Thomas Tuchel claimed Chelsea were unlucky in their 1-0 FA Cup final defeat to Leicester City at Wembley.

Youri Tielemans' stunning 25-yard strike just after the hour proved the difference in a tight contest.

A VAR intervention denied Chelsea a late equaliser, with Ben Chilwell shown to be fractionally offside before his shot ricocheted into the net off Wes Morgan.

Tuchel felt some of Chelsea's play was too "hectic" during a scrappy first half, but he did not have many words of pointed criticism for a team who will get another shot at silverware in the Champions League final against Manchester City in two weeks' time.

"Of course we're disappointed, but we're not angry with our performance or our boys," Tuchel said at a post-match news conference.

"I think this performance is enough to win the game. We were simply unlucky.

"We've never hidden the fact that you need luck in this game to win at this level. In some moments you need little details, some decisions, referee's decision-making, sometimes a shot like today.

"I think we defended very, very well. We were very aggressive in counter-pressing, we defended very high up the pitch. We did not allow any counter chances for one of the most dangerous counter-attacking teams in Europe.

"We did not allow any half-chances, any chances. I was absolutely happy with the work rate and intensity."

Chelsea have been on a sharp upwards trajectory since Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard in January, but this was their second dispiriting 1-0 defeat in a week after going down to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

That loss left their top-four hopes in the balance and a rematch with Leicester on home turf on Tuesday in the Premier League means there is no time to dwell on Wembley disappointment.

"We will talk about what we did good and what we can do better to be ready for Tuesday," Tuchel said.

"This is it in sports. There is no team that never loses, no player or no single sports guy. It is about bouncing back, showing mentality and belief again.

"We missed out on a trophy and are very sad about it. But we have another competition with two finals against Leicester and Aston Villa [in the Premier League], then another final [in the Champions League].

"We have enough to do. We cannot regret too long."

Reece James' wayward pass that led to Tielemans' winner struck Leicester's Ayoze Perez on the thigh and bounced up to hit his arm, but Chelsea cries for handball were waved away by referee Michael Oliver – in line with the present guidance.

"I didn't see it, the players said straight away that it was handball," Tuchel added.

"But I'm not an expert on handball anymore. I don't know when it's hands or when it's not.

"You need a bit of luck in these decisions. I cannot comment and give my opinion, but my opinion is not relevant anyway because I don't know anymore when they need to punish it or when they can play with the hand."

French Open champion Iga Swiatek beat Elina Svitolina and Coco Gauff on a hectic Saturday to set up a clash with Karolina Pliskova in the Internazionali d'Italia final.

The Polish teenager began her day with a 6-2 7-5 morning victory over fifth seed Svitolina, twice a winner of this tournament in Rome.

It was a match that was carried over from Friday's schedule after rain interrupted play, and Swiatek delivered a convincing performance.

That set up the semi-final clash with Gauff, the 17-year-old American who was competing at this stage of a WTA 1000 event for the first time, having been gifted her last-four place when Ash Barty abandoned their quarter-final match due to injury on Friday.

There was no sign of fatigue from Swiatek as the 19-year-old powered to a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victory in a battle of the leading teenage stars of the women's game, who faced each for the first time in what could be a long rivalry.

Swiatek said: "I felt really good today. It's a big difference between my previous matches and today. I was able to beat Elina, so that shows that my game is here, I'm ready for anyone. It gave me a real confidence boost."

Quoted on the WTA website, the 15th seed added: "It's always hard to play against a young superstar, especially when I'm not used to that because I was always the youngest one.

"I just tried to have a high level of energy, even though it was my second match."

Between her two matches, Swiatek would have learned it was Pliskova waiting in the final, as the Czech ninth seed defeated Croatian Petra Martic 6-1 3-6 6-2 to keep up her remarkable record in the Italian capital.

Pliskova won the Rome title in 2019 and was runner-up to Simona Halep last year, but the 29-year-old former world number one has not been to a final since this event unusually took place in September of last year, having been delayed due to the pandemic.

