Welcome to this week’s column. Plenty to get though again with Chelsea’s valiant attempt in the Champions League semi-final plus news of the Premier 15s final and yes, the hockey play-offs (thanks Martin). This week’s “And finally” is one I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write. You’ll know why when you get there.
So here we go, stories this week come from football, cricket, athletics, tennis, rugby union, rugby league, netball and hockey.
Let’s crack on…
Chelsea went out of the Champions League semi-final, drawing the second leg at home 1-1, with the aggregate score 3-2 to holders Olympique Lyonnais.
The Blues were 2-1 down after the away leg and although they had a vital away goal, it was always going to be a monumental task for them to beat Lyon, even on their own turf.
Lyon struck a blow when they took the lead through Eugenie Le Sommer in the seventeenth minute.
The home side could have caved in at this point, but they didn’t and got their reward through an excellent Ji So-Yun free kick.
Although they battled hard and had chances, they just couldn’t score the second to bring them level on aggregate and take it to extra time. And every time Lyon broke they looked dangerous and likely to score.
This will be Lyon’s fourth final in a row. A crowd of 4,670 watched the match at Kingsmeadow.
Barcelona 1-0 Bayern Munich
(Barcelona win 2-0 on aggregate)
With a 1-0 lead from the away leg, Barcelona were always going to be favourites to go through.
This they duly did, the only goal coming from a penalty, slotted home by Mariona Caldentey.
A club record 12,764 crowd saw them clinch their place in the final.
The final is in Budapest on Saturday 18 May.
PFA Player of the Year Award 2018-19
Vivianne Miedema beat Steph Houghton, Nikita Parris, Keira Walsh, Erin Cuthbert and Ji So-yun to take the PFA women’s Player of the Year award this week.
The Dutch striker has scored 22 goals in 19 appearances in the WSL for title-winning Arsenal this season. In all competitions she has 39 goals in 46 appearances.
Georgia Stanway won the Young Player of the Year award, having scored 11 goals for Manchester City this season in the WSL. The other shortlisted players were Miedema, Keira Walsh, Erin Cuthbert, Alisha Lehmann and Sophie Baggaley.
Steph Houghton also received the PFA Special Achievement award. She will captain England at the World Cup in France this summer and has already 104 caps.
Arsenal clinched their first league title since 2012 last Sunday. They beat Brighton 4-0 at the Amex Stadium in front of a record WSL crowd of 5,265.
The weekend’s results were as follows:
Brighton 0-4 Arsenal
Needless to say Vivianne Miedema was in amongst it all, scoring the first and creating the second for Katie McCabe.
Beth Mead added a spectacular third and Danielle van de Donk the fourth as the Gunners secured the title in style, with a match to spare.
Birmingham City 2-0 Liverpool
White 20’ 29’
Everton 3-2 Reading
Kaagman 40’, Boye-Hlorkah 52’, Magill 65’
Allen 8’, Williams 77’
Manchester City 2-1 Yeovil
Parris 30’ (PEN), Hemp 65’
Bristol City 1-2 West Ham United
Rafferty 60’ (OG)
Kiernan 74’, Ross 89’
So with most teams having just one game to play, Arsenal are top and champions with 51 points from 19 games. Manchester City will finish as runners-up and are currently on 47 points, 10 points ahead of an impressive season from Birmingham City who are third. They may not finish third, however, as Chelsea are just a point behind and have a game in hand.
The weekend’s Championship results were:
Millwall Lionesses 0-5 Manchester United
Zelem 7’ (PEN), Turner 13’, Devlin 23’, Harris 29’ (PEN), Sigsworth 78’
London Bees 1-5 Aston Villa
Richards 35’, Ale 38’, West 52’, Smith 80’ 90’
Leicester City 1-1 Durham
Crystal Palace 1-4 Charlton Athletic
Balfour 77’ (PEN)
Eggesvik 24’, Graham 40’, Ejupi 75’, Agg 85’
Lewes 0-3 Sheffield United
Salmon 16’ 60’, Cox 35’
Aston Villa 1-1Tottenham Hotspur
As we know, Manchester United are champions. With the draw against Villa, Spurs are promoted from second. All teams have one game left to play except for London Bees who have completed their season.
