Ancelotti milestone accomplished as Real Madrid win 35th La Liga title

Ancelotti milestone accomplished as Real Madrid win 35th La Liga title
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Real Madrid players celebrate on an open top bus after they won the Spanish La Liga title by defeating Espanyol in Madrid Saturday, April 30, 2022. (AP)
Ancelotti milestone accomplished as Real Madrid win 35th La Liga title
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Real Madrid's head coach Carlo Ancelotti during celebrations after Real Madrid won the Spanish La Liga title. (AP)
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Updated 01 May 2022

Ancelotti milestone accomplished as Real Madrid win 35th La Liga title

Ancelotti milestone accomplished as Real Madrid win 35th La Liga title
  • With La Liga wrapped up, Madrid can turn their full attention to the second leg of their Champions League semifinal at home to Manchester City on Wednesday

MADRID: Real Madrid secured a 35th La Liga title on Saturday with a 4-0 home win over Espanyol as Carlo Ancelotti became the first coach to win all five major European leagues.

Needing just one point from their last five games, Madrid struck twice through Rodrygo in the first half at the Santiago Bernabeu before goals from Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema completed the victory.

Madrid lifted the trophy in front of nearly 80,000 inside the stadium, and the traditional celebrations continued at the Cibeles fountain in the Spanish capital.

“It’s the first time I’ve won a title at the Bernabeu, the atmosphere is really something special,” Ancelotti told Movistar Plus.

“If I was crying (at the final whistle), it’s because I’m happy.”

Ancelotti returned to Madrid last summer to take over from Zinedine Zidane for a second spell after quitting Everton.

The Italian has also won the Premier League with Chelsea, Serie A with AC Milan, Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain and the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.

Given they have been top since November, it was no surprise that Madrid won a league they have dominated for months, but dips in form from Barcelona and Sevilla offered the chance for an early coronation.

Madrid moved 17 points clear of second-placed Sevilla with four matches to play. Barcelona have a game in hand but are 18 points adrift.

With La Liga wrapped up, Madrid can turn their full attention to the second leg of their semifinal at home to Manchester City on Wednesday, when they will need to overturn a 4-3 loss from the opening game to advance to another European final.

“Winning La Liga is special,” midfielder Luka Modric told Real Madrid TV, as he paid tribute to the fans who were unable to watch the club win the title in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We played a great match, the atmosphere was incredible and we hope to repeat that Wednesday.”

It is the earliest Madrid have clinched the trophy since they won it with four games to spare in 1989-90.

“It’s the first time we’ve won it with as many games to go, that means a lot. We’ve had an incredible season and now we want to celebrate that a bit,” said Modric.

Ancelotti rested Benzema and Vinicius Junior from the start for the visit of Espanyol, and Rodrygo seized his chance with two goals late in the first half.

He combined with fellow Brazilian Marcelo to put Madrid ahead on 33 minutes as he steered into the far corner for only his second league goal this campaign.

Mariano Diaz, handed a rare start in attack, then won the ball deep in Espanyol territory and Rodrygo rolled in a second with a clinical finish past goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Eduardo Camavinga played in Asensio to slam in a third for Madrid on the counter on 55 minutes, with Modric then making way for Toni Kroos and Benzema replacing Casemiro on the hour.

Benzema notched his 42nd goal in as many games this season across all competitions to seal a runaway triumph for Madrid on a historic day for Ancelotti.

Villarreal suffered a 2-1 defeat at bottom side Alaves three days ahead of the second leg of their Champions League semifinal tie with Liverpool.

Atletico Madrid could risk missing out on a return to Europe’s top club competition after losing 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao.

Copa del Rey winners Real Betis can reduce the gap to fourth-placed Atletico to a single point if they win away to Getafe on Monday, while Barca host Mallorca on Sunday.


Serena announces upcoming retirement from the sport

Serena announces upcoming retirement from the sport
Updated 09 August 2022

Serena announces upcoming retirement from the sport

Serena announces upcoming retirement from the sport
  • On Monday, Williams played only her second singles match since she returned to action at Wimbledon in June
  • The 40-year-old said after that match that she could see the light at the end of the tennis tunnel in her career

