Real Sociedad earn crucial win at champions Barcelona

BARCELONA, May 21, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – New La Liga champions Barcelona tumbled to a 2-1 defeat to Real Sociedad on Saturday before receiving their trophy at a packed Camp Nou.

Mikel Merino and Alexander Sorloth struck for the visitors, who defended their hold on fourth place, restoring a five-point gap on Villarreal, fifth, in the fight for Champions League qualification.

Earlier, Villarreal snatched a 2-1 win at Girona through Gerard Moreno’s stoppage time strike.

Robert Lewandowski pulled one back late on for Barcelona, who clinched the title last weekend with a thumping 4-2 win at Catalan rivals Espanyol, and were given a guard of honour before the game.

Barcelona’s celebrations in Cornella were disrupted by Espanyol fans’ pitch invasion, but they made up for it after defeat as they lifted their 27th league title.

“Thank you to the staff, the players who have given everything on the pitch,” Xavi said in a speech.

“And to the fans. Without you it would not have been possible. You have been spectacular.

“Those that have filled the stadiums, those that were at the bus parade. It’s given me goosebumps.”

Imanol Alguacil’s La Real fought hard to dampen the celebrations in Catalonia with an impressive victory.

“(Winning here) is something historic for the club, it’s such a tough place to come,” Merino told DAZN after his side’s first La Liga win at Camp Nou since 1991.

“I wasn’t even close to being born last time La Real won here. “We needed to win because behind us they’re coming up strong and we played a great game today.”

– Fast start –

Xavi picked a solid Barcelona line-up despite already wrapping up the title, but they fell behind early on and could not turn the game around.

Jules Kounde carelessly lost the ball in a dangerous area and Sorloth fed Merino, who fired through Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s legs after five minutes.

It was the first goal the German goalkeeper has conceded from open play at Camp Nou in La Liga this season, with the exception of a Ronald Araujo own goal.

Ter Stegen has 25 clean sheets this season and needs one more to match the league record of 26, although it will not be easy if Barcelona defend as casually in their final three matches.

La Real doubled their lead in the second half when Martin Zubimendi tackled Frenkie de Jong to spark a counter-attack.

Takefusa Kubo teed up Sorloth, who fired past Ter Stegen, who has now conceded 15 La Liga goals, three fewer than the record lowest tally of 18 for a 38-match season.

Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets was given a standing ovation as he was substituted in the final stages, in his penultimate home game before he leaves in the summer.

La Liga’s top scorer Lewandowski nodded home his 22nd goal of the campaign to give Real Sociedad a nervy finale but they held on for an important win.

“After winning the title maybe we lacked intensity,” Jordi Alba told DAZN.

“But it’s a day to enjoy ourselves, having a good time with our people.”

After Busquets collected the trophy Xavi was thrown into the air by Barcelona’s players in celebration, before they danced around a banner in the centre circle proclaiming “La Liga is ours, the future too.”

“No one doubt that this is just getting started,” said Busquets in a speech on the pitch.

“Thanks to all the fans because it’s not possible without you. Thanks to the staff for helping us be at our best.”

Real Sociedad’s win was essential after Villarreal piled pressure on them earlier.

Yeremy Pino opened the scoring for the visitors at Girona after being teed up by Nicolas Jackson but David Lopez pegged Villarreal back.

Jackson also set up Moreno’s late strike with a sprint down the left and an inviting cross for the forward to gleefully slam home.

Lazaro Vinicius hit a hat-trick for Almeria as they beat Real Mallorca 3-0 to climb away from danger.

Rubi’s side rose to 13th, four points clear of the relegation zone.

Getafe were held to a 1-1 draw by relegated Elche which leaves them 17th, level on points with Real Valladolid, 18th, who they face on the last weekend of the season.

Athletic Bilbao beat Celta Vigo 2-1 to leave the Galicians 14th, level on points with Almeria and still not completely safe after six defeats in their last seven matches.


