Athletic Bilbao 1-0 Barcelona: Williams leaves it late to stun Messi and Barca

By Sports Desk February 06, 2020

Barcelona stumbled to a new setback in their troubled week as Inaki Williams' header in added time dumped last season's beaten finalists out of the Copa del Rey.

A hard-fought quarter-final appeared destined for extra time until Williams applied enough of a touch to Ibai Gomez's inswinging cross from the right flank to send the ball beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the net.

The winner in the third minute of stoppage time saw Athletic through to the last four and, with Real Madrid surprisingly beaten at home by Real Sociedad just hours earlier, it means neither of Spain's two heavyweight clubs are left standing.

Lionel Messi, who had made the headlines in the lead-up to the game for criticising director of football Eric Abidal, had Barca's best chance, only to be denied by Unai Simon's outstretched left leg late in the second half.

The Athletic goalkeeper had also denied substitute Antoine Griezmann but, for the first time in seven seasons, the Catalan club will not be involved in the final of the competition.

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  • Hit void! Man Utd, Tiger, Serena, the Detroit Lions and others who would like to wipe seasons from history Hit void! Man Utd, Tiger, Serena, the Detroit Lions and others who would like to wipe seasons from history

    Reports in the UK this week suggested there is growing support to void the current Premier League season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Additionally, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admitted the 2019-20 campaign might have to be scrubbed from the records, after Euro 2020 was moved back 12 months.

    Although the likes of runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool would understandably despair at such a prospect, there are other clubs enjoying seasons to forget who might enjoy the escape clause.

    With that in mind, we took a look back at the teams and individuals who might like to expunge an ignominious season or period of time from history.

     

    MANCHESTER UNITED 2013-14

    The seven years since Alex Ferguson's retirement have not exactly gone swimmingly for United, but that ill-fated first season remains the real low point. 

    David Moyes lasted just 10 months as Ferguson's replacement as the reigning Premier League champions finished seventh in 2013-14, suffering truly humiliating defeats to top two Manchester City and Liverpool along the way. A wretched 2-0 loss at Moyes' former club Everton proved the final straw.

    At least they won the Community Shield in August 2013. 

    NOVAK DJOKOVIC 2017

    When Novak Djokovic defeated familiar foe Andy Murray to win the 2016 French Open, the modern-day legend was in possession of all of tennis' grand slams. The question was, who can stop this man? Well, the answer was actually himself.

    A round-three exit at Wimbledon followed a month later and, although he reached the US Open final that year, a barren 2017 followed. Djokovic did not go beyond the quarters at any slam that year and reached just one final at the Italian Open, which he lost. Djokovic rediscovered the winning habit in slams at Wimbledon in 2018, beginning a run of five triumphs in the past seven at tennis' big events.

    DETROIT LIONS – 2008

    The Lions secured an unwanted place in history when they became the first NFL team in the 16-game season era to go 0-16. They went 7-9 in 2007 and were then undefeated in preaseason, meaning few would have thought a historically bad campaign was on the cards.

    Detroit started three QBs over the course of the campaign - Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky and Daunte Culpepper - all of whom struggled with form and injuries despite the presence of star receiver Calvin Johnson, but worst of all was their woeful defense, which gave up 517 points.

    Team president and CEO Matt Millen was fired after four weeks, while head coach Rod Marinelli was shown the door at the end of the season and has not led a team since.

    TIGER WOODS - 2014-2017

    Tiger Woods' standing as one the greatest, if not the greatest, golfer of all time is in no doubt. By the end of 2013, Woods was standing again atop the world rankings after winning five times during the year, earning the prestigious PGA Tour Player of the Year award. 

    It would take five years for Woods to win again as the American great endured a horrendous time with debilitating back injuries and loss of form. At one stage it looked as though he may have to retire and his world ranking had plummeted to a scarcely credible 1,199th in December 2017. But just a year ago Woods was back in major-winning form as, at the age of 43, he became Masters champion for a fifth time.

    BARCELONA 2002-03

    Years of drift since the 1999 LaLiga title came to a head in 2002-03, as Barcelona endured a miserable season that saw Louis van Gaal sacked as coach and led to the departure of president Joan Gaspart. 

    Barca ended up sixth in the league – their worst finish in 15 years – as the Real Madrid Galacticos ruled. They also exited the Copa del Rey in the first round and lost in the Champions League quarter-finals. 

