Atletico Must Have More Possession in Return Leg against Man City, Says Simeone

Football - Champions League - Quarter-Final - First Leg - Manchester City v Atletico Madrid - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 5, 2022 Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone reacts as Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola looks on (Reuters)
Football - Champions League - Quarter-Final - First Leg - Manchester City v Atletico Madrid - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 5, 2022 Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone reacts as Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola looks on (Reuters)
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Atletico Must Have More Possession in Return Leg against Man City, Says Simeone

Football - Champions League - Quarter-Final - First Leg - Manchester City v Atletico Madrid - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 5, 2022 Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone reacts as Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola looks on (Reuters)
Football - Champions League - Quarter-Final - First Leg - Manchester City v Atletico Madrid - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 5, 2022 Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone reacts as Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola looks on (Reuters)

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone was happy with his side's defending in Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League quarter-final first leg defeat at Manchester City but said they must get a bigger share of possession in the return leg if they are to advance.

Kevin De Bruyne's 70th minute strike was the only goal in a game that featured few clear-cut chances, with Atletico failing to produce a single shot on target after spending much of the contest camped in their own half.

"In the first half we defended very well," Simeone told reporters. "If you value the coordinated attacking, you also have to value the strong and unashamed defense.

"We have to improve, improve and try to have more of the ball. That comes with calmness, with the humility of first having a good collective defensive effort to continue in the tie and from there, play.

"I was taught to compete and we seek to compete to the end in any way we can."

Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak said the tie was far from over.

"At 1-0, I don't think the tie is closed," Oblak said. "In Madrid we are going to have to do much more offensively, defensively we are going to have to be the same or better and only then can we qualify for the semi-finals."

The second leg will be held at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid next Wednesday.



Luka Modric Comes off the Bench to Give Spanish Leader Real Madrid 1-0 Win Over Sevilla 

Real Madrid's Luka Modric (C) celebrates with his teammtaes after scoring the 1-0 goal during the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between Real Madrid and Sevilla FC in Madrid, Spain, 25 February 2024. (EPA)
Real Madrid's Luka Modric (C) celebrates with his teammtaes after scoring the 1-0 goal during the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between Real Madrid and Sevilla FC in Madrid, Spain, 25 February 2024. (EPA)
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Luka Modric Comes off the Bench to Give Spanish Leader Real Madrid 1-0 Win Over Sevilla 

Real Madrid's Luka Modric (C) celebrates with his teammtaes after scoring the 1-0 goal during the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between Real Madrid and Sevilla FC in Madrid, Spain, 25 February 2024. (EPA)
Real Madrid's Luka Modric (C) celebrates with his teammtaes after scoring the 1-0 goal during the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between Real Madrid and Sevilla FC in Madrid, Spain, 25 February 2024. (EPA)

Luka Modric leapt atop the advertising board, pumped his arms and joined the collective roar of the Santiago Bernabeu.

The veteran Real Madrid star, who has seen his minutes shrink this season, had just become the hero for the Spanish league leader with a scorching winner after coming off the bench in a 1-0 win over Sevilla on Sunday.

The normally calm Croat was possibly shouting for more than joy as he celebrated just his second goal of the season. Perhaps there was a bit of vindication, of showing everyone — Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti included — that he could still decide games even in an increasingly young Madrid squad.

The 38-year-old Modric collected a deflection with one touch before unleashing a powerful strike from outside the area that grazed the post before finding the net in the 81st minute. Modric had gone on just six minutes before with the leaders stymied in attack without injured top scorer Jude Bellingham.

“It is what always happens. We never give up. We have shown it many times, that this is a part of Real Madrid’s DNA,” Modric said about his goal. “We knew that today it was important not to let points get away because Barcelona would have closed the gap and we couldn’t allow that. Our insistence throughout all the game bore its fruit.”

Modric has helped Madrid win five Champions League titles and the player won the 2018 Ballon d’Or award. This season, with Bellingham replacing him in the starting 11, he has mostly been the subject of speculation about whether his playing days in Madrid’s all-white are nearing their end.

“It is very difficult to leave (Modric) on the bench, but every day he is an example for the entire squad,” Ancelotti said. “It is in Luka’s hands to decide what he does next season, and we are just waiting for his decision. It is difficult to manage (a situation like his) and I understand perfectly what Modric may be thinking when he does not play because I went through it as a player.”

