SPORTS BRIEFS

Agencies

Sun, Jan 12, 2014 - Page 19

RUGBY UNION

Ulster beat Montpellier

Ulster beat Montpellier 27-16 on Friday, but failed to grab a crucial fourth try which would have guaranteed them a European Cup quarter-final place. The Irish province racked up a fifth win in five Pool 5 matches to give them a seven-point lead over Leicester. However, the English giants could close the gap with a win at group whipping boys Treviso yesterday, before a potential pool decider at Welford Road against Ulster next weekend. In the night’s other match, Scarlets beat Racing Metro 19-13 in Pool 4, but neither side can make the last eight.

FORMULA ONE

Button gets two little ducks

McLaren’s Jenson Button has chosen to roll back the years and race this season with the number 22 that he used in his 2009 title-winning campaign. “Two little ducks,” the 33-year-old Briton told his 1.6 million Twitter followers. “Quack quack.” In British bingo halls numbers are called out using nicknames, with 22 sometimes referred to as “two little ducks” or “quack quack.” McLaren confirmed Button would have that number. Under new regulations for this year, drivers will have permanent numbers to be used throughout their careers and can choose any between two and 99. The number one is reserved for the champion, should he want to use it, who will also have another number of choice allocated for future use. With three slots on the grid still to be filled, the governing FIA has yet to publish an official list. Now-retired 1992 champion Nigel Mansell remains “Red Five” to many, while the late Gilles Villeneuve, one of Ferrari’s greatest heroes, remains closely identified with 27, which was also used at times by the late Brazilian triple-champion Ayrton Senna. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said last month he had requested 14, which has been his lucky number since 1996, when at the age of 14 he won a karting title with 14 on his car on July 14. The Spaniard is also a fan of Real Madrid soccer club, whose Spain international Xabi Alonso plays with the number 14 shirt. Alonso’s new Finnish teammate, 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, has opted for seven.

SOCCER

Monaco draw away

Title challengers Monaco missed the chance to close the gap on Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain after drawing 1-1 away to draw specialists Montpellier on Friday. Teen striker M’Baye Niang, who is on loan from AC Milan, earned a point for Montpellier with a goal in the 68th minute, shortly after left-back Layvin Kurzawa had given Monaco the lead with his second goal in four games. Monaco are two points behind defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, who have a game in hand and were to play away to Corsican side Ajaccio yesterday, while Montpellier’s 12th draw from 20 games leaves them hovering one place above the relegation zone in 17th. Lille can overtake Monaco and move into outright second place if they beat Reims at home today.

SOCCER

Recio brace boosts Granada

Recio scored two goals to help lift Granada to an easy 4-0 La Liga win over Valladolid on Friday. Recio, whose full name is Jose Luis Garcia, followed up Jeison Murillo’s acrobatic 11th-minute opener by scoring from a corner in the 23rd for the hosts to seize control of the game. Recio took advantage of a defensive mishap in the 54th to make it 3-0, before Youssef El Arabi finished off Granada’s victory with the final goal in the 77th. Granada improved to ninth at the halfway point of the season, while Valladolid remain in the relegation zone.