LONDON: Serena Williams said on Tuesday that she is “evolving away from tennis” as she detailed her upcoming retirement from the sport that she dominated for the majority of her career with 23 singles Grand Slam titles.
On Monday, Williams played only her second singles match since she returned to action at Wimbledon in June after a year-long absence from competition, beating Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz to reach the second round of the Toronto Open.
But the 40-year-old said after that match that she could see the light at the end of the tennis tunnel in her career before suggesting the US Open starting this month could be her swansong.
“I have never liked the word retirement,” Williams wrote in a Vogue article.
“It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.
“Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.
“A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family.”
Williams won her last Grand Slam in 2017 and has been chasing an elusive 24th crown that will draw her level with Margaret Court who holds the record for most majors.
She came tantalisingly close to achieving that feat, featuring in four major finals since giving birth to daughter Olympia in 2017.
“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT (greatest of all time) because I didn’t pass Court’s record, which she achieved before the ‘Open era’ that began in 1968,” former world number one Williams said.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her. If I’m in a Slam final, then yes, I’m thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help.”
Williams later talked in an Instagram post about the time to move in a “different direction.”
“That time is always hard when you love something so much,” she added. “My goodness do I enjoy tennis.
“But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”


Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi targets victory in Lithuania to revive title hopes

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi targets victory in Lithuania to revive title hopes
Updated 09 August 2022

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi targets victory in Lithuania to revive title hopes

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi targets victory in Lithuania to revive title hopes
  • Emirati ace vows to fight back from Polish setback and tips team-mate for the top

ABU DHABI: Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Qemzi has set his sights on victory in the Grand Prix of Lithuania at the weekend to revive his hopes of a fourth UIM F2 World Championship crown.

The Emirati driver is determined to shrug off last month’s setback in Poland when a race error from one of the backmarkers put him out this season’s opening round.

“A similar thing happened to me in the first Grand Prix last season, and I still came through to take the title,” said the Emirati driver, ahead of Sunday’s second round of the championship in Kupiskis.

“I believe I still have a good chance this time. I have a brand new boat which is very good for me. I would have won in Poland but for a mistake by another driver, but that’s behind me now and I’m aiming for a win in Lithuania.”

Mansoor Al-Mansoori’s second place in Augustow behind Germany’s Stefan Hagin underlined his own credentials, and Al-Qemzi believe his Abu Dhabi team-mate can do well in this championship.

“Mansoor is improving all the time, and he has a great future in F2,” he said. “The management at Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club choose the best to represent the team, and Mansoor has what it takes to get to the top.”

Holding second place in the F2 championship, Al-Mansoori is prepared for another big challenge in Kupiskis in the boat which took Al-Qemzi to the world title last year.

“The result in Poland has given me a lot of confidence,” Al-Mansoori said. “It showed that I can compete with the guys at the top in F2, and motivates me to fight for another good result in Lithuania.

“My focus is to finish in a good position. I’m still fairly new to F2, still building and gaining experience. I want to support Rashed, and at the same time follow his steps, and it’s an honor to be driving the boat of the three-times world champion.”

The Team Abu Dhabi duo are in a strong field of 21 boats assembling in Kupiskis, where Lithuania’s Edgaras Riabko is aiming to complete back-to-back wins in his home event.

After a Saturday afternoon qualifying session, the F2 boats will contest an evening match race event before the Grand Prix of Lithuania gets under way.


Saudi athletes claim silver, bronze at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey

Saudi athletes claim silver, bronze at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey
Updated 09 August 2022

Saudi athletes claim silver, bronze at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey

Saudi athletes claim silver, bronze at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey
  • Mohammed Tolo second in shot put and Ali Al-Khadrawi third in table tennis
  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, president of the federation, proud of performances

Saudi Arabia claimed two more medals at the Islamic Solidarity Games, in shot put and table tennis, on Monday in Turkey.

This comes ahead of the tournament’s official opening ceremony in Konya, on Tuesday night.

President of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, who also serves as president of Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, was in attendance on Monday as Mohammed Tolo claimed silver for Saudi Arabia in the shot put with a throw of 20.12 meters.

Saudi’s second medal of the day came from Ali Al-Khadrawi who took bronze in the individual table tennis competition, having lost 4-1 in the semifinals to Iran’s Amir Hussein.

Al-Khadrawi had reached the last four with a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Turkey’s Abdullah Talha.

The Kingdom’s overall medal tally at Konya 2022 now stands at three (one silver and two bronze).

Meanwhile, Saudi’s U-23 team defeated Azerbaijan 1-0 in their opening match of the football competition, the winning goal coming from Ahmed Al-Ghamdi’s 95th-minute penalty.

The athletics competition saw two Saudi runners reach the final of the 400-meter race, with Mazen Al-Yassin winning Heat 2 in 45.94 seconds, while Yousef Masrahi finished second in Heat 1 with a time of 45.95.

Mohammed Al-Maawi qualified for the final of the 400 hurdles, by finishing third in the heats in 50.84.

