The red-hot Boston Red Sox made history in MLB after extending their winning streak to nine games on Wednesday.

In a midweek doubleheader, the Red Sox swept the Minnesota Twins 3-2 and 7-1 as they became the first team in history to start a season with a three-game losing streak and then immediately win nine in succession.

After tallying two hits in game one and making a diving catch to thwart the Twins, Boston outfielder Alex Verdugo fuelled the Red Sox with three hits – including a solo homer in the seventh inning – in the second encounter.

The Red Sox (9-3) are the only team in the American League (AL) East to own a winning record this season.

"We did a good job," said manager Alex Cora, who returned to Boston this season after leaving the Red Sox amid the sign-stealing scandal, having guided the franchise to World Series glory in 2018. "Overall, a great day for the Red Sox. That’s a good baseball team and to win both games, win the series, it makes it special.

"We know we have a good baseball team and we have to keep working on it, and we have to keep getting better. But days like today, they’re very gratifying."

 

Rodon has game to remember

Carlos Rodon threw a no-hitter for the Chicago White Sox, just missing out on a rare perfect game in an 8-0 rout of the Cleveland Indians. Rodon retired the first 25 batters he faced, leaving him two outs away from what would have been the 24th perfect game in MLB history. But Rodon lost out on joining that exclusive group when a two-strike pitch hit Roberto Perez in the foot. Rodon, though, still managed to secure the 20th no-hitter in White Sox history and the second in MLB this season. According to Stats Perform, Rodon (two wins and two hits allowed) is the first pitcher in AL history to win his first two starts of a season while allowing no more than two hits.

Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers became the first pitcher since 1906 to have 30 strikeouts and 0 walks in his first three starts of a season. He struck out 10 in six dominant innings as the Brewers shut out the Chicago Cubs 7-0.

The Toronto Blue Jays edged the New York Yankees 5-4 thanks to Bo Bichette and his walk-off homer. Bichette finished with two home runs as the Blue Jays clinched their series with the Yankees. The 23-year-old tied Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio for the most multi-extra-base hit games (14) in his first 87 MLB appearances. Bichette's single in the opening inning also extended his hitting streak to 11 games, matching a career high.

 

Cubs crumble in toothless display

After being blanked by the Brewers, the Cubs are now hitting .163 for the season. Per Stats Perform, it is the second-lowest average by any team through 12 games in the modern era, behind only the 2003 Tigers (.159)

 

Mercedes' monster moon shot

White Sox rookie designated hitter Yermin Mercedes delivered a 431-foot bomb against Cleveland. He launched a three-run homer off Zach Plesac during a six-run opening inning.

 

Wednesday's results

Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 New York Yankees
Washington Nationals 6-0 St Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers 7-0 Chicago Cubs
Kansas City Royals 6-1 Los Angeles Angels
Boston Red Sox 3-2 Minnesota Twins
Boston Red Sox 7-1 Minnesota Twins
San Francisco Giants 3-0 Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 San Diego Padres
Detroit Tigers 6-4 Houston Astros
New York Mets 5-1 Philadelphia Phillies
Texas Rangers 5-1 Tampa Bay Rays
Miami Marlins 6-5 Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox 8-0 Cleveland Indians
Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Colorado Rockies
Seattle Mariners-Baltimore Orioles (postponed)

 

Blue Jays at Royals

The Blue Jays (6-6) will hit the road on Thursday for the opening game of their series against AL Central leaders the Royals (6-4).

The Philadelphia 76ers held off a late charge from the short-handed Brooklyn Nets 123-117 to take over top spot in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday. 

Joel Embiid had 39 points and 13 rebounds to lead the 76ers (38-17) past the visiting Nets, while Tobias Harris added 26 points and Ben Simmons 17 on home court midweek.

In the second game of a back-to-back, Brooklyn (37-18) played without Kevin Durant, James Harden, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, though Kyrie Irving returned and scored 37 points after missing Tuesday's game for personal reasons. 

Irving (23) and Embiid (21) both cleared 20 points in the first half, with the latter achieving the feat for the NBA-best 14th time this season.

