Leicester cash in on Man City's defeat

Jamie Vardy missed two good chances to extend his goalscoring streak to 12 straight games but a Riyad Mahrez hat-trick sent Leicester back to the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Vardy fired an early effort straight at Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, then blazed a late effort over the bar as it was left to the Algerian to seal a 3-0 win at the Liberty Stadium.

And it proved enough for the Foxes to return to the top of the table after Manchester City were beaten 2-0 by Stoke in the lunchtime kick-off at the Britannia Stadium.

Mahrez took just five minutes to put his side in front when he converted a Marc Albrighton free-kick then he increased their lead after 22 minutes from a cross by N'Golo Kante.

Ki Sung-yueng struck the bar at the start of the second half for the home side but Mahrez sealed a win which will heap more pressure on Swans boss Garry Monk when he slotted home from Vardy's neat pass in the 67th minute.

Earlier, Manuel Pellegrini's men served up an abject performance as two first-half goals from Marko Arnautovic and a brilliant individual performance by Xherdan Shaqiri gave Mark Hughes' side the points.

Shaqiri shimmied past Fernando and Aleksandar Kolarov before crossing for Arnautovic to side-foot a seventh minute opener, then the same pair combined for the Austrian to grab his second with just 22 minutes on the clock.

Olivier Giroud scored at both ends as Arsenal ended Sunderland's recent revival under Sam Allardyce with a hard-fought 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.

Joel Campbell fired the Gunners' 33rd-minute opener through Costel Pantilimon's legs but the Black Cats got the equaliser they deserved just before the break when Giroud inadvertently deflected a Yann M'Vila into his own net.

Petr Cech produced a brilliant save to prevent Steven Fletcher putting the visitors back in front before Giroud headed home at the right end in the 63rd minute and Aaron Ramsey sealed the win in stoppage time.

There was more frustration for Manchester United at Old Trafford as Louis Van Gaal's men were held to a goalless draw by West Ham.

Winston Reid and Mauro Zarate missed good early chances for the Hammers but United piled on more pressure in the second half and Marouane Fellaini was only denied by a brilliant save from Adrian.

Remi Garde was denied his first win as Aston Villa boss as Southampton substitute Oriol Romeu salvaged a 1-1 draw for the hosts at St Mary's.

Villa survived a spell of strong early pressure from the hosts in which Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle came close and a Jose Fonte effort was cleared off the line.

Joleon Lescott put the visitors in front against the run of play on the stroke of half-time but Romeu equalised when he converted a corner from James Ward-Prowse just before the hour mark.

Tottenham were held to a 1-1 draw by West Brom at The Hawthorns after Dele Alli's 15th-minute opener was cancelled out by a rare header from James McClean five minutes before the interval.

Odion Ighalo capped another superb performance with a stoppage-time goal as Watford beat Norwich 2-0 at Vicarage Road, Troy Deeney having struck home the opener from a 30th-minute penalty.

'Blade Runner' Pistorius found guilty of murder on appeal

South Africa's "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius was found guilty on Thursday of murdering his girlfriend, in an appeal court ruling that could see him sent back to prison for at least 15 years.

The Supreme Court upgraded the 29-year-old Paralympian's sentence on appeal to murder from "culpable homicide", South Africa's equivalent of manslaughter, for which he had received a five-year sentence.

Pistorius was released from prison and placed under house arrest on Oct. 19, having spent one day less than a year behind bars for shooting dead model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013, in a case that attracted worldwide interest and continues to fascinate and divide South Africa.

Members of the ruling African National Congress party's Women's League welcomed the new ruling, dancing and singing outside the court. They have attended the court sessions since the trial began in solidarity with Steenkamp's family and in support of women's rights.

Pistorius had been meant to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest on his uncle's property in a wealthy suburb of the capital Pretoria.

A new sentence for the Paralympic champion will be handed down at a later date. Pistorius is expected to remain on parole until then, unless a court rules otherwise, officials said.

In their appeal, prosecutors argued that Pistorius should have been convicted of murder for firing four shots through a locked toilet door. They said he intended to kill Steenkamp and that she had fled to the toilet during a row.

"This case involves a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions," Judge Eric Leach said as he read out the ruling.

"A young man overcomes huge physical disabilities to reach Olympian heights as an athlete. In doing so he becomes an international celebrity, he meets a young woman of great natural beauty and a successful model, romance blossoms, and then, ironically on Valentine’s Day, all is destroyed when he takes her life."

