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County cricket: Yorkshire v Kent, Lancashire v Middlesex – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Your forties, re-imagined

Oldest player to score a double-century and take 5 wickets in an innings in a first-class match:
46y 303d WG Grace 288, 5-87 Glos v Som Bristol 1895
43y 142d DI Stevens 237, 5-13* Kent v York Leeds 2019
38y 342d EH Bowley 280*, 6-31 Sus v Glos Hove 1929

A fifth Durham wicket for Hutton and just one more needed for Northamptonshire to have all but their toe-nails in Division One.

83.1 | Hutton has 5⃣! Bang in front and Northamptonshire need 1 more...

Durham 221/9. pic.twitter.com/2F9Y3DLjww

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September 19th 2019, 5:57 am

For decadent, deficient Real Madrid the problems start in midfield | Jonathan Wilson

Sport | The Guardian

The team were incapable even of the basics in Paris and it is a wonder Spanish clubs have not exploited the weaknesses more

As Thomas Meunier and Juan Bernat capered through the open savannah that archaeologists believe was once populated by the Real Madrid midfield, the mind was drawn to another Parisian night two and a half years ago, when Ángel di María orchestrated an even more emphatic victory for PSG over a Spanish side. As it turned out, that 4-0 win over Barcelona didn’t turn out particularly well for PSG but, more generally, what on earth is going on with midfields in la Liga?

On a night when Atlético twice conceded goals on the break at home to Juventus, the issue seems particularly acute. Last season the big three Spanish sides leaked three or more in a game to Liverpool (Barcelona); CSKA Moscow and Ajax (Real Madrid); and Borussia Dortmund and Juventus (Atlético). In each case the major problem was the same: a ponderous midfield being shredded in transition. There had been glimmers of the issue the season before, in Real Madrid’s defeat at Tottenham and Barcelona’s embarrassing collapse in Rome, which itself had been foreshadowed by the problems they’d had against Chelsea in the previous round.

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September 19th 2019, 5:57 am

The Breakdown | New Zealand have been fallible in World Cup years before – and won

Sport | The Guardian

Struggles against South Africa and Ireland have encouraged belief All Blacks can be toppled, but write them off at your peril

South Africa have spent the week preparing for their opener against New Zealand at Tokyo Disneyland, a sprawling coastal resort in the east of Japan’s capital, in a boomerang-shaped hotel. Two years ago, when the Springboks hit rock bottom, the location would have invited comparisons with Mickey Mouse, but they are more like Tarzan again.

The All Blacks are used to going into a World Cup as favourites, and at the top of the world rankings, a position currently occupied by Ireland. Since triumphing in 2015, they have declined slightly, losing their long unbeaten home record to the 2017 Lions in a series they failed to win for only the second time, suffering a first defeat to Ireland, followed up by a second two years later, and failing to beat South Africa in their last two home matches against them.

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September 19th 2019, 5:27 am

France confident of pipping England to top spot and going all the way to World Cup final

Sport | The Guardian

France’s unpredictability these days tends to be in their team selection rather than their play, but after being named in a side to face Argentina on Saturday that surprised even the French media, the wing Yoann Huget believes Les Bleus are equipped not just to beat England to the top position in the group but reach the final.

France’s bench contains three players who did not feature in any of the pre-World Cup warm-ups while the centre Virimi Vakatawa made a single appearance as a replacement against Italy. Their last two World Cup campaigns ere notable for left-field selections at outside-half and the 20-year old Romain Ntamack, who plays in the centre for Toulouse, has been chosen there ahead of the experienced Camille Lopez even though heavy rain is forecast in Tokyo this weekend.

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September 19th 2019, 4:27 am

Wales focus returns to pitch with brutal training session before Georgia match

Sport | The Guardian

Wales players went hell for leather in training on Wednesday night in a bid to put the investigation into Rob Howley’s suspected breach of betting regulations behind them. Howley’s departure from the Rugby World Cup has rocked the tournament in Japan and left Wales somehow attempting to move on from what has been a monumental distraction.

Warren Gatland’s side trained twice on Wednesday – once in the afternoon and again in the evening under floodlights to prepare for Monday’s first game with Georgia – before travelling to Toyota via train. The evening session in Kitakyushu saw Gatland’s men take out some of their frustration ahead of what will be a physical meeting in their World Cup opener. It is understood it was Wales’ best session since arriving in Japan last Wednesday.

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September 19th 2019, 2:25 am

Richie Mo’unga keeps All Blacks' flyhalf jersey for Springboks opener

Sport | The Guardian

Beauden Barrett will start at fullback for New Zealand in their World Cup Pool B opener against South Africa in Yokohama on Saturday after coach Steve Hansen retained Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf.

Barrett has played most of his career at flyhalf but has been shifted to fullback this year in order to accommodate Mo’unga, though he did start the All Blacks’ final 92-7 warmup win over Tonga in the No 10 jersey.

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September 19th 2019, 12:56 am

Amnesty says migrant workers still being exploited in Qatar

Sport | The Guardian

Thousands of migrant workers in Qatar are still being exploited despite repeated promises to improve workers’ rights in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

The Amnesty investigation into three Qatari companies involved in construction and cleaning – Hamton International, Hamad bin Khaled bin Hamad and United Cleaning – found that at least 1,620 workers had submitted complaints after their wages were stopped for several months before their contracts were ended.

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September 18th 2019, 8:23 pm

Talking Horses: are female punters discriminated against by bookies?

Sport | The Guardian

A trader with a well-known betting brand suggests practices could breach gender discrimination laws

Are some of Britain’s major bookmakers guilty of gender discrimination when they sign up new customers? The question arises following a conversation with a former employee at a major bookmaking firm, who suggests practices in the gambling industry could breach discrimination laws.

The source of the claim worked as a trader with a well-known betting brand for almost 10 years until earlier this year, says firms routinely discriminate between male and female punters from the moment they open an account, purely on the basis of their gender.

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September 18th 2019, 7:38 pm

‘We didn’t respect the plan’: Pochettino disappointed with Tottenham draw

Sport | The Guardian

• Spurs threw away 2-0 lead against Olympiakos
• ‘The way we conceded the first goal was so painful’

Mauricio Pochettino accused his Tottenham players of lacking fight in the 2-2 Champions League draw at Olympiakos and suggested that they needed to work harder on the psychological side of their game.

Spurs started badly at the raucous Karaiskakis Stadium only to fashion a 2-0 lead against the run of play – courtesy of Harry Kane’s penalty and a rasping drive from Lucas Moura.

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September 18th 2019, 6:38 pm

Rory McIlroy believes golf can learn from tennis to eradicate slow play

Sport | The Guardian

• Northern Irishman wants proper penalties to be enforced
• Golfer encouraged by European Tour’s plan to deal with issue

Rory McIlroy has called on his sport to follow the lead of tennis by implementing proper penalties for those players who divert attention towards clocks rather than shots after the glacial pace of play at the Solheim Cup last weekend reverberated way beyond Gleneagles.

Europe’s most high-profile golfer, back on home soil for the BMW PGA Championship this week, has been impressively forthright on the subject. This weekend, the European Tour will test various innovations at Wentworth as it seeks to rid golf of the curse of slow play.

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September 18th 2019, 6:08 pm

Héctor Herrera completes Atlético Madrid comeback against Juventus

Sport | The Guardian

The clock showed 89.30 when Kieran Trippier’s corner bent into the penalty area and Héctor Herrera, a second-half substitute, leapt into the air to head the ball into the net. It was loud enough already, but somehow the sound reached another level. From 2-0 down, Atlético Madrid had come back to draw 2-2 with Juventus, Diego Simeone screaming down on the touchline, supporters shouting all around him. It had been quite a way to start the European season – and it was almost taken from them, too, when Cristiano Ronaldo flashed a shot just wide deep into injury time.

One hundred and 10 days later, the Champions League returned to the Metropolitano. Only one player remained from the night that Liverpool won their sixth European Cup here and the early signs were that Kieran Trippier might enjoy this night rather more than that one. Yes, he had Cristiano Ronaldo in front of him, but … well, that wasn’t entirely true: most of the time he had Ronaldo behind him. For all the cliches about Atlético, Trippier’s duties at his new club are far from solely defensive. Diego Simeone’s full-backs are pushed very high and very wide, sought out early and often.

