Daily Digest: Two-goal star Lionel Messi applauded by Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde

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Good Morning!

The Sport360 team here with our key sports headlines on Sunday.

As ever, get in touch with us via Twitter and Facebook throughout the day.

TOP STORY

Magic: Leo Messi.

Brace: Leo Messi.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised his players’ patience as they got their season off to a winning start.

Lionel Messi scored twice as champions Barcelona beat Alaves 3-0 at the Nou Camp in their opening match of the new La Liga season.

Read more, here.

FOOTBALL

Paul Pogba was given the captain's armband against Leicester.

Paul Pogba was given the captain’s armband against Leicester.

Manchester United head to the south coast to take on Brighton in their second fixture of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign today.

The Red Devils opened up with a 2-1 home win against Leicester City last week, while the Seagulls had their wings clipped in a 2-0 defeat at Watford.

Ahead of the match, we look at three key talking points here.

CRICKET

India's captain Virat Kohli plays a shot during the first day of the third Test cricket match between England and India at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, central England on August 18, 2018. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Virat Kohli just fell short of a century.

Virat Kohli upstaged the returning Ben Stokes as India narrowly had the better of day one in the third Test at Trent Bridge.

Kohli made 97 and Ajinkya Rahane contributed 81 as they shared India’s ground-record fourth-wicket stand to give the tourists a foothold at last in the series where they trail 2-0.

India reached 307 for six at stumps after Joe Root put them in.

Follow all the action from day two in our dedicated cricket section.

REGIONAL

UAE star: Omar Abdulrahman.

Omar Abdulrahman’s much-anticipated debut in Al Hilal blue finally happened as he lifted a first piece of silverware with the Saudi Arabian giants in a 2-1 win over Al Ittihad in the Saudi Super Cup.

Read more from Matt Jones, here.

SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP

Head to our Instagram page to see our latest graphics!

The wall jumped… So Messi slipped the ball under them and in 👀😅👌🏽

A post shared by Sport360 (@sport360) on

Postcard and Report Card. What a day to be a defender 😅⚽

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WHAT’S ON

Test Cricket: England v India third Test, day two (2pm)

Premier League football: Manchester City v Huddersfield (4.30pm); Burnley v Watford (4.30pm); Brighton v Manchester United (7pm)

La Liga: Real Madrid v Getafe (12.15am)

Tennis: Cincinnati final: Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer (12am)

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From lion bite to razor cut, bizarre injuries that have sidelined athletes

David Cooper 18/08/2018
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Rory McIlroy once injured his leg playing football with friends.

England batsman Jason Roy was forced to miss Surrey’s crucial Vitality Blast game against Glamorgan on Friday – and he had only himself to blame.

Roy threw a cricket bat in frustration following his dismissal in Surrey’s midweek victory against Hampshire but did not account for the bat bouncing and hitting him in the face, later calling it a “moment of stupidity”. Here, Press Association looks at other sportsmen who have suffered unusual injuries.

SCOTT BALDWIN

Wales hooker Baldwin was forced to miss the Ospreys’ PRO14 defeat against the Cheetahs in September 2017 because of a lion bite. The 29-year-old was absent from the 44-25 loss after receiving a couple of stitches in the wound on his hand at a local hospital in Bloemfontein. He had stroked the caged big cat at a zoo and feared losing his hand.

QUINTON DE KOCK

South Africa's Quinton de Kock.

South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.

South Africa were forced to make a late SOS the night before their third Test against England in January 2016 after wicketkeeper De Kock slipped and twisted his knee while walking his dog. The injury worsened overnight, prompting a late call-up for Dane Vilas, and while De Kock might want to forget the nature of the injury, South Africa will also want to forget the result after losing by seven wickets, which handed England the series.

SVEIN GRONDALEN

Norway defender Grondalen, who played for his country from 1973 to 1984, probably saw nothing wrong when he put on his running shoes and stepped out for a training run. However, while out jogging he collided with a moose and was forced to withdraw from an international as a result.

RORY McILROY

McIlroy suffered a “total rupture” of his left ankle nine days before the 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews, forcing him to withdraw. The defending champion posted a picture of himself, via his Instagram account, wearing a protective boot on his left leg after, in his own words, “a soccer kickabout with friends on Saturday”.

DAVID JAMES

England's former goalkeeper David James.

England’s former goalkeeper David James.

Former England goalkeeper James was never afraid of standing out from the crowd, but he brought himself unwanted headlines when he injured his shoulder while out fishing, causing himself pain when he tried to land a monster carp. Some of James’ injuries were not caused by other sports, though, for he once pulled a muscle in his back when reaching for the television remote control.

