ARSENAL move to third in the EPL but its grip on a top-four finish and automatic Champions League entry may be temporary while Rafa and the Djoker shape up again. Get your Sports Fix.
ARSENAL TO THIRD; QPR, READING DOOMED
Soccer: Arsenal returned to third place in the Premier League table with a 1-0 win at 10-man Fulham, while Reading and Queens Park Rangers slipped ever closer to relegation.
Arsenal, starting with England midfielder Jack Wilshere on the bench, were given a huge advantage in the 12th minute at Craven Cottage when Steve Sidwell was shown a straight red card for catching Mikel Arteta on the ankle with his studs.
Victory lifted Arsenal above Chelsea, but both the Stamford Bridge club and fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur now have two games in hand on Arsene Wenger’s side.
Chelsea will regain third place if they win at Liverpool tonight (AEST), while Spurs can close to within two points of their north London rivals if they overcome second-place Manchester City.
At the other end of the table, QPR and Reading appear to be living on borrowed time after both sides lost and saw three of the sides above them win.
Bottom club Reading went down 2-1 at Norwich City, to leave Nigel Adkins’ men 10 points from safety with only 12 points to play for.
Wigan Athletic spurned an opportunity to move level on points with Villa after a 2-0 defeat at West Ham United left the FA Cup finalists in the bottom three.
Paolo Di Canio enjoyed a second successive win as Sunderland manager as his new club overcame Everton 1-0 to pull six points clear of the drop zone and leave a dent in Everton’s aspirations of qualifying for European football.
PLAYERS WANT MOURINHO OUT
Soccer: Up to 15 Real Madrid players, including five senior members of the squad, reportedly do not want Jose Mourinho to continue as manager.
The Portuguese has a contract with the Spanish champions until 2016, but has consistently been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season.
Mourinho admitted on Friday to saying he “didn’t think he would be here next season” to the president of CD Canillas, a club in the north of Madrid where Mourinho’s son plays in a youth team.
However, he claimed that his relationship with president Florentino Perez was a good one and that they would decide his future together at the end of the season.
Spanish newspaper El Pais claims though that an informal poll carried out by Perez among the squad found the majority would not be in favour of Mourinho staying on next season.
ROSBERG ON POLE IN BAHRAIN
Formula One: Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The German finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari for the race that is being held amid widespread anti-government protests in the divided nation.
It is only the second pole of Rosberg’s career and best performance of the year for the 27-year-old who has retired early in two of the three races and was forced by the team to finish behind teammate Lewis Hamilton in fourth place in Malaysia. Rosberg had his first start in Bahrain had never started in the top four on the desert circuit.
“Yes! Come on guys, that’s how it’s done,” Rosberg screamed into the radio.
Rosberg’s timed 1:32.330 to finish 0.254 in front of Vettel – the three-time defending Formula One champion – and 0.337 ahead of Alonso, who won last week’s Chinese Grand Prix.
DJOKOVIC, NADAL SET FOR ANOTHER SHOWDOWN
Tennis: Novak Djokovic will have a crack at toppling Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo Masters final for a second straight year.
Nadal added to his formidable record on the Monte Carlo red clay – the last eight titles, 46 consecutive match wins – when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals on Saturday.
The Spaniard has reached five successive finals since returning from a seven-month layoff for a left knee injury and operation. He will go for his fourth title of the season against Djokovic, who easily beat the unseeded Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-2, 6-1.
The world’s No. 1 player showed no sign his right ankle was bothering him, two weeks after twisting it on Davis Cup duty against the United States.
AUSSIES IN CUP WASHOUT
Tennis: The opening day of Australia’s Fed Cup World Group playoff against Switzerland was a washout.
With the clay court in Chiasso, southern Switzerland, under covers and water, officials had no choice but to suspend play.
More rain is forecast over the weekend, raising the possibility of the tie extending into Monday, but officials are hopeful conditions will ease.
Any further significant delays could result in the tie being postponed, with Australian spearhead Samantha Stosur among the players scheduled to compete in the claycourt event in Stuttgart, Germany this week.
BULLS HAMMER KINGS 34-0
Rugby union: The Bulls hammered the Southern Kings 34-0 in Super Rugby, sealing a four-try bonus point with Akona Ndungane’s score in the last move of the game at Port Elizabeth.
The Bulls led 20-0 at halftime through tries by Jan Serfontein inside five minutes and Jano Vermaak in the 23rd.
But the three-time Super Rugby champions couldn’t add to that dominant lead until the 76th minute, when replacement Jacques Potgieter forced his way over.
Ndungane reached out for the fourth try after the final hooter sounded to complete a perfect night for the Bulls at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
They move above the Cheetahs and Sharks to top the South African conference, while tournament newcomers the Kings were jolted back to reality after a promising tour of Australia.
Meanwhile, a late intercept try by Willie le Roux ensured the Cheetahs beat the Sharks 12-6 in a Super Rugby match played in pouring rain at Durban.
Briefly . . .
GOLF: A four-under-par round of 68 propelled Scotsman Marc Warren into a two-shot lead at the Spanish Open in Valencia after the third round. Warren, a two-time winner on the European tour, is followed by compatriot Craig Lee after his round of 70 gave him a one-shot advantage over the chasing pack at five under. The best round of the day was from Englishman David Horsey, whose wonderful 66 put him into contention at five under for the tournament.
GOLF: A record-tying 91 players made the cut at the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament after 17 players had to complete their second rounds on Saturday morning. The 91 to make the cut ties the modern-era record which was established at the 1981 Travelers Championship. Kevin Streelman birdied three of his first five holes en route to a one-under-par 70 to seize a share of the second-round lead before play was suspended.
SOCCER: A late Carl Finnigan strike helped Dundee beat 10-men St Mirren to keep their anticipated relegation from the Scottish Premier League on hold. Jim McAlister shot Dundee into a half-time lead but Steven Thompson levelled for the home side with a header after the break. St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin saw red in the second half for a second yellow card offence to hand Dundee the initiative. With nine minutes remaining Finnigan guided a header in off the bar to reduce the gap between the two bottom sides to 10 points with four matches remaining.
Video of the day
One last time . . . champion mare Black Caviar given a huge farewell by crowd at Caulfield after being retired.