Leicester promoted to Premier League

Written by admin on 30/07/2019 Categories: 佛山桑拿论坛

Leicester City clinched promotion to the Premier League without kicking a ball on Saturday as their two main rivals both lost.

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Nigel Pearson’s side had already beaten Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 on Friday to move within touching distance of a return to the English top-flight for the first time since 2004.

And the Championship leaders were able to celebrate confirmation of their promotion less than 24 hours later as third-placed QPR lost 2-1 at Bournemouth, while fourth-placed Derby crashed 1-0 at Middlesbrough.

Tommy Elphick and Lewis Grabban scored to win it for Bournemouth either side of Armand Traore’s replay for QPR, while on-loan Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah struck in the 69th minute to give Middlesbrough victory over Derby.

Those results ensured a top-two finish for the big-spending Foxes, who are owned by a Thai consortium backed by chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Leicester’s promotion has been on the cards for several weeks after they surged nine points clear of second placed Burnley thanks to a superb 21-game unbeaten run.

They already have 89 points, two more than Cardiff’s final total when the Welsh club won promotion as second tier champions last season.

With six games still to play, Pearson’s men can focus on finishing top and possibly cracking the 100-point barrier.

Speaking after Friday’s win at the King Power Stadium, Pearson had insisted he wouldn’t watch the scores come in on Saturday.

“No. My job is to get this club promoted. Whether it’s tomorrow, whether it’s Tuesday, the next week, the week after it’s irrelevant really. It’s about getting promotion,” he said.

“I want us to win every game that we can and I want us to be champions, but we’ll have to fight very hard to do that.

“We’ll get promoted as and when we deserve it.”

Former Tottenham and England striker Gary Lineker, a noted Leicester fan who started his career with the midlands clubs, was quick to acknowledge the club’s achievement, posting on Twitter: “Leicester Burnley are firm favourites to join Leicester in the Premier League.

Sean Dyche’s side hold a 10-point lead over QPR with just six games to play after Scott Arfield’s 86th minute equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw at Watford.

Wigan are fifth after Martyn Waghorn celebrated signing a permanent deal with the FA Cup holders by firing them to a 1-0 win over Leeds.

Reading also consolidated their place in the play-offs with a 1-0 win at struggling Charlton.

Nottingham Forest, who this week announced the club’s legendary defender Stuart Pearce will take over as manager in July, continued their slide out of the play-off race after slumping to a 2-1 loss at home to lowly Millwall.

Elsewhere, Birmingham won 3-1 at Doncaster, Yeovil beat Blackpool 2-1 and Bolton won 1-0 at Huddersfield.

Blackburn defeated Ipswich 2-0 and Barnsley were held to a 0-0 draw by Brighton.

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Magnussen drops guard at nationals

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The wall James Magnussen built around himself after his London Olympic meltdown refused to crumble following the dual world champion’s shock 100m freestyle national titles loss in Brisbane.

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But he still offered a rare glimpse behind it as he looked to regroup ahead of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

A candid Magnussen revealed he childishly strutted around the team hotel claiming he would break the 100m world record ahead of the Friday night final, telling anyone who would listen that “this is the day”.

It will now rival his infamous “brace yourselves” warning to rivals ahead of his ill-fated 2012 Olympic campaign after 19-year-old upstart Cameron McEvoy (47.65) became the only one who came close to Brazilian Cesar Cielo’s 46.91 world mark when he clinched the national 100m crown.

The humble image he tried to project post-London Olympics was momentarily ditched when a shattered Magnussen reflected on being relegated to 100m silver (47.92) – but at least he was being honest.

Magnussen admitted his coach Brant Best had told him not to reveal the world record was on his mind ahead of the 100m final despite comfortably cracking the 48 second barrier six times this season alone.

“I don’t know if you had noticed but I had been trying to avoid those (world record) questions like crazy the last couple of months,” he said.

“The whole preparation was ‘don’t talk about the world record, don’t talk about the world record’.

“But it is right there.

“I am going 47s all season. How can I not think about it if I am fresh and tapered?”

An overzealous Magnussen bungled the start and then the turn in the 100m and was duly punished by rising star McEvoy.

Still, Magnussen claimed it did not compare with London where he talked the talk but spectacularly failed to walk the walk, relegating him to a shock 100m silver medal.

“The Olympics gave me such a thick skin it is going to take a fairly big defeat to rock me,” he said.

