Category Archives: Sports

Hulkenberg joins Aston Martin as reserve, development driver

Nico Hulkenberg has been presented as Aston Martin’s official Formula One reserve and development driver this season, the team stated on Thursday.

The experienced German stood in for Mexican Sergio Perez and Canadian Lance Stroll last year when the Silverstone-based team competed as Racing Point, with both drivers testing positive for COVID-19.

Perez has since moved to Red Bull, with Germany’s four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel arriving from Ferrari.

Hulkenberg, 33, is a Le Mans 24 Hours winner and has started 176 F1 grands prix in a career that started with Williams in 2010 and included stints with Racing Point’s predecessors Force India.

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“It’s great to get this deal signed up with plenty of notice,” Hulkenberg said in a statement. “Last year, I didn’t have quite as much time to prepare before jumping in the car.

“Obviously, I’m hoping that Sebastian and Lance enjoy uninterrupted seasons this year, but the team knows it can rely on me to step in and do an excellent job.”

The German had also been linked to a reserve role at champions Mercedes, who provide Aston Martin’s engines.

Mercedes have Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne and Dutch driver Nyck de Vries as reserves but both are competing in Formula E and the calendars overlap at some races this season.

The role has become more important during the pandemic, with Mercedes calling on Williams driver George Russell in Bahrain last December when seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton contracted the virus.

McLaren have an agreement with Mercedes to use their reserve drivers if needed.

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James Harden set to miss 10 days for brooklyn Nets

After missing two games earlier this month with a hamstring injury, Brooklyn Nets star James Harden returned to the lineup on Monday night. It proved to be a short-lived return, however, as he was limited to just four minutes in the Nets’ victory over the New York Knicks. 

After handing out three assists and grabbing a rebound, Harden checked out of the game early in the first quarter due to continued tightness in his hamstring.

He did not return, and on Tuesday was diagnosed with a hamstring strain. 

The team announced that he’ll be out at least 10 days, and will be re-evaluated at that point. 

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Following the Nets’ victory on Monday, head coach Steve Nash stated the team was planning to be cautious with Harden, and that was before the MRI revealed a new muscle strain. Now that there’s an official diagnosis, you would have to imagine the Nets will be even more careful with their star guard. 

Harden has been an extremely durable player throughout his career, and often rejected attempts to have him rest down the stretch when he was playing for the Houston Rockets, even if he was dealing with nagging injuries.

The fact that he didn’t feel comfortable battling through this hamstring issue was a good indication of how much it was affecting him. 

Losing Harden for at least 10 days obviously isn’t good news, but at least for now there’s no indication that he won’t be fully fit for the playoffs, and that’s really all that matters for Brooklyn.

One of the front-runners for league MVP, Harden is averaging 25.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 10.9 assists per game for the Nets.

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Man City’s Aguero has Barcelona, PSG, Juventus as transfer options – sources

Sergio Aguero is considering interest from Juventus, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain after ruling out a return to club football in Argentina following confirmation of his exit from Manchester City this summer, sources have told ESPN.

The 32-year-old, who is the highest-scoring non-Englishman in Premier League history with 181 goals, will leave the Etihad at the end of the campaign after City confirmed on Monday that he would not be offered a new contract to replace his existing deal, which expires on June 30.

Aguero had previously stated that his ambition, at the end of his stay at City, was to return to Argentina to play for boyhood club Independiente. But sources have told ESPN that Aguero considers he can still perform at the top level in Europe for at least two more seasons and the forward is now ready to take advantage of his free agent status this summer to secure a move to one of the game’s top clubs.

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ESPN reported recently that Barca were monitoring Aguero’s situation at City amid concerns that Lionel Messi will leave Camp Nou at the end of this season.

PSG are also interested in the Argentina international, while Juve are another option with the Italian champions keen to plan for life without Cristiano Ronaldo in the event of the former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward leaving the Turin club at the end of the season.

Sources have told ESPN that Aguero is aware of interest from within the Premier League, but after 10 years in England, the player would prefer to move to Europe.

Having signed for City in a £35 million move from Atletico Madrid in 2011, Aguero has won four Premier League titles, five EFL Cup trophies and one FA Cup in his time at the club, with his winning goal, four minutes into stoppage time versus QPR in May 2012, sealing City’s first title in 44 years and becoming one of the most memorable moments in Premier League history.

