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Arturo Vidal header guides Bayern Munich to nervy win over Frankfurt

A first half goal from Arturo Vidal was enough for Bayern Munich to sneak past Eintracht Frankfurt despite a host of changes. The champions weren't at their best but extend their lead at the top of the table. Eintracht Frankfurt 0 - 1 Bayern Munich (Vidal 20') FULL TIME: That's it. A fairly unconvincing win for Bayern but, once again they get the job done while their rivals falter. Arturo Vidal's first half header from Joshua Kimmich's fine cross was enough to get past a Frankfurt side who gave a good account of themselves and kept emergency goalkeeper Tom Starke busy, particularly in the first half. Vidal was perhaps lucky to avoid a red card after a borderline bookable foul after an early yellow while Marius Wolf saw red for Frankfurt before the decision was overturned by VAR. Jupp Heynckes presumably won't be delighted with what he saw but after resting several key players and still extending their lead at the top, he won't lose any sleep either. As it happened 90+3 -- A spot of handbags after a foul on James is broken up by the referee. It's been a feisty contest this one. 90' -- The board goes up to show 5 minutes of injury time but the big news comes from Leipzig, where the hosts have let the lead slip again. Bayern will have an 8 point lead if scores stay the same. 88' -- Lewandowski a little rusty there. The striker was played through but took too long to control a high ball, allowing the Frankfurt defense to recover. 87' -- The home fans express their displeasure after Rebic was adjudged to have shoved Kimmich to the floor. They feel they've had the worst of the decisions today, with some justification. 83' -- Bayern's concerns about the way this game has gone in the second half are made apparent by a substitution that sees Lewandowski replace Coman. The only surprise is that the Pole isn't on for Müller, who has been anonymous. 81' -- Crucial clearance from Süle. The center back slid to deal with a cross from the left that looked destined for Haller's feet. Kevin Prince Boateng whistles one over from the corner. 77' -- Barkok robs Rafinha, who has looked shaky today, and forces it across goal. Frankfurt have three or four bites of the cherry but each shot is blocked. The hosts throw on Tawatha for Willems, they're still in this. 74' -- OVERTURNED! Wolf is back on after the VAR deemed the challenge only worthy of a yellow. Which it probably was. A much-needed success for the system. 72' -- RED CARD! Wolf is sent off. He was late on James and swung his trailing leg through on the Colombian but it looked a little soft. They'll got to the VAR. 69' -- Oh Dortmund, what have you become.... 67' -- It's geting a bit tetchy now. First Bayern get aggravated about a Kevin Prince Boateng challenge on Coman, then Müller clips Willems. The Bayern man then stood over his opponent and shouted in a fairly aggressive fashion. He got a yellow card, probably more for the reaction than the tackle. 63' -- There's not a whole heap happening in Frankfurt but it's game on in Dortmund. 60' -- Wolf tricks his way in to the Bayern area but his low cross is cleared. Bayern don't have the same control they had for periods of the first half and Müller has barely had a kick. 55' -- Heynckes has seen enough from Vidal. He's replaced by Tolisso and exits to a chorus of boos. 53' -- The home fans are screaming for Vidal to be sent off but the referee resists. The Chilean clipped his man on the edge of the box and the free kick was given, but no second yellow. Willems wastes the free kick. 49' -- Frankfurt have had a decent amount of the ball since the restart but Bayern are looking compact. 46' -- It's stopped snowing and we're back underway in Frankfurt- HALF TIME: Bayern lead but it's been a largely even game so far- Tom Starke has been called in to action a few times while Rebic has caused Bayern a few problems. Still plenty of life in this one. Over in Leipzig, the hosts have re-taken the lead courtesy of a Timo Werner penalty. 44' -- Vidal controls a clearance on his chest before looping a volley towards goal. Hradecky does well to tip it over but the linesman ruled that the ball had gone out of play from the initial corner anyway. 43' -- Kimmich gets free down the right but it's a tight angle and he can only find the keeper with his cross. More good news for Bayern though, Mainz have equalized in Leipzig. 40' -- Close. A clever free kick from Frankfurt who went short before laying the ball of to Willems. His strike is decent enough but Starke gets down to it fairly comfortably, for a 36-year-old. 39' -- Jerome Boateng against Rebic once more and the Bayern man comes out on top again, comfortably ending a promising run. Rafinha doesn't do quite so well against the same man moments later, conceding a free kick in a decent position. 37' -- Bit of a strange one here. James started to tie his laces after a strong tackle then decided to go to ground. He's up now. Not quite sure what that was all about. 33' -- The Boateng brothers in the thick of it. Kevin Prince sets Rebic free but Jerome does well to stand him up and make the block. Frankfurt have shown enough to suggest Bayern can't get too comfortable. 31' -- Meanwhile in Dortmund and Leipzig... 28' -- Coman drives rapidly down the right flank and fires one in to the side netting. He's looked dangerous today. 25' -- Frankfurt aren't out of this yet. A twisting run from Rebic ends with a decent curling effort which is pushed behind by Starke. The corner comes to nothing. 24' -- That's now four Bundesliga games in a row in which Vidal has scored. And Kimmich marks his 100th Bayern appearance with yet another assist. 20' -- GOAL! Vidal nods in at the back post. The Chilean's initial shot was deflected behind for a corner. That was cleared straight back to Kimmich who swung in a great ball with his left and Vidal did the rest. 17' -- Fernandes goes in the book for tugging back James in midfield. 15' -- The champions starting to control possession now, and Müller can't quite get on the end of a through ball. Still no shots from Bayern though. 11' -- The visitors string a few passes together in the Frankfurt half for the first time. But there's no real penetration and Frankfurt eventually break upfield before Jerome Boateng clatters Haller to concede a freekick. 8' -- The snow looks to be getting a little stronger but no signs of it settling. The same could be said for BAyern who haven't found much fluency yet. 5' -- Vidal is dispossessed right on the edge of the box, hacks down Barkok and is booked. Rebic forces a decent save out of Stark from the freekick. 3' -- Kimmich is caught by a late tackle by Willems. He's down for a while but gets up in time to take the free kick. 1' -- And we're off in snowy Frankfurt! -- It seems that Bayern keeper Sven Ulreich has injured himself in the warmup. Tom Starke, a 36-year-old who mainly coaches in the club's academy and officially retired last season, will replace him. It'll be his 100th Bundesliga appearance. -- Afternoon all and welcome to the first of four Bundesliga matchdays in the next five days. With midweek matches looming, Jupp Heynckes has rung the changes for Bayern's trip to Frankfurt today, with Robert Lewandowski's omission the biggest talking point. The Polish striker has started every one of Bayern's Bundesliga games up to this point but will be replaced by Thomas Müller, with Sandro Wagner thought to be on the way in the winter break. Both Boatengs will start, with Frankfurt's Kevin-Prince looking to get one over Bayern's Jerome. Frankfurt will be hoping to improve one of the league's worst home records and solidify their position in the top half, while the Bavarians will expect to do what they do best and keeping racking up wins.