Philadelphia led by 22 points in the fourth quarter before the Brooklyn reserves rallied to cut the deficit to three, but the 76ers held on to win after putting All-Star pair Embiid and Simmons back in the game. 

In Memphis, Luka Doncic helped the Dallas Mavericks expand their seeding advantage against the Grizzlies by hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer for a dramatic 114-113 victory. 

Doncic posted 29 points and Kristaps Porzingis added 21 of his own for the Mavericks (30-24), who are seventh in the Western Conference with the Grizzlies (27-26) just behind. 

Grayson Allen scored 23 points for Memphis but missed two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining to open the door for Doncic to win it. 

 

Curry maintains hot shooting hand

Stephen Curry scored 42 points, highlighted by a 25-point third quarter in which he did not miss a shot from the field, as the Golden State Warriors routed the Oklahoma City Thunder 147-109. Coming off a 53-point game on Monday, Curry made all eight of his shots from the floor, six of them three-pointers, as the Warriors blew open the game with a 50-point third quarter. In all, he made 11 three-pointers, the second time in his career with successive games of at least 10 three-pointers. The two-time MVP has hit 10-plus threes in back-to-back games for the second time in his career – he is the only player to do so multiple times.

MVP candidate Nikola Jokic's 15th triple-double of the season – 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds – guided the Denver Nuggets past the Miami Heat 123-106.

Despite the absence of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverley, the Los Angeles Clippers recorded their seventh consecutive victory by topping the Detroit Pistons 100-98.

 

Jackson makes it hurt for Pistons

The Pistons fell to 16-39, the worst record in the Eastern Conference, when their former star Reggie Jackson hit a game-winning jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining. Detroit had led by five points inside the final minute before collapsing in the closing seconds. 

 

Westbrook does it all once again

Russell Westbrook continues to do it all for the Washington Wizards, posting his sixth triple double in succession with 25 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists in a 123-111 victory over the Sacramento Kings. It is the fourth six-game streak of his career. The rest of NBA history has three combined.

 

Wednesday's results

Brooklyn Nets 123-117 Philadelphia 76ers
Milwaukee Bucks 130-105 Minnesota Timberwolves
Cleveland Cavaliers 103-90 Charlotte Hornets
Toronto Raptors 117-112 San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers 100-98 Detroit Pistons
Orlando Magic 115-106 Chicago Bulls
New York Knicks 116-106 New Orleans Pelicans
Indiana Pacers 132-124 Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors 147-109 Oklahoma City Thunder
Dallas Mavericks 114-113 Memphis Grizzlies
Denver Nuggets 123-106 Miami Heat
Washington Wizards 123-111 Sacramento Kings

 

Celtics at Lakers

A classic NBA rivalry is renewed as the Boston Celtics (29-26) visit defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers (34-21) on Thursday. Jayson Tatum will be looking to lead the Celtics to a fifth successive win.

The Philadelphia 76ers are back on top in the Eastern Conference and All-Star Ben Simmons said the NBA championship hopefuls intend to stay there.

Simmons scored 17 points to complement MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who led the way with 39 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesday's 123-117 victory over short-handed rivals the Brooklyn Nets.

The 76ers almost surrendered a 22-point lead before holding to improve to 38-17 at the top of the east, ahead of the star-studded Nets (37-18), who were without Kevin Durant, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin.

"We want that one seed," Simmons told reporters post-game.

"We have a pretty tough schedule coming up with Milwaukee and the Clippers, but I believe we're more than capable of it."

76ers head coach Doc Rivers attempted to rest his two stars in the fourth quarter against a depleted Brooklyn team, but All-Star duo Simmons and Embiid had to return late and close out the win. 

"They should not have had to come back in," Rivers said. 

Philadelphia were not about to risk letting the game slip away considering the stakes.

The 76ers are now 21-5 at home and remaining on top in the east would keep them there throughout the early rounds of the playoffs. 