Magnussen admitted he was still “filthy” about the 100m result but did not believe he had to redeem himself at Glasgow.

“It’s Commonwealth Games trials not world record attempts.”

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Chiefs steal another high-scoring draw

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The Chiefs conducted their second South African Super Rugby escape act in the space of a week to draw 43-43 with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

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In a game baring remarkable similarities to last weekend’s 34-34 draw with the Bulls, the Chiefs once again launched an enormous comeback – from 24 points down – and levelled after the final hooter.

This time it was wing Tim Nanai-Williams who scored their sixth and final try, dancing past two defenders in the 82nd minute to score under the crossbar.

Five-eighth Aaron Cruden, as he did at Pretoria last week, slotted the conversion to once again earn his team three competition points.

It means the Chiefs end their three-match tour winless, including a loss to the Western Force in Perth, but the six points secured in South Africa could prove important as they pursue a third successive Super Rugby title.

The Cheetahs, winless in their previous six games, looked set to end their drought when leading 34-10 at halftime.

Inspired by the running of halfback Sarel Pretorius, who scored two tries, they played with speed and power which defied their last placing. The other tries went to wing Rayno Benjamin and flanker Boom Prinsloo.

The Chiefs’ only first-half try was scored by halfback Augustine Pulu, who grabbed his second in the 52nd minute to spark a five-try surge over the last half-hour.

Keeping the ball in hand and offloading with great skill, the Cheetahs couldn’t halt the Chiefs’ waves of attacks which created two tries each to wings Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Nanai-Williams.

Cheetahs five-eighth Johan Goosen scored his team’s only points in the second half through three penalties. Goosen kicked 23 points in a nine from 11 return.

The Chiefs have never lost in four games against the Cheetahs in South Africa.

They remain New Zealand conference leaders ahead of a home game against the Rebels in Hamilton on Saturday.

The Cheetahs will face the Crusaders in Bloemfontein.

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Late tries seal Crusaders’ victory

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A couple of late tries clinched a 28-7 victory for Canterbury Crusaders over Golden Lions Saturday in a Super Rugby match at Ellis Park.

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Veteran scrum-half Andy Ellis dived over on 73 minutes and replacement fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal converted to give the New Zealanders a 16-point advantage.

And a superb grubber kick from All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg at the end set up centre Kieron Fonotia for a simple try and a deserved win by the seven-time champions.

The New Zealanders lacked their three biggest stars — loose forwards Richie McCaw and Kieran Read are injured and fly-half Dan Carter is taking a sabbatical.

Crusaders, who started this season poorly with just two wins in five matches before travelling to South Africa, were deserved victors after winning the breakdowns battle.

Unlike most opponents of the Lions this season, the New Zealanders did not allow ill discipline to creep in and gift penalties to deadly place-kicker Marnitz Boshoff.

The Lions fly-half, who tops the Super 15 scoring charts with 109 points, had just two shots at goal and narrowly missed off an angled penalty before succeeding with a conversion.

After falling 13 points behind early in the second half, the Lions gained the initiative and centre Lionel Mapoe squeezed over in the corner for a try.

That narrowed the deficit to six points and 18 point-less minutes followed before Dagg slotted a penalty after regular kicker Colin Slade was forced to retire injured.

Despite winning comfortably, Crusaders climbed only one place to 12th on the overall southern hemisphere championship standings and remain bottom of the New Zealand conference.

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United clash ‘life or death’ for Bayern

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Pep Guardiola described Bayern Munich’s Champions League quarter-final clash against Manchester United as a “matter of life or death” after his team’s record unbeaten Bundesliga run was ended at Augsburg.

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The Bavarian giants suffered their first Bundesliga defeat since October 2012 on Saturday as their 53-match unbeaten league run was ended when they lost 1-0 at Bavarian rivals Augsburg.

With one eye on the quarter-final, second leg at home to United, and with the Bundesliga title already secured, Guardiola paid the price for naming a weakened team.

Having drawn the first-leg 1-1 at Old Trafford, David Moyes’ United will face a different Bayern team at Munich’s Allianz Arena, but the Augsburg result leaves the European champions winless in their last three games.

“Sooner or later we had to lose, we accept that and we have to prepare as quickly as possible for Manchester United,” said head coach Guardiola.

“Next Wednesday is a final for us. It’s a matter of life or death.”