A first half goal from Arturo Vidal was enough for Bayern Munich to sneak past Eintracht Frankfurt despite a host of changes. The champions weren’t at their best but extend their lead at the top of the table. Eintracht Frankfurt 0 – 1 Bayern Munich (Vidal 20′) FULL TIME: That’s it. A fairly unconvincing win for Bayern but, once again ... Read More »

Case of wrestler throwing bout sparks anger in Iran

Tehran's ban on any contact with Israel has led to another case of an Iranian athlete being ordered to lose during an international competition. This policy is coming under growing criticism in Iran. "Ali Resa lose!, Ali Resa you must lose!" echoed through the venue in Bydgoszcz, Poland in the final moments of one of the semifinals at the U23 wrestling World Championships. This unbelievable but effective order from the Iranian coach to his athlete, Ali Resa Karimi (pictured above, right), can be clearly heard in a video recording of the semifinal. The Iranian had a 3-2 lead over his opponent, Russia's Alikhan Zhabrailov, with just moments to go in the bout. However, Karimi followed the orders of his coach, who was positioned at the edge of the mat, and demonstrably ceased to put up any resistance. The 3-2 lead morphed into a 14-3 defeat in the last 14 seconds of the bout. The Iranian stayed motionless as he complied with the order, but there was no mistaking how angry this had made him. The reason for this unsportsmanlike move by the Iranian coach was to be found in the other semifinal, which was going on at the same time. The Israeli wrestler, Uri Kalashnikov, was up against Azamat Dauletbekov of Kazakhstan. The Iranian officials expected Kalashnikov to win, meaning that had Karimi won, he would have had to face the Israeli, something they were determined to avoid at all costs. This is because since 1983 the Iranian state has banned all of its athletes from competing against Israelis – officially because Tehran hasn't recognized the state of Israel and out of "solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people." Mockery and criticism on Iranian social media The video of the bout spread like wildfire on the Internet and quickly became the hottest topic of discussion among Iranian users. "It's unbelievable that one KOs oneself. It's the fate of a bitter humiliation that the politicians have condemned our athletes to," one tweet said. Another user wrote: "A national athlete is a representative of his country on an international stage. The national athlete defends his country like a soldier. What do you mean 'you have to lose?' Shame on you. What kind of leadership do we have in our country?" Another comment reads: "It is a disgrace for any public figure to destroy the dignity and pride of an athlete for the sake of preserving his own corrupted power." Another comment, like many others, summed up the hypocrisy of the Iranian position: "It is utterly absurd for Iranians to avoid competing with Israelis out of solidarity with the Palestinians, when Palestinian athletes have no problem competing against Israeli athletes." Karimi heads home empty handed Meanwhile, Ali Resa Karimi posted a line from a well-known song by exiled Iranian dissident Dariush Eghbali via his Instagram account: "Silence is the last protective shield; we will never get our rights." This statement could land Karimi in hot water with the authorities. As if things weren't already bad enough for Karimi, as it turned out there was no reason to throw the fight. The Iranian officials who decided that he needed to do so got it wrong. As it turned out, the Israeli wrestler lost his bout to his Kazakh opponent. This set up a bronze-medal bout between the Iranian and Israeli wrestlers, but Karimi pulled out of it due to "illness." It remains to be seen what, if any action United World Wrestling, the sport's world governing body, could take over the incident. International sports federations have previously pledged to impose sanctions on Iran over this sort of behavior, which Iran has made a habit of over the past more than three decades. There has even been talk of banning entire teams.