    After that season, in came Joan Laporta as president, Frank Rijkaard as head coach, and a certain Brazilian called Ronaldinho. And things got a bit better. 

    ENGLAND – 2013-14 ASHES

    England made it three Ashes victories in a row with a 3-0 home triumph in 2013 – the first time they had enjoyed such a run of success against old enemies Australia since 1977-1981. However, a rejig of the international cricketing schedule meant a swift return Down Under. The Mitchell Johnson-inspired hosts exacted brutal vengeance on their way to a 5-0 whitewash as a great England team fell to pieces.

    Off-spinner Graeme Swann retired mid-series and Kevin Pietersen's tempestuous exit from the international stage was set in motion, while Andy Flower – the head coach he despised – stepped down. Of the XI that started the concluding 281-run loss in Sydney, Pietersen, Michael Carberry and debutants Scott Borthwick and Boyd Rankin would never play red ball cricket for England again.

    REAL MADRID 2008-09

    In Spanish football's great rivalry, Real Madrid or Barcelona doing well is only half the deal. Success is truly sweet if the other half of El Clasico's enduring grudge are having a tough time. Madrid won LaLiga in 2007-08, with Barca a distant fourth as the Rijkaard-Ronaldinho era disintegrated under the weight of its own excess.

    However, the tables flipped spectacularly next time around – Barca stormed to an unprecedented treble under rookie coach Pep Guardiola, Lionel Messi leaped from exceptional talent to generational superstar as Madrid were walloped 6-2 by their sworn foes at the Santiago Bernabeu and a dynasty was born.

    Madrid finished a distant second, were thrashed 5-0 on aggregate by Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 and coach Juande Ramos followed predecessor Bernd Schuster out of the exit door.

    PAULA RADCLIFFE – 2004 OLYMPICS

    After setting a new world record in London in 2003 and having won the 2004 race in New York, Radcliffe was favourite for marathon gold at the 2004 Olympics. 

    However, after struggling badly to continue, Radcliffe withdrew 23 miles in and was taken for a medical check-up. She later competed in the 10,000 metres but again retired.  In a tearful appearance on British TV, Radcliffe refused to blame the heat and humidity in Athens and admitted she was "desperately trying to find a reason for what happened". 

    A year later, she was back winning and breaking the world record at the London marathon - despite a brief toilet break by the side of the road - before taking gold at the World Championships in Helsinki.

    GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 2019-2020

    After a fifth straight NBA Finals appearance in 2019, things went rapidly downhill for the Golden State Warriors. All-Star duo Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins left in free agency, while 'Splash Brothers' Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have been out injured – the latter is yet to play this season. 

    The Warriors sit bottom of the Western Conference and have the worst overall record in the NBA at 15-50. An improved chance of getting the first pick in the 2020 draft is their only solace.

    MANNY PACQUIAO 2012

    After losing to Erik Morales in 2005, Manny Pacquiao went on sensational 15-fight winning streak that established him as an unprecedented seven-division world champion. The Morales loss was twice avenged via stoppage, with the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto similarly dispatched. A mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr awaited, only for the wheels to fall off in 2012.

    Timothy Bradley halted Pacquiao's streak when he was – somewhat farcically – awarded a split-decision verdict over the Filipino great. Juan Manuel Marquez knew all about scorecard controversy from his previous three meetings with Pacquiao and duly took them out of the equation, chillingly leaving his rival face down and motionless on the Las Vegas canvas that December. The Mayweather bout had to wait until 2015, but that is one of only two losses suffered since by Pacquiao, who reigns as WBA welterweight champion at 41.

    CHELSEA 2015-16

    Chelsea won the Premier League title in 2014-15 and 2016-17. What came in between was nothing short of a complete shambles. Jose Mourinho had returned for a second spell in charge and collected a third winners' medal in England's top flight but the Portuguese's famously abrasive tendencies then appeared to wear his players down at an alarming rate.

    Beginning with the 2-2 draw against Swansea City that ignited Mourinho's sapping spat with club doctor Eva Carneiro, Chelsea won only one of their opening five Premier League fixtures. That form was far from a blip and they were 16th when Mourinho was sacked in the wake of a 2-1 December loss to would-be champions Leicester City. Caretaker boss Guus Hiddink restored a modicum of respectability with a 10th-place finish before Antonio Conte arrived and the Stamford Bridge faithful were soon wondering if it had all just been a bad dream.