Leach added that "as a matter of common sense, at the time the fatal shots were fired the possibility of the death of a person behind the door was clearly an obvious result."

Pistorius denies deliberately killing Steenkamp, saying he mistook her for an intruder at his home. [L8N13S19R]

The case has prompted a fierce debate in a country beset by high levels of violent crime. Some rights groups had said the white track star got preferential treatment.

Anneliese Burgess, the Pistorius family's spokeswoman, said the family would wait for lawyers advice on what to do next.

Some legal experts said Pistorius' lawyers could appeal the court's ruling at the constitutional court, where they could argue that the heavy media coverage of his trial had infringed upon his right to a free trial. Others disagreed, saying Pistorius had received a fair trial and had been allowed to testify.

"It will be a long shot if they approach the constitutional court, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do," Johannesburg-based lawyer and legal analyst Ulrich Roux said.

At the original trial last year, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that the state had failed to prove intent or "dolus eventualis", a legal concept that centres on a person being held responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.

Judge Leach said Judge Masipa had erred in the application of the concept, however.

Dolus eventualis refers to whether a person foresees the possibility that his or her action will cause death but carries on regardless. Some legal experts were worried that the verdict by Judge Masipa could have set a bad legal precedent in a country with one of the highest crime rates in the world.

Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby but who went on to become a global sporting hero, was not at the court session in Bloemfontein, some 400 km (250 miles) southwest of Johannesburg.

Steenkamp's mother June, who has said she does not want retribution, attended the court session. She shed tears as she left the court after the new judgement was handed down.

Barry Steenkamp, Reeva's father, welcomed the new verdict.

"It's a big relief. I feel it's a fair decision that the judge gave," Steenkamp said in a brief interview on local television station ANN7, before breaking down in tears. (Source Reuters)

Bastian Schweinsteiger reveals his reasons for joining Manchester United

Bastian Schweinsteiger has revealed he was lured to Manchester United because of the rich history of the club, in an interview with ​Sport.

Though it's been speculated that the link up with manager Louis van Gaal was a key reason for his summer move from Bayern Munich, the German star revealed that he idolised the club for many years and the benefits of working with the Dutchman and playing in the Champions League at Old Trafford were extra incentives.

He said:  “Champions League matches are something special for me.

“Of course Premier League matches are special, but the atmosphere at night and the Champions League anthem is something that gives you a little bit of (extra) motivation.”

Van Gaal initially converted him into a central midfielder at Bayern, and the player believes he sits in a key role in the team at the moment and dictates the tempo, while his manner of play has earned him the nickname of 'Mr. Calm' from team mates.

He said on Van Gaal:  “I think he has his philosophy.  We try to improve in every match, but it’s not easy sometimes when you play against teams who defend with ten players in their own half, and maybe a little bit deeper. You have to find solutions, and maybe the right moment to accelerate.

“There are some situations where you have to be fast.

“But you also have to give the feeling to your team-mates that everything is under control. I don’t it like it when there’s too much rush. So maybe this is where the name comes from. But this is the point – I sometimes control the situation and it looks calm, but it’s not. My brain and eyes are working all the time.

“He (Van Gaal) was the one who finally put me as a centre midfield player – that was very important for me.  You learn a lot when you speak with him.

“Of course you have more responsibility on the pitch as well in that position. And of course when you get older, you have more experience and you see things differently.

“We have Wayne, we have Michael Carrick, we have Chris Smalling, who have experience and they’re very important for that. I try to help them (his teammates). I’m not 20, so I know how it is; I just want to try to help. Of course I try to lead in some situations, but I’m not the one who says I’m a leader.

“In that position, you have to do this, but I’m not the only one. We have a lot of players who can do this. Maybe I have a lot of experience on a high level – I’ve played World Cup finals, Champions League finals. It is different at that level and you learn a lot, so I think it’s kind of helpful.”

The German captain also revealed that iconic forward Eric Cantona was one of his heroes growing up, though the main reason he chose to move to Old Trafford was because of the stature of the club itself.

On Cantona, he added:  “He had this aura.  And he had quality – he was a world-class player; his attitude, he always wanted to win, and he was a personality.

“(But) For me, the main reason was Manchester United."