Swiatek won as a major outsider at Roland Garros in October, defying her world ranking which at the time was a lowly 54th, and will face, in Pliskova, a player who has yet to win a grand slam title, a glaring absence amid an otherwise stellar career.

Against Gauff, Swiatek made 25 winners and just 16 unforced errors, a healthy ratio, and took three of her four break-point opportunities.

She sealed victory on a third match point, a big backhand forcing a stretching Gauff to chip beyond the baseline.

Gauff hit seven aces but also five double faults and had 33 winners and 32 unforced errors in the contest.

Novak Djokovic dug deep in the face of fierce Roman resistance to set up a showdown with Rafael Nadal in the men's final at the Internazionali d'Italia.

World number one Djokovic came from a set down overnight to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 4-6 7-5 7-5 early on Saturday, before returning to the court to face Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the evening.

The Rome crowd raucously rallied behind Sonego, who beat Andrey Rublev earlier in the day, and the 26-year-old rose to the challenge but eventually fell to a 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 defeat.

Djokovic had match points before serving for it at 6-5 in the second set, yet it was to prove a stirring game as the noisy home crowd encouraged Sonego, who snatched a gutsy break. The tie-break looked set to be wholly one-sided when Djokovic raced 3-0 ahead, but it was soon back on serve, partisan spectators at the Foro Italico roaring in delight at a double fault from the Serbian.

From 4-2 behind, Sonego surged to 6-4 ahead in the tie-break. He failed to convert a first set point when ripping a forehand into the net, but the set was his when Djokovic sent a backhand service return long.

Sonego then had 0-40 against the Djokovic serve at the start of the decider, but he could not force the break, and the top seed gained strength from that escape, eventually cruising to victory.

Five-time Rome champion Djokovic said on Amazon Prime: "I bounced back very well after the second set. Maybe if he started with a break up in the third, things would look differently. I also had my chances and I only had myself to blame for not closing the match in straight sets.

"But he's a quality player, very dynamic, it's not easy to play against him and obviously he had the crowd behind him. It was an electric atmosphere. In the end I managed to close out the match really well."

Looking ahead to tackling Nadal, Djokovic said: "I need to recover. Hopefully I'll have fresh legs because that's what I definitely will need and it's necessary to have a chance against Rafa. He also had some tough matches [this week] and hopefully I'll be fresh and I'll give it all."

While Djokovic and Sonego thrashed away into the night, nine-time champion Nadal had no such workload issues on Saturday.

Nadal beat Alexander Zverev on Friday to set up a semi-final against American Reilly Opelka, and the Spaniard snatched a 6-4 6-4 win from that contest to reach the title match.

Brendan Rodgers hailed Youri Tielemans' instant FA Cup classic after the midfielder spectacularly gave Leicester glory with a 1-0 final win over Chelsea at Wembley.

The Belgium international took aim from 25 yards in the 63rd minute to spark bedlam among the Leicester supporters in a 21,000 crowd at England's national stadium – the largest attendance for a sporting event in the UK since the coronavirus lockdown last March.

Leicester needed heroics from goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and VAR spared another of the favourites from their Premier League success five years ago.

Substitute Wes Morgan turned a ricocheted shot from Ben Chilwell into his own net to apparently herald extra time, but replays showed the ex-Leicester left-back was offside.

Delirious celebrations, with fans and players as one, greeted the full-time whistle and Tielemens was deservedly named man of the match

"Youri's goal was like an old school FA Cup-winning goal but also Kasper Schmeichel's save, those are the special moments you need in games," Rodgers told BBC Sport.

"Overall I thought we were the better team, we pressed the game really well, super-aggressive tactically. We were always a threat with the ball.

"Chelsea are an amazing team, that's why they're in a Champions League final but I thought we deserved it."