Guardiola started with three teenagers at Augsburg, giving Bundesliga debuts to wing-backs Ylli Sallahi and Mitchell Weiser while Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg was named on the left wing.

The gamble backfired when Weiser lost possession to Augsburg’s Daniel Baier who fed Sascha Moelders and the Augsburg striker blasted his shot past Bayern’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with 31 minutes gone to claim the winning goal.

“We tried everything and fought until the end,” said Guardiola.

“We have no complaints, we lost because the opponent was better than us. That’s football. You can’t always win.”

He could have easily fielded a stronger side and after his team went behind for the third match in succession, Guardiola responded by bringing stars Mario Goetze, David Alaba and Thomas Mueller off the bench.

Left-back Alaba hit the post with 68 minutes gone, while Goetze and Muller went close as Bayern pushed in vain for the goal to keep alive hopes of becoming the first team to go through a Bundesliga campaign undefeated.

“That hurts a bit,” admitted midfielder Mueller.

“We wanted to defend our unbeaten run, but we just didn’t produce on the pitch what we are capable of. The fact is that it’s never easy to win at Augsburg, but it was not the plan to go home with a defeat.”

Both Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger are suspended for the United clash, meaning Toni Kroos and captain Philipp Lahm are likely to pair up in the defensive midfield.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said the main thing was to come through the Augsburg match without injuries.

“We took Augsburg seriously, but the main thing is that no-one is injured,” said Neuer as Bayern failed to score for the first time this season in all competitions.

“It’s all about Wednesday and the game against Manchester, nothing else matters.”

Having lost 4-2 at Borussia Dortmund in July’s German Super Cup final and beaten 3-2 at home to Manchester City in the Champions League group stage last December, this was only Bayern’s third defeat of the season.

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Ricciardo out-paces Vettel in the desert

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Daniel Ricciardo’s roller-coaster Formula One season continued Saturday when he qualified third fastest for the Bahrain Grand Prix with a performance of raw speed which again put struggling world champion and Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel in the shade.

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The 24-year-old Australian was just 0.866sec off the pole position time of Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg in a barnstorming drive given extra impetus by the knowledge that he was facing a 10-place penalty on the grid for a pit-lane infringement in Malaysia last weekend.

It was the latest dramatic episode for Ricciardo who had his second place in Australia stripped from him through disqualification.

Then, in Malaysia, he drove off with a loose wheel after a pit stop and had to return to the garage to have it refitted.

As he returned to the track, dropping from fourth to last, Ricciardo’s front wing came loose and damaged a front tyre, meaning he had to go back to the pits.

And he then had to serve a 10-second stop-go penalty before retiring.

Despite his travails, Ricciardo was still optimistic that he can charge back through the field under the Sakhir floodlights on Sunday and open his points account for the season.

“We’ve got some good guys in the office back there and I’m sure they’ll do what they can to get me as far up the front as possible,” he said.

“I would love to charge through and have a podium after the 57 or so laps. I think realistically we just have to get some points to start with. My season has been going well but I don’t have any points to show for it so far, so I think that’s the first target.”

Ricciardo’s penalty meant that four-time world champion Vettel, who missed out on the third and final qualifying session, will start in 10th spot.

But it has been a miserable week so far for Vettel who also suffered the indignity of crashing into the gravel in Saturday’s third and final practice session which left him with the second slowest time.

“We weren’t quick enough today. I was pretty happy yesterday, but I think this morning didn’t help us when I spun off and did some damage to the car,” admitted Vettel.

“It’s hard to say how big the impact of that was, as once you start qualifying you just get your head down and try to do the best you can.

“I think our speed is okay on a longer run — and actually on a shorter run too, as Dan has shown. It will be hard to overtake some cars tomorrow, but we will try our best.”

Ricciardo’s blistering performance on Saturday even prompted cheeky suggestions that the Australian should now be considered as Red Bull’s number one driver.

Pole-sitter Rosberg, however, wasn’t going to fall into the trap.

“I don’t really want to rate them. Sebastian is clearly a fantastic driver, one of the best out there and Daniel is doing a great job and definitely deserves the seat that he’s got at Red Bull,” said Rosberg.

“It will be an interesting battle between the two.”

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PSG seal Champions League spot

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Runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain tuned up for their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea on Tuesday with a morale-boosting 3-0 home win over Reims on Saturday.

