Josip Ilicic said Atalanta are "no longer a surprise" after putting one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals with a crushing win over Valencia.

Champions League debutants Atalanta continued their fairytale run by routing Valencia 4-1 in the opening leg of the last-16 tie at San Siro in Milan on Wednesday.

Atalanta, who lost their opening three group matches this season, put the Spanish visitors to the sword courtesy of Hans Hateboer's brace and goals from Ilicic and Remo Freuler.

"We prepared this game the same way we always do and had a great first half, allowing them practically nothing. It's a pity we conceded that away goal, but Valencia are a strong team and we forced them to play badly with our football," Ilicic, who scored a stunning goal to make it 2-0 approaching half-time, told Sky Sport Italia.

"We knew their centre-backs didn't push up much, so that's why the coach chose me with Papu Gomez up front. We were very dangerous, especially in the first half, but we can do better.

"Atalanta are no longer a surprise, we've proved so many times that we don't give in. We're doing some really important things here."

Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini added: "We are on the one hand very satisfied, as we'd have happily accepted a scoreline like that.

"Yet we end up feeling regret over conceding that away goal, as we really shouldn't have made that mistake when 4-0 up and it wasn't the only situation like that.

"We need to be more precise when we go to the Mestalla. If we want to get into the Champions League quarter-finals, we have to play like this at the Mestalla too, prove we deserve to be there with a show of strength and win there too.

"We are a team who create many chances, it could perhaps have had more goals for us and them tonight. We created our goals, they sort of received gifts from us on theirs. We got a bit euphoric and lost sight of our concentration at times.

"We'll analyse now what we got wrong and learn from these errors, as we want to prove in the second leg that we deserve to be there.

"We've got to score there too. We will do some defending, but I don't want us to go to Spain and just sit on a three-goal lead, suffering the entire time."

Denis Cheryshev's 66th-minute consolation gave Valencia some hope ahead of the return leg on home soil and Valencia boss Albert Celades said: "This result doesn't really reflect what we saw on the pitch.

"I think the difference was that Atalanta scored practically every chance they had, which is not an easy thing to do. We didn't score when we had the opportunities. Of course, we made mistakes. When you play at this level against a side like Atalanta, you cannot allow them all that space. We did create our opportunities, though, and that is important for the second leg.

"I think we've got a chance of turning it around. The result is pretty clear tonight, but we'll see what happens at the Mestalla. We play well in our own stadium. We concede too many, especially away from home, there's no denying that. It won't be easy to overturn this situation, but we will try."

John Beilein has resigned as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after a short stint at the helm.

Beilein joined the Cavaliers from college team Michigan on a multi-year contract in May, but stepped down on Wednesday.

The 67-year-old – who oversaw an Eastern Conference-worst 14-40 record this season, only behind the Golden State Warriors (12-43) in the entire league – will be reassigned to a different role in Cleveland, where J.B. Bickerstaff will take over from Beilein.

"Over these last nine months, I have given my all to this organisation, but after much reflection, I have decided that it is best that I step back and resign from my position as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and assist the organisation in a different capacity," said Beilein, who spent the previous 12 seasons as coach of Michigan.

"I am very grateful to Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman and the entire Cavaliers organisation for the opportunity they have provided me.

"This was a very difficult decision for me, but I want to be clear – this was my decision to step down and I truly appreciate the understanding and support of the front office during this time. I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected.

"I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family's well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff.

"I also would not be doing this now, during the season, if J.B. Bickerstaff was not ready and capable to assume the head coaching role immediately and continue the rebuilding process that we have started.

"For 45 years and more than 1,300 games, my journey as a basketball coach has been a dream come true. I have never been afraid of a challenge and have given each one my all – sometimes to the detriment of my own well-being. I want to thank my wife, Kathleen, for being by my side and I appreciate the outpouring of support from family, friends, and colleagues during this time. I look forward to being able to spend more time with my wife, kids and grandchildren over the coming months."