As was the case when Schmeichel, Morgan, Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton starred in Leicester's 2015-16 Premier League title win, this was a maiden triumph in the FA Cup.

"It's an amazing feeling, I wasn't aware before I came to Leicester that they'd never won the FA Cup, they'd lost in four finals previously," said the former Liverpool boss.

"So, to be able to give that to the supporters and the owners, so special.

"I'm so proud. It's a real collective effort at Leicester City - the board, the players, staff, supporters, an amazing day for the city. I'm just so proud for everyone."

Rodgers added: "I've been lucky enough to be in six finals [with Celtic] before and lucky enough to win them. Today being the seventh was truly special.

"It's the FA Cup and as a British coach it means so much to us. I'm so proud, but happier for everyone else."

Kasper Schmeichel lauded Leicester City's "undescribable" FA Cup final triumph as a 1-0 win over Chelsea gave them the trophy for the first time.

Youri Tielemans hit the only goal in the rain at Wembley on Saturday, allowing the Foxes to celebrate with their returning fans under the arch.

That was Leicester's only shot on target, though, and the rest of the drama was reserved for the opposite end of the pitch in the closing stages.

A Wes Morgan own goal was ruled out by the VAR as Ben Chilwell strayed offside, but Schmeichel had twice brilliantly denied Chelsea before that incident.

The Leicester goalkeeper made only three saves yet crucially lunged after a downward Chilwell header and then denied Mason Mount.

Schmeichel became the first keeper since Arsenal's David Seaman in 2003 to captain a side to an FA Cup win, Leicester's first at the fifth time of asking.

"Amazing, undescribable," he told BBC Sport of the victory. "It's what dreams are made of. I've dreamt of this since I was a child.

"We've talked about wanting to win trophies, and the performance today... the determination. I'm so, so proud of everybody.

"Everybody's contributed. To get to the final, everybody's played, everybody's been sensational, all the team behind the team, the medical staff, everybody, all amazing.

"That's why when you work together, you do things properly, you have an eternal belief, that's what you can achieve."

Schmeichel dedicated the win to late Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who died in a helicopter crash following a match in 2018.

"It's exactly that. None of you will be able to see – on the inside of our shirts, we have a picture of him, so he's always with us, Khun Vichai," he said.

"And obviously, for Top [Vichai's son Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha], this is what we dreamt of, this is what we talked about for so many years.

"Today, for the fans, look at it, it's amazing."

This was Leicester's first FA Cup win over Chelsea in 10 attempts, but they must now quickly rally and defeat the same opposition again in the Premier League on Tuesday.

A win in that match would secure Leicester's place in the Champions League for next season, potentially at Chelsea's expense.

"Today is a great day and we'll enjoy it thoroughly, but we play them again on Tuesday in a massive game again," Schmeichel added.

"Today we enjoy it, tomorrow we have to dust ourselves down and can't really think about it again. They're a top class side, they're going to want revenge."

Schmeichel was part of the Foxes team that remarkably won the Premier League in 2015-16, but fellow final hero Tielemans, who created two chances and supplied two tackles as well as scoring, was a subsequent signing.

The Belgium international said: "I think the start was when they won the league. That was when something special started.

"We are just building that up. Hopefully we can continue. We have a very important game on Tuesday. If we win, we are hopefully in the Champions League.

"We just have to go again. Now we will enjoy and celebrate, but we will think about Tuesday later on."

The most notable element of a disjointed goalless first half in Saturday's FA Cup final was the organic soundtrack.

At the Leicester end of the 21,000-strong crowd, there was a throaty collective roar when Kasper Schmeichel completed a routine catch from a right-wing corner. Referee Michael Oliver had plenty of unflattering appraisals of his work and a wildly off-target drive from Chelsea forward Timo Werner drew hearty guffaws.

There aren't really buttons on a fake crowd noise soundboard for any of that stuff.

The most significant crowd any of these footballers had played in front of for 14 months also seemed to have an impact on some adrenaline levels and resulting performances.

