Late thrills and controversy punctuated another eventful sporting weekend which brought joy and pain in equal measure.
Manchester City triumphed over Tottenham in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final at Wembley – which was watched by a crowd of 8,000 – as ‘big six’ counterparts Manchester United and Liverpool found themselves on the wrong end of a fans backlash over their involvement in the European Super League proposal.
On the pitch, there was misery for Jurgen Klopp’s men after their Champions League qualification hopes were dealt a further blow by a Newcastle fightback, while a rare Chris Wood hat-trick at Wolves eased Burnley’s relegation fears.
There were celebrations for England’s Women as they clinched a third successive Six Nations title, but disappointment for reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as his hopes of a record-equalling seventh World Snooker Championship success were dashed.
Here, the PA news agency reflects on a dramatic weekend of sport.
Solskjær hits out over Manchester United’s ‘impossible’ fixture pile-upClub scheduled to play four games in eight days‘It’s made by people who’ve never played at this level’ The Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, said his side had ‘not been dealt a good hand’. Photograph: Tullio Puglia - UEFA/UEFA/Getty Images
It sounds a far from convincing statement, but those Super Golf League disruptors from Saudi Arabia could just have as much as sense as money. While eyebrows disappeared under visors when it was revealed this week that Phil Mickelson could be paid as much as $100 million per year to appear in the proposed breakaway circuit, the 50 year-old showed he can still mix it with the game’s best when shooting an extraordinary first-round 65 that handed the Senior Tour member a two-shot advantage in the Wells Fargo Championship. This was Mickelson at his best and in this sort of form any golf fan would pay to watch him, regardless of the stage. On Wednesday, the five-time major winner had stretched credibility by claiming the rebels who did join the SGL would not be “money-grabbers” - as Rory McIlroy called them - but, in fact, would be “selfless’ because they would be tying themselves into a schedule the supporters would be thrilled to see. In truth, Mickelson is more suited to making mouths drop as he rolls back the years while rolling in the putts, as he did at Quail Hollow on this memorable Thursday. Mickelson, who competes with the over-50 brigade such as Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer, is ranked 115th in the world and without a top 20 on the Tour proper in nine months. What was the difference here from his missed cut in Tampa last week? “Just focus,” Mickelson said. “This course holds my attention. I've been doing some like, you know, some mental exercises and so forth just to try to get my concentration to elongate over five hours. That's been a real struggle for me because, physically, there's nothing holding me back from playing at a high level. Mickelson’s nearest pursuers are fellow American Keegan Bradley and Korean Kyoung-Hoon Lee, with England’s Tommy Fleetwood on four-under. Rory McIlroy, in his first event since his missed cut at the Masters, could only manage a one-over 73 and now faces another fight to make the weekend. He is two back from Rickie Fowler, another whose targeting by the Saudis caused surprise. Bogeys on the world No 111's final two holes hardly strengthened any conviction that he might be worth a $30m signing-on fee, yet in the midst of the most humbling slump of Fowler’s career so far, this one-under 71 was, in fact, a step forward for the 32 year-old. And afterwards he credited time spent viewing last month’s Masters alongside Tiger Woods as inspiration. Fowler, without a top 10 in his last 27 events, failed to qualify for the Augusta major for the first time in 11 years and instead went over to his neighbour’s to watch the first round. “It was fun to be able to do that with Tiger. “We were both in the same position... well, I guess not the same. Mine from not playing well and him being laid up [after breaking his right leg in a car accident]. But we were definitely both very disappointed we couldn't experience it. “Tiger’s golf clubs are right there in the living room and he can stare at them all he wants. He's not lacking any fire in there right now. Tiger never has.” It is fair to say that not everyone says similar about Fowler. In March, Sir Nick Faldo took a pop at the Californian’s plethora of endorsement commitments - “the good news is if he misses the Masters he can shoot another six commercials that week!” Faldo posted on Twitter - and although the Englishman later apologised and claimed he was only joking, many saw true words in his jest. Fowler has attracted further criticism for expressing his interest in the SGL, despite Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s warning on Tuesday that the rebels face a lifetime ban. “Yeah I think the information's good, knowing about what's going on,” he explained. “You don't necessarily want to just be sitting here talking about or not being able to answer certain things. It's definitely interesting. I think there's a lot that needs to happen for it to even move forward of any sort, but at the same time I think competition can be a good thing.” Fowler believes it could come to pass. “It would definitely need at least a handful of guys to be going in that direction, or to commit or something,” he said. “But I don't know of anything like that right now. So we'll see. I think all of us will come out in a better place after all this is done.”
The Australian has advanced to her maiden Madrid final and will meet Aryna Sabalenka, who cruised past Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-3 in the second semi-final. Barty, who lost to Badosa in the quarter-finals in Charleston, struck 30 winners in an immaculate display that extended her winning run on clay to 16 matches.
Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 plans disrupted by European club finalsPreparations for delayed tournament thrown into disarrayUp to 11 players likely to miss June warmup matches Gareth Southgate will be without players such as Manchester United’s Harry Maguire for England’s friendly against Austria. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA
Arsenal’s Aubameyang hits post twice as Villarreal reach Europa League final Villarreal players celebrate a famous victory as Arsenal rue their Europa League semi-final exit. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Australian great Hewitt, who won two Grand Slam titles during his career, was named to the Class of 2021 in February and was to be honoured at a July 17 induction ceremony at the Newport, Rhode Island-based Hall of Fame. "Unfortunately due to the circumstances around COVID this year, my family and I won't be able to make it over to Newport to celebrate this July," former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Hewitt said in a video on the Hall of Fame's website.
A “gutted” Kyle Sinckler was the stunning omission from Warren Gatland’s 37-man Lions squad that calls into question many of England head coach Eddie Jones’ selection decisions this year. As Lions attack coach Gregor Townsend revealed that he had not consulted any of the England coaches in the build-up to the announcement of this party for the South Africa tour, head coach Gatland sensationally... Overlooked England prop Sinckler, who had been considered by many as a nailed-on squad selection Did not select Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton and lock James Ryan Picked Exeter No 8 Sam Simmonds, who Jones has not selected in three years, over England stalwart Billy Vunipola Insisted Elliot Daly would play at centre rather than full-back, where he has been Jones' first choice since 2018 Suggested he could “create an environment” for a five-strong Saracens’ contingent to recapture their best form after underperforming for England in the Six Nations Gatland revealed the brutality of the 2009 South Africa series weighed heavily on his mind with selection. He promised his squad, led by Wales second row Alun Wyn Jones, will need to be prepared to “get in the trenches” against the world champion Springboks. Fitness and durability proved to be two key criteria in the most surprising Lions squad of recent times. The effects of those bombshells reverberated across the British Isles. They were perhaps most keenly felt in Ireland with the omissions of captain Sexton and second row Ryan, who was mentioned as a possible captaincy contender last year. Yet Gatland showed no favouritism towards Wales, whom he coached for 12 years, with centre Jonathan Davies also omitted. Despite England’s desperate fifth-place finish in the Six Nations, they still boast the greatest representation with 11 players, although that is a long way short of the target of 20-plus players set by Jones last year. Scotland, meanwhile, boat their highest total in 32 years with eight players.
Manchester City v Chelsea: bravura final battle is held up by healthy bottom lineThese furiously evolving teams deserve their place in the final, but wealth of their owners and Premier League certainly helps Ben Chilwell tackles João Cancelo in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Both managers have both used their full-backs effectively to reach Istanbul. Photograph: Getty Images