BADMINTON: Kate Foo Kune won the final of women's singles

Kate Foo Kune has snatch a precious victory in Lusaka during Zambia International, first leg of his African tour this year. Ranked No. 3, the Mauritian forced her opponent, the Iranian Soraya Aghaei Hajaigha ranked No.5 in ladies singles final to abandoned. Hajaigha had however wonthe initial set 21-15.
The two contendershad beaten the two best players in the tournament. Kate Foo Kune stunned if the super favorite, the Italian Jeanine Cicognini (64th BWF), 21-19, 21-19, while the Iranian had eliminated the Nigerian Grâce Gabriel, ranked No. 2 and 69th worldwide (17-21, 21-11, 21-19).

The tournament was played at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka. Kate Foo Kune is looking for an Olympic qualification for Rio 2016.

  • Published in Local

Klopp: We can't treat Sturridge normally

Daniel Sturridge has been hampered by knee and foot injures since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October.

Jurgen Klopp stressed Daniel Sturridge cannot be treated like a "normal player" due to his run of injuries but the Liverpool manager said the striker must trust in the club.

Sturridge has been plagued by foot and knee injuries since Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers in October, with the England international only making his return off the bench in Liverpool's 1-0 win over Swansea City last week.

Klopp has already said Sturridge must learn what "serious pain" was following a number of setbacks this season, but the German insisted the 26-year-old will not face his injury battles alone.

"We are in a different situation when we talk about Daniel," Klopp said ahead of Liverpool's League Cup quarter-final at Southampton on Wednesday, which Sturridge is expected to start on the bench.

"It is not because of his qualities, it is only because of his history. With someone who has had 20 injuries, you cannot be treated like a normal player.

"We all have our own experiences.

"If someone has more injuries than someone else, then they will have more doubt - that is normal. That is why we have to all be together.

"Nobody is alone at Melwood. We are all in it together. We have to give the right advice in the right moment. Not to play along in these moments.

"When we all decide 'Yes, go' then we have to trust each other. That's what we will all learn and do, better and better and better."

Gary Neville named Valencia head coach

Manchester United legend Gary Neville has succeeded Nuno as manager at Spanish club Valencia.

The 40-year-old ex-England defender will officially take charge of the first team on Sunday 6 December, ahead of the UEFA Champions League match against Lyon at Mestalla on Wednesday 9 December - but not this weekend's match with champions Barcelona.

His assistant manager will be his brother Phil who has been running the team since Nuno resigned.

Both men also own Salford City FC along with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes while Gary has been an assistant coach with England for the past three years.

Valencia CF President Layhoon Chan said: “We are delighted to have secured Gary so quickly. He combines top level coaching experience through his role as a senior coach with the England national team and a world-class playing career with England and Manchester United”.

“Throughout his career Gary has always shown great leadership both on and off the pitch. He is hugely respected in English football and it was his personal qualities which persuaded us that he was the right choice to lead Valencia until the end of the season."

Gary Neville said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be given this opportunity with Valencia. Valencia are a huge football club of immense standing and I know from my time as a player the passion and dedication of the Valencia fans.

“I am really looking forward to working with the club’s talented group of players and am excited about the challenge ahead.”

A press conference with Layhoon Chan and Gary Neville will be held on Thursday afternoon at Mestalla Stadium.

Gary Neville is also a Sky Sports pundit whose managing director Barney Francis said: "We wish Gary all the very best as he returns to football with our blessing and begins his managerial career with Valencia.  

"He will always be a friend of Sky Sports and we look forward to following the next chapter of his career closely, not least during our weekly La Liga coverage. And of course, the door will always be open should he wish to return."

Neville himself said: “Sky has probably been one of the best decisions I have ever made, simply an incredible job that I have loved doing. The team that I have worked with on match days and MNF have been simply unbelievable, their knowledge of the game, their passion, their work ethos has made me love football more.

“No one understands football better than Sky Sports, so it has been no surprise that they have fully supported and understood the decision that I have made to go to Valencia for the next five months.”

Man City get £265 million investment

A consortium of Chinese investors is investing $400 million to take a stake of more than 13 percent in the group that owns soccer clubs including Manchester City and New York City FC.

The consortium includes CMC Holdings and CITIC Capital and the deal values the City Football Group at $3 billion, City Football Group said in a statement on Tuesday.

As part of the deal, new shares will be issued in City Football Group in addition to ones owned by Sheikh Mansour's Abu Dhabi United Group. (Source: Reuters)

Bale will replace Ronaldo as Real Madrid's main man next season

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague claims that Gareth Bale will replace Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid's main man next season.

