Union Jack’s Sporting Roundup April 2012

England Conclude Pakistan Series, Commence Sri Lankan Tour

ENGLAND concluded their series in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan, losing the Test series 3-0, but winning the ODIs series 4-0. The tour finished with three Twenty20 matches which England won 2-1. Pakistan won the first game by eight runs. Pakistan 144-6 at 20 overs. England 136-6 at close. England won the second game by 38 runs. England 150-7 at 20 overs. Pakistan 112 all out. England won the final match by five runs. England 129-5 at 20 overs. Pakistan 124-6 at close.

England began a two Test series tour of Sri Lanka, March 15-April 17, and opened with an innings and 15 run win over a Sri Lanka Board XI, in a three day game at Columbo. Sri Lanka Board XI 169 and 119. England 3003 (Alistair Cook 163 not out)-3 declared.

The County Championship is due to start soon and English cricket fans will have a chance to see some of the world’s top players as many have signed summer deals with the Counties. Durham have signed Herschelle Gibbs of South Africa, while Alviro Petersen also of the Proteus, will play at Essex. Other signings see Aussie, Simon Katich, and Shahid Afridi of Pakistan at Hampshire. West Indian batsman Chris Gayle, will turn out for Somerset, while Marcus North of Australia is at Glamorgan. South Africa’s Ashwell Prince is at Lancashire, while Kiwi, Scott Styris will play at Sussex.

India’s Sachin Tendulkar, became the first man in cricketing history to hit one hundred international centuries, with a 114 scored against Bangladesh in the Asian Cup.

McIlroy-Donald Switch Off As World No One Players

Rory McIIroy won the Honda Classic at the Palm Beaches Gardens, Florida, March 3, and in doing so replaced England’s Luke Donald as golf’s number one world ranking player. The Irish youngster finished with a 12 under 268, fighting off the challenge of a rampaging Tiger Woods who carded a 62 (two eagles, four birdies) on the final round. McIIroy finished two ahead of Woods and Tom Gillis, with Lee Westwood another stroke back.

Britain’s Justin Rose claimed his fourth American title at Doral, Miami, March 11, in the WGC-Cadillac Championships where his 16 under par 272, put him a stroke ahead of Bubba Watson. The Hampshire resident started the final round three behind the then leader Watson, who missed a ten foot putt on the final hole thus giving the Englishman victory. A surge by Rory McIIroy put him two adrift of Rose, while Tiger Woods withdrew with a tendon injury during the final round.

Luke Donald moved back in to his world number one ranking, after briefly losing it to Rory McIIroy. Donald won a four way play-off, at the Transitions Championships at Palm Harbor, Florida, March 18. A final round of five under 66, put him at 13 under par 271 with Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigous and Bae-Sang-Moon. A birdie on the first play-off hole gave Donald victory and put him back on top again.

Boxing

Wladimir Klitscho (57-3) retained his WBA, WBO, and IBF Heavyweight crowns at Dusseldorf, March 3, when he knocked out Jean-Marc Mormeck (36-5) of France in the fourth round. Mormeck hit the deck in the second and it was all downhill after that with the Ukrainian capturing his 50th career knockout. Same weekend at Sheffield, Jamie McDonnell (19-2) successfully held on to his European bantamweight title with a second round stoppage of Ivan Pozo (32-8) of Spain.

Scotland’s Ricky Burns (33-2) held on to his European lightweight crown at the Braehead Arena, Glasgow, March 10, with a unanimous decision over Paulus Moses. The hard hitting Namibian (28-2) proved why he boasts a record of 19 knockouts, and fought back hard in the closing rounds, but the Coatbridge champion withstood the onslaught.