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Leipzig beat Bayern to hand Dortmund title edge

BERLIN, May 21, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – Borussia Dortmund are two wins away from guaranteeing their first title in a decade after RB Leipzig came from behind to win 3-1 away at Bayern Munich on Saturday.

Bayern led 1-0 thanks to an early Serge Gnabry goal and looked in cruise control, but the visitors scored three second-half goals to turn the match, and the Bundesliga title race, on its head.

Dortmund, who last won the title in 2011-12 under Jurgen Klopp, can go two points clear of Bayern with one matchday remaining with a win on Sunday against Augsburg.

A stunned Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel said his team deserved to lose, explaining “when you play so far below your level, you lose games”.

“RB played OK, but this was completely about us. We lost this game.”

The win, Leipzig’s first in Munich and only their second victory ever over the German champions, secured the visitors Champions League football next season.

Leipzig manager Marco Rose said “with our first goal, our belief grew — and we used that today.”

Bayern came into the match one point clear of Dortmund and knew that two wins in their next two games would take them to an 11th straight league title.

Gnabry settled Bayern’s nerves after 25 minutes, blasting a rising shot in off the left post, his fifth in his past four games.

Bayern looked to take the speed out of the game and exert control, but Leipzig struck against the run of play on the counter after 65 minutes.

Konrad Laimer, widely tipped for a move to Bayern in the summer, took advantage of a superb team move to rocket the ball home.

A shellshocked Bayern sought to fight back but soon found themselves behind, after Benjamin Pavard brought down Christopher Nkunku in the box.

The France forward smashed the ball home from the spot, giving home ‘keeper Yann Sommer no chance.

Leipzig won another penalty with four minutes remaining after a handball, with Dominik Szoboszlai scoring.

– Hertha relegated –

Earlier on Saturday, an injury time goal from Bochum’s Keven Schlotterbeck sent Hertha Berlin back to the second division, with a 1-1 draw in the German capital.

Bottom of the table coming into the weekend, Hertha appeared poised to delay relegation for at least another week when Lucas Tousart headed in a second-half goal at Berlin’s Olympic stadium.

But Schlotterbeck’s header in the fourth minute of stoppage time secured Bochum a draw and sent Hertha back to the second division after a decade in the Bundesliga.

“We don’t have to be ashamed of our performance today, we didn’t get relegated because of today,” Hertha manager Pal Dardai said.

Berlin-born midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who started his career at Hertha, then moved to Tottenham, AC Milan and Barcelona before returning, said with tears in his eyes: “You can’t blame the team, relegation wasn’t about today.

“I just love the club. It’s just bitter.”

Bochum’s point meant they climbed one place clear of the relegation zone.

Schalke striker Sebastian Polter scored late at home against Eintracht Frankfurt to give his side a 2-2 draw, claiming a crucial point in their fight against the drop.

Schalke took the lead in the first minute as captain Simon Terodde headed in a free kick.

Daichi Kamada equalised 20 minutes later for the visitors and Tuta gave Frankfurt the lead 15 minutes into the second half, before Polter scored just his second of the season with five minutes remaining.

Union Berlin wasted a chance to close in on a first-ever Champions League appearance, losing 4-2 at Hoffenheim.

Union fell behind 2-0 following errors from Portuguese centre-back Diogo Leite.

First he headed a ball goalwards into the path of Hoffenheim’s Ihlas Bebou, who scored the opener, and then Leite gave away a penalty which was converted by Andrej Kramaric.

Dutch defender Danilho Doekhi pulled a goal back for the visitors in first-half injury time, heading in a cross from captain Christopher Trimmel.

With Union pushing for an equaliser, Kramaric scored with one minute remaining to secure a 3-1 lead.

Both sides scored a goal in injury time as Hoffenheim climbed four clear of the relegation spots.

Werder Bremen ensured another year in the top division with a 1-1 draw at home against Cologne.