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Laurent Blanc’s in form side carry a 3-1 advantage to Stamford Bridge against Jose Mourinho’s men, and maximum points at a sun-bathed Parc des Princes guaranteed them Champions League football for next season.

Third-placed Lille extended their lead over idle Saint-Etienne to six points as they chalked up a key 2-1 win at Toulouse despite finishing the match with nine men.

Nolan Roux put the northern club in front after 26 minutes before Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou scored his second goal in straight weeks, this time from the penalty spot just before half-time.

The game was a bitter affair with Franck Beira and Pape Ndiaye Souare both sent off with 22 minutes left following a row but despite Serge Aurier pulling a late goal back for the home side, Lille held on.

Earlier in Paris, despite the absence of injured top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who will miss the London tie, Edinson Cavani picked up the slack with a 43rd minute opener before the visitors collapsed after the break.

French-born Algerian international Aissa Mandi was the unfortunate victim of two own goals, the first three minutes after the restart and a second with time running out.

Blanc said: “Like any game coming before the Champions League, this one before we go to Chelsea wasn’t easy to prepare for.

“But for the moment we were able to forget about Chelsea and play well.”

The three points not only extends PSG’s lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 12 points over Monaco, who host Nantes on Sunday, but also lifts them an insurmountable 19 points above third-placed Lille, who have six matches left.

The top two teams in Ligue 1 advance directly to the 2014-15 Champions League group stages while the third must negotiate qualifying.

With domestic duties well under control, Blanc can now concentrate on the showdown in west London as PSG chase a place in the semi-finals for the first time since their solitary appearance back in 1995.

A second straight French title under Qatari ownership appears assured and they are also well on track to better Lyon’s record of 84 points achieved in 2005-06.

“We are going to be champions, but we’re not there yet,” stated Blanc.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Montpellier edged Guingamp 2-1, relegation threatened Sochaux threw away two crucial points as they wasted a 2-0 lead at Bastia before settling for a 2-2 draw and Bordeaux and Rennes also battled to a 2-2 draw at the Chaban-Delmas stadium.

Finally, Daniel Weiss salvaged a point for lower table Evian with a 70th minute equaliser at Lorient in a match that finished 1-1.

On Sunday, Saint-Etienne will be fully aware that only a win at home to Nice will keep them in touch with Lille in the battle for third in the early kickoff.

The other Sunday fixture sees fifth-placed Lyon looking for maximum away points at third-from-bottom Valenciennes in a bid to rekindle their charge for a European spot.

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UN concerned by Venezuela protests

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The United Nations office in Venezuela has expressed deep concern over the “high human cost” of anti-government protests, which have left 39 people dead during two months of unrest.

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Since early February, students backed by the opposition have staged near-daily protests against leftist President Nicolas Maduro over soaring crime, high inflation and shortages of essential goods.

Hundreds of people have been detained or injured in clashes with security forces.

A UN statement on Saturday said people had the right to protest peacefully and rejected “any violent act, destruction of public and private property and obstruction to the free movement of citizens” by either side.

It also reiterated the request of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to “ensure the protection of human rights of all Venezuelans”.

The UN office in the capital Caracas has been targeted by demonstrators who have camped out at the local headquarters since late March, angry at what they see as an inadequate international response to the deaths of protesters.

The office acknowledged their right to demonstrate peacefully there, but asked protesters to keep road and walkways clear so traffic can pass and people can get into the building.

Maduro, the elected heir to late long-term leader Hugo Chavez, has lashed out at the demonstrations, branding them a “fascist” US-backed plot to overthrow his government.

Venezuela’s attorney general admitted last month demonstrators have been abused during weeks of protests and 60 complaints, including allegations of murder levelled at the police, are being investigated.

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Munster down Toulouse in European rugby

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Munster outplayed four-time champions Toulouse to reach the European Cup semi-finals on Saturday but Ulster slumped to a controversial defeat to Saracens after being reduced to 14 men inside four minutes.

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Munster, themselves former two-time title holders of the continent’s elite club tournament in 2006 and 2008, routed Toulouse 47-23 and will be joined in the last four by Saracens who edged Ulster 17-15.

Clermont clinched a nail-biting 22-16 win over Leicester for their 75th successive home victory.

Munster will play the winners of the Toulon v Leinster quarter-final scheduled for Sunday, while Clermont will travel to Saracens on April 26.

At Ravenhill, Ulster’s New Zealand fullback Jared Payne was red-carded after just four minutes for a crunching tackle on Alex Goode while the Saracens man collected the ball in mid-air.