Leicester great Gary Lineker, so poignantly emotional after his boyhood club closed out an unforgettable 1-0 win, has enjoyed an enduring post-career link up with Walkers. The Foxes' current main goal threat, Kelechi Iheanacho, played like a punter who'd collected 10 crisp packets and won the chance to try playing at Wembley.

Iheanacho entered the game as the joint top scorer in this season's FA Cup and with 13 goals in his past 12 outings across all competitions. It counted for nothing, the Nigeria international's touch as heavy as his legs, while muddled decision making did nothing to lengthen the short leash Antonio Rudiger kept him on.

Werner draws another blank

Werner would give plenty for some of Iheanacho's prolific form, the type he enjoyed only last season at RB Leipzig. Here, we again witnessed the Chelsea version – tireless probing running to push the opposition defence deep and prescribe Jonny Evans a swift return to the treatment table.

But Werner snatched at his shots, inadvertently touched a goalscoring chance away from captain Cesar Azpilicueta and then saw Wesley Fofana hurl himself into back-to-back blocks. When the ball broke clear, Werner threw himself at Luke Thomas with the same gusto but none of the expertise to be booked.

The occasion was encouraging commitment, anxiety and a dearth of quality, with the notable exception of Mason Mount.

Chelsea's playmaker pirouetting under a high ball to stun a volleyed pass into Azpilicueta's path was easily the most beautiful piece of play before the interval. His shot from the return ball was deflected wide by Fofana, who seemed to take any attempt to test Schmeichel as a personal affront.

 

Azpilicueta found himself forward so often because he featured at wing-back, with the more naturally attacking Reece James on the right of Chelsea's back three.

The Blues began their run to the final with a victory over Morecambe and, to paraphrase the Lancashire town's favourite son, it felt like Thomas Tuchel had selected all the correct right-sided defenders but not necessarily in the right order.

In reality, however, the move came to look inspired, at least defensively as James effectively shackled Jamie Vardy's livewire running.

Youri's glory

The opening stages of the second half, Leicester finally managed to peg their opponents back. James still dealt with everything in immaculate fashion until, well, he didn't.

The 21-year-old botched a routine pass, hitting it at Ayoze Perez. Thomas snaffled the loose ball and Youri Tielemans straightened his run towards the Chelsea box.

Like Evans earlier, Thiago Silva's combination of old head and old legs persuaded him to let his opponent advance towards goal. Unlike Werner, though, Tielemans is a supreme technician at the top of his game.

The Belgium midfielder unleashed an unerring 25-yard firecracker into the top corner. Some thunder to go with the Wembley rain. Behind the goal, bedlam. Limbs. A cup final goal for the ages.

Tuchel decided to act and a pair of double substitutions followed, including former Leicester full-back Ben Chilwell's introduction. His every touch was booed, until he got his head to a cross from N'Golo Kante – the Foxes' 2015-16 title-winning hero, who endured no barracking.

That moment was one for a sharp intake of breath but Schmeichel plunged to his right for a stunning save. His later stop from Mount was even better.

 

Captain Morgan's VAR cocktail

The dying minutes meant time for another of Claudio Ranieri's old stagers as Wes Morgan came on for his first action since December, immediately barking instructions. The band, or what remains of it, were back together.

When he hoisted the Premier League trophy aloft five years ago, Morgan or none of the rest of us lived in the altered reality of VAR. But it saved him here after Chilwell tore off in villainous celebration, his attempt having cannoned in off his old captain after Caglar Soyuncu had tried to hack it clear. The replays showed a tight but obvious offside.

Morgan, Schmeichel and Vardy have a first FA Cup to go with their club's first league title. They are sporting immortals of the east midlands.

The Leicester faithful also have a new trophy-winning hero in Tielemans after his majestic man-of-the-match showing. Following Eden Hazard in 2018 and Kevin De Bruyne in 2019, another Belgium playmaker scored in an FA Cup final victory. A niche and far more palatable new normal.

