On this day in sport: Australia caught ball tampering, Gronk calls it a career

By Sports Desk March 24, 2020

March 24 was a momentous date in the world of cricket, just for all the wrong reasons.

The actions of an opening batsman during a 2018 Test series with South Africa plunged Australian cricket into crisis.

Six years earlier, one of the greatest footballers of the modern generation made Spanish football history.

It is also a date that marked the end of the career of arguably the best tight end to ever play a snap in the NFL.

We look back at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1936: Red Wings outlast Maroons in NHL marathon

Want an easy way to lose weight? Play nearly three full NHL games in one day. 

That's what Detroit Red Wings goaltender Normie Smith and his team-mates did as they defeated the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the first game of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, the longest game in NHL history.

Smith reportedly made 92 saves, losing 12 pounds of body weight in the process, before Mud Bruneteau scored the decisive goal in the sixth overtime period at the Montreal Forum, the game finally coming to a close at 2:25am.

Detroit went on to win their first Stanley Cup. Thankfully, shootouts mean such epics are no longer necessary in today's NHL.

2012: Ronaldo races to LaLiga landmark

Cristiano Ronaldo elevated himself from superstar to candidate for greatest of all time during his glittering career at Real Madrid.

Even in a spell that included four Champions League titles and two LaLiga crowns, his achievement of eight years ago against Real Sociedad ranks among his finest at Los Blancos.

Ronaldo netted twice in a 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, making him the fastest player to reach LaLiga 100 goals.

He reached his century in just 92 games, surpassing the mark set by fellow Madrid great Ferenc Puskas, who did the same in 105 games.

2018: Bancroft caught on camera

Australian cricket was plunged into a ball-tampering scandal on the third day of the third Test with South Africa. 

Footage emerged of Cameron Bancroft rubbing the ball with a yellow object, later revealed to be sandpaper.

His attempts to rough up the ball led to unprecedented sanctions being handed out by Cricket Australia. 

Captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned from all forms of domestic and international cricket for 12 months for their roles in the incident.

They were also stood down from the respective leadership roles, with Warner removed from future consideration for such positions. Bancroft, meanwhile, was banned for nine months.

2019: Gronk bows out a champion

Rob Gronkowski became the gold standard at tight end in a career that will surely see him one day enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

However, the well-documented injuries he battled throughout his time in the NFL took their toll and he hung up the cleats after nine seasons in the league.

He went out a champion, however, helping the New England Patriots to their sixth Lombardi Trophy with victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII a month prior to his retirement.

Gronkowski won three Super Bowl rings with New England and, despite retiring before the age of 30, he ended his career widely regarded as the pre-eminent tight end in NFL history.

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    When Barcelona were in danger of losing to Arsenal in the 2009-10 Champions League quarter-finals, Lionel Messi – as he so often does – turned the game on its head.

    Monday marks 10 years since Messi took that game against Arsenal by the scruff of the neck and produced one of the stand-out displays of his illustrious career.

    The Argentina great has lifted the Champions League trophy on four occasions and is the second-highest scoring player in the competition's history, sitting 14 adrift of all-time leader Cristiano Ronaldo's haul of 128 goals.

    We take a look back at some of Messi's greatest performances in the Champions League

     

    April 6, 2010 – Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal (6-3 agg)

    After they came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the first leg at Emirates Stadium, Nicklas Bendtner put Arsenal ahead for the first time in the tie after 19 minutes in the return game at Camp Nou.

    Messi ensured it was Barcelona who progressed to the semi-finals, though.

    He slammed a stunning finish past Manuel Almunia two minutes later and slotted home a pass from Pedro to double his tally.

    A stunning chip over Almunia gave Messi his hat-trick before half-time, and he rounded off the 4-1 victory by grabbing a fourth at the second attempt after the Arsenal keeper stopped his initial effort at the end of a fine solo run.

     

    April 27, 2011 – Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona

    A semi-final Clasico made for a mouth-watering prospect and, of course, Messi delivered on the grand stage.

    No list of his greatest goals would be complete without his second against arch-rivals Madrid. A one-two with Sergio Busquets enabled him to race free of Lassana Diarra and he shifted through the gears to skip away from Sergio Ramos and Raul Albiol.

    He then darted in front of Marcelo and slid the ball beyond Iker Casillas to silence the Santiago Bernabeu.

    A 1-1 draw in the second leg sent Barca into the final to face Manchester United…

     

    May 28, 2011 – Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

    In a repeat of the 2009 final, the outcome at Wembley proved the same.