Madrid was heading toward a second straight draw after being held 1-1 at Rayo Vallecano in the last round of games. Another stumble would have given Barcelona reason to hope that it might just be able to mount a challenge after it overtook Girona for second place on Saturday.

Madrid’s victory kept it eight points above Barcelona and nine clear of Girona, which plays Rayo on Monday.

This was the third game that Bellingham, the league’s top scorer with 16 goals, has missed with a left ankle sprain.

Nico sent off

Nico Williams was sent off with two quick yellow cards to leave Athletic Bilbao with 10 players just before halftime in its 3-1 loss at Real Betis.

The Spain winger got his first card for a foul and compounded that by earning a second booking for his apparently sarcastic applause of the referee.

The loss meant Athletic failed to take advantage of Atletico Madrid’s 2-2 draw at bottom side Almeria on Saturday. Athletic remained in fifth place at three points behind fourth-place Atletico. Betis moved into sixth, seven points behind Athletic.

Chimy Ávila scored his first goal for Betis since joining from Osasuna in the winter transfer window to take the 13th-minute lead. Yuri Berchiche added an own-goal before Williams was sent off in the 40th.

Gorka Guruzeta's goal gave Athletic some hope in the 52nd, but Betis midfielder Johnny Cardoso added a third with a strike from the edge of the area in the 67th.

In the first half, an assistant referee had to leave the match after she ran into a television camera and cut her head.

Last-gasp equalizer

Darwin Machis’ goal deep in injury time snatched Cadiz a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo in a meeting of two teams in danger of relegation.

Iago Aspas and Williot Swedberg gave Celta a 2-0 advantage before Juanmi Jiménez pulled one back for the hosts in the 66th. Rafa Benítez’s side was still eyeing a victory until Machis curled a shot in from the corner of the area just before the final whistle.

Celta, in 17th, remained the last team clinging to safety while 18th-place Cadiz was in the drop zone at three points behind.

“You think you have it in the bag, you are up 2-0, and they score two goals on plays we could have stopped, so it is obvious we missed an opportunity,” Benítez said. “We didn’t know how to manage those final minutes.”


Belgian Van Eetvelt Hits the Heights to Claim UAE Tour

UAE Tour winner Lennert Van Eetvelt only turned professional last year © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
UAE Tour winner Lennert Van Eetvelt only turned professional last year © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
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Belgian Van Eetvelt Hits the Heights to Claim UAE Tour

UAE Tour winner Lennert Van Eetvelt only turned professional last year © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
UAE Tour winner Lennert Van Eetvelt only turned professional last year © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

Belgium's Lennert Van Eetvelt produced a dramatic summit finish on Jebel Hafeet to claim the final stage and overall victory in the UAE Tour on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Lotto rider powered clear around two kilometres from the line to take the 161km seventh stage by 22 seconds from Pello Bilbao and Ben O'Connor, AFP reported.

With a 10 sec time bonus Van Eetvelt shot to the top of the overall standings, two seconds ahead of Australia's O'Connor, with Bilbao completing the podium.

O'Connor's compatriot, UAE Team Emirates' Jay Vine began the day in the lead but his hopes bit the dust in the closing climb.

"I was expecting a difficult stage," Van Eetvelt said, adding that he had been able to stay on the wheels of the leaders.

"Then when we began the climb I told myself I had to give my all.

"I couldn't be happier," beamed the rider who was adding this to a race win in Mallorca last month.

Van Eetvelt only turned professional last year, making his Grand Tour debut in the Vuelta a Espana where he came in 32nd overall.


Riyadh Will be a Stop for Global Champions Arabians Tour 2024

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Riyadh Will be a Stop for Global Champions Arabians Tour 2024

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

Riyadh is set to host one of the legs of the Global Champions Arabians Tour (GCAT) in 2024, joining a series of events held across various countries throughout the season. Previously, Doha hosted the event, and upcoming stops on the tour include Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Cannes in France, Valkenswaard in the Netherlands, Rome, and Paris, SPA reported.

The Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation (SAEF) will be the host in the capital, Riyadh.
Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah, President of the Saudi Equestrian Federation, expressed gratitude to the leadership for their substantial support of equestrianism in the Kingdom.

He emphasized how the leadership's unwavering support has positioned Saudi Arabia as a global hub for equestrian sports. Prince Abdullah highlighted that the Kingdom's well-organized and diverse events align with a clear vision, aiming to establish the country as the world's premier destination. He conveyed his appreciation to Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the Minister of Sport, for his continuous support and close involvement in the sector.