Tehran’s ban on any contact with Israel has led to another case of an Iranian athlete being ordered to lose during an international competition. This policy is coming under growing criticism in Iran. “Ali Resa lose!, Ali Resa you must lose!” echoed through the venue in Bydgoszcz, Poland in the final moments of one of the semifinals at the U23 ... Read More »

Germany football coach Joachim Löw: ‘My role is to be a visionary’

Germany are aiming to become the first team to successfully defend a World Cup since 1938. In an exclusive interview with DW, Germany coach Joachim Löw reveals how he plans to achieve that and how he views his role. DW: We would like to start with the future. Joachim Löw: The future? Then I need to go because I am not a fortune teller. Maybe we could dream a little and philosophize, perhaps a bit about how to become world champions again. But I have some bad news for you: the chances are, you might not be the 2018 world champions. Only one team has defended their title and that was almost a century ago. Maybe you could explain something: What is so hard about defending a World Cup title? To play at the highest level requires tremendous effort, concentration and above all, never giving up. If you are successful, then it is only human that you are sometimes a bit saturated. You might also lose that hunger which means that others who are more ambitious will knock you off your pedestal. Therefore, the hardest task is to always play at this high level without falling off. What can you do to ensure everyone plays their best? What is your task now? My task is to pay attention to particular situations, inform myself where football is going and of the latest developments. We want to always be trendsetters somehow. We want to be a little bit ahead of other teams. That's why we look into the future. We are also kind of visionaries and sometimes consider totally crazy things, even when they seem a little absurd. But we want to try them once. By the same token we want to keep the pressure consistently high and to establish a certain competition because, in the end, that is what accounts for the extra percentage points. Let's compare the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to this upcoming one. What are the big differences? The temperatures are maybe a little different. It was very warm in Brazil and the kickoff times were also different. We often played at midday in Brazil. We were not as focused from the start because of the heat. No European teams had ever won a title on South American soil up to that point. The entire focus was on Brazil and everyone kind of wanted Brazil to reach the final. We were played a little bit as favorites. In Russia we are maybe the favorite at this tournament — there is no avoiding it. World champions, Confed Cup winners, we played a good qualification. The pressure is always there and I believe it will be even higher in Russia. Can you plan success? To some extent. Without planning there will be no success. In the end, there are maybe some situations where luck and outside influences play a role. But you can get pretty far with a plan, with a clear goal and with consistency. What exactly do you demand from your team, not just the squad? What do you demand so that the whole project in 2018 succeeds and you become world champions once more? It can be expressed in one sentence, even if it may be corny or banal: everyone has to focus 100 percent on his task. What is the head coach? Are you a craftsman? Are you an artist? Are you sometimes also a father? The role of a coach is varied. We have many tasks. To be a visionary that always looks a little bit towards the future: How should the team develop? How should it play at a tournament? Of course you also have to be the contact person for the players, where social competence also plays a role. I am kind of someone who should lead the team and therefore need a certain relationship with my players. On the other hand I am the public relations worker that needs to represent the team and the sport to the outside world. Multilayered and multifaceted. Thank God I have a good team that supports me in every respect. Joachim Löw replaced Jürgen Klinsmann as Germany's coach following the 2006 World Cup. He led Germany to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the first time they won the title since the country reunified in 1990. Germany also won the Confederations Cup in Russia in July of this year and reached the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the final of the 2008 European Championship and the semifinals of the 2012 and 2016 Euros. Löw has also coached at club level in Germany, Turkey and Austria.