Britain Wins A Bunch Of Medals At The World Indoors

The Americans went in to the record books with ten gold medals at the 14th World Indoor Track Championships at Istanbul, March 9-11, but Britain pulled in a record medal haul too. Yamile Aldama won the triple-jump, while there was gold too for the 4 x 400m relay squad of Shana Cox, Nicola Saunders, Christine Ohuroga and Perri Shakes-Drayton who beat the Americans by a whisper. The men’s 4 x 400m team claimed a changeover impediment by the US, and were originally given the gold medal, but the decision was overturned on review and the Britons got the silver. Jessica Ennis took silver in the Pentathlon, beaten by Nataliya Dobyrnska of the Ukraine, who broke the world record, while there was silver for Tiffany Porter in the 60m. A bunch of bronzes added to the British total. Shana Proctor (long jump) Andrew Osagie (800m) Holly Bleasdale (pole vault) and Dwain Chambers (60m). World 5,000m champion Mo Farah, suffered a collision in the 3,000m with Edwin Sol and could manage only fourth place. Official upgraded him to bronze medal after seeing the footage, but reversed their opinion on appeal.

Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, won the Paris to Nice road race, where victory during the final stage gave him a winning time of 28 hours, 12 minutes and 16 seconds, eight seconds better than the runner-up, the Dutchman, Lieuwe Westra. He became the first British winner of this event in 45 years.

Mixed Murray Results

A thoroughly delighted Andy Murray beat world number one Novak Djokovic 6-2, 7-5, in the semi-finals of the Dubai Championships, February 27-March 3; but the overjoyed Scot fell to old rival Roger Federer, 7-5, 6-4, in the final. Earlier he had dispatched, Michael Berrer (Ger), Marco Chiudinelli (Swiss) and Tomas Berdych … Murray took an early exit at the Indian Wells Masters in California, March 11. The Scot lost his first match to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-4, 6-2. It’s not a happy location for Murray, last year he went out in his first match too. British number one Elena Baltacha, beat Arantxa Rus in the first round, but tumbled out to the fourteenth seed, Julia Goerges of Germany in the second.

Racing

The National Hunt’s most prestigious event, The Cheltenham Gold was won by Synchronised, March 16. Trained by Jonjo O’Neil, owned by John P McManus and rode by Tony McCoy, the 8-1 shot took the lead over the final fence and held on. The Giant Boister (50-1) was second, with Long Run (7-4f) last year’s winner third. 14 ran. Two time winner Kauto Star (3-1) was pulled up early during the three mile, two furlong jumping course. Big Buck (8-11f) won the World Hurdle Chase for the fourth time, and in doing so, notched up a record breaking sixteen consecutive victories.

The opening of the new Formula one year commenced in Melbourne, March 18, with Jensen Button winning the Australian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel was second, and British team-mate Lewis Hamilton third.

International Soccer

A bunch of friendly internationals took place the last day of February, but unfortunately, there were no celebratory victories for the home nations.

At Wembley, England’s game against the Netherlands saw most of the action occur in the final minutes. Arjen Robben and Klaas Jon Hunterelaar put the visitors ahead scoring quickly within a minute of each other around the 57th & 58th minute mark. Five minutes from the end, Gary Cahill got one and Ashley Young hit another in the 90th minute. While England fans lauded that England had saved the day, Arjen Robben slipped in the winner during injury time for a 3-2 win for the Dutch.

Prior to Wales’ home game against Costa Rica, FIFA published its new world rankings where Wales were rated at 42nd in the world, their highest ranking in 17 years. Scotland were ranked 48th, Northern Ireland 86th, and England at fifth. The game at Cardiff City Stadium, brought out a 23,000 plus crowd, where a Joel Campbell goal in the seventh minute by the Central Americans sealed a 1-0 win for Costa Rica. Scotland produced a 1-1 tie in Slovenia, where the hosts went ahead in the 33rd minute, while Christophe Berra leveled it six minutes later. At Windsor Park, Northern Ireland appeared to be constraining Norway successfully before the visitors scored one minute before the break. The game was close until the final couple of minutes, when the Norwegians scored twice for a 3-0 winning result.

After recent victories over Venezuela (1-0) and Panama (1-0) Jurgen Klinsmann pushed his US squad to their fourth consecutive victory with a 1-0 win over Italy in Genoa. Clint Dempsey’s 55th minute netting gave the US, their very first ever victory over the Italians. Lionel Messi smashed a hat-trick in Berne, where Argentina beat Switzerland 3-1. Brazil beat Bosnia-Herzegovina at St Gall, 2-1,where Ranger’s striker Sasa Papac scored an own goal in the last minute that ultimately gave the Brazilians victory.