Liverpool Beats Chelsea 1-0 to Win the English League Cup

Liverpool’s captain Virgil van Dijk and head coach Jurgen Klopp and teammates celebrate after winning the EFL Carabao Cup final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, 25 February 2024.  EPA/ANDY RAIN
Liverpool’s captain Virgil van Dijk and head coach Jurgen Klopp and teammates celebrate after winning the EFL Carabao Cup final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, 25 February 2024. EPA/ANDY RAIN
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Liverpool Beats Chelsea 1-0 to Win the English League Cup

Liverpool’s captain Virgil van Dijk and head coach Jurgen Klopp and teammates celebrate after winning the EFL Carabao Cup final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, 25 February 2024.  EPA/ANDY RAIN
Liverpool’s captain Virgil van Dijk and head coach Jurgen Klopp and teammates celebrate after winning the EFL Carabao Cup final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, 25 February 2024. EPA/ANDY RAIN

Virgil van Dijk headed Liverpool to a record-extending 10th English League Cup trophy by securing a 1-0 win against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday.
The center back's header in the 28th minute of extra time settled a tense clash that had ended 0-0 in regulation.
It clinched an eighth piece of major silverware for Jurgen Klopp and ensured the Liverpool manager will not end his final season at the club empty-handed.
Klopp will step down at the end of the season, but victory in the League Cup has kept his team on course for an improbable quadruple of trophies.
Liverpool currently leads the Premier League table and is still in contention for the FA Cup and Europa League.
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino was hoping to win his first major trophy in England after previous spells with Southampton and Tottenham.
He will have to wait, while Klopp can look ahead to more glory before walking away.
Liverpool and Chelsea had met in both domestic finals in 2022 and on both occasions Liverpool came out on top to lift the League Cup and FA Cup on penalties after two goalless draws.
This was another close match that saw both teams have goals ruled out for offside and other chances missed.
Eventually Van Dijk came up with the decisive moment and perhaps the start of a trophy-laden end to Klopp's reign.


Senor Buscador Secures ‘Saudi Cup’ Victory, Defending Home Turf

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz crowned Sharaf Al-Hariri, owner of the horse “Senor Buscador,” winner of the “Saudi Cup” at the King Abdulaziz Equestrian Arena in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz crowned Sharaf Al-Hariri, owner of the horse “Senor Buscador,” winner of the “Saudi Cup” at the King Abdulaziz Equestrian Arena in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Senor Buscador Secures ‘Saudi Cup’ Victory, Defending Home Turf

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz crowned Sharaf Al-Hariri, owner of the horse “Senor Buscador,” winner of the “Saudi Cup” at the King Abdulaziz Equestrian Arena in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz crowned Sharaf Al-Hariri, owner of the horse “Senor Buscador,” winner of the “Saudi Cup” at the King Abdulaziz Equestrian Arena in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, acting on behalf of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, has crowned America’s Senor Buscador as the winner of the 5th edition of the Saudi Cup 2024 horse race at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh.

Following an electrifying race, Senor Buscador emerged victorious, securing the top position in the 9th round of the Saudi Cup race.

This prestigious equestrian event, known globally, offered significant prize money totaling $37.6 million across 17 rounds.

The Saudi Cup, with a prize of $20 million, saw a record-breaking participation of 244 horses.

Upon arrival at the venue, the Crown Prince was received by Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Equestrian Authority and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia.

The Crown Prince watched the final round of the horse race competition that attracted the finest thoroughbreds and top jockeys from around the globe.

The participating horses moved from the grooming arena to the parade ground in front of the Crown Prince before the race commenced. All participating jockeys were also present on the parade ground.

The Crown Prince then congratulated the owner of the horse Senor Buscador, for winning the race and presented them the Saudi Cup.

He also congratulated the horse trainer and jockey and presented them with a horse replica and a cavalry horse helmet respectively.

Japan’s Ushba Tesoro claimed the second position in this high-stakes horseracing event.

Moreover, the horse “Tower of London” won the top spot in the Red Sea Cup, covering 3,000 meters on grass and earning a prize of $1.5 million for its owners.

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson also celebrated victory as his horse “Spirit Dancer” claimed first place in the Howden Neom Turf Cup.