Germany are aiming to become the first team to successfully defend a World Cup since 1938. In an exclusive interview with DW, Germany coach Joachim Löw reveals how he plans to achieve that and how he views his role. DW: We would like to start with the future. Joachim Löw: The future? Then I need to go because I am ... Read More »

US soccer star Hope Solo accuses Sepp Blatter of sexual harassment

Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo has said ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter groped her backside during the 2013 Ballon d'Or ceremony. Sexual harassment wasn't just a problem in Hollywood but in women's football as well, she said. Hope Solo, a star goalkeeper and former member of the US football team, accused former FIFA President Sepp Blatter of sexually harassing her, in an interview published on Friday. "Sepp Blatter grabbed my ass, it was a few years ago at the Ballon d'Or ceremony just before I got on stage," Solo told Portuguese newspaper Expresso. Read more: Louis C.K., Steven Seagal latest stars to face sexual assault allegations The 36-year-old soccer star said that 81-year-old Blatter made the move as she was about to present an award to her teammate Abby Wambach at the ceremony. Solo, a World Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion, said that sexual harassment in sport was "rampant" and that she hoped more athletes would speak out against it. "I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about their experiences," she told the paper. Read more: Kevin Spacey sex assault allegations mount as UK police launch probe "I think it is important to acknowledge that this doesn't just happen with the powerful white men. It can happen all across the board, it can happen between women," she continued. "It's out of control, not just in Hollywood but everywhere," Solo said, referencing the wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations against high-profile men in entertainment and politics, which was triggered by a scandal involving movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Blatter dismissed Solo's claims, telling the Guardian newspaper that the allegation "is ridiculous." Blatter has a history of sexist behavior when it comes to women's soccer. In 2004, he argued that the popularity of the women's game could be boosted if the players wore tighter shorts. In 2012, US forward Alex Morgan said that Blatter failed to recognize her during that year's Ballon d'Or, even though she was one of three nominees for the women's Player of the Year. The former FIFA head was suspended from office and banned from the sport for six years in 2015 following a corruption scandal.

Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo has said ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter groped her backside during the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony. Sexual harassment wasn’t just a problem in Hollywood but in women’s football as well, she said. Hope Solo, a star goalkeeper and former member of the US football team, accused former FIFA President Sepp Blatter of sexually harassing her, in ... Read More »

DFB part ways with VAR project manager Hellmut Krug

The German football association (DFB) have announced that Hellmut Krug will no longer act as VAR project manager and cease his supervisory role at the league's Control Centre in Cologne. The decision comes as a result of a DFB meeting on Monday which involved, amongst others, DFB President Reinhard Grindel, vice-president Ronny Zimmermann and Head of Referees Lutz Michael Fröhlich, who will assume Krug's role in the interim. Read: Grindel did not approve "secret" VAR changes The DFB are allegedly reacting to a report in BILD am Sonntag which accused Krug, who will also cease working as a supervisor in the German Football League's (DFL) Control Center in Cologne with immediate effect, of influencing the decision of the VAR in a manner not befitting his role. Krug has denied the claims. "As a supervisor, we are not authorized to influence or overrule the decisions of video assistants," said the 61-year-old. Marco Fritz, the acting VAR for the match in question, Matchday 10's 1-1 draw between Schalke and Wolfsburg, also came out in support of his boss: "In all situations that are checked at the review centre in Cologne, the decision to intervene is made by the video assistant. That was the case for Schalke against Wolfsburg." The VAR experiment has sparked controversy and debateamongst fans, players and officials, becoming a bigger source of irritation than justice. "The whole communication from the DFB is currently catastrophic," fumed Borussia Mönchengladbach's Sporting Director Max Eberl. "If you have a test phase and you want to adapt the entire system, that's justified, but then everyone should know it. We should only need the video assistant in a situation which is really crucial to the game." Nevertheless, even in the face of intense scrutiny and criticism, DFB President Grindel remains in staunch support of VAR: "I still believe in the project, once everyone clearly defines their roles and then sticks to them, I'm pretty sure that this can be something very good for football".

The German football association (DFB) have announced that Hellmut Krug will no longer act as VAR project manager and cease his supervisory role at the league’s Control Centre in Cologne. The decision comes as a result of a DFB meeting on Monday which involved, amongst others, DFB President Reinhard Grindel, vice-president Ronny Zimmermann and Head of Referees Lutz Michael Fröhlich, ... Read More »