Balague said he believes the Bernabeu crowd will only see the best of the Welsh winger when Ronaldo departs, which he states will happen. When asked about whether Bale was back on song after a couple of promising performances, Balague said only more will come from the former Spurs man.

"Bale got two assists against Shakhtar and he scored the first goal against Eibar - it was a set piece prepared in training, a two versus one in the corner, then Luka Modric puts a cross in and Bale comes from deep to the near post to head home," Balague said.

"It was a very important goal and I am convinced that when he gets the opportunity to be the main man at Real Madrid, you are going to see more and more of that. He enjoys the freedom of playing wherever he wants - right, left, in the middle - but while Cristiano Ronaldo is there it is not easy for him to grow.

"So that is why Madrid are thinking it is the right time to sell Ronaldo and to allow Bale to grow. We have seen only flashes so far of Bale, there is a lot of confidence in him and that is why they will keep him next season for sure."

Balague also claimed that James Rodriguez is not playing more because Rafael Benitez deems his fitness to be not quite right, with whispers coming out Madrid that all wasn't well between the Colombian forward and his Spanish manager.

"The reason why James does not play more often is not because of his style or quality, as Rafa Benitez is well aware that he is a very good player, but his fitness is still not quite right.

"You do not want a player to play the full game when you know he does not have 90 minutes in him and it is better to bring him back to full fitness little by little, that is all it is."

Ballon d'Or: Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar nominated

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar have been shortlisted for the 2015 FIFA Ballon d'Or.

The award has been dominated by Ronaldo and Messi over the past seven years, with the Real Madrid man bagging the trophy three times and the Argentine taking the honour home on four occasions.

Messi is favourite to make it five after a wonderful 2014-15 season which saw him play a lead role as Barca clinched a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League, scoring 58 goals in all competitions. He has managed nine in 13 appearances in 2015-16 after missing nearly two months of action with a knee injury sustained against Las Palmas in September.

The only blemish on Messi's year was Argentina's failure to land the Copa America in Chile. Messi scored in their opening game against Paraguay but then did not find the back of the net for the remainder of the tournament as Gerardo Martino's side lost the final to the host nation.

Ronaldo outscored Messi last season by netting 61 times but Madrid failed to land a trophy in 2015.

The Portuguese has not had a great start to 2015-16 by his lofty standards - despite the statistics showing a record of 16 goals in 20 games. He grabbed five goals in one game and has often cut a frustrated figure under new Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.

Ronaldo himself has said he expects Barcelona's collective brilliance to prove decisive. He told the Jonathan Ross show on ITV: "To be honest I think Messi is going to win this year because this kind of trophy, it depends on votes.

"You win competitions, you win Champions League, you win the league...

"I did probably the best season of my career which is good and I was the highest scorer in Europe [but] it's all about votes, it's difficult and to be honest I'm not very worried about that because as I said many times, I never [thought I'd] win it three times to be honest."

Neymar is the outsider despite a hugely impressive 12 months.

The Brazil captain has become a key member of the much-vaunted MSN (Messi-Luis Suarez-Neymar) combination which contributed 122 goals in Barca's treble - Neymar grabbing 39.

He also proved his growing influence on the Camp Nou side by taking a leading role when Messi was injured.

Like his fellow South American, however, he enjoyed a less successful year on the international stage, seeing red for his part in a mass brawl which marred the group stage defeat to Colombia and missing the rest of the tournament as a result as Brazil were eliminated at the quarter-final stage.

Football: Arsenal and Chelsea facing transfer bans

Arsenal and Chelsea could be among some of Europe's biggest clubs to be hit with a transfer ban by FIFA.

Arsenal and Chelsea could be among the next round of clubs to be hit with a transfer ban from Fifa because of their recruitment of players under the age of 18.

European champions Barcelona are currently serving the final weeks of a year long transfer embargo imposed by  world football's governing body after they were found guilty of illegally recruiting minors. Arsenal and Chelsea - along with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid - are believed to have conducted similar dealings and may face bans if further investigations prove their wrongdoing.

According to Fifa rules, international minors are only allowed to move clubs when one of three situations apply: Either the player's parents have moved country for non-footballing reasons, the move takes place within the European Union if a player is aged between 16 and 18, or if the said player's home is less than 50km from the national border being crossed.

Other unnamed 'big clubs' from Germany and Italy are also believed to be under the spotlight.

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