Cavs general manager Koby Altman added: "John Beilein is one of the more accomplished basketball coaches in the history of our game and while it's unexpected, we understand and respect his decision to step down as head coach of the Cavaliers.

"I was excited about the development of our young players, who have all shown growth and maturity under coach Beilein. We are thankful for the time he spent as head coach with the Cavaliers and are looking forward to his continued contribution.

"The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking on important long-term decisions to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. I would like to thank the incredible fans of the Cavaliers for their support in both good and challenging times. Building a strong culture will continue to be the top priority here at the Cavaliers."

Hugo Lloris said Tottenham must dare to dream of another Champions League comeback after a 1-0 home defeat to RB Leipzig.

The first-leg loss in the last-16 tie puts Spurs in trouble, needing to find a big performance when the teams meet again in Germany on March 10.

Timo Werner's penalty settled the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium clash, with Lloris named man of the match by England boss Gareth Southgate after a string of saves that kept Leipzig at bay until the 56th minute.

Injury-hit Tottenham began slowly and three times in the opening 90 seconds Leipzig threatened to open the scoring.

But Spurs improved in the closing quarter of the game and Lucas Moura might have done better with a late header that he sent over the crossbar.

Given their heroics against Ajax in the Champions League semi-finals last year, when Spurs came from 3-0 behind on aggregate to go through on away goals, Lloris knows not to give up hope.

He says Tottenham can "try to create another story".

"I want to stay positive, especially after what we have seen in the last 20 minutes," Lloris said. "Obviously if we had started in the same way we finished, probably the score would have been different, but there's a second leg so we still have options.

"It wasn't the best result, but we have to deal with that. We are still there.

"It's true we have to give a lot of credit for Leipzig. They pressed very high and they're a very, very good team with a lot of energy. They run a lot.

"It's not easy, but we had some situations we could have maybe managed better. But it's football and now we have another big game on Saturday [against Chelsea in the Premier League]."

Tottenham have been hit hard by the loss of star strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, with both players facing a battle to get back onto the field before the end of the season.

It has left head coach Jose Mourinho with a major challenge as he bids to guide the team into next season's Champions League, while also fighting in this term's competition and in the FA Cup.

"With all the circumstances against us in the last few weeks, the last few months, we need to stay positive," Lloris told BT Sport.

"It's not the time to give up or to find excuses. We have to fight until the end. There's plenty of games in front of us. We're not really happy with the result, but we have to deal with that.

"We did it last season so let's hope. With our fans, let's try to create another story."

Jose Mourinho mounted a passionate defence of his Tottenham stars but admitted they are "really in trouble" on the fitness front after a 1-0 home defeat against RB Leipzig in the Champions League.

Tottenham's first-leg loss in the last-16 tie on Wednesday leaves last season's Champions League runners-up with a major challenge for the second match, which takes place in Germany on March 10.

Timo Werner's penalty for Leipzig settled the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium clash midweek, with the home side struggling to make an impression against the visiting defence until the closing stages.

Losing Harry Kane and Son Heung-min to injuries this year has left Tottenham with a lack of bite in attack, and that showed against Leipzig.

Mourinho even revealed Erik Lamela was thrust into action off the bench despite having been unable to train with the first team after an injury lay-off.

When it was suggested to him that the "real Spurs" showed up in the closing stages of the match, Mourinho was triggered and said: "What do you mean, the real Spurs?

"Come on, let's be loyal to the boys and tell that they did everything they could do."

He outlined the injury strife that has weakened his hand for such big matches, and despite believing Spurs might still turn around the Leipzig tie, Mourinho is worried his remaining fit players will soon tire.

"I thank the fans for their support to the boys and what I'm worried with is not with the 1-0. The 1-0 is an open result. There is the possibility we can go there and win the tie," he told BT Sport.

"What worries me is these are our players for the next I don't know how many matches.

"We have to play in two days again [on Saturday at Chelsea]. You could see Lucas [Moura], absolutely dead; [Steven] Bergwijn, absolutely dead; [Giovani] Lo Celso, dead.

