Russia 2018: Morocco become the first team eliminated after defeat by Portugal…

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Cristiano Ronaldo continued his incredible start to the tournament, scoring the goal that saw Portugal eliminate Morocco from the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Following on from his hat-trick against Iberian rivals Spain, it took the Portugal captain only four minutes to make his mark in this game, diving on the end of a cross from Joao Moutinho and heading on target.

That goal put the European Champions top of Group B, with Spain playing Iran at 7pm tonight. Ronaldo has also extended his lead as the top scorer in the race for the Golden Boot.

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Cristiano Ronaldo scores his fourth goal of the World Cup to send Group B rivals Morocco home

Morocco, who just last week failed in their bid to host the tournament in 2026, became the first team to be knocked out of this one with one Group B game to spare.

They did, however, create enough chances to earn at least a draw – and would have got it with better finishing in the final third, producing only one effort of note only to see Younes Belhanda’s header denied by Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

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Younes Belhanda had Morocco’s best chance for an equaliser in the game against Portugal

The North African nation, who were beaten 1-0 by Iran in their opening group game, are playing at a FIFA World Cup for the first time in 20 years.

Morocco concludes their tournament against, 2010 World Champions, Spain in Kaliningrad on Monday June 25.

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World Cup: Canada, Mexico and USA win the right to host to host 2026 tournament…

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The biggest and, arguably most prestigious, football tournament in the world is heading to North America.

For the first time ever, the FIFA World Cup will take place across three nations after the United bid of Canada, Mexico and the United States of America (USA) saw off Morocco for the right to host the tournament in eight years time. It will also be the first World Cup that features an expanded field of 48 teams and a schedule featuring a record 80 matches.

The North American bid defeated the bid of Morocco by winning the first ever public vote involving all 203 eligible FIFA nations by a score of 134-65 (67% of the vote). All four bidding nations (Canada, USA, Mexico and Morocco) were not permitted to vote.

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For the first time ever the FIFA World cup will be spread across three different nations – USA, Canada and Mexico

The United bid also scored higher than that of Morocco in FIFA’s technical report released earlier this month. North America earned a mark of 4 out of 5, while Morocco only managed 2.7 out of 5. Both bids made one final presentation in front of the FIFA Congress in Moscow, just before the vote got underway.

The 2026 tournament will be the second hosted on US soil, with the first in 1994 holding the record for most tickets sold and most revenue generated. Mexico has hosted the tournament on two separate occasions – 1970 and 1986 – and Canada has never hosted the tournament.

It is not the first time that the US has attempted to host the FIFA World Cup. In December 2010, the country lost a bid for the 2022 edition following a secret ballot held between the 24 members of the FIFA executive committee and awarded the tournament to Qatar. That, in turn, led to an overhaul of the voting process due to charges of corruption and wrongdoing.

A statement from Major League Soccer, the top domestic football league in North America, said: “The decision to host World Cup 2026 in Canada, Mexico and the United States is a testament to our three nations coming together for the United Bid, and a monumental step in our collective mission to further advance the game of soccer in North America,

“We congratulate all of those who worked tirelessly to bring the World Cup back to North America and thank the countries that voted for the United Bid, and for their belief in our vision for the future of the sport in our region,

“There is no doubt that World Cup 2026 will elevate the sport of soccer to entirely new levels and Major League Soccer is honoured to be a part of this joyous day.”

Reaction to the announcement can be found here: https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2018/06/13/global-reaction-2026-world-cup-awarded-north-america

Eventing: New Zealand’s Jonelle Price claims first CCI4* victory with Badminton win…

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Jonelle Price has won the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

The 37-year-old New Zealander, riding owner Tricia Rickards’ Classic Moet, rattled several fences during Sunday’s final showjumping phase but crucially all the poles stayed up. That meant the pair finished clear and more than four seconds inside a tight optimum time.

Price becomes the first female winner of the event since Lucinda Fredericks won the title 11 years ago. She only returned to eventing in the autumn after six months away from the international circuit to have a baby.

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Jonelle Price and Classic Moet – winners of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2018

Classic Moet has also recently become a mother after her embryo transfer foal by Upsilon was born earlier this year.

Price was tied for the lead (28 penalties) with Oliver Townend and his mount Ballaghmor Class going into the final phase but she was closer to the optimum time which gave her the lead.

Two rolled poles for Townend and Ballaghmor Class saw the pair drop down to fifth.

That meant that Price had a pole in hand over the British rider and his other ride – Cooley SRS, who finished second.

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Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. The pair finished fifth at this years Badminton

Price win also means no Rolex Grand Slam for Townend after the Brit won last year’s Burghley event and most recently Kentucky.

The Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is awarded to the rider who wins all three of the sport’s major CCI4* competitions – Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton.

Rising star Ros Canter and her ride Allstar B tipped one rail in an otherwise foot perfect round to end the competition in third place.

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Kelvin Bywater’s course proved to be very influential with only nine combinations jumping clear rounds. Of those nine, just five finished without time faults and therefore adding nothing to their score after the first two phases.

Faults were spread fairly evenly across the track, but the water tray at fence 11 claimed it’s fair share of high profile scalps, including Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW (10th) and Mark Todd, who was riding Kiltubrid Rhapsody (sixth).

Both Gemma Tattersall (Arctic Soul) and Tom McEwen (Toledo De Kerser) also jumped clear to finish among the top Brits in fourth and seventh place respectively.

League One: Evans favourite for Peterborough role…

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It would appear that Peterborough United may have just found their new manager.