Abdullah Abkar qualified for the semifinals of the 100 sprint by coming second in Heat 2 in a time of 10.06.

In the final of the men’s 5000, Tariq Al-Omari finished sixth with a time of 13 minutes, 95.05 seconds, while Yasmine Al-Dabbagh came sixth in the women’s 100 qualifiers in 12.81. It was a personal best for the Saudi Olympian, whose previous record stood at 12.90.

In the Paralympic swimming competition, Ibrahim Al-Marzouki, already winner of a bronze in the 50-meter butterfly, finished fourth in the 200 freestyle final with a time of 4:39.21, the same position as Saudi colleague Turki Al-Harbi in the 200 medley (2:54.73).


Formula E’s Alberto Longo proves doubters wrong ahead of milestone 100th race

Formula E’s Alberto Longo proves doubters wrong ahead of milestone 100th race
Updated 09 August 2022

Formula E’s Alberto Longo proves doubters wrong ahead of milestone 100th race

Formula E’s Alberto Longo proves doubters wrong ahead of milestone 100th race
  • ‘Some people laughed but look how far we’ve come’
  • Maserati, McLaren and ABT on next year’s grid is mark of success

Formula E’s co-founder and chief championship officer Alberto Longo is happy to have proved people wrong as the championship prepares to host its 100th race this Sunday.

South Korean capital Seoul will stage the double-header season finale rounds on Aug. 13 and 14 with Belgium’s Stoffel Vandoorne sitting at the top of the drivers’ standings and a firm favorite to clinch his first Formula E title.

Since the inaugural race was held in Beijing in 2014, Longo has been among the key figures in helping the Formula E Championship grow and says he and his team are “super proud” of the manner in which its presence has increased worldwide.

“I am so proud of what we are today compared to what we were when the first race was held. I remember when we first had the idea of this competition. Some people laughed about the venture we were thinking about, and now look how far we have come.

“I can only remember those first days where there were some brave people who put in their efforts and believed in what we were doing. There are a lot of people that we have to thank, as we are here because of them. We now have a World Championship with spectacular races around the world, in some of the most amazing cities, with fantastic teams as well as an excellent line-up of drivers.”

“Today, you are not talking about the future anymore — we’re talking about the present and what is happening today. Overall, I’m super proud of what we have achieved but this is only the tip of the iceberg — and there is a lot more to come.”

Longo believes Formula E will continue to go from strength to strength as it enters a new era with the introduction of the Gen 3 cars next season. He insists the new additions of popular car manufacturers Maserati, McLaren and ABT on next year’s grid is a prime example of Formula E’s success and revealed there is no shortage of interest when it comes to the cities that want to be part of future Formula E season calendars.

“There are many manufacturers that come and go and that happens in every championship, but we do have the power to attract new manufacturers and that is a fact,” Longo said.

“This year, we have three new teams with Maserati, McLaren, and ABT. That is fantastic because in just a single year, it shows how we can attract such big names in motorsport.

“It’s not just from car manufacturers’ perspectives, but also with new cities. We are dealing with more than 100 cities on a yearly basis that want to host an event in Formula E — and that is way different to how it was during the earlier stages of when Formula E had just been launched.”


Al-Nassr continue impressive pre-season form with 2-1 friendly win over Torremolinos

Al-Nassr continue impressive pre-season form with 2-1 friendly win over Torremolinos
Updated 09 August 2022

Al-Nassr continue impressive pre-season form with 2-1 friendly win over Torremolinos

Al-Nassr continue impressive pre-season form with 2-1 friendly win over Torremolinos
  • The win came in the Riyadh club’s fourth match of their ongoing training camp in Spain

Al-Nassr defeated Spanish club Torremolinos 2-1 in the Saudi team’s fourth friendly match of their pre-season training camp taking place in Marbella.

The Riyadh club drew 2-2 in their first match against Las Palmas, and beat Zaragoza 2-1 in the second and Malaga 2-0 in the third.

Against Torremolinos, Al-Nassr started with a high press early on, Pity Martinez having a shot saved after only four minutes, while the referee disallowed a goal by Talisca after 15 minutes for offside.

Quick-fire goals in the 43rd and 44th minutes by Vincent Aboubakar and Talisca saw Al-Nassr take a two-goal lead into the break.

Torremolinos reduced the deficit in the 74th minute, but Rudi Garcia’s team, thanks to several substitutions, managed to see out the match for the 2-1 win.

Al-Nassr will host Al-Wehda at Mrsool Park on Aug. 27 in their opening fixture of the 2022-23 Saudi Pro League season.