Lewis Hamilton crowned 2017 Formula One champion after Mexico GP

He didn't win the Mexican Grand Prix, but his ninth-placed finish was enough to secure Lewis Hamilton an historic fourth Formula One championship. Sebastian Vettel drove superbly, but fell short. It didn't go as planned, but Lewis Hamilton's ninth-placed finish at the Mexican Grand Prix was enough to make him Britain's first four-time Formula One world champion. "It doesn't feel real. It is not the kind of race I wanted, 40 seconds behind, but I never gave up. That is what is important and in my heart. I am grateful for today," Hamilton said. Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen won the race comfortably ahead of Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton joins Vettel and Alain Prost as a four-time champion. Only two drivers have achieved more - Michael Schumacher (seven) and Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio (five). Hamilton has now won more world championships than Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna. On the first corner, Hamilton's worst fears came true as a collision with Sebastian Vettel dropped both drivers to the back of the field. Hamilton's tire was punctured and Vettel's car needed a new nose. Vettel drove brilliantly to finish fourth from 19th, but he fell short of the top-two finish he needed to keep Hamilton from celebrating. The Briton diligently worked his way back into ninth, constantly checking on Vettel and his progress. Although ninth proved somewhat anti-climatic for Hamilton, it didn't stop the 32-year-old from celebrating his record-breaking title. Hamilton had to turn things around this season after Vettel took the lead in the early part of the season. After finishing fifth and fourth, Hamilton's stunning win at the British GP restored his belief. Winning at Ferrari's home track in Monza might have been the turning point though. Vettel finished third as Hamilton took charge in the championship, leading by just three points. Once Hamilton had established a 34-point lead in Malaysia, Vettel's retirement after four laps in Japan left Hamilton on the home straight. And in Mexico, he crossed the finishing line as world champion for a fourth time. The 2017 season still has two races left, in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Relive the Mexican GP below: — Neymar even sent a message over the radio to Hamilton to congratulate him. He is the first Briton to have won four titles - a really stunning achievement. All eyes on him now. — "Thank you to everyone on this team for all the fantastic work. God bless you," Hamilton says over the radio, with a wavering voice. He hardly has time to get out of his car before F1 reporters jump into action. Talk about not having a chance to enjoy his moment of history. LEWIS HAMILTON IS YOUR 2017 F1 CHAMPION! FINAL LAP — Verstappen takes the win! Sebastian Vettel with a great driver, but his fourth place finish means Lewis Hamilton, who crosses the line in ninth, is the 2017 F1 Champion! It is Hamilton's fourth Formula One title! 69/71 — A proper battle there, but Hamilton does take him in the end and with three laps remaining, Hamilton is into ninth and can feel pretty safe about the title now. He won't win it by winning in Mexico, but I'm not sure he'll care by the end of it. Verstappen close to his third ever race win, Bottas and Raikkonen the others on the podium. 67/71 — Alonso making life difficult for Hamilton to pass. Old dog, same tricks it seems. 66/71 — If Hamilton wins, he will have won as many title as Vettel and Alain Prost, and one more than Jackie Stewart. It would be one almighty achievement. But he has to get there first. His car appears to be cooling the car, or his brakes, because he is driving differently. Not finishing would be a disaster... I think we might be set in these positions. Verstappen to win ahead of Bottas and Raikkonen. Vettel in fourth, Hamilton in 10th. 63/71 — Sainz pits and looks out. Hamilton keeps checking back to make sure where Vettel is and how he's doing. He's very calm, considering he's also driving a vehicle at considerable speed. He's on the verge of winning the title and that must be clearer now as we approach the final few laps. 62/71 — Vettel asks how far ahead Raikkonen is. He's told he's 23 seconds ahead. "Mama mia" is the German driver's response. "That's a bit too much." Is this the end of the charge? It's a massive gap to close and only has 10 laps to do it in. 60/71 — Vettel with the fastest lap, again. Verstappen a huge 17.5 seconds ahead of Bottas in second. Vettel takes Ocon and now makes fourth. It might well be forgotten as Hamilton will likely win the championship, but what a driver this is from Vettel. Ericsson's car on fire as he pits to sort problem. That's his race done. 58/71 — Hamilton asks what position he needs. He's told Vettel is fifth and needs second and won't make it. That is where we are, although no one has told Vettel beause he is still driving like he can finish second. 