Dominant Lyon retain French women’s title

PARIS, May 22, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – Lyon, the record eight-time winners of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, retained the French title on Sunday with a 1-0 victory away to rivals Paris Saint-Germain.

They began the day three points ahead of PSG at the top of the table with one game remaining after this one, and so knew a victory would secure a 16th domestic title overall.

A hard-fought encounter at the Parc des Princes was decided by an 88th-minute goal from substitute Signe Bruun, as the Danish international forward headed in a cross by Amel Majri.

Lyon have now won the league in all but one of the last 17 years, the exception being when PSG pipped them in 2021.

Sunday’s victory secured a domestic double as it came a week after they also beat PSG in the French Cup final.

Lyon won the Champions League for the eighth time last year, but were knocked out in the quarter-finals this season, losing on penalties to Chelsea.

Last week a deal was reached which will see American entrepreneur Michele Kang become the new majority owner of the club.

She is set to create a “multi-team women’s football organisation” along with US side Washington Spirit, also owned by Kang.

Hetmyer, Jaiswal dump Curran’s Punjab out of IPL

DHARAMSALA, India, May 20, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – Shimron Hetmyer and Yashasvi Jaiswal starred as Rajasthan Royals dumped Punjab Kings out of the IPL on Friday, capping a poor season for the league’s most expensive ever player Sam Curran.

The nail-biting four-wicket in Dharamsala win gave Rajasthan, last season’s runners-up, hope of qualifying for the knockout phase although their fate depends on other matches this weekend.

Curran, who cost Punjab a hefty $2.23 million, fell one run short of what would have been only his second 50 of the tournament as Punjab put on 187-5 with Navdeep Saini taking 3-40 for Rajasthan.

This was after Punjab were in trouble at 50-4 after 6.3 overs when Saini sent Liam Livingstone’s off stump flying, the English big-hitter managing just nine and captain Shikhar Dhawan 17.

Curran’s valiant 49 came off 31 balls with four fours and two sixes included vital partnerships with Jitesh Sharma (44) and Shahrukh Khan (41) that rescued Punjab’s innings.

In reply for the Royals, Curran’s England teammate Jos Buttler fell for his latest duck of his lacklustre season, trapped leg-before to a vicious inswinger by Kagiso Rabada.

But Jaiswal, the IPL’s second-highest run scorer this year behind Faf du Plessis, and who last week hit a 13-ball 50, continued in his stellar form with yet another half-century, off 36 balls.
– Tense finale –

Rajasthan captain Sanju Samson departed for just two to Rahul Chahar but rock-solid Devdutt Padikkal made 51 off 30 before falling to a stunning catch on the circle by Harpreet Brar off Arshdeep Singh.

Hetmyer almost saw the Royals home in a tense final phase that saw the West Indian exchange sharp words with Curran when he was given out caught behind, only to be reprieved on review.

“It is nice to have someone saying something, giving me a little bit more confidence and a little bit more energy to execute,” Hetmyer said afterwards, adding that what Curran said to him “is not anything I can disclose”.

Curran, who leaked 46 runs in the match, finally got his man and his only wicket in the 19th over, with Hetmyer finally departing for 46 off 28 after a brilliant catch by Dhawan at cover.

But Hetmyer and Riyan Parag (20) had done enough, with impact player Dhruv Jurel (10) finishing the job by clubbing a six back over Chahar’s head with two balls remaining.

The win in their final group-stage game by Rajasthan puts them in fifth position with 14 points.

Only the top four proceed, and whether Rajasthan make it depends on other teams, primarily Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians, currently fourth and sixth respectively.

Defending champions Gujarat Titans are top of the table ahead of second-placed Chennai Super Kings. Punjab though are out, as are Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

“I think that in all areas we could have done better. Sometimes the batting clicked and sometimes the bowling clicking,” said Dhawan.

“I am sure this season boys must have learned lots of things. As a leader I learned lots of things,” he said.