Embiid had his 11th game this season with 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds. It is tied with Denver Nuggets star and fellow MVP contender Nikola Jokic for the second most in the NBA, only behind Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

"That fourth quarter, that come back, it was just weird," Embiid said. "I will say, I felt like I sat too long and I kinda lost my rhythm. Them fronting and trapping had nothing to do with how our play in that stretch when I came back.

"We just didn't have the same physicality that we had for the first three quarters."

Should the 76ers meet the Nets in the playoffs, Philadelphia know they will see a far different team than they did Wednesday, but he is not concerned. 

"We know exactly who they are and they know exactly who we are," Rivers told reporters.

"When the playoffs start, it's a whole new beast. We'll be ready for them and I'm sure they'll be ready for us."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said securing the Eastern Conference's number one seed would be "valuable" but not at the expense of losing players to injury as his short-handed team lost the top spot to rivals the Philadelphia 76ers.

The star-studded Nets (37-18) were without Kevin Durant, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin for Wednesday's 123-117 defeat away to fellow NBA championship hopefuls the 76ers (38-17).

After posting 31 points in 27 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday – just his third appearance since a 23-game injury absence – the Nets opted to sit former MVP Durant and avoid back-to-back outings.

Despite missing most of their stars, though Kyrie Irving (37 points) returned, the Nets almost upstaged the 76ers in the highly anticipated showdown, rallying from 22 points down to close within 118-115 with just over one minute remaining.

"It'd be great to have the number one seed. I think it means a lot, it's valuable," Nash said afterwards. "But not at the expense of losing players or prolonging our injury situation.

"So I think we have to be very careful and make sure that our guys get to the finish line as whole as possible."

Durant has been averaging 28.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game this season.

He is also shooting a career-high 44.8 per cent from three-point range, while the two-time NBA champion (53.5) only boasted a better field-goal percentage in 2016-17 (53.7).

On Durant's absence, Nash responded to suggestions the two-time NBA champion was held out to keep Philadelphia guessing to how Brooklyn – eyeing a maiden title – might operate as a full and healthy unit in the playoffs.

"I think when you start to really try to be cute, it backfires most of the time," Nash said. "It wasn't strategic. It was, this is what this is the availability we have."

Irving – who returned from a personal issue after sitting out the Timberwolves matchup – starred for the Nets, but he watched from the sidelines as Brooklyn's reserves rallied down the stretch.

"Just played their hearts out," Irving said. "That's all you can ask coming out here to play the game that we all love. Just to go out there and compete. You know I'm sure they were chomping at the bit.

"Especially to get that win down the stretch for us and I feel like they grew as a group, we grew as a team and they learned some things out there playing against a high level playoff team that we can potentially see down the line. So it was a fun game overall."

Bo Bichette said he is just "starting to heat up" after his walk-off home run lifted the Toronto Blue Jays past American League (AL) East rivals the New York Yankees.

Bichette hit two homers, including the game-winning shot at the bottom of the ninth inning, in Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Yankees as the Blue Jays clinched the series in Dunedin.

The 23-year-old tied Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio for the most multi-extra-base hit games (14) in his first 87 MLB appearances.

Bichette's single in the opening inning also extended his hitting streak to 11 games, matching a career high.

"I'm just starting to heat up," Bichette said. "I was grinding for a while and staying alive. I think that's part of baseball.

"You fight until you start feeling good. I feel good. I know I have all the time in the world.

"I'm not worried about fastballs getting by me, so that’s a good feeling to have."

"Sometimes when you're in the box, you feel like you've got to swing right when the guy lets go of the ball," Bichette said.

"For me, it's just about reminding myself how much time we have. We always have more time than we think."

Entering the 2021 campaign, Bichette was the first shortstop in MLB history to have a .300-plus batting average and a .500-plus slugging percentage in each of his first two seasons (minimum 125 plate appearances in both seasons).

"That's why the sky is the limit with this kid," added Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo.

Thibault Courtois' clean sheet against Liverpool has the Real Madrid goalkeeper anticipating a Champions League semi-final reunion with Chelsea in search of silverware.

