A day after reports emerged that she has signed a professional contract with global sportswear giant, Nike, Reggae Girlz striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, was named Female Athlete of the Year at the 13th annual Volscars on Monday night.

Carles Alena and Luis Suarez scored as Barcelona took another big step towards defending their LaLiga title with a 2-0 win at Deportivo Alaves.

Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba were among the stars named on the bench by Ernesto Valverde, who rested Ivan Rakitic entirely, but Barca eased to victory at Mendizorroza on Tuesday.

Alena and Suarez struck within the space of six second-half minutes to boost Barca ahead of their Champions League semi-final clash with Liverpool next week.

The Catalan giants will be confirmed as LaLiga champions for the eighth time in 11 seasons should nearest rivals Atletico Madrid lose at home to Valencia on Wednesday.

Suarez and Philippe Coutinho saw early efforts blocked and the striker then saw his shot kept out by the legs of goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco after he was fed by Ousmane Dembele.

Arturo Vidal headed Dembele's right-wing cross over with Gerard Pique seemingly in a better position behind him as Barca sought the breakthrough.

Barca had created few chances in Messi's absence but they took the lead in the 54th minute.

Sergi Roberto, who switched from left-back to right-back at half-time, set up Alena with a clever pass and he beat Pacheco with a placed left-footed finish.

It was soon 2-0 in bizarre circumstances, Pique having a goal ruled out for offside as a VAR review instead led to a penalty for a handball by Tomas Pina.

Pacheco chose correctly in diving to his left but Suarez's penalty beat him for pace, and despite Barca taking a two-goal advantage Valverde sent Messi on for Dembele.

Messi and Vidal failed to add to the scoreline in the closing stages but the champagne can go on ice with the title virtually secured.


What does it mean? Barca close in on possible treble

It is fair to say Barca have not always been at their fluent best this season, but their consistency has to be admired. Since Valverde took charge in 2017 they have only lost three times in LaLiga. 

Atletico and Real Madrid have failed to muster a genuine challenge this term, but Barca will not mind as they have been able to rest players including Messi for the Champions League.

Valverde has continually dismissed suggestions the treble is on but with Barca already into the Copa del Rey final they have a serious chance of repeating the feat achieved under Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.


Alena seizes his chance

One of the criticisms of Valverde has been his perceived failure to blood young talent, but Alena made his fifth LaLiga start in Vitoria.

The 21-year-old will surely get more minutes in the league with the title all but assured and four games still to play.


Pina the fall guy

Alaves competed but Pina conceding a penalty gave Barca the chance they needed to secure all three points. He may have thought he had got away with a handball before VAR intervened.


What's next?

Barca are at home to Levante on Saturday, the same day Alaves go to Athletic Bilbao, but Valverde's attentions may now turn to Liverpool as the treble becomes more realistic.

Yussuf Poulsen and Emil Forsberg fired RB Leipzig into the DFB-Pokal for the first time in their history with a 3-1 win over Hamburg at Volksparkstadion on Tuesday.

Denmark international Poulsen opened the scoring for the Bundesliga side early on and played a key part in Vasilije Janjicic putting through his own net after Bakery Jatta equalised in the 23rd minute.

Hamburg were unable to restore parity once more as Emil Forsberg added a third for Leipzig with 18 minutes to play.

Ralf Rangnick's side will now face either Bayern Munich or Werder Bremen, who meet on Wednesday, in the final at the Olympiastadion on May 25.

Leipzig were rewarded for a fast start as Poulsen profited from some slack defending to guide Marcel Halstenberg's corner past Julian Pollersbeck from eight yards in the 12th minute.

The hosts should have been two goals behind within 15 minutes but were saved by the frame of their goal when Poulsen and Marcel Sabitzer both hit the post in the space of four seconds.

Hamburg made the most of that let off thanks to a goal against the run of play, with Jatta winning the ball from Kevin Kampl and lifting a bending effort over an off-guard Peter Gulacsi.

It took just eight second-half minutes for Rangnick's men to regain their advantage, though. Wary of the lurking Timo Werner, Janjicic turned Kampl's ball across the face of goal into his own net.