Khachanov Ends Mensik's Dream Qatar Run to Clinch Sixth Title

Champion: Russia's Karen Khachanov celebrates © KARIM JAAFAR / AFP
Champion: Russia's Karen Khachanov celebrates © KARIM JAAFAR / AFP
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Khachanov Ends Mensik's Dream Qatar Run to Clinch Sixth Title

Champion: Russia's Karen Khachanov celebrates © KARIM JAAFAR / AFP
Champion: Russia's Karen Khachanov celebrates © KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

Karen Khachanov ended Jakub Mensik's bid to become the 10th youngest ATP champion with a straight sets win in the Qatar Open final on Saturday.

The 17th-ranked Russian won 7-6 (14/12), 6-4 to claim a sixth career title against 18-year-old Mensik, the youngest finalist at a tour event since Carlos Alcaraz at Umag in 2021.

"Every title is a special one," Khachanov, who didn't drop a set all week, said on court, AFP reported.

"Every time, you want to win. We play around 22 tournaments per season and at the end of the day, you compete every week. For sure here in Doha it is one of the nicest trophies."

Czech teenager Mensik, ranked 116 who will break into the top 100 next week, was playing in just his third main draw event following breakout runs to the third round of the 2023 US Open and a second-round appearance at the Australian Open last month.

On his way to the Doha final, he knocked out former world number one Andy Murray as well as top seed Andrey Rublev.

He had his chances in a marathon opener on Saturday when his 27-year-old Russian opponent saved four set points.

"I thought yesterday's tie-break was preparation for today," added Khachanov who had claimed a 14/12 breaker against Alexei Popyrin on Friday in the semi-finals.

"Today I couldn't believe it was the same score, same tie-break... I stayed strong, I'm extremely happy that I won the first set. It lifted me a lot and gave me a lot of confidence to step up in the second."

Khachanov also faced down 16 aces from the young Czech.

"For a minute, I thought I was playing John Isner and not Jakub Mensik today," said the Russian.


Merlier Beats Sprint Rivals for Third UAE Tour Stage Win

The peloton leaving Al Dhafra Walk on the 141km desert run to Liwa © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
The peloton leaving Al Dhafra Walk on the 141km desert run to Liwa © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
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Merlier Beats Sprint Rivals for Third UAE Tour Stage Win

The peloton leaving Al Dhafra Walk on the 141km desert run to Liwa © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
The peloton leaving Al Dhafra Walk on the 141km desert run to Liwa © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

Tim Merlier burst past a clutch of top sprinters to secure his third win of the UAE Tour on Saturday, winning the sixth and penultimate stage by a convincing margin.

The 31-year-old Belgian cut through the field from around 150 metres out and opened a 20-metre gap before easing off with his left arm raised in triumph at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater finish line.

In the overall standings, Jay Vine of UAE Team Emirates leads his Australian compatriot Ben O'Connor of Decathlon AG2R by 11 seconds, while American Brandon McNulty is third at 13sec.

Only 134 riders set off from the Louvre Abu Dhabi start line Saturday after British veteran sprinter Mark Cavendish pulled out sick.

"He doesn't feel good today, he has some fever," said Astana sports director Dmitry Fofonov. "So we took the decision not to start today because there is hot weather."

Cavendish will be back in action at the Tirreno Adriatico stage race in early March.

Sunday's UAE Tour finale features a 10km climb up Jebel Hafeet mountain which will decide the winner, with Spanish rider Pello Bilbao at 22sec in fifth one of the main men to watch out for.


Paolini Defeats Kalinskaya in Comeback Victory for Dubai Title

Jasmine Paolini of Italy celebrates with the trophy after winning the final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships 2024 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 24 February 2024.  EPA/ALI HAIDER
Jasmine Paolini of Italy celebrates with the trophy after winning the final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships 2024 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 24 February 2024. EPA/ALI HAIDER
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Paolini Defeats Kalinskaya in Comeback Victory for Dubai Title

Jasmine Paolini of Italy celebrates with the trophy after winning the final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships 2024 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 24 February 2024.  EPA/ALI HAIDER
Jasmine Paolini of Italy celebrates with the trophy after winning the final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis WTA Championships 2024 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 24 February 2024. EPA/ALI HAIDER

