Snooker Shoot Out: Emma Parker loses to Laxman Rawat in first round

23-02-2019 Women's under-21 number one Emma Parker loses to Laxman Rawat in the first round of the Snooker Shoot Out in Watford.

Christian Atsu: ‘Sometimes what’s happened to me seems like a miracle’

23-02-2019 Newcastle winger remains close to his roots in Ghana and takes inspiration from ‘father figure’ Rafael BenítezIt is a very long way from Ghana’s Ada Foah to Hillsong church on Newcastle’s Westgate Road – and not merely in miles. Christian Atsu has made that transformative journey, swapping an existence as one of 10 children whose late father eked out a living fishing and farming on the junction of the Volta River and the Atlantic Ocean, for a new life on Tyneside.Almost everything has altered but one constant remains: the Newcastle winger’s Christian faith. Church was a central part of Atsu’s childhood and worship at Hillsong, a short walk from St James’ Park, binds the Ghana international to his new habitat. Continue reading...

In an age of endless cricket Sri Lanka just gave us a special moment | Andy Bull

23-02-2019 Kusal Perera’s and Oshada Fernando’s last-wicket stand of 78 to beat South Africa last weekend was one of the finest spectacles the game has produced in recent yearsLast Saturday in Christchurch, Martin Guptill thrashed a century for New Zealand in a one-day game against Bangladesh; in Dubai, Shahid Afridi finished off Multan Sultans’ Twenty20 match against Islamabad United with back-to-back sixes; and in Chittagong a young kid called Jamie Smith made a run-a-ball hundred for England Under-19s in a Test against Bangladesh. Cricket’s always on, somewhere or other, one format or another, bat hitting ball like the background tick-tock of a wall clock, something you only really notice when you look at it, catch a fraction of the match in a gif, a clip, a stream, or tweet, or a glance at a scorecard.Amid all the rest of it, South Africa and Sri Lanka were playing in the first Test at Kingsmead in Durban. The match had meandered into a fourth day and it looked as if it was only going one way. South Africa v Sri Lanka isn’t necessarily a series you stop to watch. They have been playing each other for only 26 years and, in South Africa, the contests have been off-puttingly one-sided. Sri Lanka had played 13 Tests there before this series and won only one of them, in 2011, when Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samararweera made all the runs and Rangana Herath took most of the wickets. Continue reading...

I never feared sack at Manchester City like Sarri does at Chelsea, says Guardiola

23-02-2019 • Catalan draws contrast with Chelsea’s short-term approach• Sarri’s side will be keen to avenge 6-0 loss, warns GuardiolaPep Guardiola has highlighted Chelsea’s short-term approach by stating he enjoyed Manchester City’s backing in a way Antonio Conte never did and suggested Maurizio Sarri may encounter the same lack of support.Guardiola struggled during his first season but never felt any sense he would be removed. He cited this when saying his experience was different to that of Sarri, who is under severe pressure during his opening campaign at Stamford Bridge. Continue reading...

Robert Kraft: New England Patriots owner charged with soliciting prostitution

23-02-2019 Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged in sex sting operationKraft, 77, is among 25 individuals to be charged in probePolice say they have videotape of Kraft receiving sex actsTrump calls charges ‘very sad’ in remarks from Oval OfficeNew England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with solicitation of prostitution as part of a sex trafficking sting operation in Florida, authorities said Friday.Kraft, the billionaire businessman whose Patriots won the Super Bowl earlier this month and who is one of the most powerful figures in American sports, was charged as a ‘john’ on two misdemeanor counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, police said. Continue reading...

Chess: England to take on superpowers at world team championship in Astana

23-02-2019 China, Russia and United States are the favourites for next month’s showdown in KazakhstanEngland have been confirmed as one of the 10 finalists in next month’s world team championship in Astana, Kazakhstan, where China, Russia and the US are expected to fight it out for the gold medals. Last year, England finished fifth, the squad’s best performance since 1998, at the 184-nation Batumi Olympiad which was a qualifier for the world teams. Related: Magnus Carlsen pays for poor start as Daniil Dubov wins World Rapid Chess Continue reading...

Hamilton would be world champion in a Mercedes or a Ferrari - Palmer column

23-02-2019 In his latest column, former Renault driver Jolyon Palmer looks at the brilliance of five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Maurizio Sarri heads to Carabao Cup final as Chelsea’s dead man walking | Dominic Fifield

23-02-2019 Wembley appearance will do little to kill the sense of inevitability over the Italian’s future at Stamford BridgeMaurizio Sarri strides out at Wembley a dead man walking. He can cling to football’s capacity to shock, and even convince himself an appearance in the Carabao Cup final will shrug Chelsea out of their slump in form. Theirs should be the greater motivation, after all, given the wounds are raw from the six-goal pummelling inflicted by Manchester City only a fortnight ago. Yet, in truth, there is a sense of inevitability about where this is heading.Passage was negotiated safely, in the end, beyond Malmö in the Europa League on Thursday, with Dynamo Kyiv to come in the last 16, yet the respite seems temporary. The home support, so vociferous in their dissent a few days previously as the team’s FA Cup defence petered out against Manchester United, had barely acknowledged their head coach, instead joyously latching on to Callum Hudson-Odoi’s rare start or the welcome distraction of the cameos delivered by Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu off the bench. It would be a surprise if any of that trio start on Sunday. Continue reading...

Weakened Scotland bidding to expose self-belief of unpredictable France

23-02-2019 Despite missing a cluster of key players Scotland believe they can win in Paris for the first time since 1999Having failed to win in Paris so far this century, Scotland will attempt to end that trend on Saturday with something akin to a second-string side. Of the team’s key quartet, only the captain, Greig Laidlaw, is in the squad, Finn Russell having joined Stuart Hogg and Willem Nel on the injury list this week.Factor in other absentees such as Huw Jones,, Ryan Wilson and Hamish Watson, and it may seem that this game is France’s to lose. But that also appeared to be the case at half-time in their last home game, before they went on to surrender a 16-0 lead to Wales. Given such an ignominious collapse was followed by a heavy defeat at Twickenham, it is evident self-belief is in short supply in the French ranks, as Jacques Brunel implied when asked if, by naming his team two days early, he were not giving the Scots an advantage. “After seeing our performance against England, Scotland must be pretty confident anyway,” the head coach said. Continue reading...

Manchester City 'made banned £200,000 Jadon Sancho agent payment'

23-02-2019 Manchester City made a banned payment of £200,000 to Jadon Sancho's agent when the England winger was 14 years old, according to Der Spiegel.

Bristol City's Lee Johnson 'first man' to use drones for analysis

23-02-2019 Bristol City head coach Lee Johnson tells Football Focus that he was the first man in English football to use drones as a tool to analyse training.