Leipzig put the game beyond doubt through Forsberg's strike from the edge of the box, picking out the bottom-left corner just three minutes after he rattled the crossbar.

 

What does it mean? First final awaits Leipzig

A seventh win in a row for Leipzig leaves them on course for a first major honour. The Red Bulls had never previously made it past round three of the Pokal, most recently being knocked out in the second round at the hands of Bayern last season.

With a 10-point advantage over the chasing pack in the race for a top-four finish in the Bundesliga and just four games remaining, Rangnick's side can focus on a date with Bayern or Bremen in Berlin.

Poulsen steps up

Poulsen gave his side a deserved lead and played a huge part in Leipzig's pivotal second, which came when Hamburg were threatening another equaliser. The striker now has 19 goals in all competitions.

Kampl and Gulacsi's blushes spared

Leipzig were boasting a one-goal lead and were in control of the match when Kampl was put under pressure by Jatta and gave away possession near the touchline. A backpedalling Gulacsi should have bailed his team-mate out but was unable to get any power behind his one-handed save, allowing the ball to creep over his head. 

Thankfully for the embarrassed Leipzig pair, Janjicic's own goal and Forsberg's strike put their side back in command.

What's next?

Leipzig could wrap up Champions League qualification from the Bundesliga in their home match against Freiburg on Saturday, while Hamburg travel to Union Berlin the following day.

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala says it is "a pleasure" to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, suggesting he is happy at the Serie A champions amid rumours about his future.

The 25-year-old has been less prominent for the Bianconeri since the arrival of Ronaldo from Real Madrid last year, though he has missed just seven matches across Serie A and the Champions League this term.

Dybala is enduring his worst scoring season since joining from Palermo in 2015, netting just 10 times in all competitions, and has been linked with clubs like Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Juve legend Marco Tardelli suggested this week the presence of Ronaldo is causing Dybala to "suffer", but the Argentina international expressed his contentment at playing in the same side as the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"When we talk about Juve, we're talking about an important club, who have always had great champions," he told Tuttosport.

"Playing alongside them is always a pleasure. It gives me joy and huge satisfaction.

"Of course, I enjoy [playing alongside Ronaldo]. Cristiano's a champion and it's always a pleasure to play with guys like him. Ronaldo makes things that are very difficult actually seem easy."

Juventus wrapped up an eighth successive Serie A title triumph on Saturday thanks to a 2-1 win over Fiorentina.

Jamaica is to host the 2019 CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships from May 12-19, 2019 at the Stadium East in Kingston.

Sebastian Giovinco's first AFC Champions League goal ensured Al-Hilal went top of Group C as the Saudi Arabian side held on to record a 1-0 win over Esteghlal, despite playing the final 38 minutes with 10 men.

Former Juventus and Toronto forward Giovinco, who joined Al-Hilal in January, collected Nawaf Al Abid's pass on the edge of the box and rifled home an unstoppable shot in the 51st minute.

Al Abid was then dismissed for a second yellow card a minute later, yet Esteghlal were unable to find an equaliser, with Al-Hilal in pole position to qualify for the knockout stages having taken nine points from their four games.

Qatar's Asian Cup hero Almoez Ali scored one and made the other to inspire Al Duhail to a 2-0 win over Al Ain that moved them three points clear of third-placed Esteghlal in the group.

Ali scored a record-breaking nine goals in the Asian Cup as Qatar won the trophy in February and he found the target for the first time since that tournament before setting up Youssef El-Arabi.

Melbourne Victory became the first club eliminated from the competition, though they did pick up their only point in Group F so far when Jai Ingham cancelled out Huang Bowen's opener in a 1-1 draw with Guangzhou Evergrande.

Hayato Araki's first-half goal moved Sanfrecce Hiroshima two points clear at the top of that pool as they beat Daegu 1-0, while Group A leaders Zob Ahan maintained their unbeaten start thanks to a 2-0 victory over Al Wasl, with Al-Nassr moving above Al Zawra'a into second having come from behind in a 2-1 success.

Sydney FC remain winless after they held Shanghai SIPG to a 2-2 draw, which was also the scoreline in the other Group H game between Kawasaki Frontale and Ulsan Hyundai.

