A little over two minutes before the moment that will forever define his career, Manchester City hero Sergio Aguero showed sharpness in the QPR goalmouth that would not have been out of place at Old Trafford.

Old Trafford cricket ground that is, just down the road from City's bitter rivals Manchester United and their home of the same name.

As Edin Dzeko's equaliser from David Silva's right-wing corner bounced back off the netting, Aguero pounced, snaffling it like a short-leg fielder and darting back to the centre circle for City's final tilt at the improbable. It was 2-2, the Premier League title could still be won.

There was certainly nothing wrong with striker Aguero's movement after Joey Barton brazenly tried to dead leg him – one of many surreal and key incidents that fed into a frenzied and famous race against the clock on May 13, 2012.

Ten years on, as a statue of Aguero is revealed, this is a reminder of the special moment that brought City their first top-flight league title in 44 years.

The whole story is now as well-worn as any in football history.

On the cusp of a first top-flight title for 44 years, Robert Mancini's Manchester City faced relegation-threatened QPR on the final day of the season. In their previous 18 Premier League home matches that season, they had won 17 and drawn the other – the most recent of those being a 1-0 win over United that tipped a titanic Mancunian tussle back towards the blue side of town.

City simply needed to match United's result at Sunderland and led 1-0 at the interval thanks to Pablo Zabaleta, only for second-half goals from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie to turn the contest on its head.

It remained 2-1 heading into stoppage time despite QPR operating with 10 men. City youth product Barton was dismissed for tussling with Carlos Tevez and responded to Mike Dean's red card by thumping his knee into Aguero's thigh before aiming a headbutt at Vincent Kompany. Fireworks enthusiast Mario Balotelli poured some petrol on this particular bonfire by confronting the combustible Barton as he stomped towards the tunnel.

Aside from that significant blemish, QPR's discipline was impeccable. Despite ceding 81.3 possession overall and 84.1 per cent during the second half, they only made seven fouls. Stoppages were infrequent as City thrashed and flailed with increasing desperation and diminishing artistry around the opposition penalty area.

Without Barton's meltdown, there is little chance five minutes of stoppage time - or the three minutes and 20 seconds they ultimately required - would have been signalled. It was time City desperately needed and time they could put to good use with their top scorer's fast-twitch fibres bristling.

Barton was not the only QPR man with City connections. His team-mates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Nedum Onuoha had also graduated through Jim Cassell's Platt Lane youth system, while Rangers boss Mark Hughes was Mancini's immediate predecessor, having been axed shortly before Christmas in 2009.

Hughes, of course, also played for United with distinction across two spells, and those loyalties struck a chord as news came through Bolton Wanderers had failed to beat Stoke City, meaning the Londoners were safe irrespective of the outcome at the Etihad Stadium.

"[City] got back on level terms and I always remember, at that point, I knew we were safe because the other result came in," Hughes told the Coaches Voice in 2020.

"I'm thinking, 'I wouldn't mind United winning, if I'm honest'. It's 2-2 and Jay Bothroyd looked over, asking what we wanted them to do [from the restart]. The players understood the [Bolton] game was over and we'd stayed up. We just said kick it as far as you can, right in the corner and the game's over."

Hughes' recollections from that point credit City with a poise they absolutely lacked. Rarely can a team have scored twice in this space of two minutes and – save for a crucial few seconds – played so shambolically.

Bothroyd's hoof found touch and scampering Joe Hart ran out of his goal to take the throw-in. The England goalkeeper almost missed the pitch.

Gael Clichy carried the ball down the flank, only for his attempted cross to turn into a block tackle with Mackie. Samir Nasri's aimless, floated effort that followed did little more than give Clint Hill a ninth successful clearance of the afternoon.

Nasri then excelled himself by shepherding the ball out for a QPR throw-in. Just 40 seconds before that explosion of ecstasy there was fury and anguish in the stands. Aguero watched it all from roughly the QPR penalty spot. Apparently he'd seen quite enough.

Aguero honed his lethal skills playing against bigger boys in Buenos Aires on the neighbourhood potrero – the hard gravel and mud neighbourhood pitches that football purists in Argentina bemoan are a diminishing presence.

"When you play you have to think fast. Who to take on, who not," Aguero said when recalling those days in a 2018 documentary for City's in-house television channel. "You know who is going to play dirty, who isn't.

"You start to realise what you can do on the pitch and what you can't."