"So we can look at it in two perspectives. One perspective is I'm so proud of them and they did absolutely fantastic. Another perspective is that that's our situation. We are really in trouble.

"What worries me is we have Premier League and FA Cup to play as well and that is our situation."

Mourinho is clearly staggered his players have a 12:30 GMT kick-off against his former club Chelsea on Saturday.

He made that point, speaking to the same broadcaster which will show the Premier League match.

After offering added praise to his players, saying he "couldn't be happier to have guys like them", Mourinho added: "But here we go, and Chelsea [will have been] drinking sparkling water with lemon and watching the game on TV.

"And Saturday morning, thank you very much for the choice."

Kevin De Bruyne insisted nothing has changed at Manchester City and said the players have "all trust" in the club after they were hit with a Champions League ban.

City were handed a two-season ban from European competition by UEFA last week after being found to have committed "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

The Premier League champions have denied any wrongdoing and intend to appeal, but speculation has mounted over manager Pep Guardiola and their star players' futures.

De Bruyne starred in a 2-0 Premier League win over West Ham on Wednesday and the playmaker said there was no change at City despite off-field events.

"Obviously we were on holiday when the statement happened. We came back and played football. The situation is what it is," he told Sky Sports.

"We came back and trained like normal and in the end nothing really changed. We just play the games we have, like today when we gave a good performance.

"We still have a lot to play for and let's hope we can find our rhythm as soon as possible and win some titles."

De Bruyne added: "The team give the statement. I don't know what else we can do other than play football. In the end the situation will show what it will show.

"The club is doing its thing and we have all trust in them."

Goals from Rodri and De Bruyne helped City consolidate second place and close the gap to Liverpool to 22 points in their first game since February 2.

De Bruyne felt the break impacted Guardiola's side, who travel to third-placed Leicester City on Saturday.

"It was okay. I think we saw it's been three weeks without football and we felt a little bit of rustiness, but we played a good game," he said.

The Financial Fair Play rain clouds that have been lingering for so long over Manchester City finally burst on Friday.

And yet, through the uncertain, murky gloom – which was not completely at odds with the Manchester weather earlier on this cold February day – there shined a familiar ray of hope.

Just as the rain subsided physically, so too can the storm pass – at least for this season – if Wednesday's evidence in City's 2-0 beating of West Ham is anything to go by. 

The full repercussions of the bombshell of a two-season ban from European competition and a €30million fine administered by UEFA for what the organisation's Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) deemed "serious breaches" of its FFP are still some way from being felt.

Not least because it is a ruling that barely starts the war, let alone ends it. City offered an immediate rebuttal, a denying of any wrongdoing and an intention to take their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

More battle lines were drawn when chief executive Ferran Soriano insisted allegations that City broke the rules "are simply not true" alongside an insistence the club had provided "irrefutable evidence" to the CFCB they had committed no wrongdoing. 

It is a scenario that will rumble on for some time. 

But here's the thing. Ultimately, you can have questions around City's financial conduct. You can feel uncomfortable about City's main means of defence throughout the process being to attack the validity of UEFA's investigation. You can even question the morality of football clubs being funded by oil-rich states.

It is fine to harbour those legitimate concerns and still be completely in awe of the slick machine Pep Guardiola has built, one many suggested would not be possible in English football. 

Sure, the Premier League trophy is headed to Liverpool this season and City's on-pitch shortfalls owe much to Guardiola's nonsensical decision not to replace Vincent Kompany, leaving City's defence low on numbers - the consequent re-positioning of Fernandinho after a serious knee injury to Aymeric Laporte in turn weakening his midfield.

But there were moments against the Hammers that reminded us of what has made City so utterly joyous during the previous two all-conquering title-winning seasons.