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September 18th 2019, 5:38 pm

Ilkay Gündogan lights up Manchester City’s easy win over Shakhtar Donetsk

Sport | The Guardian

In the context of a defensive crisis caused by injuries to centre-backs Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, this was a particularly fine display from Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s team might have claimed victory in this opening Group C game by double the score and there was little beyond the usual alarms expected at this level to concern a patched-up rearguard.

As expected Fernandinho lined up alongside Nicolás Otamendi in central defence, the Brazilian’s inclusion one of four changes from Saturday’s defeat at Norwich City. The others were the Silvas – Bernardo and David – who were replaced by Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez, plus Sergio Agüero, replaced by Gabriel Jesus.

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September 18th 2019, 5:38 pm

Ángel Di María double helps PSG ease to win against Real Madrid

Sport | The Guardian

This was not a night for Galácticos, old or new. At a balmy, boisterous Parc Des Princes Paris Saint-Germain simply overran Real Madrid, pulling apart the hastily-stitched seams of Zinedine Zidane’s injury-depleted team and producing surely the most thrillingly assured performance under Thomas Tuchel.

Two first-half goals from Ángel Di María all but decided this Champions League opener. But it was the vigour and drive of the PSG midfield that left the 13-times champions looking ragged, with Marco Verratti a brilliantly spiky little playmaker, and Idrissa Gueye gleefully relentless in his pressing and covering. It will have escaped no one’s notice (least of all the man himself) that all this happened in the absence of Neymar, banned for two games and reduced to watching on from beneath his gilded baseball cap next to the injured Kylian Mbappé.

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September 18th 2019, 5:38 pm

DA won’t prosecute Antonio Brown on rape accusations because of statute

Sport | The Guardian

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown won’t be prosecuted on sexual assault accusations because of the statute of limitations, according to Pittsburgh-area law enforcement.

Britney Taylor is bringing a civil lawsuit against Brown for an alleged incident in June 2017.

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September 18th 2019, 4:49 pm

Mathieu Valbuena penalty crowns Olympiakos recovery to deny Spurs

Sport | The Guardian

Tottenham have picked up where they left off last season, where high Champions League drama came as standard and they appeared to have an addiction to doing things the hard way.

After half an hour in the Athenian port of Piraeus, they had twice enjoyed what visiting teams here crave – the brief sound of silence. First Harry Kane, from the penalty spot, and then Lucas Moura with a firecracker from distance cut through the bedlam whipped up by the Olympiakos die-hards to put Spurs in charge.

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September 18th 2019, 3:30 pm

James Horwill: 'If the Wallabies turn up, they can beat anyone' | Paul Rees

Sport | The Guardian

The former Australia captain says the current side’s problem is peaking one week and falling off the next

When James Horwill says he believes Australia are good enough to win the World Cup, he is not treading a patriotic line. The former Wallabies’ captain will not be in Japan as he is starting an executive MBA course in Cambridge University months after ending his career at Harlequins, but having played in the tournament he appreciates it is about the here and now rather than what went before.

Australia start the tournament sixth in the world rankings, one place below where they were four years ago when they arrived in England. The Israel Folau affair has rocked them this year, but in 2015 they were on their third head coach in two years and no more fancied than they are now, yet still reached the final.

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September 18th 2019, 3:17 pm

Warren Gatland must plough on regardless amid Wales turmoil | Paul Rees

Sport | The Guardian

Wales have been able to call on a ready-made replacement for Rob Howley but pre-World Cup upheaval rarely bodes well

Warren Gatland had planned a farewell with his coaching team in Dublin after the World Cup, sampling a few drops of the black stuff to mark the end of 12 years together. Black is the word in a week when his right-hand man since 2008, Rob Howley, was sent home as an investigation was launched into whether Wales’s attack coach had breached betting regulations.

This is when Gatland earns his money. No one is shrugging off the loss of a key coaching figure less than a week before Wales’s opening match in a tournament they believe they can win as if it were something that happened all the time. But with a replacement, Stephen Jones, already summoned, the talk is of using adversity to forge a stronger team spirit.

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September 18th 2019, 2:30 pm

Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City: Champions League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Here are the teams again in text form, for those unable to see embedded tweets:

Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov, Bolbat, Kryvtsov, Matvyenko, Ismaily, Alan Patrick, Stepanenko, Marlos, Taison, Solomon, Moraes. Subs: Shevchenko, Butko, Marcos Antonio, Dentinho, Konoplyanka, Kovalenko, Bondar.
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Sterling. Subs: Bravo, Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Silva, Mendy, Joao Cancelo, Garcia.
Referee: Artur Soraes Dias (Portugal).

Here’s an interesting thing: all players are shown an instructional video before every Champions League game, a bit like the one you get on an aeroplane before it takes off. And this is what it looks like:

Are you ready for your #UCL debut? You’ll need to watch this first...

This is the pre-match briefing video, given to all players and team officials in UEFA competitions.

We hope you enjoy a pleasant match! pic.twitter.com/JhbcUkkw9C

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September 18th 2019, 2:17 pm

Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid: Champions League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Paris Saint-Germain: Navas, Meunier, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Marquinhos, Gueye, Verratti, Sarabia, Icardi, Di Maria.
Subs: Nianzou Kouassi, Paredes, Sergio Rico, Choupo-Moting, Kurzawa, Ander Herrera, Diallo.

Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Eder Militao, Varane, Mendy, Kroos, Casemiro, Rodriguez, Bale, Benzema, Hazard.
Subs: Areola, Lucas, Jovic, Odriozola, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo, De la Fuente.

Two European heavyweights meet tonight in Paris ... sort of. Think of this as PSG Lite versus Diet Real Madrid. There are a few folk missing, you see.

The hosts will be desperate to make an early statement tonight. They need to atone for their abysmal capitulation last season in the last 16 against Manchester United. But they’ll have to do it without their entire first-choice forward line of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. Mbappe and Cavani are injured, while Neymar is suspended after criticising the ref on social media in the wake of that United fiasco.

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September 18th 2019, 2:17 pm

Manchester United’s Greenwood ‘one of best finishers I’ve seen’, says Solskjær

Sport | The Guardian

• Young striker in line to start in Europa League against Astana
• Solskjær intends to rotate and give younger players game time

Ole Gunnar Solskjær has described Mason Greenwood as one of the best finishers he has seen and is ready to give the 17-year-old a first senior start of the season in Thursday’s Europa League group game against Astana.

The Manchester United manager intends to make several changes, with one or two regulars nursing injuries and a testing game at West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday. Daniel James has joined Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial on the sidelines after picking up a knock in the last league match against Leicester, and Solskjær hinted that Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard and Fred are likely to face the Kazakh champions at Old Trafford.

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September 18th 2019, 12:17 pm

Olympiakos v Tottenham Hotspur: Champions League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Hello and welcome. Now let’s see what Tottenham are made of. Last season they enjoyed the sweetest European adventure in the club’s history but ended up with a feeling of vinegary regret, losing a non-event of a final. Has that experience made them stronger and wiser? Or will they be weakened by a sense that their best chance for Champions League glory has been and gone? The distraction of the transfer window has definitely been and gone – for now – and Spurs were fearsome when demolishing Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday in what was their best performance since the Champions League final. So they’re looking good heading in today’s game.

But Olympiakos are no Crystal Palace. Despite never making it beyond the quarter-final of a continental competition they are an authentic European force, if only at home. Their previous victims in Piraeus include Liverpool, Juventus, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, AC Milan and, yes, Burnley. They have not lost any of their last nine European matches, and the three that they played in this stadium en route to this season’s group stages ended 4-0, 2-0 and 4-0 in their favour. In fact, they’ve only conceded one goal anywhere in any competition this season (in a 2-1 victory at Krasnodor). But they’ve yet to face anyone as good as Spurs, and their most creative player is 34-year-old Mathieu Valbuena, who is wonderful on his day but no longer used to playing at the intensity that Spurs will hope to impose today.

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September 18th 2019, 12:17 pm

County cricket: Hampshire beat Somerset, Essex v Surrey – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Leicestershire 19-2. Azad still there, of course. A couple for Lukas Carey. Come on Leicestershire, take it into day four.

And poor old Sussex down and nearly out (of the promotion race), 146 for 8, 197 needed. Ben Brown holding on, of course, 25 not out. Against Derby! This will hurt.