Reflecting further in the 2019 book 'Pep's City' by Pol Ballus and Lu Martin, he further explained the proving ground that readied him for Barton and others.

"Getting kicked black and blue was all part of the game," he said. "You held on to the ball any way you could.

"Running with the ball was a whole different concept for us. I'd be up against big, tough boys and I was always the smallest. But I learned how to survive."

Aguero remembered those matches were played for the prize of a peso, which would garner one of his favourite sweet treats, an alfajor or dulce de leche.

As United's players took in full-time and three points at the Stadium of Light, and Nigel de Jong brought the ball forward in Manchester to the soundtrack of QPR celebrations – their fans aware of Bolton's fate – the stakes were somewhat higher.

Vacating his spot in a penalty area already crowded by substitutes Dzeko and Balotelli, along with a marauding Kompany, Aguero took possession from De Jong 30 yards from goal.

He faced up to a compact QPR back four, with the visitors' four midfielders all in his immediate vicinity.

A shuffling touch to his left engineered space outside Shaun Derry, but Aguero needed help. Ideally from someone reliable, given the complete lack of any margin for error.

Balotelli was on the pitch in a Manchester City shirt for the first time in over a month.

Mancini had not trusted his wayward protege since a red card in a 1-0 Easter Sunday defeat at Arsenal left City eight points behind United with six games to play. Tevez represented a far more dependable option.

But with nowhere left to turn, Aguero dared and prayed for Mario to be super.

Introduced in the 76th minute, Balotelli gave the impression he had not just been banished from Premier League arenas, but football pitches altogether since his previous game.

The Italy striker managed to run through seven goal attempts – two on target, five blocked – during a frenzied cameo. It was probably as well Aguero found him with his back to goal, inside the D and grappling with Anton Ferdinand.

"I tried to control the ball and I had a contact from the defender and the ball went a little bit far from my foot," Balotelli told City TV five years on. "I thought in that half second there is maybe going to be a little bit of space for Sergio."

If Balotelli had stayed upright, the likelihood is QPR would have seen through their final piece of dogged tireless defending. In being forced on to his backside for the only assist of his Premier League career, he created opportunity and chaos.

Facing his own goal, Derry had to hurdle a prone Balotelli, while Wright-Phillips' route back to defend was also compromised. With his centre-back partner grounded, Hill held his position square on, while Kompany's haring towards the six-yard box dragged left-back Taye Taiwo with him.

A pocket of space opened up. A spot of turf Balotelli was able to locate from his sedentary position. As limbs flailed around him and a tight defence scattered, Aguero was thinking fast.

Argentina's tradition of tough, uncompromising neighbourhood football goes hand in hand with the mystique and mythology that cloaks the country's national sport.

A playing style grounded in skill and improvisation – La Nuestra, which translates as "our way" – was locked into the collective consciousness during the first half of the 20th century. The pre-eminent football magazine El Grafico, served to deepen this romantic attachment, with depictions of the pibe – literally a kid or urchin, whose rough and ready footballing technique combined street smarts and skill and was something of an archetype. Typically they would dribble in the gambeta style, a description that implies close control, cunning and deceit of opponents.

The idea that the likes of Diego Maradona, Ariel Ortega, Lionel Messi and all those other squat, explosive and technically brilliant attackers from Argentina immersed themselves in the yellowed pages of El Grafico archive is far-fetched, but the style is unquestionably embedded. Think of the amount of barrelling, dribbling goals such players have produced – close control, small pauses and faints as thighs piston their way through defences.

As the walls were closing in on City's title bid, Aguero showed himself to be a proud product of this lineage. When Balotelli began his battle against gravity, he deftly checked his run behind and around Wright-Phillips to open up a path to the penalty area.

Letting the pass roll, he shaped to shoot, drawing a scampering Taiwo, who left his Kompany decoy a little too late to remain in control. Aguero did not actually touch Balotelli's return pass until his body position persuaded a rash slide tackle that he nudged beyond with the outside of his right boot.

With Taiwo suitably gambeta'd, there came one last stroke of fortune.

"I touched it again and saw I was close to the goal, so I said 'I'll shoot'. The worst thing was that I wanted to shoot hard across goal and it went to the near post, I don't know what happened," Aguero told TyC Sports – the latter sentiment at least aligning him with every soul inside the Etihad Stadium that day.

