of the penultimate lap when the German ran too deep into Turn One, put in an impressive drive on an alternative tyre strategy to move up from fourth place on the grid.

But Hamilton was out of reach at the front under the lights at the Sakhir track on a windy desert night.

Mercedes had expected a challenge from Ferrari during the race but Hamilton, after converting pole position into a lead at the first corner, was always in control as he set about building a lead while also protecting his tyres.

Read more at BBC Sport

FA Cup: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool

Aston Villa will meet Arsenal in the FA Cup final after a thoroughly deserved win over a desperately disappointing Liverpool at Wembley.

Villa’s win was a triumph for manager Tim Sherwood as his side produced a performance of style, composure and grit to come from behind and reach their first FA Cup final since their loss to Chelsea in 2000.

As a consequence there will be no dream finale to his Liverpool career for Steven Gerrard. The Reds skipper, who will join Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy in the summer, was hoping to make a final appearance for the club in an FA Cup final scheduled to take place on 30 May, his 35th birthday.

Philippe Coutinho clipped Liverpool into the lead but the dangerous Christian Benteke levelled before half-time and Villa scored the winner their display fully merited through Fabian Delph’s cool finish nine minutes after the break.

Lethargic Liverpool mounted a rally of sorts late on when Kieran Richardson cleared off the line from Liverpool captain Gerrard and half-time substitute Mario Balotelli was dubiously ruled offside when he had the ball in the net.

Villa, however, were not to be denied and the final whistle sparked scenes of joy among players and supporters alike.

The normally animated Sherwood had been calm on the touchline throughout but all his emotions poured out as he celebrated another trip to Wembley on 30 May, on top of moving Villa towards Premier League safety. The ex-Spurs manager, who replaced sacked Paul Lambert in February, has overseen a superb rejuvenation at Villa Park.

Villa had giants all over the pitch, particularly in the shape of Benteke and the gifted 19-year-old Jack Grealish, who played with a calm that belied his years in this hothouse atmosphere.

Liverpool, in contrast, were dismal and once again failed to deliver when the big occasion demanded – which will be a matter of great concern to manager Brendan Rodgers.

Read more at BBC Sport

Moto3: Kent runs away with victory at #ArgentinaGP

Danny Kent becomes the first British rider to take back-to-back wins in the lightweight-class since Barry Sheene in 1971.

Circuit conditions had changed from qualifying at the Termas de Rio Hondo, with grey clouds replacing the sunshine and a much lower track temp of 30 degrees, but not even this could stop Kent from claiming his second win of the season.

Leopard Racing’s British rider disappeared off into the distance after taking the lead on the 3rd lap, lapping almost a second faster than the rest of the pack to take the race win by over 11 seconds, in a repeat of his dominant performance from Austin.

This meant that everyone else was battling it out for the remaining two podium places, with Kent’s teammate Efren Vazquez making it a Leopard Racing 1-2 in Argentina, after an excellent final lap scrap with the Husqvarna Factory Laglisse of Isaac Viñales.

Pole-man Miguel Oliveira on the Red Bull KTM Ajo machine was 4th, ahead of his teammate Brad Binder, and the Estrella Galicia 0,0 rookie Fabio Quartararo in 6th.

Karel Hanika finished in 7th, with Romano Fenati having to come from the back of the grid after an incident during Warm Up to claim 8th. Enea Bastianini and Niklas Ajo rounded out the top ten in 9th and 10th respectively.

Danny Kent now has a seventeen-point lead over his teammate Vazquez after just three races in the Moto3™ World Championship standings.

Read more at MotoGP

Premiership: Man City 2-0 West Ham

Manchester City firmed up their grip on a top-four place as they beat West Ham to secure their first win in three Premier League games.

James Collins looped an attempted clearance from a Jesus Navas cross into his own net to give City the lead.

Navas set up Sergio Aguero to slot in a second after a slick counter-attack.

With the game won, City playmaker David Silva was carried off on a stretcher after being caught in the face by Cheikhou Kouyate’s right elbow.

Silva appeared to be given oxygen as he received eight minutes of treatment prior to his departure in the 75th minute.

Before the game, City boss Manuel Pellegrini conceded he could be sacked if his team do not finish in the top four to claim a Champions League place for next season.

But while speculation about his future continues given their tame title defence, the chances of missing out on a place in Europe’s elite club competition receded with this victory.

With five matches remaining, Pellegrini’s side are seven points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool, who have a game in hand, and a point behind derby rivals Manchester United.

Read more at BBC Sport

FA Cup: Reading 1-2 Arsenal (AET)

Holders Arsenal reached a record 19th FA Cup final after two goals from Alexis Sanchez sealed victory over Reading in extra-time.

Sanchez gave the Premier League side a 39th-minute lead from close range before Garath McCleary volleyed home an equaliser shortly after the break.

Reading needed the post and keeper Adam Federici to keep the scores level as the game required an extra 30 minutes to decide the outcome.

The Australian keeper was at fault as Sanchez’s effort spilled through his grasp and rolled in and although Reading pushed for an equaliser Arsenal held on.

Read more at BBC Sport