I’m wondering, somewhat cruelly, can Notts manage to lose this match from a first-innings score of 498? Currently 46-3, a lead of just 56.

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September 18th 2019, 12:17 pm

Jones hopes limited Russia can return home proud from Rugby World Cup

Sport | The Guardian

The coach and former Wales flanker is optimistic but realistic: ‘We’re not at a different level, we’re playing a different sport’

They are not the biggest beasts in the east but, win or lose, the unheralded rugby men of Russia are planning to enjoy their rare moment in the global spotlight when the World Cup kicks off on Friday night. While even their own head coach, the former Welsh flanker Lyn Jones, gives them barely a 20% chance of upsetting hosts Japan in the tournament’s opening fixture, the Bears are definitely not a squad lacking for spirit or character.

Defeats to Italy, Connacht and Jersey in their warm-up games do not remotely reflect the eventful journey they have been on to get this far. Russia only crept into the tournament by the back door after Romania, Spain and Belgium were docked points for fielding ineligible players in European World Cup qualification and their eclectic squad includes a tighthead prop, Kiril Gotovtsev, who competed as a wrestler and bobsleigher before, aged 26, he reapplied his raw strength to the front row.

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September 18th 2019, 10:57 am

Volunteers introduce World Cup fans to Japan … and themselves to rugby

Sport | The Guardian

Though some Team No-Side members found love for the game overseas, many will soon be seeing a live match for the first time

Two days out from opening night, Tokyo Stadium was buzzing with workers fixing the trimmings, hanging banners from the gantries, stacking crates of beer behind the bars, peeling back the plastic wrapping from the deep-pile carpets in the VIP suites. Wandering around among them was a crocodile of 70 merry volunteers getting their first look at the place, and their final instructions for what to do on Friday night. World Rugby has recruited 13,000 volunteers altogether. For the next six weeks they will be trying to shepherd half-a-million “tired and emotional” rugby fans through Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya and all the other rail stations on their way to and from the grounds.

Around two-thirds of the volunteers speak English, the rest, says World Rugby’s director of workforce Deb Jones, have been taught that they can get by with a smile and a high-five. They are called Team No-Side which, Jones says, is an interesting little story in itself. Way back in the day referees would call “no-side” at the end of the match, when neither team had the ball. It’s fallen out of use in England, but it’s stuck in Japan, where it has grown into an idiom that means everyone should put aside their differences and get together to share a drink at the end of the game, the idea being that there’s “no side” for winners or losers.

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September 18th 2019, 10:57 am

Rugby World Cup: Ireland pair Kearney and Earls fit to face Scotland

Sport | The Guardian

Andy Farrell has declared Rob Kearney and Keith Earls available for Ireland’s World Cup opener against Scotland on Sunday.

Assistant coach Farrell said full-back Kearney and centre Earls “ran well” in Wednesday’s session after struggling with calf and thigh issues, respectively.

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September 18th 2019, 8:10 am

Rugby World Cup 2019: Uruguay team guide

Sport | The Guardian

Uruguay’s improvement has been dramatic over the last four years, with many of their players turning pro

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September 18th 2019, 7:42 am

Chelsea’s Ross Barkley vows to step up again despite costly penalty miss

Sport | The Guardian

• Late miss cost side draw against Valencia in Champions League
• Barkley plays down argument with Willian before spot-kick

Ross Barkley will not shy away from taking another penalty after arguing with Willian before his costly miss during Chelsea’s defeat by Valencia at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea were handed a chance to rescue a point from their opening Champions League game when they won a late penalty but there was confusion when Willian, who has confirmed he wanted to take the spot-kick, unsuccessfully tried to convince Barkley to give him the ball. Jorginho also spoke to Barkley, who ignored his teammates before sending his effort over via the top of the bar.

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September 18th 2019, 7:08 am

Fernando Ricksen, former Rangers and Netherlands footballer, dies aged 43

Sport | The Guardian

The former Rangers and Netherlands player Fernando Ricksen has died at the age of 43, six years after revealing that he had motor neurone disease.

“Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease,” confirmed the Scottish club.

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September 18th 2019, 7:08 am

Grotesque tragedy unlikely to shame Fifa into action over Iran’s ban on female fans | Marina Hyde

Sport | The Guardian

Toothless urgings followed the death of Sahar Khodayari, who – faced with prison for trying to watch football – set herself on fire

The grim tragedy of Sahar Khodayari once again forces Fifa to pick the most expedient version of itself. Is it an organisation that can change the world, as it frequently insists to us, or is it simply a sporting governing body, as it prefers to claim at other times?

Sahar is Iran’s so-called “Blue Girl”, a computer sciences graduate who tried in March to enter Tehran’s Azadi stadium dressed as a man, to watch her beloved Esteghlal, but was caught by officials. She was summoned to appear in court on 2 September, and told she could expect up to six months in prison. Outside the court, Sahar set herself on fire. Last week, she died in hospital from her injuries. She was 29.

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September 18th 2019, 6:57 am

Talking Horses: solving the mystery of the disappearing Guineas one-two

Sport | The Guardian

King Of Change returns to the track, 137 days after finishing runner-up in the Guineas, but where is Magna Grecia?

One of many great things about the 2,000 Guineas is that it identifies the most classy young milers so we can have fun following them through the summer, right? But not this year! Neither Magna Grecia nor King Of Change, who finished first and second in the Newmarket Classic, have been seen since May.

Now, 137 days after the Guineas, King Of Change will return to the track at Sandown this afternoon and we’ll get some idea as to whether his effort at 66-1 last time was a fluke or not. But the mystery of Magna Grecia remains unsolved, as Aidan O’Brien’s colt has not run since he was a disappointing fifth in the Irish Guineas on 25 May.

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September 18th 2019, 6:57 am

Liverpool fan taken to hospital with head injuries after assault in Naples

Sport | The Guardian

• Supporter discharged on Wednesday after all-clear
• Two Liverpool fans attacked by men wielding belts

A Liverpool fan was taken to hospital with head injuries during the team’s Champions League defeat in Naples having been assaulted in a bar hours before kick-off.

Two Liverpool supporters were attacked in the Italian city at around 2pm on Tuesday by a group of men on scooters wielding belts. The pair were treated at the scene but one, a 26-year-old, later collapsed at the Stadio San Paolo and spent the night in hospital. He was discharged on Wednesday morning.

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September 18th 2019, 5:56 am

PSG look to fix failings in Europe starting with Real Madrid showdown | Ed Aarons

Sport | The Guardian

Pressure is on Thomas Tuchel to win Champions League or risk losing his job while Zidane knows what his club expects

Last week was a busy one for Florentino Pérez. As well as apparently anointing Rafael Nadal as his successor as Real Madrid president when he finally calls it a day and attempting to arrange a historic showdown at the Bernabéu between the 19-times grand slam champion and his great rival Roger Federer, the 72-year-old revealed his dream of seeing the club’s basketball team in the NBA. “I have asked us to be included in the Eastern Conference but they say that’s far away,” he admitted.

Ever since emerging from the power struggle with Ramón Calderón in 2009 to begin his second stint at the helm, Pérez has become used to getting his way. You would not bet against him achieving most of those ambitious goals should he – as expected – secure another term as president at next year’s elections, but Madrid’s fortunes on the football field have become a growing cause for Pérez’s concern.

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September 18th 2019, 5:26 am

Japan determined not to crash out early at home Rugby World Cup

Sport | The Guardian

• Hosts face tough opening game against Russia on Friday
• England first hosts out at group stage four years ago

Japan are determined not to be a World Cup failure like England and fail to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament they are hosting.

The Cherry Blossoms start the ninth World Cup when they face Russia at Tokyo Stadium on Friday night (local time) four years after England became the first hosts not to progress from their group following defeats to Wales and Australia.

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September 18th 2019, 5:26 am

Liverpool might be the best but the rest have done their homework | Barney Ronay

Sport | The Guardian

Napoli showed how to play against Jürgen Klopp’s side by looking to exploit the space behind Liverpool’s full-backs

Ils sont les meilleurs! In the buildup to this game Jürgen Klopp had been at pains to play down any suggestion Liverpool came to Naples with an air of wider destiny about them. The notion had been put to the manager that Liverpool are, in a snapshot, the best football team out there: convincing Champions League winners last season and five points clear in the Premier League.

Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day and for once Uefa’s cheese-laden anthem – the soundtrack down the years to so much autumn mediocrity – had seemed to strike the right note at the start of this thrillingly full-throttle Group E opener. Sie sind die Besten!

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September 18th 2019, 4:26 am

Frank Lampard says Chelsea defeat was harsh Champions League lesson

Sport | The Guardian

• Chelsea lose 1-0 to Valencia in Group H opener
• Manager defends Ross Barkley after late penalty miss

Frank Lampard admitted that his young Chelsea side were given a harsh lesson after opening their Champions League campaign with a 1-0 defeat against Valencia at Stamford Bridge but insisted Ross Barkley was the designated penalty taker after the England midfielder missed the opportunity to equalise from the spot late on.

It was a frustrating night for Chelsea, whose hopes of making it out of Group H are already in doubt. Mason Mount could miss Sunday’s home game against Liverpool after limping off with an ankle injury and Lampard admitted that his team paid for their lack of ruthlessness.

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September 18th 2019, 4:26 am

England mobile phone ban imposed for Rugby World Cup matchdays

Sport | The Guardian

• England party briefed following Wales betting scandal
• Six suspicious incidents of approaches in 2015 tournament

England players and staff have been told not to use their mobile phones on World Cup matchdays amid the Wales betting scandal that has rocked the tournament in Japan.

With the World Cup still reeling from the bombshell that Rob Howley has flown home in disgrace it has emerged that England were briefed by World Rugby’s integrity unit days after Wales were made aware that their attack coach was suspected breached betting and anti-corruption regulations.

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September 18th 2019, 4:26 am

South Africa stick to winning formula for World Cup opener against All Blacks

Sport | The Guardian

South Africa’s head coach Rassie Erasmus has picked his strongest, most settled team to tackle New Zealand in the highest-profile fixture of the World Cup’s opening weekend. The return of skipper Siya Kolisi is the solitary change to the 23 who held the All Blacks to a 16-16 draw in Wellington in late July.

The side is precisely the same as the one which defeated Japan 41-7 in Kumagaya two weeks ago, making it the first time for four years the Springboks have named an unchanged matchday squad. Their powerful No 8 Duane Vermeulen will be appearing in his 50th Test.

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September 18th 2019, 3:52 am

Wales attempt to steady ship after Rob Howley bombshell at Rugby World Cup

Sport | The Guardian

The Welsh Rugby Union have revealed they were first made aware of Rob Howley’s suspected breach of World Rugby’s betting regulations last Wednesday following contact from one of the gambling industry’s integrity teams.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has admitted the bombshell news surrounding Howley and his World Cup departure has sent shockwaves through his team.

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September 18th 2019, 3:23 am

Rugby World Cup 2019: Fiji team guide

Sport | The Guardian

The Fijians have taken huge strides in recent years and boast firepower across the pitch

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September 18th 2019, 2:07 am

Ross Barkley’s penalty miss costs Chelsea as Valencia win opener

Sport | The Guardian

It was a night when Frank Lampard’s young players found out that no competition is as unforgiving as the Champions League. It was a night of missed opportunities and when it was over Chelsea were left wondering how they had failed to take at least a point from a tight game.

The frustration for Lampard is that he had warned his team not to place too much stock in Valencia’s apparent state of utter turmoil. The Spaniards were wily opponents throughout and while they were fortunate to hold on to their 1-0 lead after Ross Barkley skied a late penalty, their combative display means Chelsea are already under huge pressure in Group H.

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September 17th 2019, 6:32 pm

England should consider Pacific Islands tour, says coach Scott Wisemantel

Sport | The Guardian

• Attack coach says tier-one nations must do more to help
• ‘No reason England can’t go there’ says Wisemantel

When England’s attack coach, Scott Wisemantel, discusses the state of Pacific Island rugby it pays to listen. When he urges the Rugby Football Union to arrange tours to Tonga, Samoa and Fiji – “I don’t think that just because it’s England you can think you’re above everyone else” – and to share with them their autumn gate receipts it is worth listening to.

For Wisemantel has first-hand experience of working in the South Seas, for the past two years coaching at the Pacific Islands combine – an initiative to develop young players from the three countries, placing them with professional clubs abroad but crucially ensuring they are not poached by tier-one nations.

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September 17th 2019, 6:32 pm

Only Masters win could come close to Open triumph, says Shane Lowry

Sport | The Guardian

• Lowry playing in Europe this week for first time since Portrush
• Open champion is in the field for the BMW PGA Championship

Two months have passed since Shane Lowry took delivery of the Claret Jug and with it, all manner of life-changing add-ons. That this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth marks Lowry’s first start in Europe since “Open champion” was added to his CV means waves of congratulations have again been forthcoming. Lowry was afforded honorary life membership of the European Tour on Tuesday.

“Golf is funny,” Lowry said. “Myself and Neil [Manchip, his coach] talk about it a lot; you don’t win one major and people ask you when you’re going to win one. You win one, they ask you when you’re going to win your next one.

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September 17th 2019, 6:32 pm

Liverpool make bad start as Napoli’s Fernando Llorente rounds off win

Sport | The Guardian

Liverpool will not mind should history repeat itself and another late defeat in Naples eventually end with Champions League glory but this was a dispiriting start to their defence of number six. Jürgen Klopp’s team were vastly improved on last season’s poor display here and on top when José Callejón darted into their penalty area in the closing stages. Andy Robertson’s clumsy foul brought familiar pain at the death.

Dries Mertens converted the 82nd minute penalty to leave the European champions with no reward for their improvement. This was an engrossing affair, with defenders and goalkeepers to the fore, but it turned into a miserable night for Liverpool when a rare error from Virgil van Dijk enabled Fernando Llorente to seal Napoli’s victory in the final seconds.

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September 17th 2019, 6:32 pm

Sex abuse and misconduct claims in US Olympic sports rise by 55% in 2019

Sport | The Guardian

The US Center for SafeSport is fielding 55% more reports of sex abuse and other misconduct in 2019 than it did last year, leading to an increasingly urgent debate over who should provide the lion’s share of money to an organization struggling to manage its caseload.

This week, the two-year-old center, tasked with investigating sex-abuse claims in Olympic sports, received a $1.3m infusion from the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee that brings the USOPC’s overall contribution to $7.4m in 2019.

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September 17th 2019, 3:13 pm

Rob Howley: a successful player and coach who struggled to win hearts

Sport | The Guardian

The Wales attack coach, who has been sent home over betting claims, has rarely enjoyed public popularity

“The future can wait,” were the final words Rob Howley uttered in the last interview he gave as Wales’s attack coach, the day after the World Cup squad was announced at the beginning of this month. The question now is whether a man who captained his country, toured with the Lions five times as a player and coach, scored the winning try for Wasps in a European Cup final against Toulouse and oversaw the 2013 Six Nations title campaign, which ended with a thumping victory over England, has a future in the game after the Welsh Rugby Union received information related to him betting on matches.

Related: Wales's Rob Howley sent home from World Cup amid betting investigation

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September 17th 2019, 2:30 pm

Napoli v Liverpool: Champions League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Team news: Andy Robertson has been passed fit to play in a Liverpool side that features three changes from the side that started against Newcastle on Saturday. Jordan Henderson and James Milner come into midfield, with Gini Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain making way. Roberto Firminho comes in for Divock Origi and will make his 200th appearance for the club.

Carlo Ancelotti has picked a very attacking Napoli side, with Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Hirving Lozano all starting. Despite fronting up for last night’s press conference, Fernando Llorente starts on the bench.

Related: Ten exciting Champions League debutants to watch this week

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September 17th 2019, 2:13 pm

Chelsea v Valencia: Champions League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Here are the teams again in text-based form, for anyone who can’t see embedded tweets:

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Zouma, Christensen, Tomori, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Willian, Mount, Abraham. Subs: Barkley, Pedro, Caballero, Giroud, Pulisic, Batshuayi, Guehi.
Valencia: Cillessen, Wass, Garay, Gabriel, Gaya, Coquelin, Parejo, Kondogbia, Cheryshev, Rodrigo, Gameiro. Subs: Domenech Jaume, Costa Jaume, Goncalo Guedes, Diakhaby, Lee, Torres, Gomez.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).

Team news is in, and it looks like this:

Teams news!