After Madrid held Liverpool to a goalless draw on Wednesday, the LaLiga champions progressed to the semi-finals for the first time since 2018 via a 3-1 aggregate success.

Madrid will now face Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea for a spot in the decider – Los Blancos have qualified for the semis of the European Cup/Champions League for the 30th time, at least 10 more than any other team.

"We came into today off the back of two really difficult games and maybe we just lacked the legs in attack but defensively we ran as if we had twelve men on the pitch," Courtois said.

"It was unbelievable. Everyone has to put that effort in when we're taken to the limit.

"We had to dig in and give it our all and that's what we did. That's crucial for the team's desire and in order to show we're a unit."

Courtois spent four seasons at Chelsea following a loan period with Atletico Madrid before joining Real Madrid in 2018.

He won two Premier League titles and other honours during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Madrid have faced Chelsea more often without winning than any other side in their entire history, failing to win in all three games against the Premier League outfit (D1 L2), while their upcoming semi-final encounter will be their first ever Champions League meeting.

"It's a special game against my former club. Since [Thomas] Tuchel came in, they've played 3-5-2, 3-4-3 and they're doing well, not conceding many goals," Belgium international Courtois said.

"It's going to be a tough match but I hope we can come through it. 

"We're hungry to win another Champions League and we have to try and go into it on a high. We might get some of our injured players back but everyone who played today showed we're a fantastic team."

While Madrid hope to add to their record 13 European titles, Courtois is seeking his first. 

Courtois has reached the Champions League final once before, but that 2014 showdown against Madrid ended in heartbreaking fashion as Atletico conceded an equaliser in stoppage time, then three more in a 4-1 extra-time defeat.

Now he and his team will be hoping to maintain the stingy defence they displayed midweek, even without the injured Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal. 

The Spanish giants have now progressed from 11 of their 12 two-legged knockout ties in the Champions League under Zinedine Zidane, with the club's only elimination coming against Manchester City in last season's round of 16.

"Me and [Eder] Militao are part of the squad and we're here for a reason. We're well prepared for games like the one tonight," said Madrid defender Nacho.

"We've played three of the most demanding games together and we've produced high-level performances. So I'm pleased for myself, for Militao and especially for the whole team."

Jurgen Klopp remains confident Liverpool can qualify for next season's Champions League, though he acknowledges the stuttering Premier League holders have a fight on their hands to crack the top four.

Liverpool failed to take their chances in Wednesday's second-leg goalless draw as the Reds crashed out 3-1 on aggregate at the hands of Real Madrid.

Klopp's Liverpool attempted 13 shots from inside the penalty area but could not find a way to score against visiting LaLiga champions Madrid on Merseyside midweek – the club's most without scoring since March 2006 against Benfica.

With Liverpool's Champions League and Premier League hopes over, the Reds will turn their attention to breaking into the top four –  Klopp's men are sixth in the table and three points adrift of West Ham heading into the final seven rounds.

"That has nothing to do with confidence, I would say I am naturally confident, but that doesn't mean we will end up there," manager Klopp told reporters when asked if the performance against Madrid gave him confidence in Liverpool's bid to qualify for the Champions League.

"We just can read the table, we know the points, we know the situation and stuff like this. We know who we play and we don't have to talk too much about it. I said now what we think about it and, yes, we want and we have to – and if we want that we should play really good football, what we did tonight. But if we want to go through then we should finish those situations off on top of that because that is very helpful as well.

"I think we are not in a bad moment at the moment; we played pretty well even when it was a late winner against Aston Villa. We played a good game against them, we played really good against Arsenal and not too good against Real Madrid in the first leg, but in the other games we were not bad.

"Tonight, a good game, so we just have to keep going. We really have to keep going, we have to keep fighting, we want to be in the Champions League next year but in the moment we still have to pick up more points than a lot of other teams."

Liverpool are winless in their last five games against Madrid in the Champions League (D1 L4), while they have failed to score in both games against the Spanish powerhouse in this run at Anfield.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have only won one of their last 11 games against Spanish opponents in the Champions League (D3 L7), failing to win any of their last four across the last two seasons.