European Soccer

The four remaining British clubs in Europe, dropped to just one with only Chelsea making it through to the quarter-finals. After a 4-0 thrashing in Italy, Arsenal were unable to overcome the deficit against AC Milan at Stamford Bridge, but they did win 3-0. The Gunners attacking first half scenario produced three goals with Laurent Koscielny (7th minute) Tomas Rosicky (26th) and Robin van Persie two minutes before the break. But it was not enough. During extra-time, a goal by Branislav Ivanovic pushed Chelsea to a 4-1 win against Napoli, after losing 3-1 in Italy. Didier Drogba commenced the goal feast in the 29th minute, John Terry got one three minutes after the break, before Inler put Napoli on the card in the 55th minute. Frank Lampard scored from the penalty spot in the 75th minute, followed by Ivanovic’s decider that gave Chelsea a 5-4 winning aggregate. Surprise of the tournament was Cyprus’ Apoel Nicosia, who have fought through the qualifying rounds starting last June, and beat Lyon of France (1-1 aggregate) on penalties, to reach the quarter-finals. Lionel Messi slammed four as Barcelona squashed Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 in Spain, for a 10-2 winning aggregate and Bayern Munich slammed Basel of Switzerland 7-1 in the second leg to progress too.

The Europa League final sixteen March 8 & 16, saw Manchester United lose 3-2 at Old Trafford to Athletico Bilbao, after an Iker Muniain netting in the final minute gave the Spaniards the victory. Wayne Rooney put the Reds ahead in the 22nd minute and would score another one in the closing seconds. Fernando Llorente scored just before the break, and Oscar de Marcos got a second. In Spain, Wayne Rooney hit a 25 yard stunner, ten minutes before time, but Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente and Oscar de Marcos had already penetrated the United goal. The Reds went down 2-1, for a losing 5-3 aggregate.

An uncompromising stance in Portugal, saw Manchester City ward off Sporting Lisbon, until Xandao broke the deadlock in the 51st minute to put the hosts in front. City sealed the area for the rest of the game, but came away a goal down. At the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City won 3-2, but the away goals rule put Sporting through. The Portuguese were 2-0 ahead on half-time, before an Aguero double in the 60th and 82nd minutes, and Balotelli put a penalty away in between. The Sky Blues won 3-2 and continued to press forward to the end.

FA Cup

The fifth round replays saw new stand-in-coach Roberto di Matteo, watch Chelsea win 2-0 at Birmingham City after a 1-1 disappointing home tie that witnessed Villa-Boaz fired. Second half goals by Juan Mata and Raul Meireles put the City out. Joel Bryom put away a fourth minute penalty at White Hart Lane, that put Stevenage in front, but Tottenham, were determined to reverse the goal-less game at the Division One club. Jermaine Defoe would get two (26th & 75th minutes) with Emmanuel Adebayor getting one in between for a 3-1 Spurs victory.

The quarter-finals, March 17-18, saw Sunderland take an early lead at Everton, before Cahill leveled the game that will go to a replay. Liverpool dispatched Stoke 2-1 at Anfield, where Suarez put them ahead, while Crouch put the Potters back in the game and Downing hit the winner in the 57th minute. At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea slammed Leicester City 5-2, as they moved in to the semi-finals. Five second half goals livened the entertainment. Torres got two, Kalou, Cahill, and Meireles were the Blues scorers, while Beckford and Marshall put Leicester on the scoreboard. Tragedy at White Hart Lane, when Bolton’s 23-year-old midfielder Fabrice Muamba, suffered a heart attack and collapsed four minutes before the break, and the game was abandoned with Spurs and Bolton with one goal apiece.

Scottish Football

Kilmarnock have been losing finalists for the last six times at the Scottish Communities League Cup at Hampden Park, but March 18, against a Celtic side seeking its 15th Scottish League Cup, they finally prevailed. Celtic peppered the Kilmarnock goal in the first half, but shot after shot failed. Dieter Van Tomhout broke the deadlock six minutes before time, to give Kilmarnock a 1-0 win and their very first Scottish League Cup victory.