Here's how the Blues line up against Valencia...#CHEVCF pic.twitter.com/4SRAnzdlbf

XI INICIAL de nuestro @valenciacf para estrenarse esta temporada en @ChampionsLeague

¡A por todas EQUIPO! #ChelseaVCF #SomdeChampions pic.twitter.com/HZp7XJKpgD

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September 17th 2019, 2:13 pm

Pirates' All-Star closer Felipe Vázquez arrested for solicitation of a child

Sport | The Guardian

Felipe Vázquez, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ two-time All-Star closer, has been arrested and charged with one count of computer pornography, solicitation of a child and one count of providing obscene material to minors, according to the Florida department of law enforcement (FDLE).

Vázquez, 28, was served a felony search warrant out of Florida’s Lee County on Tuesday morning at his Pittsburgh apartment by the FDLE and Pennsylvania state police, authorities said. A spokesperson said arresting officers seized several electronic devices, which will undergo forensic examinations as part of the ongoing investigation.

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September 17th 2019, 2:00 pm

Manchester City’s refusal to pay above the odds is hurting Pep Guardiola | Jamie Jackson

Sport | The Guardian

Pep Guardiola would not pay £75m for Virgil van Dijk last year and City balked at £80m for Harry Maguire

John Stones’s thigh injury makes Manchester City’s failure to sign a centre-back in the summer all the more conspicuous. Even before the 25-year-old was ruled out for up to six weeks with a problem suffered in training on Tuesday, Pep Guardiola had difficulty concealing frustration when asked about strengthening the position during the winter window.

The question was posed on Friday because the manager had confirmed his defensive lynchpin, Aymeric Laporte, would be unavailable until the spring because of a damaged knee. After attempting to dismiss the signing of a stop-gap for Laporte in January as media speculation, Guardiola revealed his true feelings. “But we could not invest in this situation in the summer, we cannot do it in winter,” he said. “That’s why we are going to wait with the players we have, with the two central defenders,” meaning Stones and Nicolás Otamendi.

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September 17th 2019, 2:00 pm

Ten exciting Champions League debutants to watch this week

Sport | The Guardian

There will be some interesting new faces on show in the Champions League fixtures this week

By Martin Laurence for WhoScored

There will be plenty of familiar faces on show in the Champions League this week, but there are also a number of players hoping to make an impression on the big stage at the first time of asking. We’ve picked out 10 players embarking on their first Champions League campaign who are worth watching.

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September 17th 2019, 12:59 pm

Antonio Brown farted in my face and didn't pay his bill, NFL star's doctor says

Sport | The Guardian

A former doctor for New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown claims the NFL star repeatedly farted in his face and laughed about it during an appointment where he turned up three hours late and never paid $11,500 in fees.

Dr Victor Prisk, a former bodybuilder who runs Prisk Orthopaedics and Wellness outside Pittsburgh, said he admitted Brown for an initial consultation despite his “flighty” reputation during a nine-year stint with the hometown Steelers and has since filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the unpaid bill from the All-Pro wideout, according to an SI.com investigation published on Monday.

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September 17th 2019, 12:30 pm

Adil Rashid: ‘If I don’t get a Test deal, I need to decide what to do next’

Sport | The Guardian

The Yorkshire and England leg-spinner is at a crossroads and considering a return to white-ball specialism

Adil Rashid is due to sit down with Yorkshire to discuss his future amid thoughts of a return to white-ball specialism in order to prolong his playing career.

Rashid, 31, has not featured for club or country since the World Cup final in July because of the chronic right shoulder injury that required painkilling injections to nurse him throughout the victorious campaign.

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September 17th 2019, 12:30 pm

Wales's Rob Howley sent home from World Cup amid betting allegations

Sport | The Guardian

Wales’s World Cup campaign has been thrown into disarray after their assistant head coach, Rob Howley, was sent home from the tournament in Japan.

Former Wales captain and scrum-half Howley left Wales’s training camp on Monday following an alleged breach of World Rugby’s regulation six which covers anti corruption and betting.

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September 17th 2019, 12:00 pm

John Stones out for at least a month to deepen Manchester City injury crisis

Sport | The Guardian

• Stones suffers injury in training for Shakhtar Donetsk game
• Otamendi is City’s only fit centre-half with Laporte also out

John Stones will be out for up to six weeks because of a muscle problem that leaves Nicolás Otamendi as Manchester City’s only available frontline centre-back.

With Aymeric Laporte out until February and Vincent Kompany having left in summer, Pep Guardiola struck a bullish note regarding Stones’s injury, which was sustained during training on Tuesday morning, as City were preparing for Wednesday’s Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk in Kharkiv.

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September 17th 2019, 12:00 pm

Lost in translation? World Cup has arrived in Japan but don’t tell everybody | Andy Bull

Sport | The Guardian

With the opening game just three days away you get the feeling Japan will have to perform well on the pitch to engage a nation already seduced by next year’s Tokyo Olympics

There were six people in the bar, five friends and now one stranger too. I would have backed right out but then the barmaid said she wanted to practice her English. She’d been taking lessons, she explained, because she’s so excited about the Tokyo Olympics and is sure she will enjoy it more if she can talk to all the tourists who’ll be coming here next year. By the time I’d finished my drink we’d established that no, this wasn’t my first time in Japan, that I have family in Sapporo, and, after I’d made a clumsy mime of typing on the bar, that I was here on business, working as a sports journalist. The one thing we got stuck on was exactly which sport I was here to cover.

Related: Air of unpredictability hangs over Rugby World Cup with adaptability the key | Robert Kitson

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September 17th 2019, 9:56 am

Rugby World Cup 2019: Georgia team guide

Sport | The Guardian

A blend of experience and youth makes up an injury-hit Georgian squad that has brought ‘Gorgodzilla’ out of retirement

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September 17th 2019, 9:26 am

How the Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees injuries will shake up the NFL

Sport | The Guardian

The injuries to the Steelers’ and Saints’ franchise quarterbacks have dramatically transformed the AFC and NFC playoff pictures

When Jon Gruden was still an ESPN broadcaster and not a sentient meme, he would attend team practices across the league. He did so with the sole focus of studying how different teams prepared and developed their quarterbacks. Before a Colts’ Monday night game, Gruden was struck by how then-Indianapolis quarterback and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning took each snap in practice. Curious, Gruden sidled up to the offensive coordinator Tom Moore and asked him why the Colts didn’t rotate the snaps to prepare Manning’s backup, as is custom. “Fellas, if ‘18’ goes down, we’re fucked,” Moore replied. “And we don’t practice fucked.”

There is no injury in sports as impactful as that of losing a franchise quarterback. Nowhere is that sentiment felt more today than in Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Both teams will have to do without two of the sport’s biggest stars for the foreseeable future, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees.

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September 17th 2019, 9:26 am

Ashes 2019: stellar images from an unforgettable summer

Sport | The Guardian

A look back at the fortunes of England and Australia across the five Tests, as seen through the lens of Guardian and Observer photographer Tom Jenkins. Click or tap on the images to read the captions

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September 17th 2019, 8:56 am

What next for London Broncos after their 'heartbreaking' relegation?

Sport | The Guardian

London Broncos won 10 of their 29 games this season but it wasn’t enough to keep them in the Super League

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required

London Broncos can consider themselves extremely unfortunate to be relegated from the Super League. Their 19-10 defeat to Wakefield on Friday night meant they were relegated on points difference, having won more points than any relegated side in Super League history. They are probably the best ever team to go down.

Their record of 10 wins in 29 games gives them a better points-per-game ratio than any wooden-spooners in the top flight’s history, better than Huddersfield in 1903-04, who are the only other team to finish bottom of the first division despite having won that many games, albeit in 34 attempts. The Broncos are statistically the best team to be relegated since second-bottom Featherstone went down on points difference in 1992 despite winning 11 of their 26 games. They bounced straight back up. If London are to do the same, it will take a third successive season of magic by Ward and his team.

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September 17th 2019, 7:20 am

Ben Stokes attacks 'despicable' Sun story about family tragedy

Sport | The Guardian

England cricketer says front page article about family trauma in 1980s is immoral

The England cricket player Ben Stokes has described a front page article by the Sun newspaper about a family tragedy 31 years ago as “disgusting” and “immoral”.