The intent was plain to see with a starting line-up blessed with City's wealth of attacking armoury. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings from midfield, Bernardo Silva employed further forward and Gabriel Jesus utilised wide in a front three – an intriguing subplot given it is a role he may have to fulfil against Real Madrid should Raheem Sterling not be fit and one in which he excelled as Brazil earned Copa America glory.

Indeed, had it not been for Jesus' dalliance, City twice would have been in front inside 15 minutes. West Ham clearly came with the intention to pack the defence and the midfield. The timeless David Silva unlocked that plan after just six minutes, playing an intricate sliderule ball into the path of Jesus who opted to try and round Lukasz Fabianski rather than take the favourable option of shooting. He was guilty of similar wastefulness when, after admittedly more fortuitous play, he was found by De Bruyne.

There was a delightful simplicity about the way City made the breakthrough. A De Bruyne corner, a front-post run by Rodri and a flicked header to the far post. 

But the second was much more a trademark of City under Guardiola. The intricate build-up play, the link-up between De Bruyne and his fellow creative genius Bernardo Silva, and the unerring finish from the former – who continues to be the beating heart of this team.

That such a performance came against a toothless, expensively assembled West Ham side shambling their way through a relegation battle should only partly detract from the credit City's performance deserves.

Sterner examinations are obviously on the horizon. Namely Madrid in what is a crucial last-16 Champions League tie, where you sense the atmosphere will be significantly more hostile towards UEFA and there will need to be more vibrancy on and off the pitch, though credit should be given to those game fans turning out for a hastily rearranged Premier League fixture with little riding on it.

Save for the brief, and somewhat unsavoury, "f*** UEFA" chants, and the self-deprecating singing of "City's going down with a billion in the bank" – a nod to a song rivals Manchester United used to taunt their blue neighbours with – the stands were understandably sedate and sparse.

But for now this was the sort of riposte City required on the pitch amid the uncertain turmoil off it. 

The FFP storm may still be gathering but with Guardiola, who has signalled his intent to stick around regardless of the outcome of the club's CAS appeal, there remains a feeling the light can shine through the dark clouds.

Atalanta marked their maiden game in the Champions League knockout stages with a resounding 4-1 win over Valencia in the first leg of their last-16 tie at San Siro on Wednesday.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side dominated from the outset against their LaLiga opponents and opened the scoring after 16 minutes, Hans Hateboer claiming his first goal in the competition with a close-range finish.  

Josip Ilicic doubled their advantage shortly before the interval with a fine strike, before Remo Freuler curled home a third from long distance in the 57th minute.

Hateboer then claimed a second five minutes later, and while Denis Cheryshev pulled a goal back for Valencia, the Italian side will be supremely confident of finishing off the job in Spain in three weeks' time.

Atalanta started in blistering fashion and a clean through Mario Pasalic was superbly denied by Jaume Domenech after eight minutes.

There was little the Valencia goalkeeper could do in the 16th minute, however, with Hateboer storming past Jose Gaya to meet Alejandro Gomez's cross and prod his side into a deserved lead from six yards.

That advantage was nearly cancelled out on the half-hour mark when Ferran Torres crashed a powerful effort off Pierluigi Gollini's left-hand post, while Goncalo Guedes fizzed wide from a promising position soon after.

They were punished for those misses three minutes before the interval when Ilicic thundered into the top corner from 18 yards to open his Champions League account. 

Any hopes Valencia had of reining in the hosts were extinguished shortly before the hour mark when Freuler's whipped effort from outside the penalty area flew past the helpless Domenech.

Maxi Gomez somehow failed to score from six yards, before Hateboer sprung the offside trap at the other end to latch onto Pasalic's pass and fire past Domenech, who should have done better.

Cheryshev pulled one back for the visitors in the 66th minute – just two minutes after coming off the substitutes' bench – but it did little to detract from a glorious night for Gasperini's men.

 

What does it mean? Atalanta power past accommodating visitors

Atalanta were utterly ruthless against a Valencia outfit who scarcely knew what had hit them. A place in the last eight looks almost nailed on and they will fancy their chances against any side left in the competition in this form.

