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.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it is "touch and go" if Marcus Rashford plays again for Manchester United this season and cast doubt on his availability for England at Euro 2020.

Rashford has not featured for United since the FA Cup third-round replay against Wolves on January 15 due to a stress fracture in his back.

Originally, Rashford was expected to miss around six weeks and it was hoped he may return to action around April.

However, speaking prior to the Red Devils' Europa League clash at Club Brugge, Solskjaer said Rashford's injury was worse than first thought.

"He had a scan and it was maybe more severe than what we hoped and expected. He felt fine a few days before that," he said.

"I didn't know it takes that time to recover. When it heals he will be stronger for it so it's important we don't rush it.

"I would hope he's playing again this season it will just be touch and go towards the end. 

"Hopefully we can get through this tournament [Europa League] and prolong the season. 

"It takes time, I'm not a doctor but obviously I was hoping he'd recover quicker than it actually looks like he's going to be out for, another few months definitely."

England's first Euro 2020 fixture is against Croatia at Wembley on June 14 but, when asked if Rashford would be fit for the Three Lions, Solskjaer was non-committal. 

"I would hope he plays before then but if he's not fit enough he won't go," he added.

United made a move to replace Rashford in the short term with the loan signing of Odion Ighalo in the January transfer window.

Solskjaer's Norwegian compatriot Erling Haaland was another tipped to move to Old Trafford before he opted to join Borussia Dortmund from Salzburg.

Haaland has proven an instant hit at Signal Iduna Park, scoring 11 goals in just seven appearances, and Solskjaer is delighted to see the 19-year-old impressing.

"I normally never comment but since I have had Erling I'm delighted for him," Solskjaer said of the striker he coached at Molde.

"He's a top boy I want the best for and he's started fantastically for Dortmund. For Norway it's brilliant we have a striker who can score again."

Rory McIlroy has ruled out signing up for the Premier Golf League because he wants to be "on the right side of history".

The world number one is opposed to the plans for the breakaway competition, which could see professional golf at its highest level experience a major split.

England's Justin Rose has admitted the move could be financially appealing to many players, with an 18-tournament tour run by the World Golf Group set to offer annual prize-money of $240million.

However, McIlroy wants no part of the proposed new tour, saying it would take away his "autonomy and freedom".

"The more I've thought about it, the more I don't like it," McIlroy said on Wednesday.

McIlroy also believes 15-time major winner Tiger Woods would have no interest in signing up for the league, and without commitment from such star names the project may be a non-starter.

"The one thing as a professional golfer that I value is the fact that I have autonomy and freedom over everything that I do," McIlroy said in a news conference, ahead of this week's WGC-Mexico Championship.

"I pick and choose. This is a perfect example: some guys this week made the choice to not come to Mexico. If you go and play this other golf league, you're not going to have that choice.

"I read a thing the other day where it said if you take the money, they can tell you want to do, so if you don't take the money, they can't tell you what to do.

"And I think that's my thing. I've never been one for being told what to do, and I like to have that autonomy and freedom over my career, and I feel like I would give that up by going to play this other league."

Referring to a bid by Greg Norman to form a new tour in the mid-1990s, McIlroy indicated he was happy with the modern shape of golf's tours.

"People are looking at it purely from a monetary standpoint," McIlroy said. "I would like to be on the right side of history with this one, just like Arnold [Palmer] was with the Greg Norman thing in the nineties.

"I value a lot of other things over money and that's my stance on it at this point."

The Northern Irishman added: "Money's cheap, money's the easy part. It shouldn't be the driving factor.

"For some people it is, and we're professional golfers and we're out here playing golf to earn a living.

"But at the end of the day I value my freedom and my autonomy over everything else.

"Tiger's 44, he's got two young kids, he's openly said last week he wants to play 12 times a year. This league's proposing 18 [tournaments] so he's not going to do it."

Ryan Newman has been released from hospital less than two days after he was in a serious condition following a horror crash at the Daytona 500.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver was hospitalised after his car ploughed into a wall and caught fire before being hit by another car for a second time on Monday.

Newman's condition was initially described as serious, but not life-threatening and the 42-year-old's team on Tuesday revealed that he was awake and speaking with family and doctors.

There was another positive update on his condition on Wednesday, revealing he "continues great improvement".

Roush Fenway later posted a picture of Newman with his children leaving Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

A brief statement from the team simply said: "Ryan Newman has been treated and released from Halifax Medical Center."

Ryan Newman is "fully alert and walking" as he continues to show "great improvement" less than two days after he was in a serious condition following a horror crash at the Daytona 500.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver was hospitalised after his car ploughed into a wall and caught fire before being hit by another car for a second time on Monday.

Newman's condition was initially described as serious, but not life-threatening and the 42-year-old's team on Tuesday revealed that he was awake and speaking with family and doctors.

There was another positive update on his condition on Wednesday, revealing he "continues great improvement" at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

A Roush Fenway Racing statement said: "Ryan Newman continues to show great improvement after Monday night’s last-lap accident at Daytona International Speedway.

"The veteran driver is fully alert and walking around Halifax Medical Center. True to his jovial nature, he has also been joking around with staff, friends and family while spending time playing with his two daughters.

"Ryan continues to express his appreciation for the outpouring of support from across the country, and he and his family are grateful for the immense level of support that has been provided by the NASCAR community and beyond."

Mesut Ozil was a notable absentee as Arsenal headed to Greece on Wednesday ahead of their Europa League clash with Olympiacos.

The German playmaker stayed at home "due to personal reasons", Arsenal said.