    SERENA WILLIAMS 2006

    Williams started the year by losing her Australian Open crown with a third-round exit to Daniele Hantuchova, before injuries forced her to miss tournaments in Tokyo and Dubai. Come April, she had dropped out of the WTA top 100 for the first time since November 1997, and it came as little surprise that she competed at neither the French Open nor Wimbledon. 

    After a fourth-round exit at the US Open, Williams ended a title-less year 95th in the world. It meant she returned to the Australian Open in January 2007 as an unseeded player. She won it. 

  • Coronavirus: Tottenham cut pay of 550 non-playing staff by 20 per cent Coronavirus: Tottenham cut pay of 550 non-playing staff by 20 per cent

    Tottenham have cut the pay of their 550 non-playing staff for April and May by 20 per cent because of the coronavirus pandemic, chairman Daniel Levy announced on Tuesday.

    Spurs became the second Premier League team after Newcastle United to make use of the United Kingdom government's furlough scheme, which allows employees to claim 80 per cent of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

    Levy hoped players would follow suit, though Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor this week said he planned to block a blanket reduction on their salaries.

    "The club's operations have effectively ceased, some of our fans will have lost their jobs and most will be worried about their future," Levy said in a letter published on Spurs' website.

    "Our sponsors will be concerned about their businesses and our media partners have no certainty when we may play games again or whether we will be allowed to play in front of our fans. In the meantime, the club has an annual cost base running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

    "We have seen some of the biggest clubs in the world such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus take steps to reduce their costs. Yesterday [Monday], having already taken steps to reduce costs, we ourselves made the difficult decision – in order to protect jobs – to reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20 per cent utilising, where appropriate, the government's furlough scheme. We shall continue to review this position.

    "We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA and LMA [League Managers Association] will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system.

    "I have no doubt we will get through this crisis but life will take some time to get back to normal. I hope we will never take for granted so many basic things such as getting off the train at Seven Sisters, walking along Tottenham High Road, entering our stadium with our family and friends, and buying a beer and pie ahead of watching Spurs play at home.

    "Many families will have lost loved ones, many businesses will have been destroyed, millions of jobs lost and many clubs whether big or small may struggle to exist. It is incumbent on me as chairman to ensure we do everything we can to protect our employees, our fans, our partners, our club for future generations – and equally important – our wider community where we have such an immense sense of responsibility.

    "I wish everyone good health, a speedy return to normal life and watching Spurs at home in front of our fans. Stay safe."

    Star striker Harry Kane at the weekend refused to rule out the possibility of leaving Tottenham if the team does not show signs of matching his ambition to win trophies.

    The England captain has consequently been linked with a move to Premier League rivals Manchester City and Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid.

    Levy believes people discussing such stories need to "wake up" to the enormity of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on clubs.

    He said: "As recently as 18 March I said: 'We shall all need to work together to ensure the impact of this crisis does not undermine the future stability of the club.'

    "The decision by governments around the world to effectively close down economies with unheard of peacetime impacts on civil liberties in order to minimise the terrible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the right one to protect human lives.

    "The crushing devastation on industries in many countries, the inter-dependence of international trade and travel in every aspect of our daily life is only now beginning to be felt. Every person on this planet will be affected and in my lifetime I cannot think of something so impactful.

    "When I read or hear stories about player transfers this summer like nothing has happened, people need to wake up to the enormity of what is happening around us. With over 786,000 infected, nearly 38,000 deaths and large segments of the world in lockdown we need to realise that football cannot operate in a bubble.

    "We may be the eighth largest club in the world by revenue according to the Deloitte survey but all that historical data is totally irrelevant as this virus has no boundaries."

  • Welcome to Wrestlemania! Fury, Tyson, Rousey and the sports stars who starred in WWE Welcome to Wrestlemania! Fury, Tyson, Rousey and the sports stars who starred in WWE

    It is exactly 35 years since Wrestlemania I took place and never has the mantra 'the show must go on' been more apt than in the world of WWE.

    While the globe has been ground to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic, Vince McMahon's global sports entertainment behemoth has continued with its weekly television shows Raw and Smackdown filmed in the absence of live audiences at the company's performance center.

    Indeed, WWE's flagship event Wrestlemania is going ahead in the same fashion despite the breakout of COVID-19, which curtailed hosting the show at the original location of the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.

    Fan favourites including John Cena, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Charlotte Flair, Edge, Randy Orton and Bill Goldberg are scheduled to appear on a bumper card shown over Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

    But there will also be the presence of former NFL star Rob Gronkowski, who is slated to serve as host of Wrestlemania 36.