Injured finalist Kalinina says she reached her limit

ROME, May 21, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – Italian open finalist Anhelina Kalinina blamed pure fatigue and a left thigh injury for Saturday night’s retirement from the biggest match of her career.

The 47th-ranked Ukrainian was unable to go on and threw in the towel to hand Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina a 6-4, 1-0 finals win at the Foro Italico on a day plagued by rain delays.

“I feel I’m at my physical limit,” she said. “I felt the leg after the quarter-finals.

“I pushed myself yesterday,” she said of her semi-final win over Veronika Kudermetova. “Today I started, but after two, three games I couldn’t.

“I was trying, but it was absolutely impossible.”

The 26–year-old, who is good friends with Rybakina, said her only goal for the moment is to recover and get back to working on her game.

“I don’t have expectations. I have my goals concerning my tennis, not the ambitions about counting (ranking) points.

“I’m trying to focus on my tennis, on my game, what I have to improve. I have a lot of things to improve, I have a lot of work to do.”

Kalinina said she had no second thoughts about quitting only the second final of her career.

“(Quitting) was absolutely correct, even though emotions (told me) I want to play today,” she said. “After I went off court, I almost fell in the locker room because the leg started cramping. (It was) the absolutely correct decision.”

We can still win title’, says Bayern’s Mueller

BERLIN, May 21,  2023 (BSS/AFP) – Bayern Munich captain Thomas Mueller said his side were not out of the Bundesliga title race after the 3-1 home loss against RB Leipzig on Saturday gave Borussia Dortmund the edge.

Dortmund can go two points clear with one round of games remaining by winning at Augsburg on Sunday, but Mueller, 33, was confident his side could come back.

“Of course” the veteran told Sky Sports Germany, “we can still be German champions.”

“Dortmund still need to win twice and we’ll see what happens.

“I’ve won a few championships, even when we weren’t big favourites. There’s still a chance.”

Mueller, who came through the junior ranks at Bayern, has won 11 titles in Munich, including the last ten in a row.

“They have to win both games and I want to see that first.

“If they do that then I congratulate them, but until then we’ll be together and do everything we can to get three points next week.”

Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel said “the season isn’t over” but admitted that his side were not playing well enough.

“When you play so far below your level, then it’s hard to win games and when it’s hard to win games, it’s hard to win (the title).”

Taking over from the sacked Julian Nagelsmann in late March, Tuchel has won just five of 11 matches in charge of Bayern, a period which has included elimination from the Champions League and the German Cup.

Bayern’s final game is at Cologne, while Dortmund play at home against Mainz, with the games kicking off simultaneously on Saturday.

A “deeply disappointed” Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn, who made the decision to sack Nagelsmann and replace him with Tuchel, said it was “bitter” that his side “did not have the title in our hands anymore.”

“We had a giant chance to become German champions and we gave it away,” he said.

“(Now) we’re relying on other results on other pitches – but it’s not over yet.

“It’s only over when the referee in Cologne signals that it’s over.”

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic defended the decision to fire Nagelsmann, who had lost only three of 37 games before losing his job.

“I would do it again because it was necessary. Thomas Tuchel has really done a great job. Things will improve, of that I’m sure,” he said.

While Dortmund will be favourites against 14th-placed Augsburg, they travel south without star midfielder Jude Bellingham, who has a knee complaint.

Despite losing just one game in the second half of the league season, Dortmund have not won away from home since February, with three draws and a loss in their past four games on the road.

New Zealand budget boosts climate defence

New Zealand’s government unveiled a “no frills” pre-election budget on Thursday, vowing to ease cost of living pressures while ramping up climate defences following deadly flash floods and a cyclone.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins promised to help New Zealanders cope with inflation, running hot at 6.7 percent in the year to March.

“When I became prime minister I said I would focus on the bread and butter issues Kiwi households are facing,” Hipkins said.