"After watching it back, I realised that if I had shot across goal a defender could have blocked it. I celebrated the goal and told everybody, 'I hit it so well!'."

Goal 23 of a personal Premier League tally that reached 184, one of 130 with Aguero's ferocious right boot, understandably left an indelible impression on the suddenly defeated Hughes.

"Of all the games I've been involved in, that noise at that moment when that goal went in is different to anything I've ever heard before or since," Hughes said.

"It was just unbelievable sound – different sound to a football crowd. It was a mixture of screaming and noise. It was just an unbelievable moment."

That racket has since been replayed thousands of times across the world. A goal on a tightrope that altered the course of English football, which began with gifting the opposition a 92nd-minute throw-in and ended thanks to a miscue after the main protagonist's strike partner fell over.

It is the Premier League's most famous goal – a moment as synonymous with Manchester as cotton mills and the Hacienda, and yet Argentinian to its very bones.

Whether 10 years on, 20 years on, or 50 years on, expect to see it replayed another few thousand times. On the blue side of Manchester, it stands as an immortal moment.

The Houston Astros claimed both games in an impromptu double-header and the eventual three-game sweep, with respective 11-3 and 5-0 victories over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

The Astros led 5-1 on Wednesday night against the Twins the battle between two of the American League's divisional leaders, when the game was suspended in the third inning.

The game resumed on the Thursday, with Jose Altuve claimed a home-run and double as well as three RBIs in the 11-3 victory.

In Thursday's regularly scheduled game, Yordan Alvarez homered twice, while Luis Garcia and three relievers combined for only seven hits in the shutout win.

The Astros have now extended their winning streak to ten games, giving up only 11 runs over that period.

Stanton stars in Yankees win

While the AL Central and West leaders battled it out, the AL East-leading New York Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox 15-7.

Giancarlo Stanton homered twice and scored six RBIs, while the Yankees secured the win on the back of a seven-run eighth inning.

The Pinstripes have now won 16 of their last 18 games, with three games remaining in their road series against the White Sox.

Harper moves to DH as Phillies defeat Dodgers

An injured Bryce Harper still claimed two hits from four at-bats and three RBIs as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-7.

Harper will remain in the Phillies' lineup but will be relieved of throwing duties as the designated hitter, due to a ligament tear in his right elbow.

Zack Wheeler pitched over five innings in his start for Philadelphia, striking out seven and giving up six hits and three runs in 90 pitches.

Brayden Point scored the winning goal in overtime and forced a Game 7, as the Tampa Bay Lightning secured a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov also scored for the reigning Stanley Cup champions, but they had to battle until 1:56 remaining in overtime for Point's sealer.

The Lightning had to fight their way back from 3-2 down in the final period with their season on the line, after Leafs captain John Tavares scored twice in the second period's closing 34 seconds.

With his side dropping a lead for the second straight game, Tavares said the focus is now on regrouping as the series heads back to Toronto for the decider.

"We worked hard all year to earn home ice and we've got a great opportunity going home in front of our fans to try to close this thing out," he said.

"So just regroup here, and look forward to the opportunity. This is what the game's all about."

The Boston Bruins also forced a Game 7 after they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2, while the St. Louis Blues advanced to the second round, beating the Minnesota Wild 5-1 in Game 6.

In Thursday's final game, the Edmonton Oilers evened their series up with the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6, winning 4-2.

The Miami Heat progressed to the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, comfortably defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 99-90.

After the Golden State Warriors' anaemic performance in a closeout game on the road, the Heat showed no such trepidation and led by 20 at one stage, taking control in the third quarter with a 16-2 scoring run.

Jimmy Butler scored 14 points on six-of-nine shooting in that period as Miami put the proverbial foot on Philadelphia's throat, finishing with 32 points, eight rebounds and four assists against his former team.

James Harden went missing in the second half with Philadelphia's season on the line, meanwhile, taking only two shot attempts for the half while committing three turnovers to go with his four assists.

Now in their second ECF in three seasons, the Heat will face the winner of the series between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.

Mavs take Suns to deciding game

The Dallas Mavericks are taking the Western Conference's first seed to seven games, after they blew the Phoenix Suns out 113-86.

Luka Doncic was very close to a triple-double with his side's season on the line, but his fingerprints were nevertheless all over Game 6, finishing with 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Doncic's ability to find his teammates for open looks has been consistent in the series but their ability to knock them down has fluctuated. On Thursday, the Mavs shot 41 per cent from the perimeter for the win.