But injuries, and a spell on the sidelines with COVID-19, have restricted Aguero to just four Premier League starts and one goal this season.

In total, he has made just 14 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals. Aguero is now fit, however, and ready to contribute to City’s push for an unprecedented quadruple of Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup and Champions League this season.

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has surgery to get pacemaker

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is taking an immediate medical leave of absence after having surgery Wednesday to get a pacemaker, the team revealed.

The team stated Boone’s surgery went “as expected” and that he will spend the night at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, to rest and recover. Boone was “in good spirits,” the team said.

General manager Brian Cashman said Boone could return to the team in two to three days.

The 47-year-old Boone, who had open-heart surgery in 2009, said in a statement that he has had mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath over the past six to eight weeks. He said further tests in New York before spring training indicated he had a low heart rate, necessitating the surgery.

“My faith is strong, and my spirits are high,” Boone said. “I’m in a great frame of mind because I know I’m in good hands with the doctors and medical staff here. … They are confident that today’s surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life.”

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Boone, entering his fourth season as manager of the Yankees, said he looks forward “to getting back to work in the next several days.”

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza took over as acting manager for Wednesday night’s exhibition, a 4-1 victory over Toronto in Tampa.

Mendoza, 41, was a minor leaguer mostly with San Francisco and the Yankees from 1997-09 and is starting his 13th season working for the Yankees. He joined the major league staff as quality control and infield coach under Boone in 2018 and succeeded Josh Bard as bench coach for 2020.

“The mindset doesn’t change,” Mendoza said. “We have a really good group of coaches here and really good personnel that are going to continue to get these guys ready to play the regular season.”

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said “the thoughts of the entire organization are with Aaron and his family” in a statement released by the team.

“Aaron leads our players, coaches and staff with a rare combination of work ethic, intelligence and a genuine concern for others,” Steinbrenner said. “Our only priority at this time is Aaron’s health and well-being, and we will support him in every way throughout his recovery.”

Boone played in the major leagues from 1997 to 2009. He was an All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 shortly before getting traded to the Yankees. Later that year, his 11th-inning home run off Boston’s Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series won the pennant for New York.

Boone is a third-generation major leaguer; his grandfather Gus, father Bob and brother Bret also played in the big leagues, and his nephew Jake is a minor leaguer in the Washington organization.

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Derrick Lewis KO’s Curtis Blaydes in biggest UFC main event upset in 5 years

Curtis Blaydes made no apologies about his strategy coming into a huge heavyweight fight with Derrick Lewis. Blaydes was going to use his dominant wrestling early and often. He told anyone who would listen.

Maybe it was a decoy. But Blaydes should have stuck to his original game plan, as Lewis crushed him with an uppercut knockout at 1:26 of the second round in Saturday’s main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

Blaydes gained confidence on the feet in the first round and attempted only one takedown, which Lewis stuffed. And Lewis, one of the most dangerous KO artists in the history of MMA, made him pay.

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It was the biggest upset in a UFC main event since Michael Bisping defeated Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Lewis was a +350 underdog, per Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, ESPN’s odds provider. Bisping was +400 against Rockhold five years ago.

With the stoppage, Lewis ties Vitor Belfort with the most knockouts in UFC history (12).

Lewis also is now tied for the second-most wins in UFC heavyweight history (16) with Frank Mir. Andrei Arlovski is the all-time UFC heavyweight victories leader, with 19.

Saturday’s finish came when Blaydes ducked in, trying to close the distance for a clinch or a takedown. Lewis saw it coming and let loose with a massive uppercut. Blaydes’ body shook on impact, and he was unconscious as he fell to the canvas. Lewis followed up on the ground with punches, until referee Herb Dean came in to pull him off.

“That was the only punch I was waiting for the entire fight,” Lewis said. “I knew he was gonna come in. … That’s all I was waiting for. I wasn’t worried about throwing a one-two, a jab or anything.”

The fight was originally arranged for Nov. 28, but Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19, and the contest was pulled one day prior to the event before official weigh-ins.

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Kylian Mbappe hat trick carries Paris Saint-Germain to stunning Champions League win

Paris Saint-Germain have taken a big step toward the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals with a 4-1 victory away at Barcelona on Tuesday.