In a statement on Twitter, Stokes said the paper’s decision to publish the story would have “grave and lifelong consequences” for his mother in particular. He also claimed the story contained a series of serious inaccuracies.

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September 17th 2019, 7:20 am

World Rugby admits concerns over proposed CVC and Six Nations deal

Sport | The Guardian

• Private equity firm has agreed £300m package in principle
• CVC already backs Gallagher Premiership and in Pro14 talks

World Rugby officials have expressed their concern at the potential implications of Europe’s major rugby-playing nations signing a game-changing new deal with a private equity firm. A proposed package worth around £300m is said to have been agreed in principle between the Six Nations and CVC, which would also mean the latter owning a 15 % share of autumn and summer tour commercial rights.

Related: South Africa reveal scope of random drug testing at Rugby World Cup

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September 17th 2019, 7:06 am

Carlo Ancelotti has all the pieces in place. Now Napoli seek silverware

Sport | The Guardian

The Italian has moulded a smart, adaptable side and Liverpool’s visit is a chance to take the first step towards true success

Carlo Ancelotti does not believe in quick fixes. In his 2009 autobiography he explained that he learned the value of patience from his parents, both of whom worked on farms. “What you sowed, you reaped a year later,” he wrote. “There was no instant gratification.”

A successful harvest is required eventually, though, to keep your family fed. Ancelotti inherited a Napoli team in the summer of 2018 that was coming off a record-setting Serie A campaign, in which it collected 91 points but still finished as runner-up to Juventus. In his first season he guided them to a further second-place finish as well as the quarter-finals of the Europa League and Coppa Italia.

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September 17th 2019, 6:50 am

Talking Horses: terribly unlucky Deirdre looks huge at 25-1 for Ascot

Sport | The Guardian

Japanese visitor is the most interesting horse around after being locked in the pocket at Leopardstown on Saturday

You can keep your “Pinaturbo”. Star Catcher and Logician are all very fine, I suppose, if you like that sort of thing. But the horse from last weekend’s racing that I can’t wait to see next time didn’t even get a place.

I won’t be alone in this. There was an enormous quantity of top-class racing on Saturday and Sunday but surely nobody failed to notice the classy animal who spent most of the Irish Champion Stakes trying to crawl over the backs of the rivals in front of her.

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September 17th 2019, 6:38 am

County cricket: Hampshire v Somerset, Essex v Surrey, and more – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Essex making up for lost time at Chelmsford - Surrey 159 for seven, Foakes, Clarke and Jacks all snaffled this morning. Somerset relying on Clark and Plunkett to bully the total past 200.

So Darren Stevens has now made 237, struggled out of bed, limped down to breakfast, taken the new ball and taken two for four.

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September 17th 2019, 6:38 am

South Africa reveal scope of random drug testing at Rugby World Cup

Sport | The Guardian

South Africa’s forwards coach, Matt Proudfoot, has revealed almost every player can expect to be drug tested at the World Cup as he was questioned over his nation’s record on anti-doping.

Rugby World Cup has stepped up its anti-doping programme such that two players from each team will be tested after every match and all 20 sides will be randomly visited every week by anti-doping officials from Japan.

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September 17th 2019, 6:38 am

David Squires on … a famous day for the Rebel Alliance, Norwich branch

Sport | The Guardian

Our cartoonist looks back at the upset of Pep Guardiola’s Galactic Empire in the remotes of Norfolk

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September 17th 2019, 6:38 am

Neglect of player welfare is something women’s football must address fast | Suzanne Wrack

Sport | The Guardian

Basics such as medical care and insurance are being left behind and players are paying with their careers in a growing game

When Crystal Palace forward Gemma Bryan took to social media last week out of exasperation at having been left “in limbo” by the club after she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in April, it caused a wave of disgruntlement.

Because, while there has been a drive towards professionalism in the women’s game – with the FA, sponsors and increasing support of clubs for their women’s teams leading the charge – player welfare has been neglected. And that is not OK.

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September 17th 2019, 5:50 am

The Spin | Ashes 2019: Guardian writers pick out their highs and lows

Sport | The Guardian

Smith’s majesty, Archer’s mastery, the miracle of Headingley: our writers give their verdicts after an extraordinary Test series

Vic Marks There’s no room for smartarsery here. It has to be Steve Smith averaging 110 in a bowlers’ series. Without him Australia would surely have lost the Ashes.

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September 17th 2019, 5:50 am

Valencia’s response to the crisis? A statement that infuriates fans more | Sid Lowe

Sport | The Guardian

Replacing Marcelino García Toral with Albert Celades has caused confusion before the Champions League trip to Chelsea

The only man who spoke after Valencia’s 5-2 defeat at Barcelona on Saturday was the man who had been there only three days and had nothing to say. Albert Celades had just begun his spell as the club’s 10th manager in five years by suffering the worst defeat since Gary Neville took his team to the same stadium three years earlier and let in seven. He faced the media alone, nothing he could offer of any use or any comfort to anybody; the players did not appear and nor did the president. Three days later there was still no sign. Ahead of the game against Chelsea no Valencia player met the media on Monday night.

If they were trying to feign normality, or avoid more noise, they went about it in a strange way. Saying nothing was the most powerful statement of all. Celades gave what little he could and then left. Three days earlier there had been an actual statement, released as they slipped out of the Camp Nou in silence.

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September 17th 2019, 4:50 am

RAF serviceman dies after sustaining injury in rugby league match

Sport | The Guardian

• Scott Stevenson hurt in inter-services game against the army
• ‘This is tragic and heartbreaking news,’ says RFL chief

An RAF senior aircraftman has died after being injured playing in an inter-services rugby league match against the army.

Scott Stevenson was hurt playing in the game at Aldershot last Friday night and news of his death was announced by his family in a Facebook post on Monday evening. Stevenson, 25, who was based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, also played for the Boston Buccaneers community club in Lincolnshire.

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September 16th 2019, 7:31 pm

Arsenal’s Daniëlle van de Donk breaks stubborn Manchester United resistance

Sport | The Guardian

Manchester United’s Casey Stoney said she was “gutted” and her team “devastated” after a desperate late Daniëlle van de Donk goal, snatched on the rebound amid relentless Arsenal pressure, denied a stunningly resilient home team the first point of their maiden Women’s Super League campaign.

Related: Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

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September 16th 2019, 7:31 pm

Arthur Masuaku sees red as West Ham hold out for a point at Aston Villa

Sport | The Guardian

West Ham arrived here on a quest for the victory that would have lifted them to third in the table but they ended up relieved to take a point. They did not deserve more. Nor did Aston Villa, and that was frustrating for the hosts, who spent the last portion of the game mostly failing to trouble 10 men after Arthur Masuaku was sent off.

Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

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September 16th 2019, 7:31 pm

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool land in Italy intent on defending their crown

Sport | The Guardian

Napoli handed Liverpool a late defeat in last year’s group stage but manager insists a triumphant campaign has only made his squad hungry for more

One might expect Liverpool to return to the Champions League stage with an air of superiority 108 days after winning the club’s sixth European crown. Not Jürgen Klopp. He sees a team that feels it still has something to prove to the outside world. On that basis the Stadio San Paolo is the perfect spot for the European champions to launch the defence of their title.

Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

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September 16th 2019, 7:31 pm

England itching to get going but Maro Itoje wary of Tonga’s physical threat

Sport | The Guardian

• Squad are bonding well but looking forward to action
• Itoje: Sunday’s game in Sapporo cannot be taken lightly

Monday was a national holiday in Japan to honour the elderly. It was fitting, then, that when Billy Vunipola appeared on stage at England’s World Cup welcome ceremony he declared his World Cup wish to be that he and his teammates grow old and grey and still fondly reflect on this tournament. “I wish that whatever we do in the next few weeks will live with us for the rest of our lives.”

Related: Air of unpredictability hangs over Rugby World Cup with adaptability the key | Robert Kitson

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September 16th 2019, 7:31 pm

Pettersen’s path to Solheim captaincy may be blocked by Catriona Matthew

Sport | The Guardian

• Pettersen keen to lead at next Solheim Cup after retirement
• Matthew ‘wouldn’t say no’ if offered leadership for second time

If the assumption is that Suzann Pettersen’s next Solheim Cup chapter will come in the form of captaincy, Catriona Matthew may yet have something to say about a supposed formality.