Devin Booker went two-of-10 with the game in the balance in the second and third quarters, as the Suns hoped to close the series out, finishing with 19 points on six-of-17 shooting.

Phoenix simply did not take care of the basketball, coughing it up 22 times with the Mavs scoring 29 points in transition off those turnovers.

The reigning Super Bowl champions will kick off the NFL season in Thursday night's primetime slot on September 8, as the Los Angeles Rams host this season's Super Bowl favourites, the Buffalo Bills.

There will be plenty of the Rams in this season's marquee timeslots as the full 2022-23 schedule was released on Thursday, including a Monday night fixture against the Green Bay Packers in week 15, and a Christmas Day game against Russell Wilson's Denver Broncos six days later.

The Broncos will not have to wait long for their first eyebrow-raising matchup, travelling to take on Wilson's former team, the Seattle Seahawks, in the first Monday night fixture of the season.

Week one's third primetime game sees Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading to 'Jerry World' to take on the Dallas Cowboys.

Patrick Mahomes – the man with the richest contract in the sport – will get his first primetime appearance of the season in week two's Thursday night showdown, as his Kansas City Chiefs host arguably Mahomes' only competition for best young quarterback, taking on Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers gets the Sunday night fixture in week two against the Packers' long-time rivals as the Chicago Bears come to town, and his week three matchup against Brady's Bucs will be must-see TV.

The Rams have the toughest strength-of-schedule based on their opponents' 2021-22 records (164-125, .567 winning percentage), while the Cowboys and the Washington Commanders are tied for the easiest schedule (133-155-1, .462 winning percentage).

Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions will be the only team in NFL this season to not have a primetime game.

The complete week one schedule features:

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams (Thursday night)

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday afternoon)

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans 

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (Sunday late-afternoon)

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers 

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (Monday night)

West Indies fast bowler turned commentator Ian Bishop does not believe recently retired Windies skipper Kieron Pollard is washed-up but insists the time has come for the player to adjust his game.

Typically, a reliable source of runs for five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians, Pollard has struggled mightily to make an impact this season.  In 11 IPL matches so far, the big West Indian has scored just 144 runs at an average of 14.40 and with a strike rate of 107.46.  The ball-striking tally is the player’s lowest since he made his debut in the IPL in 2010.

Having retired from international cricket a few weeks ago, some have suggested that it might be time for Pollard to take another step in moving away from the sport entirely.  While acknowledging that he has struggled in the tournament this season, Bishop believes the player could still have a bit more left in the tank.

"People are saying he's washed, I'm not going to go there. I think he's a player who can reinvent himself,” Bishop told Espncricinfo.

"You look at Pollard's numbers when Mumbai have won the championships: 400 runs in 2013 at 42, up to 2019 and 2020, where he averaged over 30 with a strike rate sometimes in the 160s to 190s - he's been integral to them. You can't forget that as a franchise, so they're giving him every possible chance,” he added.

Despite the franchise choosing to stick with the veteran player, however, Bishop insists it’s up to Pollard to adjust.

"Pollard himself has to reinvent his game, however, he chooses to do that, because he's still got a future ahead of him we hope.”

World number one Iga Swiatek beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4 6-1 to progress to the quarter-finals of the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome on Thursday. 

Swiatek, who became the first female player to win 25 consecutive matches since Serena Williams in 2015, will face Bianca Andreescu in the last eight after she eased past Petra Martic 6-4 6-4.

"I didn't start well, and everybody could see that," Swiatek told reporters. "I'm really happy with the way I reacted and how I improved in the first set.

"Also how different the second set looked to the first one because I could really reset and really change the way I played. That's the most positive thing for me."

There was a shock in the final game of the day, though, as Daria Kasatkina dumped out number two seed Paula Badosa 6-4 6-4. 

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka sealed a third straight win over Jessica Pegula, easing to a 6-1 6-4 victory, while fourth seed Maria Sakkari defeated Coco Gauff 6-4 7-5.

Seventh seed Danielle Collins was knocked out by unseeded compatriot Amanda Anisimova, the 20-year-old cruising past the Australian Open finalist 6-2 6-2.

There were also victories for Jil Teichmann, who overcame Elena Rybakina 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-5, and ninth seed Ons Jabeur, who beat Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-2.