And that was the best thing about the rash tackles, the blocks, the screamer, the bedlam, the shredded nerves, the drama, the villains and the heroes. The wonderful atmosphere in which it unfolded was all so instantly and beautifully normal.

Hansi Flick and Thomas Muller both lavished praise on Robert Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker equalled a longstanding Bundesliga record.

Lewandowski converted a first-half penalty to open the scoring in the champions' 2-2 draw with Freiburg on Saturday, taking his tally for the season in the competition to 40 goals.

The Poland international now sits level with the great Gerd Muller for the most scored in a single Bundesliga campaign - and he still has one more game to go to move clear of the Bayern icon.

Flick feels the feat demonstrates just why Lewandowski is the best striker in the world right now, albeit his achievement would not have been possible without the efforts of the entire team.

"Robert had his most successful season last year - he won the treble with the team and the FIFA Men's Player Award," the Bayern boss - who will bring an end to his hugely successful reign next weekend - said.

"Now he has matched Gerd Muller's historic record. But that is always due to the performance of the team, they have to provide the opportunities.

"In the last few years, you would never have believed that the record would fall. But a lot is possible in football.

"Right now, Robert is the best striker in the world. We'll have to wait and see what comes next. The competition has to decide how long he will have his record."

Lewandowski had two glorious opportunities to add to his tally in the second half at Freiburg, including scuffing an attempt from point-blank range straight to goalkeeper Mark Flekken.

Muller believes the uncharacterstic misses demonstrated how his team-mate is human after all, but made it clear the 32-year-old deserves his place among the club legend.

"It's hard to classify because it's kind of normal with Lewy," Muller said.

"He didn't just do it for one season, he has scored a huge number of goals in recent years. That's crazy.

"He had two huge chances even today. He's only human too, but one who is very, very good in front of goal.

"I can't put it in this historical context because I'm there myself. Gerd Muller helped make this club with his goals to where we are now.

"The club grew up through such players and that Lewy has now placed himself on that level, you can only tip your hat to that. The team has granted him that and appreciates what he does."

Lewandowski will hope to make it to 41 when Bayern host Augsburg in Munich in the final round of Bundesliga fixtures.

A sensational Youri Tielemans strike and an agonising VAR call saw Leicester City lift the FA Cup for the first time after Saturday's 1-0 final win over Chelsea.

The Foxes had failed four times previously at this stage, most recently in 1969, but belatedly added to a burgeoning trophy haul that includes the 2015-16 Premier League title.

Tielemans' long-range, second-half strike proved enough, albeit only after late drama as a marginal offside decision rule out Wes Morgan's own goal and send Thomas Tuchel away empty-handed from the first of two Chelsea finals this month.

Before the Blues can turn their focus to the Champions League, though, they must qualify for next season's competition, which likely means on Tuesday defeating a buoyant Leicester side, who themselves need a result at Stamford Bridge.

Yet Leicester surely would not trade victory in that vital match for this precious triumph, which played out in teeming Wembley rain to the soundtrack of 21,000 returning fans.

Juventus kept alive their Champions League qualification hopes with a dramatic 3-2 win over Serie A champions Inter in the Derby d'Italia on Saturday. 

Cristiano Ronaldo tapped home after his initial penalty was saved to put Juve ahead midway through the first half, but Romelu Lukaku drew Antonio Conte's side level soon after with a penalty of his own. 

A Giorgio Chiellini own goal seven minutes from full-time cancelled out Juan Cuadrado's earlier strike, but the Colombia international sealed a vital three points for Juve – who had Rodrigo Bentancur dismissed early in the second half – in the 88th minute, powering home from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Ivan Perisic, whose team-mate Marcelo Brozovic was sent off in stoppage time.

The result moved Andrea Pirlo's side into the top four, although they could be usurped ahead of next weekend's final matchday if Napoli overcome Fiorentina on Sunday.

