Spain 2-1 Albania: Dani Olmo caps late drama with winner as La Roja return to Catalonia

By Sports Desk March 26, 2022

Dani Olmo hit a late stunner to spare Spain's blushes and secure a 2-1 win over Albania in a friendly that began in drab fashion but ended in high drama.

Ferran Torres tucked away a pass from substitute Yeremi Pino in the 75th minute to make the breakthrough at Espanyol's RCDE Stadium.

Spain were then stunned when Pau Torres headed a hopeful long ball against Albania's Myrto Uzuni and the ball trickled past debutant goalkeeper David Raya for a freak equaliser.

Yet there was still time for a classy goal from Olmo in the 90th minute, as Spain earned a victory in their first match in Catalonia for 18 years.

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    Francesco Bagnaia vowed to fight Fabio Quartararo all the way after giving his slim MotoGP title chances a much-needed boost with pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix.

    The Ducati rider fell 91 points behind Quartararo last week when crashing out of the German Grand Prix early on – his fourth abandonment in 10 races this season.

    But Bagnaia, who has won two of his past five Dutch GP appearances, looked in good shape on Saturday when shattering the lap record at Circuit Assen with a time of 1:31.504.

    Victory in the Netherlands on Sunday is needed if the Italian is realistically going to catch Quartararo, with four other riders separating last season's top two.

    After an intense battle on the opening lap in Sachsenring last time out, Bagnaia is aiming to come out on top in round 11 to put some pressure on his rival.

    "For sure, Fabio on this track is always so competitive. I would like to have a fight but this time until the end of the race, not just the first two laps," he said.

    "I think it's more difficult on this track to open a gap, but we have demonstrated we can be so competitive in the first laps, Fabio too."

    Bagnaia, who has claimed four poles this year, pitted after his record lap as he did not believe anyone would be capable of matching his pace.

    "That’s the reason I stopped in the box, because I said 'doing more than this is impossible'. If someone did overtake me, I would be OK with it," he said.

    "But I'm very happy for this qualifying because this morning I was struggling a lot to be consistent and competitive."

    Championship leader Quartararo once again missed out on pole, yet he has made a habit of recovering as the weekend goes on this season.

    And as he seeks a third successive victory for the first time in his MotoGP career, the Monster Energy Yamaha rider declared himself pleased with his performance in qualifying.

    "I'm happy to have made that front row with the army of Ducatis around me. It's almost impossible to make a pole position with these Ducatis," he said.

    "I was really on the limit [for my fastest lap] and on the next lap I wanted to try but I knew it was going to be a little bit worse. Today, the front row was the target."

    Pramac's Jorge Martin will start Sunday's race in third, while Jack Miller of Ducati finished sixth in qualifying but was penalised for an incident involving Maverick Vinales.

    Miller narrowly avoided colliding with Vinales and will serve a long lap penalty for the second weekend running, though the Australian felt there was nothing he could do.

    Speaking ahead of the penalty being confirmed, Miller said: "I mean, I didn't do anything wrong. I did everything I could right. I pulled over to the left.

    "I was side-saddle from push starting it. I was just trying to load my foot up and make sure that the [damaged] footpeg wasn't going to snap as I stood on it with all my weight.

    "I was already hard on the left-hand side of the track and I just looked to make sure I'm not in anyone's way and Vinales was there. There's a lot of track there. 

    "I understand the racing line and the track sort of pulls you that way, but there's not much I could do. I went to apologise because I know it's bad, but there's nothing I can do."

     

    PROVISIONAL GRID

    1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) – 1:31.504
    2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) + 0.116
    3. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.204
    4. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46) +0.292
    5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) + 0.364
    6. Jack Miller (Ducati) + 0.620
    7. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.671
    8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) + 0.768
    9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.803
    10. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +0.863

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    Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell ended day three at Headingley tasked with producing another defiant partnership to put New Zealand in a winning position after England seemingly tilted the balance of a fascinating third Test slightly in their favour.

    Seeking a 3-0 whitewash with victory at Headingley, England resumed play on the third day hopeful Jonny Bairstow and Jamie Overton would steer them into a first-innings lead.

    Bairstow added to his overnight 130 to go past 150 in expedient fashion and, though Overton (97) was denied a Test century on debut, England claimed a lead of 31 runs as they were bowled out for 360.

    Tom Latham (76) produced his best batting effort of a difficult series, but New Zealand slumped from 152-2 to 168-5 after a rain break in the evening session to leave Mitchell and Blundell nursing a lead of 137 when rain stopped play.

    Bairstow was fluent once more after the morning session got going, his 150 the second-fastest in England's Test history as it came in 144 balls.

    Overton was evidently more nervous and his hopes of a hundred went when he chased an off-stump delivery from Trent Boult and edged to first slip.

    Stuart Broad (42) hit a barrage of boundaries to help England beyond 350 before he and Bairstow went in successive balls, Jack Leach the last man to depart after a pair of fours.

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    Quick work for Bairstow

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    While the Indian Wells Masters champion had not lost a break all week and maintained that record through the decider, he was taken all the way.

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