He comes in the shape of former Boston United, Crawley Town and Rotherham United manager Steve Evans. He has also taken charge of Leeds United before joining Mansfield Town part way through last season.

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Possible new POSH boss? Steve Evans

Evans, who is considered to be the favourite to become the next POSH manager, dramatically quit his current job at League Two promotion pushers Mansfield tonight (February 27), and was even spotted watching from the directors box at his prospective new side’s fixture with Walsall at the ABAX Stadium.

He has been backed constantly by punters to take over The POSH after the news of Grant McCann’s sacking on Sunday night.

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Former Northern Ireland international Grant McCann was sacked as POSH boss on Sunday night

Since announcing his resignation, along with his assistant Paul Raynor, Evans has been quoted at 1/12 to become the next POSH manager according to SkyBet.

If the rumours are true, it would fulfil a lifelong dream of a man who has supported The POSH since moving to the area 30 years ago, although the club are yet to comment on the possibility of Evans taking charge.

League One: End of the road for a club legend as Peterborough sack McCann…

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It is the end of an era at Peterborough United after the club sacked manager Grant McCann late on Sunday evening (February 25).

Chairman Darragh MacAnthony made the difficult decision to sack the former Northern Ireland international to try and give the club’s hopes of promotion from League One a boost.

POSH have recorded no wins in their last seven matches before McCann’s sacking, with the latest of those being a lacklustre 1-1 draw against struggling AFC Wimbledon at the ABAX Stadium on Saturday (February 24).

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Relieved of his duties: Former POSH manager Grant McCann

Speaking about the decision, MacAnthony said:  “I love Grant, he is a legend of this football club and always will be, but it has not quite happened in management for him here and it was the right time to part ways.

“I thank him for all his efforts and wish him and his family the very best in the future.”

The club currently sits 10th in League One following Saturday’s draw, leaving them six points outside the playoff places.

Next up for them is the visit of Walsall on Tuesday (February 27) – a game that has already been thrown into doubt due to expected bad weather.

If the game does go ahead, McCann’s assistant David Oldfield will take caretaker charge.

NHL: Neck injury ends Canucks forward Dorsett’s career…

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Vancouver Canucks tough guy Derek Dorsett has been advised to end his ice hockey career.

In a press release, the Canucks say that the 30-year-old forward  “will not return to the Canucks active roster due to health reasons and risks associated with playing.”

Dorsett, who had been with the Canucks since 2014 after being acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers, underwent cervical disc herniation surgery in December 2016 which left both arms numb for a time. He surprised many when he was eventually cleared to play again at the start of this season.

Dorsett had an inspired start to this season, scoring seven times in 20 games for the Canucks. However, he was sent home from his team’s eastern road trip on November 21 after complaining of stiffness in his neck and back.

It was then that the doctor who performed the initial surgery, Dr. Robert Watkins, advised him to stop playing.

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Derek Dorsett (right) pictured with spine surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins at Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles.

Watkins said: “The latest evaluation of Derek’s neck revealed that he’s sustained a cervical disc herniation adjacent and separate to his previous fusion,

“Given his current condition and the long-term, significant health risks, I advised Derek not to return to play.”

His abrasive playing playing style made Dorsett a firm favourite among hockey fans, in a career which spanned 515 NHL games, during which he scored 51 goals and accumulated 1,314 penalty minutes.

It is not known how or when Dorsett reinjured his neck, although he absorbed a number of blows to his head when fighting LA Kings forward Andy Andreoff in a game on November 14.

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Vancouver Canucks’ Derek Dorsett and LA Kings’ Andy Andreoff get to grips during the first period of an NHL game in Los Angeles on Nov 14

Speaking about the decision, Dorsett said: “As hard as it was to hear, Dr. Watkins’ diagnosis is definitive,

“There is no grey area, and it gives me clarity to move forward. I have a healthy young family and a long life of opportunities ahead of me.

“Hockey taught me a lot and it will help me be successful in whatever I choose to do in the future.”

 

 

Tennis: British player Dan Evans banned for one year after positive cocaine test…

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Tennis player Dan Evans has been banned for one year after testing positive for cocaine, which he accidentally mixed with the medication in his washbag.

British number four Evans provided the positive sample before competing at the Barcelona Open on April 24. His suspension has been back-dated to begin from that date.

The 27-year-old will therefore be free to return to competition from April 24 2018.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) explained the suspension saying that because cocaine is not performance enhancing and it was taken outside of competition, a potential four year ban was reduced to 12 months.

They also said that Evans ‘promptly admitted his violation’ and then accepted his explanation of how the cocaine got into his system adding that he bore ‘no significant fault or negligence for the violation.’

Along with the suspension, Evans has also had to forfeit €103,890 (£92,205) of prize money and the ranking points gained between the date of the test and the announcement of the positive finding in late June.

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According to the decision announced by the ITF on Tuesday, Evans said ‘leftover’ cocaine had accidentally mixed with permitted medication on the ‘same pocket of his washbag’.

Evans also said that he took those tablets daily from April 20 2017 to April 24 2017 – the date on which he provided his sample.

Expert Dr Pascal Kintz successfully proved that the amount of cocaine ingested by Evans was no more than 1-3 mg – a quantity which was ‘inconsistent with knowing ingestion and consistent instead with inadvertent contamination’.

Before the incident, Evans had reached a career high of 41 but is now down to 108th and will slip even further down the rankings before he is eligible to return to competition in April 2018.