Richard Bland finally won a European Tour title at the 478th attempt as the 48-year-old saw decades of persistence pay off at the British Masters.

The Englishman first appeared on the circuit in 1998 and had three runner-up finishes and a pair of third places to his name across his career before this week, but the first win had proven elusive.

However, he put that right on Saturday at The Belfry, a closing 66 taking him to 13 under par before Bland held his nerve in a play-off to deny Italian Guido Migliozzi.

Bland made birdie at the 18th with a putt from almost 30 feet for a six-under 66 to set the clubhouse target, but Migliozzi joined him on that mark by picking up shots at the 15th and 16th holes.

It would have been a nervy wait for Bland as Migliozzi targeted the birdie in the closing two holes that would have brought him the title, but the 24-year-old could not make it happen as he settled for a 68, triggering the play-off.

When Migliozzi missed from around 10 feet for par at the first extra hole - the 18th - Bland had the chance to slot the winning putt from close range, and he made no mistake.

"I've done it," said an emotional Bland on Sky Sports. "My game had been trending in the right way and I'd worked really hard, as you know we've worked so hard on the wedges."

Interviewed by his coach Tim Barter, Bland, who collects €339,278 for his win, said: "I just drove the ball so well this week. I've gone back to my old driver. Round here - especially for me, I'm not the longest on tour - so I've got to hit fairways and I've probably missed single-digit fairways all week.

"If I have missed one it's been by a couple of inches. I came off a pretty decent week last week and a top 10 [last month] in Gran Canaria so I knew my game was in decent shape."

Finland's Mikko Korhonen shared third place on 12 under with England's Dave Coupland and Polish player Adrian Meronk, with another Englishman in Andy Sullivan tied for sixth with South African Dean Burmester.

Tournament host Danny Willett finished at nine under, the same mark as fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell who was the overnight leader but struggled on the final day, a one-over 73 seeing him slide down the leaderboard to a share of 11th place.

LeBron James is to return to action on Saturday for the Los Angeles Lakers, while Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder are also set to play against the Indiana Pacers.

James has missed the previous six games for the defending NBA champions due to a high ankle sprain.

However, head coach Frank Vogel confirmed to the media that the four-time MVP will be involved against the Pacers in the Lakers' penultimate game in the regular season.

A win over Indiana, as well as in Sunday’s clash with the New Orleans Pelicans, and Los Angeles can rise to sixth in the Western Conference, provided the Portland Trail Blazers lose to the Denver Nuggets.

If they finish as the seventh seed, though, then they will have to go through the play-in tournament to have a chance of defending their title.

James initially missed 20 games earlier in the campaign with the injury to his right ankle that he suffered against the Atlanta Hawks on March 20.

He briefly made a comeback earlier this month, only to be sidelined again after feeling pain in his second outing back.

In the 2020-21 season, James has averaged 25 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.8 assists.

Davis sat out Wednesday's win over the Houston Rockets due to a groin issue but is available again, while Schroder has cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Victor Lafay landed his first grand tour major success by winning stage eight in style for Cofidis at the Giro d'Italia.

The 25-year-old French rider made a solo dart to the finish line with just under three kilometres remaining, crossing 36 seconds ahead of Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa), who edged out Nikias Arndt (Team DSM).

Saturday's ride from Foggia to Guardia Sanframondi saw no major disruption in the general classification picture, with Attila Valter remaining in the pink jersey, still 11 seconds ahead of Remco Evenepoel.

The overall leaders finished in the peloton, four minutes and 48 seconds behind Lafay, meaning the Giro remains nicely poised heading into Sunday's stage, which takes the riders from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice.

Notably, however, Caleb Ewan abandoned the race, with the Australian sprinter having achieved his targets for the Giro, winning two stages in the first week. He hopes to also win stages at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana and had not been expected to complete the Giro, with his team, Lotto Soudal, reporting Ewan quit due to "pain in his knee".