The off-field Rangers drama continued, with the Scottish FA charging the club with varying degrees of misconduct, while the administrator has been accepting takeover bids for the club and cutting the staff and wages. Gloom on the field however, as Hearts came away with a 2-1 victory from the Ibrox, March 3. Steven Davis put the Gers ahead on half-time, but Ian Black and Jamie Hamill netted later for victory. It was the third defeat at home for the Glasgow club this season. Dundee Utd added insult to injury, March 17, with a 2-1 home win over Rangers. Jon Daly and Keith Watson scored in the first half, while Sone Aluka got one back for the Gers in the 60th minute. Celtic are odds on for the SPL crown this year.

The sixth round of the Scottish Cup, March 10-11, saw holders Celtic easily progress to the semi-finals after a 4-0 away win at Dundee Utd. Things turned drastically in the Hoops favour when Dundee’s Robbie Nelson was sent off in the 28th minute. Marksmen Joe Ledley, Georgios Samaras, Anthony Stokes and a late Scott Brown penalty had Celtic fans roaring. Two early first half goals, one by Rory O’Donnell and a penalty by Leigh Griffiths, gave Hibernian a 2-0 win at Ayr Utd. Motherwell missed a penalty and had Keith Lasley sent off which did not bode well for their home contest with Aberdeen. Rory Fallon hit a brace in the fifth and 41st minutes, before Nick Law got one back for the home side. The Dons won 2-1. Hearts and St Mirren drew 2-2, after Hearts appear to have a 2-1 advantage with just six minutes to go. However, Marius Zaliukas put one in his own net. Graham Carey opened the scoring with a scorching twenty yarder in the 27th minute, followed by goals from Hearts by Craig Beattie (37m) and Rudi Skacel eleven minutes later.

World Cup Drama

FIFA President Sepp Blatter made an unscheduled visit to Brazil, to soothe feelings after the Brazilian FA became so incensed at FIFA representative Jerome Valcke, they refused to have anything to do with him.

Valcke had castigated the Brazilians for being more interested in winning the World Cup, than getting the tournament prepared. He complained none of the stadiums had been completed, and the transportation needed between the venues was in chaos. He urged the government to get involved, and wants the ban on beer lifted in the stadiums, as after all, Budweiser are sponsors. Valcke eventually apologized but bruised egos remain. To add further spice to the pot, Ricardo Teixeira, the head of the Brazilian Football Federation suddenly resigned. Teixeira has led the BFF for 22 years, though his reign has often been tinged with suspected corruption. However, he has never been charged with anything.

Sporting Passings

Known as the Dartford Destroyer, Dave Charnley was a notable lightweight champion who was unlucky that he did not win a world title. After moving up a weight to fight the forceful Emile Griffith in 1964, which unfortunately, witnessed him sadly defeated in the ninth round. It would be his last fight. Charnley’s career included British, Empire and European titles. He was unable to defeat Joe Brown for the world title, but subsequently fought the American three times and knocked out Brown during their final encounter when he was no longer champion. The man from Kent ended his career with a record of 48-12-1. Dave Charnley was 76.

Josh Gifford grew up around horses, so it was no surprise the youngster pursued a career as a jockey. As a 15-year-old, he won the November Handicap at Doncaster in 1956, but a weight problem persisted as he became older and he switched from the Flat to National Hunt racing. He won a string of quality races over the jumps, before retiring in 1970, with a record of 642 winners after fourteen years in the saddle. Continuing as a trainer, he drew accolades for bringing Aldaniti, back from a series of injuries that resulted in the horse winning the Grand National in 1981. A film Champions was made of the event starring John Hurt and Edward Woodward. He retired as trainer in 2003, after 1,586 winners, passing the stables over to his son.

Joshua Thomas Gifford was 70.

Mervyn Davies was part of the great Welsh rugby union side of the 1970s, when names like JPR Williams, Barry John, Gareth Edwards and Phil Bennett, put fear in to their international opponents. His trademark white bandana and bushy moustache made him easy to spot on the field. He made 46 appearances for Wales and The British Lions before an injury forced his retirement from the game at just 29-years-old. “Merv the Swerve,” as he was affectionately called; was 65.

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