Carlo Ancelotti has challenged his Real Madrid side to maintain their intensity ahead of the Champions League final with Liverpool on May 28.

Los Blancos, who were crowned LaLiga champions a fortnight ago, condemned Levante to relegation on Thursday following a 6-0 thumping at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Vinicius Junior scored his first hat-trick for the club in his 168th appearance, with Ferland Mendy, Karim Benzema and Rodrygo also finding the back of the net.

Benzema's header saw him move level with Raul as Madrid's second-highest all-time top goalscorer on 323 goals.

The emphatic win followed Sunday's El Derbi defeat to Atletico Madrid, and Ancelotti said he expects his players to give 100 per cent in their remaining two league games before the showdown with Jurgen Klopp's side.

"We are playing well and our self-esteem has grown a lot," he told a media conference.

"We have this challenge of playing in the final after winning the league. We know that there is a lack of time and that we have to have intensity.

"The team are showing very good signs. We work very well in the field. We have done well, with rhythm and intensity. It's what we wanted, high intensity for team dynamics."

Asked what his side's formation will be for the game against Liverpool, Ancelotti revealed he will not deviate from his trusted 4-3-3.

"It will be the 4-3-3," he said. "That sometimes can be a 4-4-2. I think there is no defined system. Sometimes to put pressure on the pivot, as we did against Manchester City, you go from 4-3-3 to 4-4-1-1. 

"The idea does not change much, just a little the way of defending the rival, of putting pressure on him."

Ancelotti has received plaudits from across Europe in recent weeks after masterminding Madrid's dramatic run to the Champions League final, yet the Italian would not be drawn on whether he is the best on the continent.

"It is difficult to answer that," he said. "I don't like to give myself votes, others give them to me. 

"I like to live a happy moment. I hope I can continue like this for a long time. We have a very big goal, we are going to give everything."

Madrid face Cadiz and Real Betis before doing battle with the Reds in Paris at the end of the month.

Mikel Arteta should concentrate on Arsenal and not complain so much, according to Tottenham boss Antonio Conte. 

Spurs claimed a 3-0 victory over Arsenal in the Premier League on Thursday to stop the Gunners from getting the three points they needed to clinch a top-four finish, with the difference between the sides now down to one point with two games remaining. 

Son won the penalty that Harry Kane converted for the opening goal and a foul on the South Korea international saw Rob Holding receive his second yellow card in the 33rd minute. It was Arsenal's 13th Premier League red card since Arteta took over in December 2019, five more than any other side in that timeframe.

Kane doubled his tally and Son put Spurs 3-0 up early in the second half, with Arteta saying after the match he could not give an opinion on the refereeing decisions 

"He has to continue to work because he's very good. To hear someone complain all the time is not so good. If we want to complain, we have the possibility every game. 

"At Liverpool do you hear me complain about Fabinho and all the fouls? No. He can take my advice if he wants, but if not I don't care." or he would "be suspended for six months". 

Conte, however, felt referee Paul Tierney was right in his decision-making as Spurs won a third straight home league games against Arsenal for the first time since 1961.

"He complains a lot. He has to focus more on his team. He has to focus more on his work," said Conte. 

The fixture was originally scheduled to be played in January but was postponed upon Arsenal's request as they contended with absences due to COVID-19, injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations.  

Conte added: "[Arteta] complained about the fixtures and that was after Arsenal had an unbelievable postponement with just one COVID case. Now we're playing at 12pm on Sunday and they don't play until Monday. We can't always complain. 

"[Arteta] is a very good coach and I think can become a very important coach for the future, but in six months I have heard him complain a lot." 

Conte was quick to remind his players that failure to follow up their win over the Gunners with another victory against Burnley at the weekend would make their derby success meaningless. 

"For sure, it was a good performance. From the start until the end, our approach to manage the game was very positive," said Conte. 

"Winning this game gave us the possibility to continue [the fight] to take our place in the Champions League. I'm pleased with the commitment 

"I was clear with the players that it's alright to celebrate, but if we don't win on Sunday it doesn't mean anything." 

Mikel Arteta suggested he would be "suspended for six months" if he gave his honest assessment of key refereeing decisions made during Arsenal's 3-0 north London derby defeat to Tottenham.

Arsenal went into what many considered as the most important north London derby in Premier League history knowing victory would secure Champions League football for next season.

But they were blown away by Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Rob Holding's 33rd-minute sending off for two bookings playing a big role – though the hosts were already 1-0 up thanks to a Harry Kane penalty.