If there is a criticism of the Italians, it is that they look vulnerable at the back, as evidenced by the host of chances carved out by Valencia in the closing stages. That will not bother their fans just now, who will be rightly basking in the glow of a truly memorable European night.

Gomez revelling on the big stage

Gomez  is enjoying his first taste of Champions League football at the age of 32. He might not have scored, but he was once again at the heart of Atalanta's effervescent attacking play, regularly leading Valencia's defenders on a merry dance.

Valencia's cause not helped by Domenech

He made a wonderful save early on from Pasalic but it was all downhill from there for the Valencia goalkeeper. He got a weak hand to Ilicic's strike and only he can say what he was trying to do with Hateboer's second goal.

What's next?

Atalanta host Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday, while Valencia visit Real Sociedad in LaLiga a day earlier.

Stefanos Tsitsipas started the defence of his Open 13 Marseille title with a straight-sets victory over Mikael Ymer to reach the quarter-finals.

Tsitsipas has made a disappointing start to the season, but took just 71 minutes to dispatch Ymer 6-1 6-3 on Wednesday.

The ATP Finals champion lost just three points on his first serve and did not face a solitary break point in an emphatic win.

Second seed Tsitsipas will face Vasek Pospisil in the last eight following the Canadian's 6-3 6-4 defeat of eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz.

Sixth seed Benoit Paire made a surprise exit in his homeland, going down 3-6 6-4 6-4 to Alexander Bublik in the second round.

It was anything but plain sailing for Felix Auger-Aliassime, who saved two match points before getting past Stefano Travaglia 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Auger-Aliassime's second-round opponent will be Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 victor in his match against Mikhail Kukushkin. 

Egor Gerasimov also reached round two by knocking out fellow qualifier Dennis Novak.

Mikel Arteta confirmed Matteo Guendouzi was dropped for Sunday's 4-0 Premier League win over Newcastle United due to his attitude in training.

The France youth international was reported to have been involved in a bust-up with Arteta at the club's warm weather training camp in Dubai during the mid-season break.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of his side's Europa League clash with Olympiacos on Thursday, Arteta revealed the 20-year-old's absence was related to issues with how he was training.

"I just do my team selection in regards to how they train, how they play, how they behave and every week it will be different," he said.

"One week it will be one reason, one week it will be another reason. It was about the way we trained, the way we live and I want the best players for the game and I select them in relation to what I see on a daily basis."

Guendouzi has been named in Arteta's squad for the last-32 first-leg clash in Athens, but the Spaniard refused to confirm if he will be selected in the starting XI.

He added: "We had a break of 15 days. We played just one game so I'm going to send out a team that I think is the best to play.

"The rest of the game will take care of itself. We cannot control everything. Sometimes you think about resting somebody and in training he gets a little issue or he gets sick.

"So, we will send out a team that we think is the best to beat Olympiacos and the rest of the teams after that will take care of themselves."

Arteta has also not ruled out that Pablo Mari could feature for the Gunners for the first time against Olympiacos.

Mari is yet to appear for the first team since joining on loan from Brazilian side Flamengo in January, but Arteta has suggested that he could be involved soon after coming through a reserve team game earlier this week unscathed.

Arteta, who was not present at the match, said: "I could not be there for a personal reason. I was pleased they [his staff] were there.

"His [Mari] commitment has been really good. He did well the other day and hopefully soon we can start to use him."

Manchester City put their off-field issues to one side by easing to a 2-0 win over West Ham in Wednesday's rearranged Premier League fixture at the Etihad Stadium.

The build-up to the game was dominated by talk of a two-year ban from European football imposed on City by UEFA for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.

But it was business as usual on the pitch for City as Rodri made a breakthrough in the first half with his first home goal for the club and Kevin De Bruyne added a second just after the hour.

That proved enough for Pep Guardiola's men, who bounced back from their 2-0 loss at Tottenham earlier this month to open up a four-point gap on third-place Leicester City.