Kylian Mbappe scored a hat trick and Moise Kean added one as Mauricio Pochettino’s men came from a goal down to punish Ronald Koeman’s creaking defense. 

It was an enthralling first half of football as both sides found the back of the net and created opportunities that they were unable to take.

Barca went ahead through a perfect Lionel Messi penalty after Layvin Kurzawa was judged to have tripped Antoine Griezmann in the penalty area but PSG hit back through Mbappe who fired high past Marc-Andre ter Stegen from a sublime Marco Verratti assist.

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Both sides rode their luck at times with PSG fortunate that Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele were not sharper in front of goal and Barca grateful for Ter Stegen’s quick-thinking and reflexes as well as Mauro Icardi’s flashed header at the near post that went just wide.

Idrissa Gueye was specifically lucky to not pick up a second yellow card after a full-blooded opening 45 minutes but Verratti’s Velcro touch and impeccable timing made him the absolute star of the show at Camp Nou.

PSG turned the screw in the second half and flew out of the blocks in search of a second goal and needed 20 minutes to get it when Alessandro Florenzi’s ball in fell to him to slam home. However, Kean’s goal took less time to arrive with the Italian heading home a Leandro Paredes free-kick delivery five minutes after.

Ter Stegen did what he could in the second half but his defense deserted him as Mbappe majestically curled the ball beyond him to complete his hat trick five minutes from time after substitute Julian Draxler teed him up on a famous night for Les Parisiens.

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Alonso discharged from hospital following cycling accident

Alpine Formula One driver Fernando Alonso has been discharged from hospital following a road traffic accident last week.

Alonso was knocked off his bike while cycling in Switzerland on Thursday and underwent corrective surgery on his upper jaw as a result of his injuries.

After a period of 48 hours observation following the surgery, Alonso left hospital on Monday and will keep his recovery at home.

“He will now have a short period of complete rest before progressively resuming training to undertake preparation for the start of the season,” a statement from the Alpine team said.

Alonso, a two-time F1 champion, returns to the series this campaign after two years racing in other categories.

He became a two-time World Endurance Champion with Toyota while away from F1, which incorporated two victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2018. His quest to become only the second driver to collect the Triple Crown — victories at the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and Indy 500 — has been put on hold.

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Alonso entered the Indy 500 in 2017 and 2020, and failed to qualify in 2019, but will not be competing in the event while he is contracted to Alpine’s F1 operation.

He is due to take part in pre-season testing in Bahrain between March 12-14 before the first race of the new season gets underway on March 28 at the same circuit.

The incident did lead to some doubt over Alonso’s fitness ahead of the new campaign, only for Alpine to say last week that it expected him to be “fully operational to undertake preparation for the season.”

Alonso tweeted last Friday that he was “OK and looking forward to getting 2021 underway”, with his extending first outing in the Alpine A521 car due to come in pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Alpine is yet to ratify launch plans for its new car, but will take the covers off prior to the start of the running at the Bahrain International Circuit on 12-14 March.

The new season will then get underway on 28 March with the Bahrain Grand Prix at the same circuit. It will mark Alonso’s maiden outing with the Enstone-based team since his final appearance with the squad in 2009, having also won both of his world titles in Renault colors in 2005 and 2006.

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Kamaru Usman defeats Gilbert Burns by TKO to retain UFC welterweight title

Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns were full of emotion while embracing in the middle of the Octagon on Saturday night. Burns had blood and tears running down his face. Some of their cornermen behind them were trying not to cry.

Usman stopped Burns, his former teammate, via TKO at 34 seconds in the third round to defend his UFC welterweight title in the main event of UFC 258 in Las Vegas.

Usman landed a right hand as he was switching stances to floor Burns, then slammed Burns with punches on the ground until referee Herb Dean pulled him off.

“Gilbert is a guy that I’ve known from the start,” Usman said in his postfight interview. “I love him. This one was tough for me to deal with.” Usman picked up his 13th consecutive win, surpassing legend Georges St-Pierre for the most consecutive victories in UFC welterweight history.

Only Anderson Silva has won more than 13 straight fights in UFC history, winning 16 in a row from 2006 to 2012.

Usman is tied with six other fighters with 13 consecutive wins.