Kane got Spurs' second shortly after Holding's dismissal and Son Heung-min put the game beyond the Gunners early in the second half, as Antonio Conte's men moved to within a point of Arsenal heading into the final two matchdays of the season.

Should Arsenal ultimately miss out on Champions League football again, many will point to this defeat as a pivotal moment, and Arteta seemingly laid the responsibility at the feet of the officials.

When asked for his "thoughts" on the game, Arteta told Sky Sports: "Well, if I say what I think, I'm suspended [for] six months, so I cannot say.

"I'm allowed to give my interpretation of what happened in the game, but I don't know how to lie so I prefer not to say what I think."

But it was unclear precisely which decision Arteta felt aggrieved by, as Holding was arguably lucky not to have been already sent off before his brutal barge on Son, which in itself could have potentially drawn a straight red.

That was his fourth foul of the game, more than he has ever committed in a single Premier League match despite playing just 33 minutes.

Similarly, the decision to penalise Cedric Soares for a shove on Son in the area appeared a clear-cut one by referee Paul Tierney.

Arteta initially refused to delve much deeper, as he reiterated the belief he would be banned if he was honest, but he did eventually call out the officials.

"You can ask the referee to come in front of the camera and explain his decisions," he said. "It's a shame because such a beautiful game was destroyed today."

Arsenal have two more matches to secure fourth – they face Newcastle United and Everton in their last games of the season.

 

Rafael Nadal suffered his earliest Internazionali d'Italia exit since 2008 at the hands of Denis Shapovalov on Thursday, but Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals. 

'King of Clay' Nadal fell to a 1-6 7-5 6-2 defeat to Shapovalov in the third round in Rome, with the Canadian surging to victory after winning 12 straight points from 2-2 in the deciding set. 

The legendary Spaniard stormed through the first set thanks to a series of brilliant returns, but his opponent dominated at the net in the second to take the match the distance. 

Shapovalov then flipped the narrative on its head by winning 14 of a possible 22 return points to set up a quarter-final meeting with Casper Ruud, who beat Jenson Brooksby 6-3 6-4. 

Djokovic is one win away from retaining his status as world number one after taking just 75 minutes to see off three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-2. 

After a lengthy spell out injured, Wawrinka ended a 15-month wait for an ATP Tour victory at Foro Italico before the Serbian brought his run to an end. 

"It is great to see Stan back and winning. He won two tough matches. You can see he is still not physically where he wants to be. But, nevertheless, he is Stan Wawrinka and he can hurt you if you give him time," Djokovic said. 

"I managed to do well from the beginning. I really moved him around the court and held my serve comfortably except for that loss of my serve in the second set." 

Felix Auger-Aliassime stands between Djokovic and the number one spot after overcoming lucky loser Marcos Giron 6-3 6-2. 

In the other half of the draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner will play out an entertaining quarter-final after they beat Karen Khachano and Filip Krajinovic respectively. 

Alexander Zverev, the defeated finalist in Madrid last week, beat Alex De Minaur 6-3 7-6 (7-5) and will battle Cristian Garin for a place in the final four.

Karim Benzema moved level with Raul as Real Madrid's second-highest all-time top goalscorer and Vinicius Junior scored a hat-trick as the LaLiga champions relegated Levante with a 6-0 hammering.

Ferland Mendy got Carlo Ancelotti's side, who were crowned champions a fortnight ago, on their way early on, before Benzema joined Madrid icon Raul on 323 goals soon after.

Rodrygo and Vinicius added further goals before the interval, with the latter completing his treble in the second half at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday.

While the rout restored Madrid's 12-point advantage over Barcelona at the summit, it condemned Levante drop with two games to play.

Any hopes Levante had of causing an upset were dispelled in the 13th minute when Mendy powered into the penalty area and slotted past Daniel Cardenas.

Federico Valverde then steered a volley against the post, before Benzema doubled his side's advantage with a close-range header from Vinicius' cross after 19 minutes.

Rodrygo slid home Luka Modric's cross to make it three in the 34th minute, while Cardenas twice pushed Valverde drives onto the crossbar as Madrid dominated.

They made it four in the 45th minute, when Vinicius collected Modric's pass and curled past Cardenas from a tight angle.

Cardenas pawed away Modric's whipped effort and Vinicius saw an effort ruled out for offside after the interval. 