Klopp – who was asked if Liverpool's elimination would serve as motivation – added: "That will not happen that it impacts us negatively. We are not silly. We want what we earn. If we don't earn it 100 per cent, then we respect the situation that we don't get it.

"How I said, tonight if we scored an early goal this game would've been a different one – I think everybody knows that but it's hypothetical, we didn't. But it has now no impact on the Premier League, apart from that we don't play midweeks at least internationally – I'm pretty sure Premier League plays midweeks if I'm right. So we can concentrate and focus on the Premier League – what we will and what we have to.

"But it's tough just because we are still not in the hot seat, I would say, and we face Leeds on Monday, so that's a tough one. What can I say? They are the leader in all physical stats in the Premier League pretty much, so you better run a lot yourself. We have a few days until then, we will use that and then we make sure we are ready for that."

James Milner felt Liverpool created enough opportunities to overturn a first-leg deficit and knock Real Madrid out of the Champions League, only for their finishing to let them down at Anfield.

The Reds went down 3-1 in the initial meeting in the quarter-final tie, though Mohamed Salah's away goal in the Spanish capital provided hope of a comeback.

However, the Egyptian missed a glorious early opportunity to set the tone for Jurgen Klopp's side on Wednesday, with Liverpool only managing to get four of their 15 attempts on target against a Madrid defence once again without Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal.

Zinedine Zidane had to use midfielder Federico Valverde as a makeshift right-back, yet the reigning LaLiga champions held on for a 0-0 draw that sets up a last-four tie against Chelsea.

"I thought the performance was good, the intensity and desire was good," Milner told BT Sport.

"We won the ball back well, pressed really well. But you can't not take the chances we had tonight. We had more than enough chances to do what we needed to do and we didn't take them, unfortunately.

"The positives are that we are creating them, especially against a team like this after the first leg, and we have done enough to go through. I believe that with the chances we had.

"We were obviously the better team. Alisson has made a good save as well [from Vinicius Junior], which you expect. But we did enough to win the game.

"You only need that first one – that first one changes the game. But, if you don't take your chances, then you're not going to go through.

"It's a disappointing way to end, because if we had played that first leg with the same intensity it could have been a different story.

"You can say we've left ourselves with too much to do because we haven't done it, but we have done enough if we take our chances. Ultimately, we weren't good enough over the two games."

For just the second time in Klopp's reign, Liverpool failed to win either leg of a Champions League knockout tie. The other occasion came in the 2019-20 season when Atletico Madrid knocked out the Premier League side in the last 16.

Milner - who became the oldest player to start in a European Cup/UEFA Champions League knockout game for Liverpool since Ian Callaghan in March 1978 - hopes the squad can build on the performance, even if the result was not what they wanted.

Liverpool must now fight to qualify for next year's competition through the domestic route, meaning they must secure a top-four finish in the league. The Reds currently sit sixth.

"If we perform at that intensity, that desire and tempo that we showed tonight over the last league games, then hopefully we can get into those top four spots," the midfielder said.

"That's the most important thing – that we replicate this form and these sorts of performances. That's the one thing we’ve been missing, that consistency.

"We need to get that back and push these last few games, put this disappointment to one side."

Jadeveon Clowney is looking forward to teaming up with fellow pass rusher Myles Garrett after signing for the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns confirmed the arrival of free agent Clowney on Wednesday, reportedly on a one-year, $10million contract.

Clowney, the first overall pick in 2014, was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Houston Texans before spending the 2019 season with the Seattle Seahawks and joining the Tennessee Titans for 2020.

Cleveland has become the 28-year-old's latest stop and he is revelling the opportunity to play opposite Garrett.

Clowney has 32.0 career sacks, a tally bettered by Garrett, who has quickly racked up 42.5 along with 83 quarterback hits in four seasons.

"I've been getting double-teamed an awful lot in this league, in my career," the new signing said.