The original game was called off 10 days ago due to Storm Ciara which, combined with the competition's inaugural mid-season break, meant a 17-day rest for City's players.

It did not take long for the hosts to get going, Gabriel Jesus spurning a glorious chance by taking one touch too many in front of goal and allowing Ryan Fredericks to get back.

The Brazil striker again delayed the shot too long from City's next big opening, but Rodri opened the scoring with a looping header at the near post after half an hour.

Guardiola's men toiled for large parts of the contest but had a second goal after 62 minutes through De Bruyne, who exchanged passes with Bernardo Silva and fired home.

Jesus was denied by Lukasz Fabianski 13 minutes from the end, though it mattered little as West Ham - in the relegation zone after collecting two points from the last 18 on offer - failed to muster any sort of response.


What does it mean? City do their talking on the pitch

The threat of a two-year ban from the Champions League has led to talk of a string of City's first-team stars, as well as boss Guardiola, moving on at the end of the season.

Guardiola challenged his players to focus on each game as it comes and this was a welcome win, 17 days on from losing at Tottenham in their most recent outing.

De Bruyne delivers again

De Bruyne sent in a delightful corner for Rodri's opener and blasted in a second to make it a combined 151 goals and assists for the playmaker in Europe's top five leagues.

Since making his City debut in September 2015, only Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi (62) has assisted more goals in Europe's top five leagues than the 61 De Bruyne has managed.

Hesitant Jesus lets West Ham off

Guardiola started Aguero and Jesus together in the Premier League for just the 12th time and West Ham struggled to cope with the pair.

Both players should have got on the scoresheet, though, with Jesus guilty of missing three gilt-edged opportunities.

What's next?

City will be looking to preserve their four-point lead on Leicester when they head to the King Power Stadium on Saturday, while West Ham have a daunting trip to league leaders Liverpool in five days' time.

Top seed Simona Halep saved a match point in a gripping battle with Ons Jabeur before sealing her place in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Halep was on the brink of a surprise defeat to the in-form world number 45, but hung in there to win a thriller 1-6 6-2 7-6 (9-7) on Wednesday.

The two-time grand slam champion and Jabeur were given great backing from passionate Romanian and Tunisian supporters in a pulsating contest that swung one way and the other.

Halep appeared destined to complete the turnaround with ease when she led 3-0 in the final set, but the tenacious Jabeur was relishing the battle and showed great spirit to take the upper hand at 6-5.

The unseeded Jabeur was broken to love when serving for the match, though, and a double-fault gifted 2015 champion Halep a 4-2 lead in the tie-break, yet there was more drama to come.

Jabeur fended off three match points to earn one of her own, but Halep showed her grit to win the next two points before her gutsy opponent drilled a forehand long to end a tense two-hour contest.

Halep will face Aryna Sabalenka in the last eight after the seventh seed defeated Elise Mertens 6-4 6-3.

Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza advanced with a hard-fought Veronika Kudermetova, winning 7-5 4-6 6-4 two days after knocking out the returning Kim Clijsters.

Elena Rybakina, a three-time finalist this year, got the better of Katerina Siniakova for the second successive week, a 6-3, 6-3 victory setting up a meeting with Karolina Pliskova.

Second seed Pliskova lost just three games in emphatic defeat of Kristina Mladenovic, while Petra Martic, Jennifer Brady and Anett Kontaveit were also victorious.

Christian Eriksen can help to raise Inter's collective level once he adapts to the side, according to head coach Antonio Conte.

The Denmark international has featured five times for Inter since completing a reported €20m (£16.9m) move from Tottenham in the January transfer window.

He has been restricted to one start and has yet to score or assist a goal for his new club, but Conte has called for patience before seeing the best of Eriksen in an Inter shirt.

"I see too much anxiety and little serenity," he said at Wednesday's news conference. "There is great serenity on our part. 

"The player wants to make himself available and we are calm.

"Every single player must think about improving himself, without thinking about who is next to him. We need individual growth, which can be put into the collective."