    Messi caused Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic problems from the off and, with the game locked at 1-1 after Wayne Rooney cancelled out Pedro's opener, he found the back of the nine minutes after half-time.

    After dropping deep from his centre-forward position, he received a pass from Andres Iniesta and drove forward before unleashing a powerful effort into the bottom-right corner.

    David Villa completed the scoring as Barca came out on top against Alex Ferguson's side again.

     

    March 7, 2012 – Barcelona 7-1 Bayer Leverkusen

    Leverkusen were on the receiving end of the greatest individual goalscoring display in Champions League history.

    Messi became the first player to score five in a single game in Europe's premier club competition, enrapturing Camp Nou with a supreme performance in the second leg of this last-16 tie.

    He got the ball rolling by scooping a long pass from Xavi beyond Bernd Leno, while his second came in trademark fashion – dribbling across the box from the right and firing a left-footed shot into the corner.

    After a delightful chip to secure his hat-trick in the 49th minute, a stunning exchange of passes with Pedro preceded an error from Leno that Messi nipped in to punish.

    A cool 18-yard finish left coach Pep Guardiola with an astonished look on his face. He had witnessed a performance for the ages.

     

    May 6, 2015 – Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich

    Guardiola returning to Camp Nou as Bayern boss was the big story ahead of kick-off, but Messi was the only subject of conversation after the final whistle.

    It took 77 minutes for Messi to find the breakthrough, and his second three minutes later likely still gives Jerome Boateng nightmares.

    He sent Germany international Boateng to the deck by turning inside and back out on the right side of the box. He then sent a wonderful dink over Manuel Neuer.

    To cap things off Messi fed Neymar for a counter-attacking third in the 94th minute, and Barca went on to beat Juventus in the final and claim the trophy.

  • Coronavirus: Bills offer draft prize for fans donating to fund Coronavirus: Bills offer draft prize for fans donating to fund

    Buffalo Bills fans who donate to a local coronavirus fund will enter a prize draw to be on the phone when their first draft pick is called in later this month.

    Bills general manager Brandon Beane has encouraged fans to follow his lead after donating $20,000 to an effort set up for organisations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

    As an incentive to encourage people to contribute to the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund, the Bills are offering numerous prizes.

    One winner will be on the phone with Beane when he calls in the Bills' first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, which is due to be the 54th overall pick in the second round.

    Beane has also offered to host a lunch, take part in a one-to-one Zoom question-and-answer session and bring a fan to a Bills practice session.

    Game tickets and an autographed Josh Allen jersey are some of the other prizes on offer.

    "I thought with the draft coming up in a few weeks, that this would be a nice distraction for people who are going through tough times right now," Beane said.

    "We know how enthusiastic Bills fans are, so I'm just trying to find a way to engage them and to open up opportunities that fans don't have access to generally and to inspire them to get involved."

    He added: "We're a community that's blue-collar. We're going to all work together and get through this.

    "While we're facing a worldwide pandemic, we must start relief efforts in our area first. What better way to get our fans involved? We've seen how passionate they are from their work with other charitable groups."

  • Neymar one of the best, but doesn't set a good example – Del Bosque Neymar one of the best, but doesn't set a good example – Del Bosque

    Barcelona have been warned against pandering to their players' apparent desire to see Neymar return to the club, with former Spain and Real Madrid boss Vicente del Bosque adamant he does not set a "good example".

    Neymar spent four years at Camp Nou until 2017, when he left for Paris Saint-Germain as the most expensive player of all time in a €222million move.

    While the Brazilian has undoubtedly caught the eye in Paris, scoring 47 goals and setting up another 26 in just 52 Ligue 1 matches, rarely has he appeared happy.

    A return to Spain with Barca or Real Madrid has often been mooted, though reports linking him with his former club have been significantly more prominent in the past year.

    Del Bosque, a Madrid icon and World Cup-winning coach with Spain, thinks he is a problem and cautioned the Barca hierarchy against caving into the supposed demands of players who reportedly want Neymar back in Catalonia.

    "It is the clubs that must decide who to sign and who not to sign," Del Bosque told Mundo Deportivo.

    "You should not pay attention to what the players say, for that there are sports directors and technical secretaries. It is very difficult for a footballer to speak ill of another footballer who has been his team-mate. I don't remember almost anyone who has.

    "[Neymar] is a difficult boy. For me he is not a good example, and for the record, for me he is great as a player.

    "If you ask me to tell you the top five in the world, he is safely on my list, but on the pitch he tries to cheat, he simulates a lot. And also, how did he leave Barcelona?"

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