8 Jan 2020

Today's sports news: what you need to know

11:15 am on 8 January 2020

Latest - Holders Manchester City took a big step towards a return to the English League Cup final with a 3-1 win over Manchester United in their semi-final, first leg at Old Trafford.

Bernardo Silva of Manchester City.

Bernardo Silva Photo: PHOTOSPORT

City outclassed their neighbours in the first half, going in 3-0 at the break before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side regrouped and avoided what could have been a more emphatic defeat.

A brilliant strike from Bernardo Silva put City ahead in the 17th minute, the winger cutting in from the right before unleashing a superb shot into the far, top corner.

The busy Portugal international then created City's second, collecting a poor headed clearance from Victor Lindelof and dancing past a challenge before threading the ball to Riyad Mahrez who rounded goalkeeper David de Gea and slotted home.

City then punished United on a counter-attack, which ended with Kevin De Bruyne blasting goalwards before De Gea's parry ricocheted off United midfielder Andreas Pereira into the net.

United looked more solid after the introduction of midfielder Nemanja Matic at the break and got a foothold in the tie through a 70th minute goal from Marcus Rashford.

Leicester City face Aston Villa in the first leg of the other semi-final tomorrow.


Kohli inspires India again

India captain Virat Kohli orchestrated yet another successful chase as his team thrashed Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the second Twenty20 International to go 1-0 up in the three-match series in Indore.

Virat Kohli of India.

Virat Kohli Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Kohli smashed Lahiru Kumara for a six to seal a clinical victory which came with 15 balls to spare as the Indian top order complemented the spadework done by their bowlers.

Shardul Thakur claimed three wickets in one over to help restrict Sri Lanka to a below-par 142-9 with only Kusal Perera (34) managing a decent score on a traditionally high-scoring ground.

Kohli hit two sixes in his unbeaten 30 off 17 balls.

The series opener in Guwahati was abandoned because of rain and a wet outfield. Pune hosts the third and final match on Friday.


Former MLB pitcher joins Tuatara

Auckland Tuatara have added to their pitching depth signing a former Major League baseballer as they make a final push for the Australian Baseball League playoffs.

Former Chicago Cubs right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng has agreed to join the Tuatara and will link up with the side when it flies to Sydney on Thursday to start a series against the Sydney Blue Sox.

The Taiwanese star made three appearances for the Cubs in 2017-2018 with mixed results.

The hard-throwing 25-year-old was signed by the Cubs in 2013 and was named the Cubs minor league pitcher of the year in September 2017 and made his MLB debut a day later.

He was released by the Cubs in April last year and was picked up by the Texas Rangers.

He made one appearance in for the Rangers AA affiliate team before spending the majority of the season on the injured list.

Also joining the Tuatara is hard-throwing Dominican left-hander Sandro Cabrera, who is signed with the San Francisco Giants organisation.

The two incoming pitchers will replace Hever Bueno and Lucas Jacobsen as well as infielder Josh Morgan, who are all heading back to the United States.

The Tuatara face the Blue Sox in a four-game series in Sydney this week before rounding out the regular season with series against fellow Northeast Division rivals Canberra and Brisbane.

Sainz hits the front

Two-times champion Carlos Sainz took over at the top of the Dakar Rally car standings after winning the third stage around the Saudi Arabian desert city of Neom.

Carlos Sainz competes in Dakar Rally.

Carlos Sainz Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Spaniard, driving a Mini buggy, led Toyota's defending champion Nasser al Attiyah of Qatar by four minutes and 55 seconds after the 427km loop that extended close to the Jordanian border.

Overnight leader Orlando Terranova dropped to third, eight minutes off the pace, after the Argentine completed the stage nearly 13 minutes slower than Sainz.

Three different drivers have now won the opening stages of the first Dakar to be held in the Middle East after more than a decade in South America.

Fernando Alonso, the first Formula One world champion to compete in the Dakar, came back strongly from a difficult start when he smashed a wheel and suspension and lost more than two and a half hours.

The Spaniard was fifth fastest in the stage but still two hours and 40 minutes behind Sainz in the overall classification.

In the motorcycle category, American Ricky Brabec won the stage on his Honda and took over the lead from Britain's Sam Sunderland.


Kyrgios beats Tsitsipas

Australian Nick Kyrgios outlasted world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(7) 6-7(3) 7-6(5) after an intense duel to seal the tie for the hosts against Greece at the inaugural ATP Cup team event in Brisbane.

Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios


Kyrgios slammed a backhand winner on matchpoint and fell on his back to celebrate his second win in as many meetings against the ATP Finals champion as the partisan crowd at the Pat Rafter Arena roared on.

