US beat Austria at worlds
The young US squad began their world championship with a 5-1 victory over Austria on Saturday in the eastern Slovakian town of Kosice, but holders Czech Republic had to work hard to beat a stubborn Latvia team 4-2. Finland enjoyed a revenge victory against Denmark, also by 5-1, while Norway won 5-4 in overtime against Sweden. Chris Kreider, drafted by the New York Rangers and named player of the match, celebrated his 20th birthday with the opening goal for the US after 14 minutes. Blake Wheeler extended the lead to 2-0 four minutes later. Austria failed to take advantage of a five-on-three power play in the second period, but shot a contact goal one minute later, as Marco Pewal punished the US’ inability to convert several chances. Yan Stastny, son of former NHL and Slovakian player Peter Stastny, took the US to 3-1 in the 39th minute and strikes by Kevin Shattenkirk and Craig Smith in the third finished off the Group C victory.
Sehwag carries Daredevils
Virender Sehwag smashed a 47-ball 80 on a difficult pitch to set up Delhi Daredevils’ 38-run win over Kochi Tuskers Kerala in an Indian Premier League match on Saturday. The skipper hit five sixes and eight fours as Delhi posted 157-7 before dismissing Kochi for 119 for their third victory in eight matches of the Twenty20 tournament. In Saturday’s other match, Kolkata Knight Riders scored an eight-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab, achieving a modest 120-run target with more than two overs to spare for their fifth win in eight games. Skipper Gautam Gambhir (45 not out) and Manoj Tiwary (34 not out) helped Kolkata win with an unfinished 85-run stand for the third wicket.
Evans leads at Romandie
Cadel Evans left behind his worries over a knee injury to seize the reins of the Tour de Romandie in the penultimate stage, a wind-affected 20.1km individual time trial on Saturday. The Australian 2009 world champion finished only eighth behind five-times US time-trial champion David Zabriskie, who was lucky to start early in the afternoon when the weather was milder. It was, though, enough for Evans to move to top spot overall with an 18-second lead over Germany’s Tony Martin. Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov lay third, a further second behind. While yellow jersey holder Pavel Brutt of Russia soon drifted out of contention on a hilly, tricky course, the fight for the overall podium was between Evans, Martin and Vinokourov.
Trump eliminates Ding
Ding Junhui’s hopes of becoming China’s first world championship finalist were dashed on Saturday by English qualifier Judd Trump who won their semi-final 17-15. The 21-year-old, the second youngest man to reach the final, came from 15-14 behind to beat Ding, finishing off with a 105 break. His victory set up a final for yesterday and today against three-time champion John Higgins who defeated Mark Williams 17-14. Trump won the China Open at the start of the month, but is now just one win away from landing the sport’s greatest prize. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’ll have to go away and have a little think about it ... We hardly missed a ball in the whole match. Ding’s safety was a little bit better than mine and in the last few frames he got in first, but he made a couple of mistakes and I punished him.”
Simpson, Watson share lead
Bubba Watson got up and down from a green-side bunker to birdie the last and hold a share of the lead with fellow American Webb Simpson after Saturday’s third round of the New Orleans Classic. Left-hander Watson, who had been one stroke ahead overnight, splashed out to five feet at the par-five 18th and coolly sank the putt for a two-under 70 at the TPC Louisiana. That gave the long-hitting American a 12-under total of 204, putting him level with Simpson, who had reeled off five consecutive birdies from the par-three third on the way to a flawless 67. At one point, Simpson led the field by two shots on another hot and breezy day in Louisiana, but he failed to make any birdies on the back nine before being caught by Watson’s late surge. John Rollins of the US carded a 69 to finish alone in third at 11-under, a stroke better than six players, including his compatriot Steve Stricker (68), Australia’s Matt Jones (69) and South Korea’s K.J. Choi (67).
Teenage prodigy fires a 67
Alexis Thompson, a 16-year-old US prodigy trying to become the youngest winner in the LPGA’s 61-year history, fired a five-under 67 on Saturday to share the lead at the Avnet Classic. Thompson, who in 2007 became the youngest qualifier in US Women’s Open history at age 12, was on seven-under 209 after 54 holes to match South Korea’s Kim Song-hee at the top. The youngest LPGA winner to date is Marlene Hagge, an LPGA founding member and World Golf Hall of Famer, who was 18 when she won the 1952 Sarasota Open. When Thompson sank an 18-foot putt at the par-five 16th to birdie the hole for the third day in a row, she matched Germany’s Sandra Gal for the lead. Moments later, Gal took a bogey on a two-foot par miss at the 11th hole and Thompson was alone at the top. Kim, ranked 13th in the world, birdied the 15th and 16th for a two-under 70 that matched Thompson for the lead. Taiwan’s Candie Kung carded a 75 for a one-over three-round total.
QPR secure promotion
Queens Park Rangers secured their return to the Premier League for the first time in 15 years when they beat Watford 2-0 on Saturday to open up an unassailable lead in the English Championship. However, before their final game of the season they will hear the ruling of a Football Association regulatory commission on seven charges relating to the transfer and contract renewal of Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin. If found guilty, they could have points deducted. Rangers needed only a draw to ensure enough points for promotion. They took all three points after late goals by Adel Taarabt, last week voted the Championship’s player of the season, and Tommy Smith.
Technical director suspended
The technical director of the French Football Federation (FFF) was suspended by the sports ministry on Saturday over a claim that the FFF was deliberately limiting black and Arab players in national training programs. Francois Blaquart was suspended immediately pending the conclusions of a probe into the allegations, the ministry and FFF said in a joint statement. Web site Mediapart reported on Thursday that senior federation staff approved proposals to limit to 30 percent the number of players of African and North-African descent once they reach age 13. Mediapart claimed Blaquart and national coach Laurent Blanc approved the proposal and called the move “a genuine segregation applied to football.” Blanc called the report a “lie” on Friday.