Lafay said of his first major win as a professional: "It's incredible. It was a very tough day.

"To take the breakaway was very difficult, but when it's gone the peloton left us seven minutes, so it was good, we could recover a little.

"The finish was hard, but it's about 10 minutes' effort and that's where I'm the best so I was focused all the day for the support and I'm really happy I did that."

Speaking on Eurosport, Lafay said he felt Portuguese rider Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) was the big threat from the riders who had pulled clear of the peloton.

"I knew they were not climbing well but Oliveira I think was the best one, so I kept an eye on him, but I was confident with my legs and I attacked with 3k to go, and I don't believe it now that I just won."

STAGE RESULT  

1. Victor Lafay (Cofidis) 4:06:47
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa) +36 secs
3. Nikias Arndt (Team DSM) +37s
4. Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) +41s
5. Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) +44s

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) 31:10:53
2. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0.11
3. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0.16

Points Classification

1. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) 83
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka Assos) 76
3. Elia Viviani (Cofidis) 69

King of the Mountains

1. Gino Mader (Bahrain Victorious) 26
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 18
3. Kobe Goossens (Lotto Soudal) 18

Robert Lewandowski was "unbelievably proud" to follow in the footsteps of Bayern Munich legend Gerd Muller by scoring 40 goals in a Bundesliga season.

Muller's long-standing record from the 1971-72 campaign was finally matched by Lewandowski on Saturday.

The Bayern striker's landmark goal came from the penalty spot in a 2-2 draw with Freiburg, just his 28th league appearance of the season.

Lewandowski has netted with 31.75 per cent of his 126 shots in the Bundesliga in 2020-21, although he passed up a pair of late chances to move clear of Muller.

The forward's final opportunity to reach 41 will come next week against Augsburg, but Lewandowski is for now delighted simply to draw level at the top.

"I achieved a goal that once seemed impossible to imagine," Lewandowski wrote on Twitter with the hashtags "#Lewy40" and "#4EverGerd".

"I'm so unbelievably proud to make history for @FCBayern, and to play a part in creating the stories that fans will tell their children - following in the footsteps of legends like Gerd Muller."

Having also provided seven assists this season, Lewandowski has 47 goal involvements, by far the most of all players in Europe's 'top five' leagues.

Lionel Messi, the Barcelona superstar, is second with 38 combined goals and assists this term.

Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders survived a second-half fightback from the Brumbies to start their Trans-Tasman campaign with a dramatic 31-29 win.

The Crusaders appeared to be on course for a comfortable victory when they led 19-7 at the interval thanks to tries from Ethan Blackadder, Richie Mo'unga and David Havili.

Irae Simone's try and five points from the boot of Noah Lolesio trimmed the gap to two points after the break, only for Brendon O'Connor and Cullen Grace to cross to restore the Crusaders' measure of command.

But Tom Banks' try and Lolesio's conversion restored hope for Super Rugby AU runners-up the Brumbies, who then moved within two points of sending the game to extra time when Tom Wright's inside pass sent Rob Valetini over in the last minute.

However, this time Lolesio could not find the desired accuracy from the tee, his kick from the sideline sailing just wide of the left-hand post as the Crusaders clung on.

There was a markedly similar end to the Chiefs' 20-19 victory over the Western Force.

The Chiefs led 10-7 at half-time and tries from Nathan Harris and Jonah Lowe appeared to put them in control.

But Luke Jacobson's 66th red card, which came after he received a second yellow for slowing the ball down at the ruck, gave the Force new life.

They made their one-man advantage count three minutes later as Richard Kahui went over and had a chance to snatch victory at the last after Domingo Miotti crossed.

Miotti, though, could not convert his own try, sending the attempt agonisingly wide of the uprights.

That kick ensured it was a clean sweep for New Zealand sides over their Australian opponents, the Blues having run in eight tries in trouncing the Rebels 50-3 earlier in the day.

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