Arsenal did not provide further information, but reports said Ozil's wife, Amine Gulse, was close to giving birth.

Head coach Mikel Arteta will have limited options in the centre of the park for the first leg of the last-16 tie.

For Arteta, the fixture is his first European game in charge of the team since succeeding previous first-team boss Unai Emery.

Ozil's fellow midfielder Lucas Torreira also did not travel, with the Uruguayan unwell but being assessed with a view to him taking a later flight to Athens should his health show a "significant improvement".

The unavailability of Ozil means the World Cup winner has missed all four of Arsenal's Europa League away games this season.

Adrian Peterson will remain with the Washington Redskins after the team activated their 2020 contract option to retain the running back.

Washington had until February 25 to exercise their club option, which ensures them of Peterson's services for next season on a $2.25million salary and keeps him out of free agency.

Peterson will carry a cap hit of $3.1m and his dead cap figure would have been just $750,000, but his importance to the Redskins was underlined by their move to keep him, which was announced on Wednesday.

A month ahead of his 35th birthday, Peterson has kickstarted his career with the Redskins, starting 31 of their 32 games in the last two seasons, rushing for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The seven-time Pro Bowler has added 37 catches, 350 yards and a further score through the air and will remain with the rebuilding team, who have second-year pro Dwayne Haskins at quarterback.

Ron Rivera, the team's new head coach, hailed Peterson's professionalism as he sets about improving on a disappointing 3-13 season.

"Adrian Peterson is the epitome of what it means to be a pro in this league," said Rivera, whose team hold the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

"Adrian's leadership and passion towards the game of football will set an example of what is expected of the players in this program moving forward."

Peterson enters his 13th NFL season fifth all-time in rushing yards with 14,216, a total which is 1,054 behind Barry Sanders, and fourth in career rushing touchdowns having scored 111.

Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade are on course to be fit for England's crunch Six Nations showdown with Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday.

Tuilagi suffered a groin injury early in England's defeat to France on the opening weekend of the tournament, while Slade has been out since sustaining an ankle injury in December.

The centres trained with the Rugby World Cup runners-up on Wednesday and could face joint-leaders Ireland this weekend.

England head coach Eddie Jones said: "Manu trained fully so should be in contention for selection. It's good to have a quality player back.

"Slade also trained so we have just got to monitor his progress. He has a positive chance. He's a quality player. This gives us more options."

One player who will play no part is prop Mako Vunipola, who flew to Tonga and is not available for "family reasons".

Jones says England are well stocked to cover for the absence of the British and Irish Lion, with Joe Marler and Ellis Genge vying for a start.

The Australian said: "Mako's a quality player but we are lucky we are blessed with two outstanding loosehead props in Joe and Ellis, so we can recover the loss of Mako.

"But it's disappointing to lose him."

Genge scored the winning try in a battling 13-6 defeat of Scotland before the rest weekend. 

The body that governs football's global laws has ruled out any imminent alteration to the offside rule after Arsene Wenger proposed change following a host of VAR controversies.

Former Arsenal boss Wenger, who is now FIFA's chief of global football development, suggested a player should not automatically be ruled offside if a part of their body that can be used to score a goal has moved beyond the relevant defender.

Wenger said: "There is room to change the rule and not say that a part of a player's nose is offside, so you are offside because you can score with that. Instead, you will be not be offside if any part of the body that can score a goal is in line with the last defender, even if other parts of the attacker's body are in front.

"That will sort it out and you will no longer have decisions about millimetres and a fraction of the attacker being in front of the defensive line."

Wenger has always had a prominent voice in the game, but he now holds office within world football's governing body, which adds weight to such propositions.

The Frenchman, who was speaking at the Laureus Awards, said it was "time to do this quickly", which has been interpreted as hoping the change could come before Euro 2020.

Yet the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has indicated a rule change is unlikely to be rushed through.

An IFAB annual general meeting in Belfast on February 29 will be the first point at which Wenger's idea can be discussed. with the ongoing use of VAR and its 'possible future developments' on the agenda.

However, that summit in Northern Ireland will not see the offside rule overhauled.

IFAB general secretary Lukas Brud told Sky Sports News: "There will be no law change regarding offside at this month's annual general meeting.

"We welcome Mr Wenger's views and look forward to discussing it, as a group.

"But our AGM is a point of discussion on offside and any law change will follow only after further dialogue in the game over the coming months."

The video assistant referee system has resulted in frustration for players, fans and coaches alike this season, with a host of goals disallowed for marginal offside decisions.

Olivier Giroud saw a header ruled out in Chelsea's 2-0 defeat to Manchester United on Monday after a check showed part of his foot was offside.

There have also been instances in the Premier League where goals have been disallowed due to attackers being measured offside from their armpits.

The current rule states: "A player is in an offside position if: any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent."

Andy Farrell has named an unchanged side for Ireland's mouthwatering Six Nations clash with England at Twickenham on Sunday.

Fit-again back-row Caelan Doris replaces Max Deegan on the bench in the only alteration to the 23 following the victory over Wales.

Robbie Henshaw was withdrawn just five minutes into the second half of the 24-14 win over the defending champions last time out, but the centre has been passed fit to start alongside Bundee Aki.

CJ Stander remains at number eight after another man-of-the-match display against the holders, with blindside flanker Peter O'Mahony retaining his starting berth and Doris - who suffered a head injury on his debut versus Scotland - among the replacements.

Ireland are joint-top of the table with France after winning their first two games and will be out for revenge after losing to Eddie Jones' side twice last year.

 

Ireland: Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny Sexton (captain), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Caelan Doris, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Keith Earls.

 

 

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