56/71 — Can anything stop Vettel? He dives inside Stroll at Turn 1 and he has fifth spot. What an effort this is. In doing so he delivers a new lap record, as you do. 54/71 — Kudos to Fernando Alonso. Up into 9th from an 18th-placed start. Hamilton takes Vandoorne to move into 11th. Vettel closing in on Stroll now. The German is driving to the limit. Unless anything dramatic happens with the top two (Verstappen and Bottas), it looks like this epic drive will be in vain for Vettel. 52/71 — What a move! Vettel sneaks in to take Perez, who doesn't close the door through the chicane. The Ferrari driver is into 6th now. 49/71 — Over the radio, Hamilton is told he is forecasted to finish 8th. At the moment, he is 12th. Vettel still in 7th. Feels like everyone has found their spot a bit now, other than Hamilton who continues to make moves gradually. 45/71 — Gasly holding Hamilton at bay... But not for long. He passes and is now into 13th. Both drivers at the top of the standings driving superbly. 42/71 — Worth remembering, Hamilton will be world champion if it stays like this - and will do so by picking up no points. Vettel needs to make up 15 seconds to keep his charge toward second going. Big ask. Verstappen out in front by 10 seconds. Comfortable. 40/71 — Vettel is up into eventh after taking Magnussen. What drama we have here. Hamilton is doing his best to fight back but he's clearly concerned about Vettel's charge. Hamilton sails past Wehrlein to take 14th. Verstappen is on the way to winning his third F1 race. Leading and in charge - and at 20 as well. 37/71 — Hamilton around 29 seconds behind Vettel. The Briton can't believe he is that far back. 15th for the Mercedes driver, Vettel into 8th. The German still needs a top two spot remember. 36/71 — So, how fast can Hamilton go now? Bottas delivers a new fastest lap, then Raikkonen delivers an even faster one (1:20.649). Verstappen's lead is up to 9.1 seconds. His to lose now... Verstappen ahead of Bottas and Raikkonen. 34/71 — Hamilton and Vettel pit, so do the top three (Verstappen, Bottas and Raikkonen). All plans to take them to the end of the race. Hamilton opts for super-softs. 33/71 — Hartley's car is warm. Virtual Safety Car (VSC) is on. Hartley is out of his car and it is doused. Hartley is out. Time for box mayhem with VSC... 32/71 — Perez passes Magnussen, who pits, and the home crowd roars with delight! Vettel up into 8th after passing Alonso. This is going to be quite the finish. Approaching the halfway stage. Vettel just delivered the fastest lap (1:20.698). 30/71 — Hamilton up to 18th, but only because of the retirement. "Is anyone else making it through?" he asks. Vettel is and he is told that - sure that won't go down well. However, moments later, Hamilton takes Sainz and is up into 17th. Long time left yet. Verstappen still leads, but worried about his front left tire. 27/71 — Hulkenberg was well placed, but his car is now off the track! Renault's problems continue. Shame for Hulkenberg, but was told over the radio that the car was no longer safe and he had to get out! 12/71 — No investigation will be made into the incidents between Verstappen, Vettel and Hamilton at the start. That's that then (don't think it will be). Fifth-placed Perez holding off Raikkonen. 9/71 — Ricciardo is out with a turbo issue. 8/71 — Hamilton asking over the radio whether Vettel hit Hamilton's back-right tire on purpose. The Mercedes team say they don't know, and no does know other than the German driver. On viewing though, it did look like he could have got out of the way... 6/71 — Ricciardo is in the box, and drops down to last. Hamilton working hard but still in 19th. Vettel up to 16th. Five cars in the pits early on there. Blimey. 4/71 — Can't believe how fortunate Verstappen was in all that mess. He probably deserves some after his season, though. Massa pits with a puncture, Wehrlein also in. 2/71 — I can barely keep up with what is happening. Verstappen leads from Bottas and Ocon. Hamilton at the back in 20th, Vettel in 18th. Lap 1/71 — And we're off! So much drama I can barely type. Verstappen pushes Vettel in the second chicane, Hamilton tries to take advantage. Vettel loses some of his nose, Hamilton has a flat tire. Wow. Both box, both get replacement parts. Hamilton going to need some drive now... — There's 890 meters between the pole position and the first corner. Plenty of space for an overtake early on... Lights out approaching! — Crowd in Mexico is quite excited. Lots of costumes linked to the Day of the Dead which begins on October 31. The warm-up lap has started... — Just 15 minutes to go until the start of the race and while clouds are in the sky, it is dry at the moment. If Lewis Hamilton wins this, or even does to win the championship, is it time to start the conversation about the greatest British athletes of all time? Certainly an argument that Hamilton has had to work for this title more than any one before... — So with Vettel on pole, Hamilton will have some work to do if he wants to win the race. If you want more on how qualifying for the Mexican GP went, give this a click. — So, what a moment it could be for Lewis Hamilton tonight. He could become the first ever Briton to win four drivers' championship titles. Sebastian Vettel will be trying to stop, and from pole position too. Here's what you need to know about how Hamilton can win the title tonight:

He didn’t win the Mexican Grand Prix, but his ninth-placed finish was enough to secure Lewis Hamilton an historic fourth Formula One championship. Sebastian Vettel drove superbly, but fell short. It didn’t go as planned, but Lewis Hamilton’s ninth-placed finish at the Mexican Grand Prix was enough to make him Britain’s first four-time Formula One world champion. “It doesn’t feel ... Read More »

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton aims to clinch title with a win in Mexico

Lewis Hamilton heads into the Mexican Grand Prix with an excellent chance of clinching the drivers' title with two races to spare. However, Sebastian Vettel is determined to battle to the bitter end. The British Mercedes driver goes into the third-last race of the season on Sunday needing only to finish in fifth place or better to clinch his fourth F1 drivers' championship. The now 32-year-old Hamilton has come a long way since 2008, when he was overjoyed at winning his first F1 title – by finishing fifth in the last race of the season. At this stage of his career, he won't be satisfied with the bare minimum. "I plan to win. I'm not here for anything else but No. 1," Hamilton told a Wednesday press conference in Mexico City. "I was just thinking about it as I was walking in here. It is true that I only need to finish fifth. But I thought, I think to myself, 'How would I feel if I was to finish fifth and win the world championship?' It wouldn't feel great." However, far from being overconfident, Hamilton said that despite his 66-point advantage over his closest rival, Ferrari's German driver, Sebastian Vettel, he was prepared for a tough contest. "It's going to be difficult, I think ... a lot closer between Red Bull and Ferrari and us," he said. "But I love that. And so I'm hoping that if I'm able to drive like I did in the last race, last week, I think it could be a good weekend." 'It's not over' For his part, Vettel, who by finishing second in Austin stopped Hamilton from clinching the title last weekend, has not given up hope of coming from behind to claim his fifth drivers' championship. "It's not over," Vettel said. "It's not in our hands as much as we'd like, but we want to win the last three races." However, as Vettel and his Ferrari team are well aware, even if he were to win all three, he would still need Hamilton to stumble for him to have a chance at the title. Assuming Hamilton does clinch it on Sunday, he will join some elite company, equaling the four career drivers' championships won by both Vettel and Alain Prost. Only Michael Schumacher (seven) and Juan Manuel Fangio (five) have won more career titles. Difficult time for host nation Apart from the possible crowning of a new champion, this weekend's event will also provide Mexican F1 fans with a welcome distraction from the September 19 earthquake that caused much destruction and claimed the lives of more than 200 people. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez became a staging area for relief supplies in the aftermath of the 7.1 magnitude quake and Mexican driver Sergio Perez, who was in his hometown of Guadalajara when it struck, quickly donated $165,000 (€140,000) to victims. This weekend, Rodriquez is to wear a special helmet with a map of Mexico and the earthquake zone depicted on top with the phrase "Todo Mexico Unido! (All of Mexico united!)" "It's been a very tough couple of months for my country. What happened was horrible, but it was amazing to me not just how Mexico responded but the whole world," Perez said on Thursday. A total of more than 300,000 spectators are expected to attend practice and qualifying, followed by Sunday's race.

Lewis Hamilton heads into the Mexican Grand Prix with an excellent chance of clinching the drivers’ title with two races to spare. However, Sebastian Vettel is determined to battle to the bitter end. The British Mercedes driver goes into the third-last race of the season on Sunday needing only to finish in fifth place or better to clinch his fourth ... Read More »

Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg et al keep RB Leipzig’s opponents guessing

From moments of sublime skill to explosive counter attacks, Leipzig's front line is one of the Bundesliga’s most feared despite an average age of just 22. The rest of Europe is already taking note as well. As Leipzig's stature in world football has grown, so too has the appreciation of their on-the-pitch exploits and the plethora of smartly sourced talent, especially in their front line. While the club's success has been built on the foundation of a collective effort, talented individuals have produced plenty of must-see moments. Read more: Bayern Munich face double dose of Leipzig Last season, two forwards stood out from the crowd as the city of Leipzig celebrated having a club back at the pinnacle of German football. Timo Werner, the highest-scoring German striker in the Bundesliga and Emil Forsberg, the leading assist provider in the top flight. Forsberg, signed from Malmo while Leipzig were still in the second tier, is almost an elder statesman at the age of 26 compared to his teammates, while Werner is on the way to becoming the finished article since signing from Stuttgart. That's not to mention Marcel Sabitzer and Yussuf Poulsen, two regulars for their respective national teams, whose contributions last season caught less headlines, but were just as important in making Leipzig's debut season one for the history books. Read more: Dortmund and RB Leipzig share both brilliance and flaws Coming into the current campaign though, the key was ensuring that the rate of progression was maintained and the early signs are promising. "Last year we were all new in the league," Sabitzer told German mass-circulation daily Bild. "There were always new situations developing in which we didn't really know what was coming at us or how strong we really were. We’ve matured a lot." Strong across the board In light of their growing reputation and rising expectation levels, Leipzig were big winners in the summer transfer window for two reasons. They managed to add strength in depth ahead of competing on three fronts for the first time in the club's history, but perhaps more importantly, successfully avoided becoming another flash-in-the-pan selling club. Only Naby Keita was sold to Liverpool, but remains at Leipzig for the rest of the season. With several rumors linking Forsberg with a number of different Premier League clubs and Real Madrid supposedly interested in star striker Werner, keeping hold of the irreplaceable duo was essential. By further bolstering their attacking options with two valuable signings in Bruma and Jean-Kevin Augustin, Leipzig were able to add two dynamic players that were in keeping with the club's philosophy both on and off the pitch. "We've made big strides forward in several areas in the last 10 months," club chairman Oliver Mintzlaff told German sports magazine kicker earlier this month. "The team have grown up a little and the level of competition in our squad has been raised by our new signings." That level of competition has not only played its part in Leipzig sitting just behind Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich at the top of the table, but also in Bruma and Augustin hitting the ground running. Sporting director Ralf Rangnick referred to Portuguese winger Bruma as "difficult to stop" following the impressive 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund, while 20-year-old Augustin feels "me and RB, it works." Signing the two rising stars to support the aforementioned quartet not only helps coach Ralph Hasenhüttl cope with the difficult balancing act of working with a more intense schedule, but also keeps opponents guessing when trying to solve Leipzig's turbo-charged puzzle. The six rising stars have accounted for 20 of Leipzig’s 25 goals in all competitions so far this season and their contributions will be pivotal in the club maintaining their trajectory.