“Today’s budget does that by providing cost of living relief across key expenses families experience — childcare, healthcare, transport and power bills.”

Hipkins faces a general election in five months.

He took over from fellow centre-left Labour Party member Jacinda Ardern after she stepped down as leader in January, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank”.

Hipkins’ government said it would spend NZ$2.6 billion (US$1.6 billion) on cost-of-living measures in the financial year to June 30, 2024.

The money will finance more efficient heating, extra money for childcare, cheaper medication and free public transport for children.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he had set aside NZ$6 billion dollars for a “national resilience plan” to help cope with climate disasters.

A month after flash floods killed four people in Auckland in January, Cyclone Gabrielle smashed into the country’s North Island, killing 11 people.

Gabrielle swept away or heavily damaged homes, businesses, bridges and roads — leaving a repair bill the government estimates at up to NZ$14 billion. About 10,000 people were displaced.

“The North Island weather events have added a level of urgency to our infrastructure investment planning,” Robertson said.

“It was unacceptable that basic lifeline services like telecommunications, power and transport links were knocked out for so long.”

The plan will help fix weaknesses exposed when storm damage cut power supplies, damaged roads and knocked out communications in parts of New Zealand, he said.

With the country recovering from the “lingering hangover of the Covid emergency”, Robertson predicted net debt would peak at 22 percent of gross domestic product in 2024.

The budget predicts a deficit of NZ$7.56 billion in the financial year ahead, only anticipating a return to surplus in 2025-26.

Inflation is tipped to return to around three percent by late next year.

Kerley cruises in first 100m of season

YOKOHAMA, Japan, May 21, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – American sprint star Fred Kerley cruised to victory in 9.91sec in his first 100m of the season at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Japan on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Texan, who will attempt to defend his 100m world title in Budapest in August, was never troubled as he finished ahead of Australia’s Rohan Browning in second place.

Kerley clocked 9.88 in his heat to break the meet record in Yokohama.

He will face Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs in Diamond League meets in Rabat on May 28 and Florence on June 2.

Kerley finished second behind Italian Jacobs at the Tokyo Games and the pair have not raced head to head since then.

Kerley has said he will aim for a 100-200m double at this year’s world championships.

He opened his Diamond League season with a 200m win in Doha earlier this month, clocking 19.92sec to finish ahead of fellow American Kenneth Bednarek.

He will race against reigning 200m world champion Noah Lyles at that distance in next month’s New York Grand Prix.

Govt to honour 44 people as CIP on Monday

The government on Monday (May 22) will honour some 44 personalities as commercially important persons (industry) in different categories for their contributions to the country’s overall economy through setting up industries, creating employments and increasing national income in 2021.

Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque will formally hand over the honour award as the chief guest at Hotel Intercontinental in the capital while Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, State Minister for Industries Kamal Ahmed Majumder, Cabinet Secretary Md Mahbub Hossain and FBCCI president Md Jashim Uddin will remain present as special guests.

Industries Secretary Zakia Sultana will preside over the function.

Among the 44 businessmen, six have been selected under the ex-officio category, 25 under large industries, 10 under medium industries, two under small industries and one under micro industries category, said a press release here today.

Every nominated CIP will get a CIP card and enjoy a number of facilities, including priority in seat reservation at government transports in air, road, rail and waterways, getting invitation at national events, could get special facilities in the government hospitals for ensuring treatment of their spouse and children.

The CIPs will be able to use the cards as passes to use the VIP lounge-2 at the airports.

The CIPs nominated as ex-officio are Sheikh Fazle Fahim, former president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Kamran Tanvirur Rahman, former president of Bangladesh Employers Federation, Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, Rupali Haque Chowdhury, president of Foreign Investors Chambers of Commerce and Industry, AKM Salim Osman, president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Chambers of Industries.

