Hey everyone, it’s Stuart Appleby here giving you a bitesize look at what’s going on this morning in the world of sport.
Zinedine Zidane insisted his Real Madrid team were “ready” for their Champions League final showdown with Liverpool despite throwing away a two-goal lead as Villarreal battled back to earn a 2-2 draw in their last La Liga match of the season.
Zidane handed a debut to his 20-year-old son Luca as first-choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas was rested ahead of the European clash in Kiev on May 26, but otherwise named a strong side at Estadio de la Ceramica.
Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo put Real two goals to the good inside 32 minutes but Villarreal substitutes Roger Martinez and Samu Castillejo struck in the final 19 minutes to secure a dramatic draw for the Yellow Submarine.
Read more reaction from Zidane, here.
Meanwhile, our man Brendon Netto analysed the performance of Chelsea wizard Eden Hazard after the Belgian’s first-half penalty was enough to secure a 1-0 victory for the Blues over Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
He brings you more, here.
Last night, Rajasthan Royals took a big step towards securing an IPL play-off berth while Royal Challengers Bangalore’s hopes came to a crashing end as the hosts romped away to a 30-run victory at Jaipur.
Today, there are two important matches in the competition…
PREVIEW: Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians (14:30)
PREVIEW: Chennai Super Kings v King’s XI Punjab (18:30)
In local cricket, Natasha Michael says it’s ‘heartbreaking’ that she will not be able to play a part in the UAE’s attempts to qualify for the 2018 Women’s World Twenty20 due to a back injury.
Michael, 23, was left out of the 14-person squad on Thursday that will compete in the Global Qualifier tournament in Netherlands in July with the all-rounder deciding not to risk inflicting more pain on a long-term injury.
FEATURE OF THE DAY
Our rugby expert Alex Broun penned this comment piece after NSW Waratahs ended Australian Rugby’s 722-day streak of not winning a match against teams from New Zealand.
After almost two years, the Waratahs eased past the Highlanders 41-12 in Sydney – registering a victory over a Kiwi side for the first time in 41 matches.
SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP
The Royal Wedding dominated the social media landscape on Saturday but there was some football at Wembley that caught the eye too…
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 19, 2018
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 19, 2018
IPL 2018: Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians (14:30)
IPL 2018: Chennai Super Kings v King’s XI Punjab (18:30)
La Liga: Barcelona v Real Sociedad (22:45)
Italian Open Final: Rafael Nadal v Alexander Zverev (18:30)
The reigning NAS volleyball champions Surprise, boasting two of the world’s top spikers in their ranks and high on confidence, were expected to open their 2018 Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament campaign with a win against F3 ‘A’. Instead, Surprise were stunned 3-2, despite battling back from 2-0 down.
In the deciding fifth set, the two teams were 7-7, but then F3 ‘A’ started inching ahead to eventually prevail 25-20, 25-17, 14-25, 13-25, 15-12 in an engrossing battle that lasted an hour and 55 minutes.
In the second volleyball match of the night, F3 registered a 3-0 (29-27, 25-15, 25-23) win over Leader Sport.
“Surprise are the champions from 12 months ago and they also have two of the world’s best players in their rank,” said an elated Humaid Mohammed, the F3 ‘A’ coach. “So this win is a huge boost for us. It will certainly raise our morale going forward in this tournament.”
The two players he was talking about was Surprise’s decorated Cuban duo of Robertlandy Aties and Yoandy Leal, who helped their national team win silver at the 2010 World Championship. Now they are team-mates at Brazilian club Sada Cruzeiro, with whom Aties has won a FIVB Club World Championship. Leal has won three Club World Championship titles with Sada Cruzeiro, and a silver and bronze.
At last year’s Club World Championship, Leal picked up the ‘Best Outside Spiker’ award, while Aties was voted as the ‘Best Middle Blocker’.
Together at Surprise, Leal and Aties did the bulk of the scoring at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex on Friday night, with the first scoring 14 points and the latter a game-high 24. Thanks to them, Surprise won the battle of the points 99-92. But they lost the war, due to some astute planning by the F3 ‘A’ coach.
“In the fifth set, we decided to starve Leal of the ball,” Humaid Mohammed said. “We made sure we did not hit much in his direction. And we also put two men to focus on just Aties and deny him.”
The strategy worked for F3 ‘A’ and their Cuban import Yosvany Hernandez, who led the points chart for the winners with 16, is now looking forward to the rest of the campaign.
“This is the first match of the tournament and it is always important to start with a win,” said Hernandez. “But this win is even more important because it comes against the reigning champions. So this is a very important for us and you could say, it is worth double the points.
“Surprise have some amazing players in their team. But we have good players as well. We play together and fight as a unit, and that is what took us across the line tonight.”
In the Padel tournament, Javier Lopez and Sandy Farquharson scored a facile 6-1, 6-1 win over Tony Salord and Pyotor Bakass, while Benjamin Cassaigne and Xavier Masson defeated Abdulla Ahli and Saeed Al Marri 6-2, 6-2.
The countdown has begun to the ATCO PSA World Series Finals, as the best squash players get set to go head-to-head in Dubai.
In the five-day competition, supported by the Dubai Sports Council, players compete in a best-of-three group stage as they battle it out for a place in the knockout rounds. As well as the championship title, players are competing for a share of the Dhs1,175,408 ($320,000) prize money, which is split equally between the men’s and women’s events.
To qualify for the tournament, which takes place at Emirates Golf Club between June 5-9, players must finish in the top eight on the PSA World Series standings. Qualifying points are up for grabs at all eight World Series tournaments throughout the 2017/18 season.
Defending champion, England’s Laura Massaro has qualified with a third consecutive title in her sights while Camille Serme (France), Nouran Gohar (Egypt) and Sarah-Jane Perry (England) make up the final three spots in the top eight. New Zealand’s Joelle King is also on her way to compete in Dubai for the first time.
In the men’s line-up, 2016 champion Gregory Gaultier’s second round win in the British Open will see him return to Dubai. Former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad is still in contention to secure a place in the tournament despite losing in the second round in Hull, UK.
Egypt’s Mohamed ElShorbagy, Marwan ElShorbagy, Ali Farag and Tarek Momen, along with Simon Rosner (Germany), have all sealed their spots in the men’s competition. The complete line-up will be confirmed following Sunday’s British Open final.
Tickets for the ATCO PSA Dubai World Series Finals can be purchased at www.dubai.platinumlist.net with prices starting at Dhs55. More information on both the PSA World Series and the PSA World Tour, can be found at www.worldseriesfinals.com