Lionel Messi is on the bench for Barcelona's LaLiga game away to Deportivo Alaves on Tuesday.

Barcelona will be crowned champions this week if they beat Alaves and nearest LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid lose at home to Valencia on Wednesday.

But they will have to face Alaves without their captain as Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho have been selected as support for striker Luis Suarez in Messi's absence.

Carles Alena is also in the Barcelona side, making his fifth LaLiga start of the season, with Arturo Vidal in midfield and Arthur alongside Messi and Jordi Alba on the bench.

Samuel Umtiti starts alongside Gerard Pique at the back, with Ivan Rakitic the main absentee for Barca. Sergi Roberto is expected to fill in at left-back.

Leeds United will be without Ezgjan Alioski for the rest of the season after the makeshift full-back suffered a torn meniscus in Monday's defeat to Brentford.

Marcelo Bielsa's side lost 2-0 at Griffin Park in a huge blow to their hopes of automatic promotion from the Championship, with Sheffield United and Norwich City one point away from going up.

The play-offs look to be beckoning for Leeds and they will have to play their remaining games without key performer Alioski, who went off 12 minutes into the contest in west London and will be out for at least six weeks.

Alioski had started all 44 of Leeds' Championship games this season, scoring seven goals and providing five assists.

Leeds round off their regular campaign against Aston Villa and relegated Ipswich Town.

Gennaro Gattuso has rejected surprise speculation he could take charge of Newcastle United.

AC Milan coach Gattuso this month rubbished claims of a potential move to Serie A rivals Roma.

But the former Italy midfielder has now emerged as a reported target for Premier League side Newcastle.

Media in Italy claimed he held a meeting with agent Jorge Mendes, with a possible switch to Newcastle on the agenda.

Newcastle have been led to Premier League safety by Rafael Benitez once more, but his contract expires at the end of the season.

Should Benitez leave Newcastle, Gattuso says it will not be him who succeeds the Spaniard.

"With Mendes we often see each other," Gattuso said to Rai Sport. "I like good food and talking about football.

"Newcastle? Unfounded rumours. I repeat, with Mendes there is only one great friendship."

Mendes has close links to Wolves, helping to bring Portuguese players including Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho to Molineux.

Milan, meanwhile, are in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification having won only one of their past six Serie A games.

Gattuso's side, fourth in the table, host Lazio in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final on Wednesday, the first game having ended goalless.

"The past is the past, we look to the present. We are playing a very important game," Gattuso told Milan TV of facing Lazio.

"It will not be easy. In the first leg we did a lot of work, we're starting from 0-0, we'll see. For us it would be very important to reach the final, but we will need to work and have a great performance.

"Tired? Just like we are, so are the others. It's a tiring campaign. Tomorrow we will be in front of a great crowd, it's a beautiful spot for Italian football and we'll try to make a good impression. We are thinking only of the game."

Diego Simeone feels Jan Oblak's recent contract extension is vital to Atletico Madrid's future as he is "probably the best keeper in the world".

Slovenia international Oblak signed fresh terms on a four-year deal with Atletico last week, the new agreement reportedly including a release clause of around €100million.

The former Benfica goalkeeper, 26, has spent the past five years in the Spanish capital having succeeded Thibaut Courtois as the club's number one in 2014.

Simeone compared Oblak's new deal to Antoine Griezmann's contract extension last year in terms of its importance to the Rojiblancos moving forward.

"It is very important for the club and a great decision - as it was with the Griezmann one last year - on staying with us," Simeone told reporters at a news conference to preview Valencia's trip to the Wanda Metropolitano.

"He is probably the best keeper in the world.

"It is a big joy for the club and for the fans because Jan is an extraordinary goalkeeper.

"It is something which is very good news for the club, that's for sure."

Barcelona will be confirmed as LaLiga champions should they beat Deportivo Alaves on Tuesday and Atleti then lose to Valencia the following day.

Copa del Rey finalists and Europa League semi-finalists Valencia have found form in recent months, losing just one of their previous 22 games in all competitions, as they chase a top-four finish.