Goode was stretchered off while Payne pleaded that he had been keeping his eye on the ball and had not targeted the player.

Despite being a man down, Ulster took the lead through a Ruan Pienaar penalty.

The South African scrum-half, who was to be replaced eventually when he felt his injured shoulder, then missed the first of two penalties before Saracens’ England winger Chris Ashton scored the first of his two tries on 22 minutes.

Owen Farrell missed the conversion before Pienaar put Ulster back in front with two penalties for a 9-5 lead at the interval.

Mouritz Botha scored Saracens’ second try eight minutes after the break but Farrell missed the extras.

Saracens’ one-man advantage eventually told when Ashton scored his second try of the night in the 67th minute after an accurate cross-field kick from Farrell.

Paddy Jackson popped over two late penalties but Ulster couldn’t find the breakthrough despite their epic struggle which saw a 35-phase move thwarted at the death.

Ulster captain Johann Muller insisted Payne should only have been penalised with a yellow card for the tackle on Goode.

“He was looking at the ball all the time. He didn’t see him coming. It was dangerous and it’s not right but it’s a yellow card not a red,” said Muller.

A breathless start by Munster at Limerick’s Thomond Park was rewarded in the fifth minute.

After more than 20 phases in the French 22m area, fly-half Ian Keatley and Simon Zebo moved the ball right to Keith Earls, the winger crossing in the corner for a try Keatley converted.

Former All Black Luke McAlister and Keatley exchanged penalties before the Kiwi bagged two more before Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne scored the home side’s second try just minutes into the second half with Keatley kicking the extras.

A dominant Munster forward display again shone through, man-of-the-match CJ Stander, who’d come on for injured captain Peter O’Mahoney, driving over from close range.

Keatley converted and suddenly it was 27-9 after 47 minutes,

Completely against the run of play, Toulouse hit back with a well-finished try by ex-All Black winger Hosea Gear.

Munster responded with a Keatley penalty and a Casey Laulala try after Lionel Beauxis’ disastrous attempt at a quick 22m drop-out backfired.

Toulouse’s Samoan flanker Joe Tekori powered over for a try converted by Beauxis with 10 minutes remaining.

But any thought of an improbable comeback was quashed when first Zebo crashed over in the corner and then Paul O’Connell scored after the hooter, Keatley having the final word.

“It was one of those days where everything came off for us,” Munster lock Paul O’Connell said.

In Clermont, a superior out-of-hand kicking game and dominant forward display saw the home side past former two-time champions Leicester, who were 16-0 down at one point.

France scrum-half Morgan Parra opened the scoring with a 14th minute penalty.

Centre Wesley Fofana scored soon after, Leicester failing to close down Aurelien Rougerie in midfield and Georgian prop David Zirakashvili providing the crucial pass after a delicate offload from Fofana himself.

Parra hit the conversion and two penalties to take Clermont out to 16-0.

Leicester responded brilliantly, Welsh fly-half Owen Williams’ crosskick fed to American winger Blaine Scully and offloaded to No 8 Jordan Crane for a try Williams converted.

Parra hit a third penalty on the stroke of half-time, but Williams, preferred in the Tigers’ playmaking position to England international Toby Flood, clawed back three penalties to make it 19-16 with 20 minutes to play.

Replacement Leicester flanker Thomas Waldrom was then yellow-carded, Parra booting the penalty and Clermont holding on as the game went to the wire.

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Bologna dent Inter’s Europa hopes

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Inter Milan squandered the lead twice and wasted a penalty as their Europa League hopes were dented by a 2-2 draw at home to relegation-threatened Bologna in Serie A on Saturday.

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Mauro Icardi scored twice for Inter but his goals were cancelled out by Michele Pazienza and Panagiotis Kone.

Substitute Diego Milito had his penalty saved by Bologna goalkeeper Gianluca Curci six minutes from time after Rodrigo Palacio was hauled down by Andrea Mantovani.

Inter remain fifth but Atalanta can close the gap to one point with a win over Sassuolo on Sunday.

Inter manager Walter Mazzarri’s side have now failed to win in their past four league outings.

Despite Milito coming off the bench and missing what was Inter’s first league penalty awarded since May 2013, Mazzarri refused to single out anybody for blame.