FA Cup Final
Don’t forget it’s The FA Cup final on Saturday. Manchester City v West Ham Utd kicks off at 5.30pm and is live in the UK on BBC1 and on the radio on BBC 5 Live.
Petra Kvitova won the Stuttgart Open, defeating Anett Kontaveit in the final 6-3 7-6.
Kontaveit went through to the final after top seed Naomi Osaka withdrew with an abdominal injury before the match began. Third seed Kvitova beat sixth seed Kiki Bertens in her semi-final 7-6 3-6 6-1.
Meanwhile, in Istanbul the final was between sixth seed Petra Martic, who had won the first set against Margarita Gasparyan in the first semi-final 6-1 when her opponent retired. The second semi-final was a straight sets victory for the unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, who beat Barbora Strycova 6-2 6-1.
The final went to three sets, with Martic coming out the winner 1-6 6-4 6-1.
This week’s tournaments are in the Czech Republic and Morocco:
Two unseeded players will contest the final in Prague on Saturday 4 May.
Jil Teichmann will face Karolina Muchova, having beaten ninth seed Barbora Strycova (6-3 6-0) and the unseeded Bernarda Pera (6-2 7-5) respectively.
Saturday’s Rabat Open final will be between sixth seed Maria Sakkari, who beat Alison Van Uytvanck (8) 6-4 6-4 and British number one Jo Konta (7), who defeated fourth seed Ajla Tomljanovic in her semi-final 6-2 7-6.
Vitality Super League
Last weekend’s results
Friday 26 April
Strathclyde Sirens 41-56 Wasps Netball
Saturday 27 April
Celtic Dragons 58-51 Surrey Storm
London Pulse 62-67 Loughborough Lightning
Saracens Mavericks 62-48 Severn Stars
Manchester Thunder 53-56 Team Bath
Wasps are out and away at the top with 42 points from 17 games. They have qualified for the semi-finals. Then come Thunder, Bath and Lightning on 36 points. Lightning lie fourth with an inferior goal difference of just 14. Just behind them, Mavericks are in fifth and can still qualify if they win and Bath or Loughborough lose as they have a massively better goal difference than the two above them. It is bound to be an exciting final round of matches on Saturday. Wasps have already secured a home semi-final. The other is up for grabs. Will Wasps get through again and if they do, can anyone stop them from making it a hat-trick of titles on 18 May?
It is the final (18th) round of matches this weekend before the semi-finals on 11 May. All games start at 6pm.
Saturday 4 May
Loughborough Lightning v Celtic Dragons
Saracens Mavericks v Strathclyde Sirens
Team Bath v London Pulse (Live on Sky Sports)
Severn Stars v Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm v Manchester Thunder
Contrary to what I said in the column last week, the Investec Women’s Hockey Premier League play-offs actually took place on the weekend of 13-14 April, so my apologies for that. It would be remiss of me not to mention it, now it has been pointed out to me so here are the results:
Holcombe 6-0 Buckingham
Surbiton 2-1 East Grinstead
14 April – play off final
Holcombe 0-1 Surbiton
So despite Holcombe finishing top in the regular season, Surbiton are champions for a sixth straight season after defeating them in the play-off final.
Slough went into the Promotion tournament, but could not finish in the top two, which means that along with Canterbury, they are relegated. Hampstead & Westminster and Loughborough Students (at least they’re not called Lightning) finished first and second and are promoted.
Premier 15s Grand Final
Saracens 33-17 Harlequins
Saracens retained their title in front of a (slightly disappointing?) crowd of 2,590 at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton, on Saturday.
The holders took the lead on three minutes through Poppy Cleall. They doubled their lead on 10 minutes when Sydney Gregson flew in on the wing.
On twenty minutes they were in for a third as Zoe Harrison went in and there were two more scores – a second each for Cleall and Harrison to make the score 27-0 to Saracens at half-time, leaving Harlequins with a mountain to climb if they were to get back into the match.
Quins made a spirited attempt after the break. They were on the scoreboard early through an Emily Scott penalty. Saracens responded with a penalty from Harrison.
Harlequins finally scored their first try on 54 minutes through prop Vickii Cornborough. Soon afterwards captain Rachael Burford scored their second.
But it was not to be for the Quins who conceded another penalty late on, which Harrison slotted over.