They won only one of their opening 13 matches but Simeone always expected Valencia to turn their season around.

"I think this last period of the season is what they planned at the beginning, according to the squad they have," he added.

"I am not surprised seeing how they are improving because they are a solid and organised team with a clear concept of the game and good replacement players.

"So, being at this position in the table, playing the semi-final of the Europa League and [having] qualified for the final of the Copa del Rey describes how good their squad is."

Simeone, who remains without the suspended Diego Costa, will have defender Stefan Savic available again after he returned to training on Tuesday following a hamstring injury.

Jamaica’s football bosses are breathing a collective sigh of relief following news that their first choice goalkeeper Andre Blake is expected to recover from injury in time to start in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June.

Xavi scored a superb free-kick and set up the winner as Al Sadd overcame Pakhtakor 2-1 in the AFC Champions League to go top of Group D.

With Al Ahli having beaten 2018 runners up Persepolis 2-1 earlier on Monday, Al Sadd got off the mark nine minutes in when Xavi – who netted a double in a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture two weeks ago – curled in a sublime set-piece from 20 yards.

Pakhtakor restored parity through Egor Krimets' close-range header, and that looked set to be enough for a point until Baghdad Bounedjah regained possession deep in the visitors' half, exchanged a quick one-two with Xavi and picked out the bottom-right corner in the 87th minute.

In Abu Dhabi, Leonardo scored four as Al Wahda came from two goals down to beat Al Rayyan 4-3 in a thrilling Group B contest.

Sebastian Soria put Al Rayyan ahead inside two minutes, with Gelmin Rivas scoring either side of Leonardo's first goal in a whirlwind start.

But Leonardo pulled another back early in the second half before converting twice more in the space of seven minutes late on to secure a third successive win.

Lokomotiv Tashkent, who had Islom Tukhtakhujaev sent off in the 75th minute, held on to draw 1-1 at home to Al-Ittihad in the other Group B match.

Leeds United's automatic promotion hopes are hanging by a thread after they lost 2-0 at Brentford on Monday, leaving them three points adrift of second-placed Sheffield United with two games left.

Brentford went into the game with just one win in eight, but they were by the more cohesive side going forward and were good value for a win that has Leeds looking destined for the play-offs.

There was little to separate the two teams during an even first half, but Leeds should have been given a penalty when Patrick Bamford was tripped in the box while slipping the ball through Julian Jeanvier's legs.

Referee James Linnington failed to award it, however, and Neal Maupay capitalised with his 24th league goal of the season just before the break, stabbing home brilliantly from outside the box.

Sergi Canos – formerly of Leeds' promotion rivals Norwich City – doubled the lead in the 62nd minute, latching on to a through pass and cleverly flicking over Kiko Casilla.

Despite Leeds' desperation, Brentford continued to look the more threatening, with Maupay acrobatically firing just over, before Canos was denied a wonderful solo goal by Casilla.

Leeds failed to pull one back, meaning they remain three points behind the Blades – 3-0 winners over Hull City earlier in the day – and six adrift of Norwich, who slumped to a fourth successive draw in a 2-2 tie with Stoke City.

Another point for the Canaries will confirm their promotion back to the Premier League.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will be patient with Ousmane Dembele as the winger looks to rediscover his form following a month out injured.

Dembele's Barca career has been stop-start since joining from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105million in August 2017.

He was limited to only 24 appearances in all competitions in his first season due to injuries, and although he has managed to play 38 times this term, he has still suffered on the fitness front.

A sprained ankle saw him miss a couple of weeks of action in January and February before a hamstring tear in March ruled him out for a month.

He made his return when starting the 0-0 draw with Huesca on April 13 and lined up against Real Sociedad on Saturday. While his performances were hardly memorable, Valverde is not getting on his back.

"He played his second league game since his return the other day and he's still getting up to pace," Valverde told a news conference ahead of Tuesday's clash with Deportivo Alaves.

"He's not exactly the same as before his injury. You have to go through games before finding your place. We'll see.

"He definitely offers us speed and if other teams play high he's great on the counter. We can exploit that. He's very good in one-on-ones as well."