The Brazil international was not to be denied in the 68th minute, though, tapping into an empty net after Benzema had rounded Cardenas.

He had his hat-trick seven minutes from full-time courtesy of a cool finish from 10 yards out after breaking through Levante's dispirited backline. 

Mikel Arteta and Arsenal now face a thorough examination of their mentality and focus after Thursday's morale-sapping 3-0 north London derby defeat blew the race for fourth wide open.

While the importance of Champions League qualification might feel exaggerated to some given the financial muscle of practically every Premier League club, regardless of finishing in the top four or not, the end of 2021-22 will undoubtedly have significant implications for both clubs.

A top-four finish would be Arsenal's best Premier League season in six years and simultaneously the first time since the same season that they'd finished above their bitter rivals.

Champions League qualification would also be vindication of the faith placed in Arteta and a clear sign of genuine progress since he replaced Unai Emery.

For Spurs, on the other hand, it's difficult to look at these final 10 days of the season being anything other than a sliding-doors moment.

Failure to return to European football's top table would plausibly see Antonio Conte call it quits, whereas the possibilities could be endless under him with the extra cash, exposure and lure provided by the Champions League, particularly when you consider the transformational effect he's already had in north London and elsewhere previously.

With those points in mind, it was no surprise to see Thursday's contest – the first with fans present at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – labelled the most important north London derby in Premier League history, and it's fair to say the hosts handled the occasion far better than the Gunners.

Perhaps that wasn't actually as shocking as it initially felt during the match.

The turning point came with just 33 minutes on the clock. While Tottenham were already ahead thanks to a Harry Kane penalty, it was just past the half-hour mark when Rob Holding's pushed his luck once too often.

Having already been booked – frankly, he could have been carded several times by this point – Holding cynically blocked off the relentless Son Heung-min with a combination of shoulder and elbow, deservedly earning himself a second yellow and subsequent red card.

It had been coming. Holding's early duels with Son had the South Korean showing signs of frustration – not because he couldn't get the better of his opponent, but because he was getting the better of him. He just kept getting fouled by the Arsenal defender.

Holding's wry smile when walking away from an angry Son after a tangle that wouldn't have looked out of place on a Judo mat belied a degree of arrogance and misplaced confidence.

It was ill-judged to say the least.

But of course, this is by no means the first time indiscipline's been seen as the scourge of Arsenal. Since Arteta's appointment, the Gunners have been shown five more red cards (13 in total) in the Premier League than any other team.

Granted, they are the youngest team in the Premier League, so perhaps a hint of indiscipline is to be expected as a consequence of inexperience – but that argument can't really be applied to 26-year-old Holding.

Arsenal had actually started the match quite well. Their pressing intensity was excellent, so much so that a Spurs passage of play consisting exclusively of passes between the defence and Hugo Lloris drew significant jeers of derision and frustration from the home crowd.

But Spurs identified they could find joy by playing direct, which was exactly how the opener arrived, with Cedric Soares – no, not Holding this time! – the one guilty of barging Son over at the back post as he looked to reach a deep delivery.

Just four minutes after Holding's red card, Kane – who had endured a career-worst derby drought of two matches prior to Thursday – exploited Eddie Nketiah's lack of awareness to stoop in at the back post to head home his second goal of the game, extending his all-time record as this fixture's top scorer.

Conte was a figure of calm after the first goal, but this time he wore his near-trademark terrifying jubilation with pride, presumably aware only a miracle would save Arsenal now.

The sparkling Son made sure any Arsenal hopes were thoroughly extinguished less than two minutes after the restart, pouncing on a loose ball in the area before steering beyond Aaron Ramsdale with the kind of expertise we've come to expect from a player only outscored by Mohamed Salah in the Premier League this season.

Arteta can console himself with the fact Arsenal remain fourth heading into their final two games of the season. Had you given him the option of being in that situation back in August, he'd have snapped your hand off.

But Thursday's ultimately crushing defeat once again raised questions of the Gunners' mentality and discipline, and their squad is becoming more depleted by the game. It's hardly an ideal combination when the pressure is on – and boy is it on now.

Tottenham – whose kind run-in sees them face Norwich City and Burnley – still need either Newcastle United or Everton to do them a favour at the very least.

But Thursday was evidence of Spurs keeping their cool when it matters. Arsenal didn't, and there's nothing to suggest they're too good to capitulate.

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