“It was logical that Milito stepped up to take the penalty – he’s always taken them and he had fresher legs than Rodrigo Palacio at that stage of the game,” Mazzarri told Sky Sport.

However Mazzarri, who led Napoli to the runner-up spot last year, added: “It’s the fourth time we’ve dropped points following a strong performance that I thought we should have won.

“Now, somehow I need to lift the team’s morale.”

Bologna moved level with Chievo Verona, who lost a city derby 1-0 against Hellas Verona.

They are two points above the relegation zone ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.

Earlier, veteran striker Luca Toni struck his 16th goal in Serie A this season to help Verona to a 1-0 win in the ‘Derby della Scala’ away to city rivals Chievo.

Following a challenge with Gennaro Sardo, Toni pounced on a loose ball in the Chievo box to beat Michael Agazzi in the hosts’ net for a 65th minute winner.

Verona’s 14th win of the campaign moved them up to eighth, and they now sit four points adrift of Inter in fifth spot.

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Inspired Munster rout Toulouse, Clermont edge Leicester

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Clermont Auvergne restored French pride with a gritty 22-16 win over Leicester and English Premiership leaders Saracens overcame 14-man Ulster 17-15 in an epic battle in Belfast.

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Ireland’s Munster repeated their shock 2008 final victory over the most successful team in the competition’s history thanks to tries by Keith Earls, Dave Kilcoyne, CJ Stander, Casey Laulala, Simon Zebo and Paul O’Connell.

Toulouse, four-times Heineken Cup winners, trailed 27-9 ten minutes after halftime but a fine try by winger Hosea Gear gave them hope before Munster eased away with three tries in the final quarter.

Munster started fast and winger Earls crossed in the right corner for the opening try after five minutes.

The hosts continued to batter Toulouse and two penalties by flyhalf Ian Keatley stretched the lead to 13-3.

Munster suffered a huge blow when their captain Peter O’Mahony limped off injured and Luke McAlister cut the halftime deficit to 13-9 with two penalties.

The hosts began the second half as explosively as they did the first and rocked Toulouse with two quick tries.

Prop Kilcoyne burrowed over from close range and replacement Stander also capitalised on the dominance of the Munster forwards, led by Ireland lock O’Connell, to cross the line.

New Zealander Gear conjured up an excellent long-range try as the mercurial French side briefly flickered into life but Munster regrouped and Keatley’s penalty stretched the lead before Laulala powered over in the left corner.

Joe Tekori surged over the Munster line for a consolation try for the visitors but Zebo and O’Connell crossed for rampant Munster in the dying minutes to seal a famous victory.

“It was great to get the win but the performance was outstanding,” Munster coach Rob Penney told Sky Sports.

“It’s not a secret how dangerous Toulouse are and great credit to the lads both sides of the ball. They were terrific and you need to be against a side like that.”

OPPORTUNIST TRY

Clermont roared into a 16-0 lead against Leicester thanks to three penalties by scrumhalf Morgan Parra and a typically opportunist try from France centre Wesley Fofana.

The English side hit back with a try by number eight Jordan Crane but Parra’s immaculate boot put the hosts 19-7 ahead at the interval.

Leicester refused to lie down, however, and three penalties by flyhalf Owen Williams cut the deficit to 19-16 midway through the second half.

Leicester replacement forward Thomas Waldrom was sent to the sin bin for an infringement at a ruck and Parra calmed French nerves with another penalty before the hosts subdued the tiring English pack in the closing 10 minutes to seal their 75th consective home win.

Ulster’s game against Saracens got off to a dramatic start when the Irish side’s fullback Jared Payne was sent off in the fourth minute for a dangerous high tackle on his opposite number Alex Goode who was carried off on a stretcher.

Ulster refused to buckle, however, and Ruan Pienaar put them ahead with a penalty before Saracens winger Chris Ashton sped over for the first try which he celebrated with a trademark swallow dive.

Pienaar kicked two more penalties to put the hosts 9-5 up at the interval but lock Mouritz Botha took advantage of the tiring Irish defence to cross for the second Saracens try.

Ashton touched down in the corner and England flyhalf Owen Farrell made the difficult conversion, his first successful place kick of the game, to put Saracens 17-9 ahead before Paddy Jackson slotted over two penalties for Ulster to ensure a tense finale.

Saracens will play Clermont in the last four with Munster to take on the winners of Sunday’s quarter-final between holders Toulon and Leinster.

(Editing by Martyn Herman)

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