Dembele and Philippe Coutinho have come in for criticism during their short Barca careers and Valverde insisted every player has to earn their spot in the line-up.

"Everything is always equal between every player, no one is ahead of anyone," Valverde said.

"Sometimes one player plays, then others play. It's normal at every club, not just Barca. Every player has to find their place, their form and play well.

"They are two great players and sometimes one plays, sometimes both do."

One player Valverde is certainly happy with, however, is Arthur, with the Brazilian midfielder making a seamless transition into a key player having only joined from Gremio at the start of the season.

"He's a player who has some characteristics that fit well with the team," the coach added. "Maybe he would've had more difficulties in other teams.

"He's done very well here. He came from playing too many games, had a long-term injury last season, then playing in the national team.

"His career has taken a turn here and we hope for even more from him."

Sheffield United claimed another big win in their bid for promotion from the Championship as they beat Hull City 3-0 to pile the pressure on Leeds United.

With Leeds facing Brentford in Monday's late fixture, the second-placed Blades moved three points clear of Marcelo Bielsa's side with a dominant display at KCOM Stadium.

Above them, Norwich City were held to a fourth successive draw, and with two games remaining, their lead has been reduced to just three points.

Play-off candidates Middlesbrough and Bristol City succumbed to defeats at Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, and Derby County took the chance to move into the top six thanks to a Harry Wilson late show against QPR.

In the early game, Aston Villa beat Millwall to claim their 10th successive win, while at the other end of the table Wigan Athletic secured safety with a 2-0 victory over Preston North End.

BLADES SHARP AS THE RUN-IN HOTS UP

Having seen off Forest on Friday, Sheffield United took full advantage of playing before Leeds by dismantling Hull in a Yorkshire derby.

Chris Wilder's side took the lead 10 minutes in – David McGoldrick heading home unmarked from John Fleck's corner – and the Blades never looked back.

McGoldrick doubled his tally 12 minutes later, curling in an excellent finish from 25 yards out, with Enda Stevens capitalising on more slack Hull defending to effectively wrap up the points before half-time.

While securing automatic promotion will be the priority, United are just three points behind Norwich with two games – against Ipswich Town and Stoke City – still to come.

CANARIES' CELEBRATIONS STILL ON HOLD

A matter of weeks ago, it looked as though Norwich's charge to the title, and the Premier League, was a mere formality.

Now, however, after yet another draw, things look a bit more complicated for Daniel Farke's side. Depending on Leeds' result against Brentford, there could suddenly be a three-way tussle for not just promotion, but the title.

Norwich dominated proceedings for much of Monday's encounter at Stoke, with Onel Hernandez beating Jack Butland in the 24th minute.

But the hosts fought back through Ashley Williams' header, and though Teemu Pukki restored Norwich's lead, Thomas Edwards drew Stoke level once more to secure a share of the spoils, and delay the Canaries' promotion celebrations.

CONTROVERSIAL PENALTY HELPS DERBY

Derby moved into the final play-off spot thanks to a dramatic 2-0 triumph over QPR, though Frank Lampard's side relied on a contentious penalty to break the deadlock.

With 94 minutes played, referee David Webb harshly deemed that Luke Freeman had fouled Jayden Bogle, and Liverpool loanee Wilson made no mistake with a composed finish.

QPR rallied, with Pawel Wszolek seeing an effort hooked off the line, but the result was settled when Derby raced clear – Wilson tucking in his second in the 101st minute.

Derby's move into the play-off spots comes at the expense of Middlesbrough, who lost 3-0 at Forest, while Barry Bannan's stunner set Sheffield Wednesday up for a 2-0 win over Bristol, who drop to eighth.

VILLA MARCH ON, WIGAN SAFE

Villa seem to be hitting top form at just the right time, as they all but guaranteed a play-off place with a 1-0 win over Millwall – Jonathan Kodjia on target for Dean Smith's side.

Millwall's defeat handed Wigan a boost ahead of their clash with Preston, who had Ryan Ledson sent off as the Latics secured the points with goals from Leon Clarke and Lee Evans.

In the process, Wigan moved onto 48 points, enough to make sure of their Championship status for another season after Rotherham United lost at home to Birmingham City.

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