Pettersen announced her retirement from competitive golf moments after holing the winning putt for Europe on Sunday. Having played in nine Solheim Cups in a hugely successful playing career on both sides of the Atlantic, Pettersen was immediately installed as the hot favourite to lead the European defence in 2021.

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September 16th 2019, 7:31 pm

Sacrificing Ashes for a World Cup win appears worthwhile for England | Vic Marks

Sport | The Guardian

It was not a perfect summer and the Test side requires work but Trevor Bayliss delivered the prize England coveted the most

After it was all over there were smiles rather than jubilation at the Oval and a few sighs of relief – from both sides. Australia were content, having retained the Ashes; England could take comfort from what was almost a copybook victory in the final Test, which allowed them to square the series. The England side might have crumpled after the defeat at Old Trafford but they came back strongly with Joe Root overseeing everything adroitly in the field; the Australians needed more than 103 runs in the match from Steve Smith.

Related: Ashes report cards: grading every England and Australia player

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September 16th 2019, 5:01 pm

Ben Stokes backs Jofra Archer to help England regain Ashes in Australia

Sport | The Guardian

• ‘I don’t think I’ve seen a more talented bowler’, says Stokes
• Archer hit 96mph and took 22 wickets in his first four Tests

Ben Stokes believes Jofra Archer to be the most talented fast bowler he has seen and one who can help regain the Ashes in Australia, with England now set to lock down this summer’s breakout star with his first central contract.

Related: Joe Root hails Ashes series draw, urging England on to better things

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September 16th 2019, 3:14 pm

Troubled jockey Graham Gibbons jailed after fourth drink-driving conviction

Sport | The Guardian

• 37-year-old rider banned from driving for five years
• ‘It’s an awful shame because he’s a very talented lad’

The talented but troubled jockey Graham Gibbons has been jailed, following his fourth conviction for drink driving. The verdict was recorded last week at Harrogate magistrates court and resulted in the 37-year-old being committed to prison for 16 weeks, disqualified from driving for five years and fined a victim surcharge of £149.

It is the latest of several examples of Gibbons making trouble for himself and throws into question whether he will ever be able to recover his licence to ride in races. He last rode as a jockey in December 2016, until a urine sample taken from him while he was riding at Kempton returned positive for a metabolite of cocaine.

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September 16th 2019, 2:44 pm

Aston Villa v West Ham: Premier League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Villa give a debut to Marvelous Nakamba, the absolutely spiffing Zimbabwe midfielder. The Hammers are unchanged.

Aston Villa: Heaton, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Taylor, Grealish, Nakamba, McGinn, Jota, Wesley, El Ghazi. Subs: Douglas Luiz, Lansbury, Steer, Hourihane, Konsa, Elmohamady, Davis.

West Ham: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Noble, Rice, Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Felipe Anderson, Haller. Subs: Balbuena, Zabaleta, Snodgrass, Roberto, Fornals, Wilshere, Ajeti.

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September 16th 2019, 2:14 pm

Manchester United v Arsenal: Women's Super League – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Both sides go with attacking line-ups but both have notable absentees in the starting XI. Summer signing Jackie Groenen misses out for United with an injury, while Danielle van de Donk is on the bench for Arsenal.

Manchester United: Earps; Smith, McManus, M Turner, A Turner; Galton, Zelem (c), Ladd, Toone; Sigsworth, Ross.

For the Manchester United women’s team, it has been a long and rocky road to their first ever top-flight home fixture. A supporters’ side floated around the lower divisions before earning affiliation with the club in 2001 - only for funding to be pulled four years later, casting the team into oblivion.

Last year, an official team was born and cantered to promotion, managed by Casey Stoney and with significant squad investment. They are still playing catch up in a landscape that has changed almost beyond recognition - but tonight’s opponents can show them the way.

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September 16th 2019, 1:57 pm

Ben Roethlisberger's NFL season over with Drew Brees set to miss six weeks

Sport | The Guardian

Two of the NFL’s highest-profile quarterbacks will miss significant playing time. The Pittsburgh Steelers confirmed that Ben Roethlisberger is out for the rest of the season with an elbow injury, while the New Orleans Saints are expected to be without their quarterback, Drew Brees, for six weeks.

Roethlisberger will undergo surgery on his right elbow and be placed on injured reserve, ending the 37-year-old’s 16th season just two weeks in. Roethlisberger injured the arm late in the second quarter of Sunday’s 28-26 loss to Seattle. He did not play in the second half, watching from the sideline as backup Mason Rudolph took over.

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September 16th 2019, 1:44 pm

Frank Lampard wary of Valencia threat despite off-field uncertainty

Sport | The Guardian

• Chelsea manager warns of threat posed by ‘fantastic’ side
• Spanish club sacked Marcelino Garcia Toral last week

The situation almost feels too perfect for Chelsea. There is a buzz around the place after the 5-2 victory over Wolves on Saturday, Tammy Abraham is scoring goals for fun and their first game back in the Champions League pitches them against a side whose preparations could hardly have been more chaotic.

Everything suggests that Valencia are in a state of utter turmoil before facing Chelsea on Tuesday evening. It is less than a week since Peter Lim, the club’s owner, controversially sacked the respected Marcelino Garcia Toral and replaced him with the former Spain Under-21s manager Alberto Celades, who received a harsh introduction to coaching at club level when his first game ended in a 5-2 defeat at Barcelona on Saturday night.

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September 16th 2019, 1:44 pm

McCabe v Prince Abdullah: how battle for control of Sheffield United unfolded

Sport | The Guardian

A long battle for taking sole charge of the club has been played out in court and on Monday the judge ruled in favour of Prince Abdullah, a Saudi royal

This summer, as Sheffield United prepared for their first Premier League campaign in 12 years, the future of the club was being decided in the high court regarding who controls them. At the centre of the argument were the co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mossad Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a Saudi royal who bought half of the Blades in 2013 for £1, in exchange for £10m investment. On Monday the judge’s verdict arrived and he ruled in favour of Abdullah.

Two weeks of arguments were made on both sides, plenty of it extremely heated. Abdullah was accused of bribery, which he denied and the claim was dismissed as “fanciful” by the judge. Mr Justice Fancourt found overwhelmingly in favour of the prince, dismissing the claims brought by McCabe.

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September 16th 2019, 12:27 pm

Manchester City and the perils of playing out from the back – Football Weekly

Sport | The Guardian

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Sean Ingle and John Brewin discuss a shock at Carrow Road, more Arsenal defensive woes, a Seedorf scores in Scotland, a 16-year-old scores for Barcelona and Daniel Farke lookalikes

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We take a look back at the weekend of football just gone, starting with Norwich City’s shock 3-2 win over reigning champions Manchester City. Liverpool, meanwhile, keep up their 100% record – we try to work out when they’ll first drop points.

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September 16th 2019, 12:27 pm

Air of unpredictability hangs over Rugby World Cup with adaptability the key | Robert Kitson

Sport | The Guardian

Unfamiliar surroundings and the potential for extreme weather means coaches in Japan must be ready for anything

To appreciate just how different to the norm the 2019 Rugby World Cup is going to be, you only have to set foot outside. Even on a damp Monday in Tokyo, the humidity is unmissable and so is the air of novelty. Judging by the 15,000 locals who queued around the block just to watch Wales train in Kitakyushu, the next few weeks are going to challenge plenty of familiar assumptions

Drive – or rather crawl – through the busier business districts of the Japanese capital and images of the host nation’s players are plastered across the windows of 24-7 convenience stores. There is even a 40ft high action picture of the Australia fly-half Bernard Foley, not normally a household name, on a tower block overlooking one of the main intersections. The All Blacks long-serving coach Steve Hansen has traversed the rugby world multiple times but even he looks faintly taken aback by the rising tide of craziness.

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September 16th 2019, 10:57 am

‘My future is fixed’: David de Gea signs new four-year Manchester United deal

Sport | The Guardian

• Spanish goalkeeper’s deal runs until 2023
• De Gea moved to Old Trafford in 2011

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has signed a new four-year deal with the club, ending speculation about his future.

De Gea’s moved to Old Trafford in 2011 from Atlético Madrid and firmly made himself one of the team’s key players over the last eight seasons. The Spain international’s new contract will keep him at Manchester United until the summer of 2023, with the option of extending it for a further season.

