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Tuesday,13-April-2021

International

Lionel Messi scores twice as Barcelona beat Elche

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FC Barcelona kept their slim title hopes alive after a brace from Lionel Messi and one from Jordi Alba gave them a 3-0 win at home to Elche, which leaves them five points behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Barca coach Ronald Koeman said in his pre-game press conference that this game and Saturday’s trip to Sevilla were vital for his side’s title chances, and he made changes to try and keep his squad fresh, Xinhua news reports.

Samuel Umtiti, Francisco Trincao, Oscar Mingueza, Martin Braithwaite and Miralem Pjanic all started, with Clement Lenglet, Sergino Dest, Antoine Griezmann, Sergio Busquets and Ousmane Dembele dropping to the bench.

The game started brightly and Elche, buoyed by their first win in almost four months at the weekend, had the first chance when Lucas Boye fired over when he had the goal at his mercy.

Barca looked to hit back and Elche keeper Edgar Badia produced a reflex stop to deny Trincao, who had dribbled past two defenders in a move started by Frenkie de Jong.

Trincao had another effort on target after a pass from Braithwaite and again looked lively for Barca in a disjointed first 45 minutes.

Messi opened the scoring only two minutes into the second half, collecting a backheel from Braithwaite before angling in a shot that Badia got a touch on, but couldn’t keep out of the net.

Barca kept up the pressure and looked for a second goal to avoid a repeat of their 1-1 draw at home to Cadiz on Sunday, and they found it in the 68th minute, when De Jong broke through deep into the Elche area before ceding the ball to Messi, who made it look easy as he beat two defenders before lifting the ball into the net.

Five minutes later, Braithwaite got his second assist of the game when he nodded Messi’s cross down for Jordi Alba to score Barca’s third to round off a satisfactory night for Koeman.

International

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos tests positive for Covid-19

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Real Madrid defender and captain Sergio Ramos has tested positive for coronavirus, the Spanish club said on Tuesday.

Ramos has been sidelined since the beginning of April due to a muscle injury and his recovery is supposed to last around six weeks, DPA reports.

He missed the Clasico 2-1 win over Barcelona on Saturday and also the Champions League quarter-finals first leg against Liverpool last week.

Due to his injury, Ramos was already set to miss the second leg against Liverpool on Wednesday. Madrid have a 3-1 advantage following their first leg triumph.

Madrid will also miss Dani Carvajal, Eden Hazard and Lucas Vazquez, all injured, and Raphael Varane, who tested positive for coronavirus.

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International

Lauren Davis stuns Kenin to progress in Charleston tennis

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Lauren Davis shocked fellow American and second seed Sofia Kenin in the second round of the Charleston Open.

Davis picked up her third career win over a Top 5 player with the gruelling two-and-a-half-hour victory over world number four Kenin, rallying to claim the win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday, Xinhua news reports.

“I’m super excited,” Davis said. “It was a really tough match, she obviously is an incredible player and one of the best competitors that I’ve seen. To have won this, in Charleston with these conditions, being so hot out, it’s really special for me.”

The 79th-ranked Davis is now a win away from matching her career-best run in Charleston, when she reached the quarter-finals in 2015 before losing to eventual runner-up Madison Keys.

“I think this gives me some really good momentum,” Davis said. “I always have that self-belief, but it’s just a matter of digging deep and applying that on the court. So the fact that I was able to do this today and show myself that I can beat a Grand Slam champion, it’s very cool, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”

Davis will now meet another American, Coco Gauff, in the round of 16.

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Surprised SA allowed players to leave for IPL during series: Shahid Afridi

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Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said that it was surprising to see Cricket South Africa (CSA) allowing players to leave for the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the middle of an international series.

South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were among players who were allowed to leave for their respective IPL teams after the second ODI of their three-match series against Pakistan.

“Surprising to see @OfficialCSA allowing players to travel for IPL in the middle of a series. It is sad to see T20 leagues influencing international cricket. Some rethinking needs to be done!!” Afridi tweeted.

The series was poised at 1-1 and a depleted South Africa ended up losing the third ODI by 28 runs.

Additionally, New Zealand could be without captain Kane Williamson and frontline fast bowlers Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Lockie Ferguson in their upcoming Test series against England if the trio’s respective IPL teams end up reaching the final. England themselves could be missing players like Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes among others if their teams end up reaching the IPL final.

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