CIPs from the large-scale industries (manufacturing) are Managing Partner of Square Pharmaceuticals’ Eric S Chowdhury, Chairman of BSRM Steels Ali Hossain Akbar Ali, Pran Dairy Ltd Chairman Md Eleash Mridha, Managing Director (MD) of Olympic Industries Ltd Mubarak Ali, Deputy Managing Director (DMD) Zaber and Zubair Fabrics Ltd Mohammad Abdullah Zaber, MD of ACI Ltd Arif Doula, MD of Popular Pharmaceuticals Ltd Mustafizur Rahman, DMD of Abdul Monem Group ASM Mainuddin Monem, Chairman of Fariha Knit Tex Mohammad Mamun Bhuiyan, MD of Square Food and Beverage Anjan Chowdhury, MD of Hams Garments Ltd Md Shafiqur Rahman, Badsha Textile Mills Sponsor Director Kamal Uddin Ahmad, Mir Ceramic Limited Director Mahreen Nasir, Durable Plastic Ltd Director Uzma Chowdhury, Runner Automobiles Ltd Chairman Hafizur Rahman Khan, Winner Stainless Steel Mills Ltd Chairman Sohel Rana, Tasniah Fabrics Ltd Sponsor Director Ahmed Arif Billah, Shohagpur Textiles Mills Ltd Chairman Abdul Hai Sarker, Envoy Textiles Chairman Kutubuddin Ahmed and Confidence Power Holdings Limited Vice-Chairman Imran Karim.

CIPs from the large-scale industries (service) are STS Holdings managing director Khondoker Monir Uddin, SB Tel Enterprises Ltd managing director Zakaria Shahid, The Civil Engineers Limited managing director Eng Md Atiqur Rahman, Concord Real Estate and Development chairman SM Kamal Uddin and Eastern Housing Ltd chairman Manzurul Islam.

CIPs from the medium-scale industries are Biswas Poultry and Fish Feed Ltd Chairman Md Mahbubur Rahman, Incepta Vaccine Limited Vice-Chairman Akter Jahan Hasmeen Muktadir, MD of Auko-tex Ltd Abdus Sobhan, MD of Jinnat Knitwear Ltd Md Abdul Jabbar, MD of Romania Food & Beverage Ltd Humayun Kabir Bablu, MD of Prome Agro Foods Ltd Md Enamul Hasan Khan, Masco Picasso Limited Director Fahima Akter, MD of Torque Fashions Ltd Mohammed Kamal Uddin, Jinnat Apparels Ltd Chairman Abdul Wahed and MD of M/S Citadel Apparels Ltd Md Mahidul Islam.

CIPs from small-scale industry category are Rangpur Foundry Limited Director Chowdhury Kamruzzaman and MD of Erfan Agro Food Ltd Md Mahbub Alam. Owner of Masco Dairy Enterprise MA Sabur has been selected for CIP under the micro industry category.

Tennis chiefs pledge roof for rain-lashed Italian Open

ROME, May 22, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – The rain-soaked 2023 edition of the Italian Open might soon be a bad memory with plans announced on Sunday to build a roof over the main showcourt at the Foro Italico.

The structure would be completed by 2026, promised officials.

“The roof is coming,” said Vito Cozzoli, CEO of the Italian government agency Sport e Salute (Sport and Health).

“This will be a futuristic project that will make the Foro Italico’s centre court usable year round.”

Rain played an unwanted role in this year’s tournament.

Saturday women’s final only began at 11 p.m. and ended just after midnight thanks only to an injury for Anhelina Kalinina which handed the title to Elena Rybakina.

That followed the delayed second men’s semi-final between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Sundays men’s final between champion Medvedev and Holger Rune started 90 minutes late.

Italian bureaucracy is likely to play a role in the roof project, however, with building permit approval expected to take from eight to 10 months.

There would then be another year and a half to two years to get the actual construction completed at an historical sporting park dating back nearly a century.

The project would be paused during upcoming editions of the Italian Open.

Plans call for increasing the court capacity from its current 10,000-plus to 12,500 spectators.