Jasmine Paolini earned her biggest title by defeating Anna Kalinskaya 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the Dubai Championships final on Saturday.
Paolini fought back from a break down in the second and third sets en route to the second WTA singles title of her nine-year tour-level career.
The 26th-ranked Paolini and 40th-ranked Kalinskaya defied a field that started with 16 of the top 20 women, including the top four.
Paolini won her first title in Slovenia in 2021 and lost three finals since then. She lost to Kalinskaya a month ago in the Australian Open fourth round. Saturday’s victory assured the Italian of a top 15 debut when the rankings are updated on Monday.
“It's so special. I'm really happy and really surprised,” an emotional, smiling Paolini said on court, according to The Associated Press.
“I'm just happy that I believed I could win every match. I remember my first match this week. It was second set, I'd lost the first and was a break down, yet now I'm here winning the title. It's unbelievable.”
Paolini trailed 6-4, 3-1. Then she was 4-2 down in the third set. She stopped Kalinskaya serving for the match at 5-4.
Kalinskaya came through qualifying and beat three top-10 players in a row — including No. 1 Iga Swiatek — to reach her first final. Kalinskaya will debut in the top 30 on Monday.


FII PRIORITY Summit in Miami Discusses Investment in Sports

Discussions at the PRIORITY Summit, organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute in Miami, focused on the second day on investment in sports
Discussions at the PRIORITY Summit, organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute in Miami, focused on the second day on investment in sports
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FII PRIORITY Summit in Miami Discusses Investment in Sports

Discussions at the PRIORITY Summit, organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute in Miami, focused on the second day on investment in sports
Discussions at the PRIORITY Summit, organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute in Miami, focused on the second day on investment in sports

Sessions, discussions and dialogues at the PRIORITY Summit, organized by the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute in Miami, focused on the second day on investment in sports.
One of the most important questions raised at the summit themed, "On the Edge of a New Frontier," was: What drives growth in sports assets and innovation in sports? How do investors and owners of sports teams reshape sports financially? Speakers pointed out that in recent years, sports investment has witnessed a major transformation with the increase in media broadcast rights for sports events and tournaments, and the achievement of high financial returns as a result of investment projects in this vital field, which attracts many followers around the world.
Speakers at the sessions explained that investing in sports is not just about winning games, but it is rather a huge platform that brings communities together and gets to know each other.
Participants also spoke about the development of sports investment with increasing financial returns in paid broadcasting rights, and about increasing demand, digital expansion, and accessing more global markets, as investors support shaping sports financially and practically, while taking advantage of modern technologies to attract new fans and followers in watching sports tournaments.
The participants also touched upon ways to invest in art, entertainment, museums and media, and the role of media and entertainment companies in developing content across various platforms to attract wider audiences, generate income effectively, and shape culture in their countries.


New Era at Man United Begins with Home Loss to Fulham

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United reacts after Fulham’s second goal during the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham FC, in Manchester, Britain, 24 February 2024. (EPA)
Marcus Rashford of Manchester United reacts after Fulham’s second goal during the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham FC, in Manchester, Britain, 24 February 2024. (EPA)
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New Era at Man United Begins with Home Loss to Fulham

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United reacts after Fulham’s second goal during the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham FC, in Manchester, Britain, 24 February 2024. (EPA)
Marcus Rashford of Manchester United reacts after Fulham’s second goal during the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham FC, in Manchester, Britain, 24 February 2024. (EPA)

The new era at Manchester United got off to a disappointing start as the team lost ground in the race for Champions League qualification with a 2-1 home loss against Fulham on Saturday.

The week started with new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe completing his purchase of a minority stake in United and boldly setting out a three-year plan to return the club to the top of English soccer, knocking local rivals Manchester City and Liverpool “off their perch” in the process. It ended with Erik ten Hag's side getting mostly outplayed in its own stadium by an opponent in the bottom half of the standings and conceding the deciding goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Not only did sixth-place United's four-game winning run in the league come to an end, fourth-place Aston Villa beat Nottingham Forest 4-2 and there is now an eight-point gap between the teams. Fifth-place Tottenham is three points ahead of United and has a game in hand.

It remains to be seen if the Premier League will have four or five places in next season's Champions League. Failing to qualify for the lucrative competition will be a huge blow to United's status and finances — and could yet spell the end for Ten Hag as Ratcliffe looks to raise the standards at the fallen giant.

There could be more twists in the title race later Saturday, with second-place City away to Bournemouth and third-place Arsenal hosting Newcastle. City is four points behind Liverpool and Arsenal is a further point back.

In other results, relegation-threatened Everton conceded an equalizer in the sixth minute of stoppage time to draw 1-1 at Brighton and newly hired Crystal Palace manager Oliver Glasner's tenure got off to strong start as his team beat next-to-last Burnley 3-0.