From moments of sublime skill to explosive counter attacks, Leipzig’s front line is one of the Bundesliga’s most feared despite an average age of just 22. The rest of Europe is already taking note as well. As Leipzig’s stature in world football has grown, so too has the appreciation of their on-the-pitch exploits and the plethora of smartly sourced talent, ... Read More »

Cristiano Ronaldo the favorite to win FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award

Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world's top men's football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016. Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the world's most expensive player when Paris Saint-Germain spent €222 million ($260 million) last summer to trigger his release clause at Barca. However, the general consensus ahead of Monday evening's awards ceremony in London was that Ronaldo has the clear edge. Over the past year, the Portuguese superstar fired Real to glory in La Liga and scored 12 goals as they won the Champions League for a third time in four seasons. "In the end, Ronaldo is ahead of the others," former Italy and Roma star Francesco Totti told FIFA's website. "He had an amazing season and also accomplished all of his goals with the most prestigious of teams." World-class peers There's also an argument to be made for the 30-year-old Messi, who scored a total of 54 goals in all competitions last season, and helped Barcelona to a Copa del Rey title. The Argentina superstar is off to a great start to the current season, having scored 15 goals so far. He also earned his country a place at next year's World Cup with a hat trick against Ecuador. "We all know who is the player in the world," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "The truth is, the handing out of a trophy isn't something that worries me too much." At 25, Brazilian star Neymar is the youngest of the three. He was part of the Barcelona side that lifted the Copa del Rey and helped Brazil become the first team aside from hosts Russia to qualify for next year's World Cup. Zidane the favorite to win coaching honor Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is expected to be named "The Best" men's coach for 2017 after becoming the first man to lead his team to a successful defense of the European Cup in the Champions League era. The former France star is up against Chelsea's Antonio Conte and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. "To be sincere, if they give it to me, I'll take it with pleasure," Zidane said. "But if the question is, 'Am I the best coach in the world?' No, and I'm sure of it." Neuer up for top goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich and Germany is one of the three candidates to the top goalkeeper of 2017. The 31-year-old is joined on the shortlist by veteran Italy and Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon, 39, and Real Madrid's Costa Rican shot stopper, Keylor Navas. The shortlist for the best women's player includes Venezuela's Deyna Castellanos, American star Carli Lloyd and Dutchwoman Lieke Martens. Fan award Borussia Dortmund's supporters, who won the inaugural award last season, have been nominated again as one of the three finalists for the ward in the fan category. They are up against the supporters of Celtic and FC Copenhagen. The awards were voted on by national team captains, national team coaches, selected members of the media and fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world’s top men’s football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the ... Read More »

Formula One: What has to happen for Lewis Hamilton to win the title in Austin

Lewis Hamilton can win a fourth driver's title on Sunday, which would draw him level with Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost. Vettel can still stop Hamilton, but the Briton holds a lead of 59 points. Lewis Hamilton stands on the verge of a fourth world title with four races to go in the Formula One season. All eyes will be on the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Sunday, with only Sebastian Vettel being the only driver with a realistic chance of halting the Mercedes driver's charge towards glory. In order for Hamilton, who leads Vettel by 59 points, to clinch the championship this weekend he must outscore the German by 16 points and teammate Valtteri Bottas by just three points. Hamilton will become the drivers' champion if he wins the race and Vettel finishes sixth or lower. If the Briton finishes second, he will need to rely on Vettel finishing ninth or lower and Bottas failing to win. If Hamilton finishes third, he cannot win the title in America and will be forced to wait at least another week, with the Mexico Grand Prix to be held on October 29. In the constructors' championship, Ferrari must outscore Mercedes by 17 points if they are to maintain their slim hopes of winning. Mercedes currently have a commanding 145-point lead over Ferrari, meaning a Mercedes win in Texas would secure victory. Hamilton coy on 'take a knee' In the lead up to Sunday's race, there has been some media speculation about whether Lewis Hamilton could go down to one knee in support of the ongoing protests by National Football League players against racial injustice. However, he has refused to confirm whether or not he intended to 'take a knee' in sympathy in Texas. The Briton, the only black driver to have won the Formula One championship, has said that he was focused on winning the race rather than the widespread protests in the United States. "I don't plan to let all the BS pull me down," Hamilton said. "I've worked hard to be here today and I have feelings about the whole situation, but at the moment I have no plans to do anything." He added: "I know a lot of people in America so I get to speak to a lot of black and white people that live here. I get quite a good view of what's happening here and I get opinions from the Americans about the movement, which I think is pretty huge. "You've seen I've posted about it because I respect it highly and I find the movement that Colin Kaepernick started awesome. I'm very much in support of it. "But I'm here to win. That's really at the top of my priorities at the moment so I'm not really focused on anything else."

Lewis Hamilton can win a fourth driver’s title on Sunday, which would draw him level with Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost. Vettel can still stop Hamilton, but the Briton holds a lead of 59 points. Lewis Hamilton stands on the verge of a fourth world title with four races to go in the Formula One season. All eyes will be ... Read More »

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