On this day in sport: Title glory for Arsenal 'Invincibles', Ronaldo misses for Madrid, Murray drafted

By Sports Desk April 25, 2020

Arsenal may have gone 16 years without an English league title, but the last time they landed the trophy it was an unforgettable triumph for Arsene Wenger's 'Invincibles'.

They secured the silverware for the competition then known as the Premiership on this day in 2004, with a 2-2 draw against bitter north London rivals Tottenham.

On the same day, Sri Lanka humiliated Zimbabwe in an ODI cricket clash in Harare, bowling out the home team for 35 - the lowest innings total for a one-day international.

In 2012, Bayern Munich denied Real Madrid a place in the Champions League final when they beat Los Blancos, whose star names faltered in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

And 12 months ago, Kyler Murray chose American football ahead of baseball when he was drafted first by the Arizona Cardinals.

Here we look back on some of the most memorable moments from the world of sport to take place on April 25.

2004 - Wenger wonders toast title at White Hart Lane

Alan Shearer's winner for Newcastle United against high-flying Chelsea earlier in the day meant Arsenal had the chance to scoop the Premier League title at Tottenham's White Hart Lane home.

Unbeaten in the league all season, Wenger's side were not in the mood to let such an opportunity pass them by and swept into a 2-0 lead by half-time thanks to goals from Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires.

Jamie Redknapp pulled one back and Robbie Keane fired a late penalty equaliser for lowly Spurs, but Arsenal had needed just one point, so the 2-2 draw was enough to spark celebrations among the visitors.

2004 - Harare horror show

Zimbabwe lost the ODI series 5-0 and suffered back-to-back huge innings defeats in a 2-0 Test trouncing by Sri Lanka - and this surrender in the third ODI was perhaps the worst of that grisly set of results.

Dion Ebrahim top-scored for Zimbabwe with seven runs as the hosts were skittled for 35 in 18 overs, Chaminda Vaas taking 4-11 with the ball for merciless Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka missed out on a 10-wicket victory when Russel Arnold fell cheaply, but they sauntered to a nine-wicket success to ease 3-0 up in the series.

There were extenuating circumstances, with Zimbabwe hugely weakened due to their established players going on strike in a protest over political interference.

2012 - Penalty woe for Ronaldo and Ramos

Armed with a 2-1 semi-final lead from their home leg, Bayern nevertheless appeared to be seeing the Champions League final slip out of sight when Cristiano Ronaldo fired Madrid 2-0 up inside 15 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu, only for ex-Real winger Arjen Robben to revive the Germans' hopes with a penalty.

The tie was locked at 3-3 on aggregate after half an hour of a breathless second-leg battle and it remained that way after 120 minutes, meaning penalties would decide who joined Chelsea in the final.

The usually reliable Ronaldo and Kaka saw their kicks saved by Manuel Neuer, and Sergio Ramos fired over the bar, allowing Bastian Schweinsteiger to convert the winning penalty.

Jose Mourinho's Madrid still won LaLiga that season, while Bayern finished empty-handed after losing the Champions League final to Chelsea - on penalties - and seeing Borussia Dortmund land a domestic double.

2019 - Cardinals take Murray with first pick

Kyler Murray was the ninth overall pick in the MLB Draft in June 2018, having had his choice of sports. But his continuing success with the Oklahoma Sooners in college football meant Murray was coveted by NFL teams too, and he soon gave up the approaching prospect of a baseball career.

A quarterback, he was drafted first overall by the Cardinals and became a resounding hit in his first NFL season, winning the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

He bettered all other first-year players with 349 completions - the third-most by a rookie in NFL history - and 3,722 passing yards.

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    The move will mark the second for the Jamaica national over the past several years, after first joining the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros at the end of 2019.  Beckford also spent the 2020 season with the Toros.

    In 22 USL Championship appearances, Beckford has scored three goals.  The forward had a strong performance at the 2019 Pan American Games where he scored three matches for Jamaica in three games.  The forward also previously represented Jamaica at the U-17 level.

    The move remains dependent on the player renewing a work visa, but Beckford expressed delight with the opportunity to continue plying his trade in the US second division.

     “I'm grateful to be a part of the Switchbacks, the players and staff have been really positive,” Beckford told USL Championship.com.

     “I'm excited for the upcoming season.”

    The 23-year-old previously trialed for West Ham in 2015.  Colorado Springs coach Brendan Burke welcomed Beckford’s addition to the line-up.

    “Deshane is a player that impressed us immensely during his performance with the Jamaican U23 team in the Pan American Games,” Burke said.

    “His pace, soft feet, and nose for goal should add another weapon to our still-evolving group of forwards.”

  • Tottenham's top-four hopes do not rest on Everton clash, insists Mourinho Tottenham's top-four hopes do not rest on Everton clash, insists Mourinho

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    Sunday's 3-1 home defeat to Manchester United left Spurs in seventh, six points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham. 

    That result meant Tottenham have dropped 18 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, with only Brighton and Hove Albion (20) losing more. 

    They will hope to bounce back from that disappointment against an Everton side who are also in the hunt for a Champions League qualification spot, with Carlo Ancelotti's men just a point and a place behind Spurs, having played a game less. 

