Levante hold on for draw
Levante UD had two players sent off, but still held on for a 0-0 draw at home to Real Zaragoza in La Liga on Friday, denying the visitors much-needed points in their battle to avoid relegation. The Valencia-based side had midfielder Papakouli Diop red carded for a high challenge after 53 minutes and, as the hosts weathered a late siege, defender Pedro Lopez got a second booking. After being knocked out of the Europa League at the last 16 stage by Rubin Kazan in mid-March, Levante have suffered a dramatic loss of form. They have won only one of their last eight La Liga games, but Friday’s draw leaves them in 12th place with 42 points and three matches left to play. Zaragoza’s bid to avoid the drop has stalled after two straight wins to leave them 16th with 34 points, two points above the relegation zone.
Palace suffer Murray blow
Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray was carried off on a stretcher as the London side were held to a 0-0 draw by archrivals Brighton & Hove Albion in a Championship (second tier) playoff semi-final first leg on Friday. Forward Murray was surrounded by paramedics when he fell to the ground in agony after badly twisting his knee midway through the second half. The second leg at Brighton, managed by former Uruguay midfielder Gustavo Poyet, will be tomorrow. Today, Leicester City take a 1-0 lead into their second leg at Watford. The two winners go into the playoff final at Wembley on May 27 which decides who joins champions Cardiff City and second-placed Hull City in securing promotion to the Premier League.
Lille climb to fourth
LOSC Lille Metropole’s Salomon Kalou struck twice in a 3-0 victory over Stade de Reims as they climbed to fourth in Ligue 1 and kept their European qualifying hopes alive on Friday. The Ivory Coast forward netted after 20 minutes and wrapped up the win in the 77th with his 13th goal of the season after Dimitri Payet had doubled the lead just after the interval. Lille have 60 points with two games left, three behind Olympique Lyonnais in the third and final Champions League spot. Lille dominated 15th-placed Stade Reims although they looked uncertain at the back with goalkeeper Barel Mouko, 34, playing his first Ligue 1 game in place of Steeve Elana, who was dropped after conceding seven goals in the last two league games.
Japan thrash UAE
Japan continued their brilliant run in the Asia Five Nations with a 15-try, 93-3 rout of hosts UAE on Friday. Japan, who have already clinched a sixth straight Asian title, were held to just seven points in the first 20 minutes, but the spirited UAE defense gave away after that as the visitors ran in 15 tries. UAE’s only points came after 50 minutes of play when James Ham kicked a 35-yard penalty. Japan led 41-0 at the break, with Yuta Imamura grabbing a first half hat-trick of tries. They then completely dominated the second half, adding eight tries to seven in the first half. Takashi Kikutani also ran in a hat-trick for Japan, while Imamura added another in the second half to take his final tally to four. Only nine conversions were made, with Harumichi Tatekawa succeeding five times. Despite the 90-point loss, UAE coach Duncan Hall was pleased with his team’s efforts. “It was a fantastic effort. The scoreline doesn’t take into account our application. Against the odds, it was fantastic,” Hall said.