Last weekend’s Super League results:
Bradford Bulls 58-6 Wakefield Trinity
Castleford Tigers 27-0 Leeds Rhinos
York City Knights 0-62 Wigan Warriors
St Helens 54-16 Featherstone Rovers
After three matches Castleford Tigers and St Helens have six points with three wins from three. Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos have four. Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity have two and York City and Featherstone Rovers have yet to get off the mark.
Brigid Kosgei of Kenya won the elite women’s race in a time of two hours, 18 minutes and 20 seconds. She beat defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot into second with Rosa Dereje of Ethiopia finishing third. At 25, Kosgei is the youngest woman to win the race.
In the wheelchair race, Manuela Schar of Switzerland took gold in one hour 44 minutes and nine seconds. She finished more than five minutes ahead of Tatyana McFAdden, with last year’s winner Madison de Rozario coming in third.
Women’s T20 Challenge
No it’s not a Women’s IPL, but it’s building on last year’s event as so, should be applauded as progress. The three squads have been announced, with the Australian’s due to play being notable absentees due to a spat between the BCCI and Cricket Australia over a men’s series due to played in India in January 2020. So, the best female Australian cricketers will miss out on a big pay day and the exposure the tournament will bring because of a dispute between men. ‘Twas ever thus, you might say. Cricket Australia have apologised to Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy for their omission.
The squads are:
Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Anuja Patil, Arundhati Reddy, Chamari Athapaththu (Sri Lanka), Jemimah Rodrigues, Lea Tahuhu (New Zealand), Mansi Joshi, Nat Sciver (England), Poonam Yadav, Priya Punia, Radha P Yadav, Sophie Devine (New Zealand(, Taniya Bhatia.
Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana (c), Bharti Fulmali, Dayalan Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol, Jasia Akhtar, Jhulan Goswami, R Kalpana, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shakera Selman (West Indies), Sophie Ecclestone (England), Stafanie Taylor (West Indies), Suzie Bates (New Zealand)
Velocity: Mithali Raj (c), Amelia Kerr (New Zealand), Danielle Wyatt (England), Devika Vaidya, Ekta Bisht, Hayley Matthews (West Indies), Jahanara Alam (Bangladesh), Komal Zhanzad, Shafali Verma, Shikha Pandey, Sushma Verma, Sushree Dibyadarshini, Veda Krishnamurthy.
The tournament will be played from May 6-11 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. More news next week
Will she appeal? Will she retire? What on earth has possessed the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reject Caster Semenya’s challenge to the IAAF’s new rule restricting the testosterone level of female athletes?
Even more bizarrely, Cas said it has “serious concerns as the future practical application” of the new rule. These include:
- Worries that athletes might unintentionally break the strict testosterone levels set by the IAAF
- Questions about the advantage higher testosterone gives athletes over 1500m and the mile
- The practicalities for athletes of complying with the new rules
It also found that the ruling was discriminatory to those with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD). Let’s just consider that statement in itself – it is not “positive discrimination” in any way; Just discrimination. It goes on to qualify that by saying that it is “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” to practise this discrimination to protect “the integrity of female athletics”.
But is it?
To muddy the waters further, not only has the United Nations Human Rights Council called the move “unnecessary, harmful and humiliating”, but before the ruling was made, the World Medical Association (WMA) issued a press release where it “urges physicians not to implement IAAF rules on classifying women athletes.” Read the press release here.
The new ruling comes into effect on 8 May. If Semenya (or any other athlete affected) wants to compete at the World Championships in September, she will have to start taking the testosterone-reducing medication in the following seven days.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve written this, but we’ve not heard the end of this one. It’s a decision that strikes at the heart of women’s athletics. Semenya has a naturally high testosterone level. She has not cheated, she has not taken performance enhancing drugs. There are many and varied views on this, but I for one don’t think she should be penalised and forced to undergo medical treatment for what is a natural condition. More news on this as it develops.
And, and finally,
To end on a positive note, one last call to remind you that Bank Holiday Monday, 6 May is Women’s County Cricket Day. Get out there and support your local county side and perhaps you’ll see some of the biggest stars in the English game. If you still need to know when and where the matches are taking place, the link to the fixtures is here.
More news and view next week.