His win ensured Australia will go to the knockouts having won all their ties in the $15 million ATP Cup, which features 24 nations competing in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney over 10 days.

"Exhausting! It was lot of fun. Knew it was going to be a tough match," Kyrgios said in a courtside interview. "He's an amazing player and he's so young. He's going to do some special things in the sport."

Kyrgios had missed the tie against Canada with a back problem and on Tuesday replaced Australia number one Alex de Minaur, who sat out with an abdominal strain.

While Kyrgios, who has been placed on probation by the governing body of men's tennis over his behaviour, losing his cool on court is not surprising, it was Tsitsipas who was docked a point for hitting a ball at the Greek Team Zone.

The 21-year-old also broke his racquet in frustration after losing the opening set which earned him a berating from his mother, who was present in the team zone.

Kyrgios stayed unfazed and kept his focus on his own game, which consisted of his usual through-the-leg tweeners, no-look drop shots and one underarm serve.

"I am on probation, so I got to stay in check. I'm trying, I'm trying (to be a good boy)," he said as the crowd clapped in appreciation.

All six group winners and the two best second-placed teams will advance to the final eight in Sydney. Besides the hosts, Serbia, Britain and Russia have already qualified.


Osaka warms up for Aussie Open with win

Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka began her 2020 season with a 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3 victory over Maria Sakkari in the opening round of the Brisbane International.

Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, 24th in the WTA rankings, fell at the first hurdle to Liudmila Samsonova, who is ranked more than 100 places below her.

The 129th ranked Russian won 6-4 2-6 6-3.

Samsonova next faces former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova who overcame a slow start and reeled off 12 of the last 13 games to down another Russian in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6 6-1 6-0.

Wildcard Maria Sharapova, playing her first match since losing in the first round of last year's U.S. Open, was beaten 3-6 6-1 7-6(3) by Jennifer Brady.

The American qualifier will take on world number one Ash Barty in the second round.

Eighth seed Madison Keys advanced with a 6-3 6-2 win over the Czech Republic's Marie Bouzkova.


Red Bull secure Verstappen for the next four years

Max Verstappen has signed to stay at Red Bull until the end of 2023 in a clear vote of confidence in the former world champions' Formula One title potential and their Honda partnership.

The announcement on Tuesday leaves two of the top three teams with young driver talent secure for the long-term, with Ferrari announcing in December that Charles Leclerc was staying to 2024.

Red Bull finished third last year in the first season of a new partnership with Honda, which proved an immediate success after the Japanese manufacturer's failed relationship with McLaren.

Verstappen was best of the rest behind Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

The rumour mill will now focus more on six-times world champion Hamilton, who is out of contract at the end of this year, and the future of Leclerc's four-times champion team mate Sebastian Vettel.


Central stay in Super Smash finals contention

Defending champions Central Districts have kept their Super Smash men's T20 play-off hopes alive with a 17 run win over Canterbury in their game in Christchurch.

Chasing 182 runs for the win Canterbury finished on 164 for 8, with Blair Tickner taking four wickets for CD.

Central move up to second on the table behind Wellington.

Phoenix take out Hyundai A-League Awards for December

Wellington Phoenix have cleaned up in the Hyundai A-League monthly awards for December, taking out all three top awards.

Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay has been voted the Hyundai A-League Coach of the Month for December - in his first year as a head coach - with an overwhelming 72% of the vote, beating out Sydney FC coach (and old boss) Steve Corica and Perth Glory's Tony Popovic in the process.

Alongside Coach Talay, 21-year-old midfielder Wellington Phoenix Cameron Devlin claimed the Hyundai A-League Player of the Month award for December following an impressive string of performances last month as the club extended their unbeaten run.

Davila edged out Phoenix teammate Ulises Davila to the December prize, having accumulated 46% of the vote to Davila's 35%.

And Phoenix attacker Reno Piscopo has been named the Hyundai A-League's December nominee for the Young Footballer of the Year.

In his first season in the Hyundai A-League, 21-year-old Piscopo started all five matches in December and thrived as one of the team's most creative players. His standout performance came against Sydney FC in Round 11 where he scored Wellington's opening goal before providing the assist for Ulises Davila's strike.

As a club, the Wellington Phoenix were unbeaten in the month of December; starting the month by beating Adelaide United (2-1) and Western Sydney Wanderers (2-1), before collecting draws against Melbourne Victory (0-0) and champions Sydney FC (2-2), and finishing off with a dominant win over rivals Western United (3-1).

The Phoenix next play Western Sydney in Wellington on Saturday.