All posts by Headline Sport Team

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.

Read more at BTCC.net

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

Premiership: Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd

Chelsea moved to within two wins of reclaiming the Premier League title after Eden Hazard’s goal gave them a narrow victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard’s first-half finish gave Jose Mourinho’s side three points and means that victory in forthcoming games at Arsenal and Leicester City will return the title to Stamford Bridge for the first time since 2010.

Chelsea were pushed all the way by a resurgent United, hunting a seventh successive Premier League victory.

Wayne Rooney and the recalled Radamel Falcao came closest for United but once again they fell victim to the resilience and defensive strength that is Chelsea’s trademark under Mourinho, assisted by the brilliance of Hazard, and ended frustrated.

The reaction of Chelsea’s players as referee Mike Dean sounded the final whistle, celebrating wildly in front of their supporters, suggested they believed this was the victory that has pushed them to the brink of glory, as they moved 10 points ahead of second-placed Arsenal.

And now, even if they do not wrap it up in these next two games, surely nothing can stop Mourinho winning the title in his second season after coming back to Stamford Bridge.

As for United, this defeat may have ended their recent winning streak but they once again produced compelling evidence that they are now a very different proposition from the side that struggled, even though they were grinding out results, earlier this season.

Read more at BBC Sport

Champions League: Juventus 1-0 Manaco

Juventus will take a narrow lead to Monaco for their Champions League last-eight second leg after Arturo Vidal’s penalty split the sides in Turin.

Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco wasted a clear opening for the visitors before Carlos Tevez fluffed a volley for Juve.

Vidal, who had blazed over just before the break, then blasted home an emphatic penalty following Ricardo Carvalho’s trip on Alvaro Morata.

Dimitar Berbatov headed just over but Monaco were mostly kept at bay.

Leonardo Jardim, the Principality side’s manager, claimed that the result was a “big injustice” with the decisive spot-kick “inexistent”.

Repeated viewings suggested Carvalho tripped Morata fractionally outside the penalty area, but it would be hard to blame referee Pavel Kralovec on such a marginal call.

Juventus might also have argued that as the last defender, Carvalho was fortunate to see only yellow for the foul.

Monaco had enough chances to return home level, regardless of the official’s decision.

Read more at BBC Sport

League 1: Bristol City promoted to Championship

League One leaders Bristol City thumped Bradford City to seal promotion to the Championship after a two-year absence.

The away side dominated from the start, with James Tavernier’s toe-poke and Joe Bryan’s far-post header putting them in command at the break.

Luke Ayling fired in from long range and Aden Flint nodded in as the Robins ran riot in the second half.

Tavernier’s slotted finish and Aaron Wilbraham’s strike completed a memorable evening.

Now 10 points clear of second-placed Preston North End, the Ashton Gate outfit need to win only one of their remaining three games to be certain of securing the League One title.

Under boss Steve Cotterill, the Robins have been in imperious form since the very start of the season, winning at fellow promotion contenders Sheffield United on the opening day and remaining unbeaten until mid-November.

Having lifted the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley last month,Bristol City’s latest undefeated run in the league stretches 12 matches and leaves them strong favourites to complete a lower-league double.

This campaign also represents a remarkable turnaround for a club who, when Cotterill was appointed 16 months ago, were languishing in 23rd in the table and in danger of suffering successive relegations.

The former Cheltenham, Burnley and Portsmouth manager’s summer recruitment has been key to their success, with the arrival of Luke Freeman from Stevenage as significant as any.

Already the division’s leading assist maker, the 23-year-old was again the orchestrator as the visitors bossed the opening period, setting Tavernier clear for their first and crossing for Bryan to head in the second.

But, while Bristol City enjoyed the better of the first half, they produced an emphatic display of attacking football in the second to seal promotion in style.

Read more at BBC Sport

Champions League: Atletico Madrid 0-0 Real Madrid

Gareth Bale missed a glorious chance as Atletico Madrid held rivals Real Madrid to a goalless draw in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Wales forward Bale was through on goal in the third minute, but was thwarted by Jan Oblak, who was impressive for the home side throughout.

The goalkeeper also made a crucial save from James Rodriguez, as Mario Suarez missed a late chance for Atletico.

The sides meet again in the second leg at the Bernabeu on 22 April.

Real are aiming to become the first team to win back-to-back European Cups since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, having defeated Atletico in last season’s final.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have now not beaten their opponents in seven meetings since claiming La Decima – their 10th European Cup – which includes a 4-0 La Liga thumping in February.

Read more at BBC Sport