JAMIE DONALDSON

Ryder Cup star Donaldson suffered a severe finger injury following a mishap with a chainsaw in January 2016. The Welshman, who claimed the decisive point as Europe defeated the United States in September 2014, posted a graphic photo on Twitter of what seemed to be a laceration to the little finger on his left hand. Above the image, he wrote: “So folks in my time off decided to have a fight with a chainsaw and lost! Oops!!”

MARCO ASENSIO

The Real Madrid forward missed a Champions League game due to an infection caused by shaving his legs. Boss Zinedine Zidane told reporters ahead of Real’s 3-0 victory over APOEL Nicosia in September 2017 that Asensio would not feature because of a pimple which prevented him from pulling up a sock.

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Curtain set to come down on another spectacular hurling finale in Ireland

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Sunday is a special day in the Irish sporting calendar.

The All-Ireland Hurling Final is one of two national finals held in Ireland, with the Gaelic showpiece taking place in two weeks time which will attract another 82,300 sell-out crowd at Croke Park.

To the uninitiated eye, hurling is a 15-a-side game played with a stick called a hurl and a ball called a sliotar.

It is similar to Lacrosse with the main objective being to hit the ball over the opponents’ crossbar for one point, or under the crossbar into the net for one goal, which is the equivalent of three points.

The Gaelic Games – an amateur sport where players play for the love of the game – may not have the showbiz status or riches of other sports, but it is a fundamental expression of Irish identity.

It captivates summers in Ireland, milks all the limelight in the national press and is the main topic of conversation for many people in their day-to-day life.

For anyone unknown to this magical game, this year’s hurling championship has been the greatest of all time with many of the matches close affairs and little separating the top seven teams.

Gaelic Games is paramount to the Irish people’s way of life and captures the imagination, like art for the Italians and cuisine for the French.

The men or warriors who play the game have normal day jobs and train four nights a week for free. It’s not a sacrifice for any of them, they do it because they love the game and the ultimate ambition is to one day lift the Liam McCarthy Cup – the trophy awarded to the winners of the hurling championship.

And after nine months of gruelling training preparing for that one sunny day in mid-August, the season boils down to 70 minutes in the sporting cathedral which is Croke Park.

Galway will be bidding to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 1988 when they face a young Limerick side, who have not tasted national success since 1973.

Limerick – the home base of Munster Rugby and a city with a population of 195,175 – boast a team with an average age of 23.4, nine of whom were starters in the All-Ireland U-21 winning side of 2017.

These Limerick youngsters may be born to win, but their opponents go into the game as firm favourites as they bid to win their sixth title. And, at times this term, Galway have played frightening hurling, winning most of their seven matches with ease to advance to another through to the final.

What makes them special is Joe Canning. The reigning Player of the Year has been at the heart of the Tribesmen’s exploits for over a decade and has been the tipping point to their success in recent years. The 29-year-old is your Tom Brady or LeBron James figure and shows a real physical presence, neat distribution and keeps the scoreboard ticking with every opportunity.

In full-back Daithi Burke and wing-back Padraic Mannion, they boast two tigerish defenders who have been among the stand-out players in the competition this season – and both of whom are front-runners to win the Player of the Year award.

And if there are points going for dedication then the defending champions will prevail in spades. Their full-forward Johnny Glynn – a quantity surveyor by trade – has been making the 6,000-mile round trip from New York to Ireland on a weekly basis to be part of the set-up. Even though tired legs and insufficient rest from the travelling may affect some, the 25-year-old has been integral to Galway’s run to the decider.

Although Galway may have the experience of winning a final with much of the same panel from last year, Limerick have not won a senior championship in 45 years.

In fact, the Treaty County’s last final appearance was 2007 when they were blown away by a Kilkenny side – considered to be one of the greatest of all time. But with a young squad at coach John Kiely’s disposal, the fearlessness of youth and a confidence of a consistent season could get them over the line.

Their star man Aaron Gillane is just 22 years old and posted 13 points in the semi-final win over Cork. If the Patrickswell man can catch fire, then it could be a difficult day for Galway.

So, Sunday marks the final day of the hurling season and sadly one of the most fascinating sports in Irish culture rides off into the sunset until the league resumes in February.

Whether you’re an Irish person working abroad in Dubai, Melbourne, Boston or anywhere around the world, the GAA finals always prove an important day and provide a real attachment to home.

The final is set up to be the game of the season, but with experience, Galway remains heavy favourites to continue their domination.

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