WHAT WE LEARNED: Delightful derbies and Lionel Messi misery

Barcelona's Lionel Messi looks dejected as Real Betis' Sergio Canales celebrates scoring their fourth goal with team mates. (Reuters)
Updated 13 November 2018
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WHAT WE LEARNED: Delightful derbies and Lionel Messi misery

LONDON: It was a weekend of derbies and big clashes across Europe’s top leagues, and a genuine shock result in Spain has thrown the La Liga title race wide open. Here is what we learned from the latest round of matches.

MIND THE GAP
The gulf in class between City and United was there for all to see in Sunday’s Manchester derby. Jose Mourinho has bemoaned the difference in levels of investment in the two clubs in the past, but that does not wash when you note that United will struggle to get into the top four this season, let alone challenge for the title. City completely outclassed their rivals, and 3-1 flattered the visitors — it could have been a lot worse.

AN EPIC ‘DER KLASSIKER’
This was a pulsating game of football, which the hosts Dortmund edged 3-2, and one that forced Bayern Munich to acknowledge that this is a young, talented and dynamic Dortmund side who must be favorites to clinch the title now. Lucien Favre scoffed at that suggestion post-match and insisted the title race is still open — but in the Bundesliga seven points is a monumental gap, even for a club such as Bayern to overhaul.

BAD DAY IN MILAN
AC Milan’s defeat to runaway leaders Juventus showed another gulf in class — mainly due to Juventus having Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks rather than the disappointing Gonzalo Higuain. But Milan’s other club, Inter, had an even worse weekend with Atalanta resoundingly ending their seven-match winning streak. All hopes for a title race in Italy seem to rest on Napoli once again, with the Milanese and Roman clubs fading fast.

MESSI CANNOT DO IT ALONE
With the exception of a hopeful few in the city of Seville, nobody foresaw Real Betis’ 4-3 victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp, in the biggest La Liga shock for months. Lionel Messi managed a brace, but even that was not enough to deny victory for a very attractive Betis side — whose performance belied their 12th place in the table. It was the first time Messi had scored two goals and ended up on the losing side. He has made a stuttering start, by his own standards. It seems, sometimes, he needs his teammates to step up to the plate.


Celtics sweep Pacers; Warriors, Raptors take 3-1 leads

Updated 22 April 2019
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Celtics sweep Pacers; Warriors, Raptors take 3-1 leads

  • It’s the first four-game sweep for the Celtics since 2011

INDIANAPOLIS: Gordon Hayward scored 20 points and Marcus Morris started a decisive 3-point flurry late in the fourth quarter Sunday to give the Boston Celtics a series-clinching 110-106 victory at Indiana.
It’s the first four-game sweep for the Celtics since 2011 and their second since 1986-87, becoming the first team to reach the second round of the playoffs.
Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 22 points and Tyreke Evans finished with a playoff career-high of 21 to lead the Pacers. It still wasn’t enough to prevent Indiana from enduring its second first-round sweep in three years — the only two best-of-seven sweeps in franchise history.
WARRIORS 113, CLIPPERS 105
LOS ANGELES: Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Klay Thompson added 32 and Golden State beat Los Angeles to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Stephen Curry was in foul trouble for the second straight game and finished with 12 points. Andrew Bogut fouled out with 5:50 remaining in the game with eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Warriors were 17 of 19 from the free throw line. They controlled the boards, 49-33, led by Curry and Bogut with 10 rebounds apiece.
Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Clippers with a career-high 25 points. Danilo Gallinari added 16 points but was just 5 of 20 from the floor. Patrick Beverley had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
TRAIL BLAZERS 111, THUNDER 98
OKLAHOMA CITY: Damian Lillard scored 15 of his 24 points in the third quarter, and Portland held Russell Westbrook without a basket in the second half in beating Oklahoma City to take a 3-1 lead in their series.
C.J. McCollum scored 27 points, Al-Farouq Aminu had 19 points and nine rebounds and Maurice Harkless added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers. Portland can close out the series Tuesday at home.
Paul George had 32 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City. Dennis Schroder added 17 points.
Westbrook scored 14 points on 5-for-21 shooting. He missed his final 10 shots and was 0 for 7 for one point in the second half.
RAPTORS 107, MAGIC 85
ORLANDO, Florida: Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and Toronto beat Orlando to take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell each scored 16 for the Raptors, who can advance with a home win in Game 5 on Tuesday. Toronto has now won three consecutive postseason games, only the third time that’s happened in franchise history.
Aaron Gordon scored 25 for the Magic, making his first seven shots of the second half. Evan Fournier scored 19 and Nikola Vucevic added 11 for the Magic, who committed 17 turnovers that became 21 Toronto points.