    Mourinho acknowledged it is an important game for both sides, but the Portuguese believes there is ample time for Spurs to claw their way back into top-four contention if they do not return to London with all three points. 

    "We are very close, but there are more clubs around, with a few more points, some others with a few less," he said.

    "With more than 20 points on the table, it's still open. The winner gets the points and stops the loser. 

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    "This match is very important as the distance between the two teams is very short. Of course, they have one match in hand. 

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    Akil Baddoo is the name on everyone's lips.

    Baddoo has shattered records from his very first pitch in MLB this month amid an incredible rise from unheralded Rule 5 pick to the biggest sensation in baseball.

    The 22-year-old Detroit Tigers outfielder is already the first player in modern MLB history (dating back to 1901) to hit a grand slam, another home run and a walk-off hit in his first three career games.

    But Baddoo's story is one of perseverance. Let's rewind back to May 2019. He was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.

    If sitting out the 2019 campaign was not bad enough, he missed last season when the minor leagues were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    During the winter's Rule five draft in December, Baddoo was taken by the Tigers, having initially been drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 2016.

    The Rule 5 draft aims at preventing franchises from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league affiliate teams when other clubs would be prepared to play them in the major leagues. If chosen, a player must be kept on the selecting team's major league active roster for the entire season.

    "If you think about it, he's gone through so much," Baddoo's mother Akilah said. "And then this opportunity came, and it was like, 'This can't be a joke. There's a plan for you. You got to know that'."

    In the least likely of places, the Tigers appear to have landed a gem, and Baddoo is making the most of his opportunity, immediately becoming a cult hero in Detroit.

    Baddoo had 233 career minor leagues games to his name, but none above Class A as he earned a place on the Opening Day roster after hitting .325 in Spring Training with five home runs. However, the Maryland native looked like a man for the big stage.

    In his opening at-bat on April 4, Baddoo homered in a memorable maiden outing for the Tigers, driving to left field in the bottom of the third inning against the Cleveland Indians.

    "I'm just living in the moment," Baddoo said post-game after becoming the ninth player in Tigers franchise history to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat and only the second to do so on the first pitch, following George Vico in 1948. "I got a good pitch to hit, and I was able to hit it in front of my family and everyone."

    If that was not enough, Baddoo continued the fairy-tale week by hitting his first career grand slam against the Twins the following day. He became the first Tiger to homer in each of his first two MLB games and the first player in major league history to homer out of the ninth spot of the batting order in his first two career games. Baddoo was also the first player in franchise history to hit a slam within his opening two games.

    Baddoo has continually showed maturity beyond his years as the rookie adds to his growing legend. Taking over Motor City, he then delivered a walk-off shot to sink his old team the Twins 24 hours later.

    His game-winning hit saw him become the first Detroit player with a walk-off shot within his first three MLB games since 1998.

    Baddoo is yet to drop off, his history-making season continuing with a homer against the Houston Astros on Tuesday. Through eight games, he took his tally to four home runs, a double and a triple. According to Stats Perform, his slugging percentage at the time – 1.043 – was the highest in American League (AL) history after eight games.

    After his RBI double against the Astros on Wednesday, Baddoo has now driven in at least one run in seven of his first nine career games, the second Tiger in franchise history to do so, following Dale Alexander in 1929.

    Since 1920, only George Shuba (eight) managed more RBIs in his first nine career games across MLB, according to Stats Perform.

    As it stands, Baddoo's slugging percentage stands at .963 (which ranks eighth all-time through first nine career games since 1901) with 11 RBI. If you combine his RBI and SLG percentage, he is one of four players to have 11-plus RBI and a 900-plus SLG over his first nine career games, after Trevor Story (13/.974 – 38/39 in 2016), Taylor Teagarden (12/1.000 – 29/29 in 2008) and Dave Kingman (11/1.105 – 21/19 in 1971).

    Baddoo was rated as Detroit's fifth outfielder before the start of the season, so how does he compare to his team-mates?

    Counting only plate appearances while playing outfielder, Baddoo's .370 average, .379 on-base percentage, .963 SLG, 1.342 OPS, four homers and 11 RBI are more than the team's other outfielders combined –.190 AVG, .277 OBP, .330 SLG, .607 OPS, three home runs and nine RBI.

    As for the team who left their prospect unprotected, Minnesota's outfielders have tallied a .263 AVG, .331 OBS and .474 SLG so far this season – numbers surpassed by Baddoo.

    Baddoo is flying the flag for Rule 5 picks – Roberto Clemente is the only player out of that unheralded draft to earn Hall of Fame honours.

    Following an 18-season career, Clemente – who died in a plane crash at the age of 38 in 1972 – was a 15-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion, 1966 National League (NL) MVP, World Series MVP and 12-time Gold Glove winner.

    Is Baddoo destined for a Hall of Fame career?

    At the same stage of their careers, Baddoo trumps Clemente in all categories: AVG (.370 to .316), OBP (.379 to .325), SLG (.963 to .500), OPS (1.342 to .825), home runs (four to one), RBI (11 to six) and runs (five to three).

    "Obviously he has the talent to do a lot of different things, I knew he'd give me everything he's got," Tigers manager AJ Hinch has said previously. "That was evident from the beginning."

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