Conte will wait until Thursday before deciding whether to start Eriksen in the first leg of Inter's Europa League last-32 tie with Ludogorets.

Alexis Sanchez is also in line to feature from the start at Ludogorets Arena and Conte expects to see more from the on-loan forward once he gets a run of games under his belt.

"He has come back from a bad injury - he's been out for three months," Conte told reporters. 

"He is recovering well and is ready to start the game. We are talking about a player who hasn't played much in the last two years.

"He has to find the best physical shape and in this way it can help us achieve our goals."

Inter make the trip to Bulgaria on the back of just a second Serie A loss of the campaign last weekend, a 2-1 defeat to Lazio seeing them drop to third in Serie A.

"We were disappointed by the result, but not the performance," Conte said. "Lazio are one of the form sides in Italy right now.

"We put in a good performance and resume with our belief and our desire to improve - that must be our only objective.

"We're in Europe and it's right to give it our best, respect the competition as much as possible."

World champion Lewis Hamilton showed ominous speed in his Mercedes on day one of testing for the new Formula One season in Barcelona.

The British driver led a Mercedes one-two on the time sheets as Valtteri Bottas was second quickest, while Ferrari's plans were hindered when Sebastian Vettel pulled out of the session through illness.

Hamilton came to Barcelona from Berlin, after being voted a world sportsman of the year at the Laureus Awards, and the six-time F1 drivers' championship winner was swiftly up to pace in the new W11 model.

He clocked a fastest lap of one minute and 16.976 seconds, which put him 0.377secs clear of Bottas and 0.399s ahead of Racing Point's Sergio Perez.

Another title this season would see 35-year-old Hamilton match German great Michael Schumacher's record haul of seven triumphs.

Charles Leclerc was down in 11th place for Ferrari but put in 131 laps in the new SF1000 car as the Monegasque driver went it alone for the Italian team, with Vettel sidelined.

Hamilton completed 94 laps in the afternoon, with Bottas notching up 79 in the morning, but their combined total of 173 laps for Mercedes was almost passed single-handedly by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who achieved 168 circuits.

Verstappen span off the track twice during the afternoon. Alex Albon will take the wheel of the Red Bull on Thursday.

"It's been a good day and a really good start for all of us, considering we had a long break," said Hamilton. "So to come back and clock in over 170 laps just shows how hard everyone has been working over the winter.

"We will just take it one step at a time, getting good feedback from the car. We have a lot of data to download and analyse and we’ve got to keep pushing on."

The first race of the 2020 season takes place in Melbourne, with the Australian Grand Prix scheduled for March 15.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Paul Pogba is "not anywhere near ready" to return to team training with Manchester United as speculation over his long-term future intensifies.

The France World Cup winner has not featured for the Red Devils since the 4-1 Boxing Day win over Newcastle United as he continues his recovery from ankle surgery.

Solskjaer had suggested after Monday's 2-0 win over Chelsea that Pogba was due to resume training this week but changed his stance when previewing Thursday's Europa League clash with Club Brugge.

"Paul has not been part of the team training yet," boss Solskjaer said.

"So, it'll depend on how he feels or when he feels ready to do that, so he's not anywhere near that yet."

The latest update from Solskjaer will do little to assuage reports Pogba is heading for an Old Trafford exit at the end of the season, with a return to former club Juventus having been heavily mooted in recent weeks.

This week, Solskjaer has been involved in a back-and-forth with Pogba's agent Mino Raiola, who published a statement on Twitter prior to the Chelsea game that read: "Paul is not mine and for sure not Solskjaer's property, Paul is Paul Pogba's. You cannot own a human being already for a long time in the UK or anywhere else. I HOPE Solskjaer DO NOT WANT TO SUGGEST THAT PAUL IS HIS PRISONER."

Solskjaer later said he would not be drawn into a war of words and Raiola attempted to cool the feud, even going as far as to suggest Pogba could be open to the idea of a new contract.

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