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Usman and Burns were teammates in South Florida since 2012, first with the Blackzilians and most recently with Sanford MMA.

Usman departed for Colorado to train under coach Trevor Wittman last year after the initial fight with Burns was scheduled for July.

But Burns tested positive for COVID-19 and withdrew from that bout. Henri Hooft, the longtime head coach for both Usman and Burns, did not corner either man and said he would not even watch the fight.

The fight had major implications outside of the personal story. Coming in, ESPN had Usman ranked No. 5 in the world in its pound-for-pound MMA rankings. In the welterweight division, ESPN has Usman ranked No. 1 and Burns at No. 5.

Burns rocked Usman twice early with huge right hands. But Usman hung in through a tumultuous first round. He then took over in the second, working a beautiful jab and stymieing Burns’ power and explosiveness. Usman’s striking looked better than ever, as he switched stances and landed with power from each one.

In the second round, Usman dropped Burns twice, the second time with a jab. In the third, it was a right hand that resembled a jab that put Burns on his butt before Usman pounced and finished on the ground.

Usman outlanded Burns 83-45 in significant strikes, per UFC Stats.

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Everton knock Tottenham out of FA Cup on Bernard winner in extra-time goal-fest

Everton sent Tottenham Hotspur packing from the FA Cup with an extra-time goal from Bernard on Wednesday night at Goodison Park to send his team through to the quarterfinals with a 5-4 victory.

Tottenham opened the scoring and took a deserved lead inside of five minutes when Davinson Sanchez headed Son Heung Min’s corner past Robin Olsen in the Everton goal.

Everton hit back to go ahead in the span of several first-half minutes with a Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal and a Richarlison strike from outside of the penalty area that a diving Hugo Lloris could not reach.

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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was then whistled for a penalty after tripping Calvert-Lewin in the area and Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up and calmly sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot to put Everton up 3-1. However, Spurs scored just before the break as Erik Lamela pounced on a Yerry Mina error and slotted a neat, left-footed shot past Olsen to trim the deficit for Jose Mourinho’s team to a single goal at half-time.

The back-and-forth match continued in the second half

With Spurs drawing level at 3-3 before the hour mark through Sanchez’s second of the night when he redirected a saved header off Olsen’s mitt and tapped into the back of the net.

Richarlison fired Everton back in front with his second goal, defeating Lloris at his far post with a screamer after Sigurdsson played him into the area with a clever little through ball.

Harry Kane, who had looked menacing all game, finally scored to put Tottenham back on level terms with a smashing header at the back post from a beautiful, whipped in cross from Son that set the teams on course for extra time.

Sigurdsson added to his assist tally in the first period of extra time with a lovely chip over Spurs’ defense and into the box that left Bernard time to settle, have a look at goal and fire an unstoppable volley past Lloris to give Everton the lead yet again.

Ancelotti and Everton will now await results from the final two games of the FA Cup on Thursday to see who they will face in the quarterfinals.

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Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott still not close to long-term deal

The Cowboys and Dak Prescott still are not close on a new deal to keep the star quarterback in Dallas long-term, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Cowboys and Prescott were banned from negotiating a new deal during the season, but the sides were permitted to resume contract talks once Dallas’ disappointing season ended.

Sources told ESPN that the Cowboys still want to re-sign Prescott, who wants to stay in Dallas. But the sides still have plenty of work to do on a new deal, with a history of not being able to get it done.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged last month that Prescott is in a good negotiating position, considering Dallas’ 6-10 record and the offense’s struggles after the two-time Pro Bowler’s season-ending leg injury.

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“I don’t know how you could have any more leverage,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan.

Prescott, who played this past year under the Cowboys’ franchise tag, suffered a dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle in Week 5 versus the New York Giants.

He was on pace for his best statistical season, with 1,856 yards passing, nine touchdown passes and four interceptions, but the Cowboys were 2-3 in his five starts.

Once the sides did not reach an agreement on a contract on June 15, 2020, Prescott had to play this season on the $31.4 million franchise tag. The Cowboys offered Prescott a deal last year that sources said averaged $34.5 million a year, with a $50 million signing bonus and had $110 million in guarantees.

The biggest issue between the sides was the length of the deal. The Cowboys wanted five years; agent Todd France countered with four because impending television contracts are expected to significantly raise the salary cap in the future.

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