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September 16th 2019, 10:57 am

Five steps England must take to regain the Ashes in 2020-21 | Rob Smyth

Sport | The Guardian

To regain the urn in Australia in two years’ time England have plenty of work to do and no time to waste

In the second half of the Ashes series, England’s batsmen hinted at a move away from “it’s the way we play”. They need to run with that mood – or rather crawl with it, and forget about doing everything in a hurry. The only way to win in Australia is to go huge in the first innings, and England need to develop players, especially in the top three, who get high on dot balls. A change to the domestic schedule, so that four-day cricket is played in the middle of the summer on flatter pitches, perhaps with a Kookaburra ball, is essential. When England won in 2010-11, they batted for 150 overs, or five sessions, in four of the seven innings. Under Joe Root’s captaincy they have failed to do so in 62 attempts. Yes, batting has changed – but not that much. In Australia, frisky cameos with the bat win only contempt.

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September 16th 2019, 10:26 am

Ashes report cards: grading every England and Australia player

Sport | The Guardian

It was a series to remember for Steven Smith, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes. It was one to forget for Jason Roy and Moeen Ali

By Gary Naylor for the 99.94 Cricket Blog

Joe Root: 325 runs, average 33; three wickets, average 41
A shadow of the bustling batsman and dressing room joker of not so long ago. No century in the series and not much fun either. He won’t ever say that he’s had enough of cricket, but it sure looks like that now – and who can blame him? His captaincy attracted a lot of criticism, but when you have only one batsman average more than 40, you’re going to spend a lot of time playing catch-up. Never a good look for a skipper. He out-reviewed his opposite number comfortably and bowled well in the rush for the line at The Oval – it’s amazing what a release of pressure does. Grade: C

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September 16th 2019, 9:11 am

Webb Ellis didn’t even invent rugby, so why is his name on the World Cup? | Michael Aylwin

Sport | The Guardian

Rugby’s myth-makers have overlooked one catch in the game’s history. It’s time for a more appropriate name on the trophy

Every four years, with more than 100 million people watching, a big bloke hoists a golden trophy called the Webb Ellis Cup. Casual viewers might assume this guy Webb Ellis to be legit, what with his name etched across the most valuable stretch of metal in his sport.

A quick Google would reveal him to be the man whose audacious intervention in a 19th-century game of football is supposed to have invented the very sport. As the profile of the World Cup grows, so the boy in that field all those years ago bestrides the rugby world ever more surely as the hero who created it.

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September 16th 2019, 9:11 am

The Guardian women’s cricketer of the year 2019: Katie Levick | Raf Nicholson

Sport | The Guardian

Despite 190 wickets for Yorkshire, the leg-spinner from Sheffield ditched her dreams of playing for England – but she has no regrets

The Guardian Women’s Cricketer of the Year is an award given to a player who has done something truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty. Katie Levick is this year’s winner.

A question: who is the all-time leading wicket-taker in the Women’s County Championship? Go on, take a guess. Perhaps you are thinking of Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole, or even the recently retired Dani Hazell. On all three counts, you would be wrong. The correct answer is actually Katie Levick: a 28-year-old leg-spinner who hails from Sheffield.

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September 16th 2019, 7:55 am

Scotland strive to avoid World Cup slip-ups with shampoo-soaked balls

Sport | The Guardian

Scotland have brushed up their act before Sunday’s wet and wild World Cup opener with Ireland – by practising with balls soaked in shampoo.

Gregor Townsend’s team are forecast to kick-off their campaign in Yokohama amid a torrential thunderstorm this weekend. But their coach has been expecting things to get slippery regardless while his team are sweating it out in Japan.

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September 16th 2019, 7:55 am

Rugby World Cup 2019: Wales team guide

Sport | The Guardian

Hardness and solidity mark out Warren Gatland’s side but injuries and absences leave them exposed

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September 16th 2019, 7:25 am

World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson launches mental health campaign

Sport | The Guardian

Jonny Wilkinson has launched a new mental health campaign together with the health insurer Vitality.

The move comes amid rising concerns about a mental health crisis in rugby, after the recent revelations by former Wasps lock Kearnan Myall in The Guardian, and the ensuing call from the Rugby Players’ Association for the sport to take urgent action to do more to address the issue.

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September 16th 2019, 7:11 am

Ashes 2019 overview: super Smith, sublime Stokes and a tied series – video

Sport | The Guardian

Six and a half weeks of extreme highs and lows saw the 2019 Ashes series finish in a draw. Throughout we've seen memorable moments from superb Steve Smith hitting hundred after hundred, to Ben Stokes's incredible solo display at Headingley. An Ashes debut for Jofra Archer was one to remember in a series that often put the spotlight on England captain Joe Root. Here's a look back at the best bits 

• England win fifth Test to draw Ashes series but Australia keep urn

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September 16th 2019, 6:41 am

Talking Horses: Longchamp Trials send thoughts towards Arc day

Sport | The Guardian

As for the big race, the question after Trials day is still the same – can anything beat Enable?

Forty-nine weeks on from an Arc day that left the organisers falling over themselves to apologise for horrendous queues and shortages of basics like sandwiches and beer, Longchamp was a much more agreeable place on Sunday afternoon as the track staged its annual card of trials for the big race.

The sun was beating down – a peak of 27 degrees, no less – and a decent(ish) crowd was able to move about freely and enjoy some excellent racing, including Frankie Dettori’s 16th Group One win of the season and a masterclass in how not to ride Longchamp by Cristian Demuro, on Sottsass in the Prix Niel.

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September 16th 2019, 6:11 am

Italian football pundit sacked for racist on-air remarks about Romelu Lukaku

Sport | The Guardian

An Italian TV pundit has been suspended for saying that the only way to stop Romelu Lukaku is to give “him 10 bananas to eat”. Luciano Passirani, an Italian football journalist, was a guest on the Qui Studio a Voi Stadio show when he made the racist remark and the director of the Telelombardia show reacted immediately by saying that he would never appear on the programme again.

The show was debating Lukaku’s impact for Inter so far since joining Manchester United in the summer and Passirani said: “Lukaku is one of the best signings that Inter could have made. I don’t see another player like him on any other team in Italy. He is one of the strongest, I like him a lot because he has that strength: he is the twin of [Dúvan] Zapata at Atalanta.”

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September 16th 2019, 5:55 am

County cricket: Hampshire v Somerset, Essex v Surrey and more – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Good morning from Emerald Headingley for the penultimate round of the season. It’s a bright start to the morning. The sun is yet to burn through, but we’re all set to get going at 10.30am BST.

The drama of the international summer may have finished, but there’s plenty more to come in the last fortnight of Championship action across the two divisions.

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September 16th 2019, 5:37 am

The Ashes after show party – The Spin podcast

Sport | The Guardian

Emma John presents a special show from The Oval to celebrate the end of the series. She’s joined by Daniel Norcross, Alison Mitchell, Barney Ronay, Geoff Lemon, Melinda Farrell, Jarrod Kimber and poet Zaffar Kunial.

The Ashes series was drawn 2-2, but which team had the better summer?

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September 16th 2019, 5:37 am

Lamar Jackson: from a running back disguised as a QB to potential MVP

Sport | The Guardian

The Baltimore Ravens quarterback was seen as little more than a glorified rusher by his critics when he entered the league. But this season he is transformed

After his Week 1 masterpiece against Miami, which included five touchdowns and a perfect passer rating, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson mocked the long-held notion that he is an NFL running back disguised as a quarterback. It’s been a hard stigma to shake for Jackson given his usage last year featured almost as many rushing attempts per game (9.2) as passing attempts (10.2). But two games into the season we have a vastly different narrative. Jackson has emerged as an early MVP candidate on the strength of his arm.

This week in the Ravens’ 23-17 win over Arizona, Jackson rushed for 122 yards on 13 carries, a spectacular stat line for a running back. Yet this game showcased Jackson’s maturation as a quarterback. Jackson again commanded the aerial attack, passing for 272 yards, two scores and no turnovers. His pocket awareness and ownership of the offense was on display throughout.

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September 16th 2019, 4:25 am

Rugby World Cup 2019: Tonga team guide

Sport | The Guardian

The smallest nation in the competition are dreaming big even if their preparations have been far from ideal

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September 15th 2019, 7:20 pm
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