    The ex-New England Patriots tight end – who helped his buddy Mojo Rawley win the 'Andre the Giant Battle Royal' during the Wrestlemania 33 pre-show – is not the first athlete to show up in WWE. Here we take a look at some others.

    WAYNE ROONEY

    England and Manchester United's record goalscorer had a run-in with Wade Barrett during a November 2015 edition of Monday Night Raw.

    Preston fan Barrett, incensed by what he felt was a dive by Rooney in an FA Cup tie between his team and United nine months prior, said the now Derby County midfielder embarrasses his son "every time you step on a football pitch". Rooney retaliated with a slap.

    RONDA ROUSEY

    "Ronda's gonna kill ya..." was the chant emanating around Levi's Stadium as the fearsome Ronda Rousey stepped between the ropes at Wrestlemania 31.

    Accompanied by WWE great Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, now a worldwide movie star, UFC icon Rousey was involved in a spat with the legendary Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon.

    Three years later, Rousey partnered Olympic gold medallist Kurt Angle to defeat 'The Game' and 'The Billion Dollar Princess'. In January 2018, she became an in-ring regular and won Raw's women's title, which she dropped to Lynch a year ago.

    SHAQUILLE O'NEAL

    Better known for slam dunks, former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal got in a choke slam at Wrestlemania 32.

    The four-time NBA champion had a stare down with the Big Show, before the two combined to slam the 'Big Red Machine' Kane.

    RICKY HATTON

    Ricky Hatton earned hordes of fans throughout a brilliant boxing career.

    In November 2009, 'The Hitman' stepped into a different kind of ring to host an episode of Raw from Sheffield Arena.

    Hatton even donned the gloves to land a knockout punch on Chavo Guerrero Jr., with whom he had feuded on the evening.

    FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.

    Floyd Mayweather Jr. has beaten them all in the boxing ring, as his 50-0 record proves.

    But it was a true case of David vs Goliath when Mayweather, approximately 5'7" and 150lbs, came up against the 7'2", 500lb giant The Big Show at Wrestlemania 24.

    Despite the notable size advantage, Big Show was distracted by a member of Mayweather's entourage hitting him with a chair and 'Money' delivered a telling blow, albeit while wearing brass knuckles, to knock out his huge opponent.

    PETE ROSE

    Pete Rose is a legend of the baseball world, holding MLB's all-time hits record and winning the World Series on three occasions.

    Rose was part of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds team that earned the nickname 'The Big Red Machine'.

    But his run in with WWE's own 'Big Red Machine' Kane during the late 1990s and 2000 have become the thing of wrestling folklore.

    On one such occasion at Wrestlemania 15, Rose was disguised as a chicken and earned a beatdown from Kane, including his devastating tombstone finishing manoeuvre.

    MIKE TYSON

    'Iron' Mike Tyson is no stranger to a WWE ring.

    'The Baddest Man on the Planet' had an infamous showdown with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, one of the all-time greats in WWE, on an episode of Raw and had seemingly sided with one of the company's most famous stables D-Generation X before one of its members Shawn Michaels faced Austin at Wrestlemania 14.

    However, during the event Tyson showed his true allegiance, counting the pin for Austin and clocking Michaels. Some 12 years later, Tyson buried the hatchet with his DX foes, unveiling a shirt with their logo on and knocking out Chris Jericho during a Raw segment.

    MUHAMMAD ALI

    Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee - did you know this boxing legend starred in WWE?

    Okay, sure, back then it was known as WWF when Ali was one of the guest referees at the first Wrestlemania at New York's Madison Square Garden for the main event between 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan and A-Team star Mr. T versus 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff and 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper.

    BROCK LESNAR

    Few men strike fear in their opponents quite like Brock Lesnar, who is as well known for his two stints in WWE as he is for being a former UFC heavyweight champion.

    Lesnar is a multi-time champion in the organisation and will defend his WWE title against Drew McIntyre this weekend.

    TYSON FURY

    'The Gypsy King' recently crowned his own personal road to recovery by knocking out Deontay Wilder to become the WBC heavyweight champion.

    The big-talking Briton warmed up for that bout by enjoying a short run in WWE, feuding with 'The Monster Among Men' Braun Strowman, which resulted in Fury in earning a count-out win over his huge opponent at WWE's Crown Jewel pay-per-view last October.

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