"I'm looking forward to playing with somebody dominant on the other side in Myles Garrett who can draw a double-team. Maybe I can go one-on-one more."

Clowney will be hoping to rediscover the form of his final two seasons in Houston, which saw 18.5 sacks and 42 QB hits across 31 games.

He has had just 19 starts since leaving the Texans and missed the second half of last season in Tennessee with a knee injury.

Dak Prescott's season-ending Week 5 injury ensured 2020 was a wasted year for the Dallas Cowboys.

Rather than bolster their defense, the Cowboys gave Prescott an exciting new weapon with the 17th overall pick in the NFL Draft last April.

But wide receiver CeeDee Lamb's impact was diminished after Dallas' quarterback sustained a compound fracture and dislocation of his ankle.

Without their talisman, the Cowboys stumbled to a 6-10 record, only good enough for third in the poor NFC East.

However, Prescott is set to return in 2021 and has committed his future to the franchise following a long-awaited breakthrough in contract talks.

This year's draft also provides the opportunity for a re-do, which should address the key flaws highlighted here with the help of Stats Perform data.

Offense

Prescott's lay-off makes an assessment of the Cowboys' offense last year rather tricky, but the team showed enough in his limited time on the field to encourage optimism.

Dallas finished 17th in the league for total points scored with 24.7 per game, yet this average was 32.6 points across the five games Prescott played. Over the course of the season, the Green Bay Packers led the league with an inferior 31.8 points.

Likewise, for five weeks, Prescott threw a sensational 371.2 yards per game, the most of any QB in the NFL in 2020. It is an achievement even more impressive when considering he bowed out in the third quarter of his fifth outing.

To put the Cowboys' miserable results in perspective, backup QB Andy Dalton (197.3 yards per game) ranked 37th. In the NFC East, he outperformed only Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Hurts (70.7 yards per game) among players with 100 attempts.

Even with Dalton applying the handbrake, Amari Cooper put up 1,114 yards from 92 receptions for five touchdowns. Lamb also had five TDs on 74 catches for 935 yards, while Michael Gallup's own five came from 59 receptions and 843 yards.

Cooper had contributed eight scores the previous season when paired with Prescott throughout, and Lamb will hope he can similarly profit from the starting QB's return.

The receiving corps could still be more efficient, however. Lamb dropped 8.1 per cent of the passes sent in his direction, while running back Ezekiel Elliott dropped 8.5 per cent - the Dallas pair ranking third and second-worst among players with 50 or more targets.

Behind an offensive line also ravaged by injury, Elliott - another former first-round pick on offense - led the way on the ground with 244 carries for 979 yards and six rushing TDs. The Cowboys' 111.8 rushing yards per game ranked 17th.

So there is still plenty of room for improvement but reason to believe Prescott's return will lift this offense into the upper echelons.

The Brooklyn Nets will be undermanned for Wednesday's blockbuster NBA matchup with Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers after Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin were ruled out.

Brooklyn and Philadelphia are set to do battle in a first-place showdown midweek – the two championship hopefuls share 37-17 win-loss records atop the east.

But the Nets will be without superstar Durant (hamstring – injury management) and former All-Stars Aldridge (illness – non-covid related) and Griffin (knee – injury management) as the trio join James Harden (hamstring) on the sidelines.

The star-studded Nets, however, do welcome back Kyrie Irving after he missed Tuesday's 127-97 rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves due to personal reasons.

Former MVP Durant was in doubt for the 76ers clash after playing 27 minutes against the Timberwolves.

Durant posted 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting in his third appearance following a 23-game injury absence.

The Nets-Timberwolves matchup was initially scheduled for Monday, but it was pushed back in the aftermath of Daunte Wright being shot and killed by a police officer in Minneapolis.

It meant Durant faced the prospect of back-to-back games, which the Nets opted to avoid as they eye their maiden NBA title.

Durant is averaging 28.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists for the star-studded Nets this season.

He is also shooting a career-high 44.8 per cent from three-point range, while the two-time NBA champion (53.5) only boasted a better field-goal percentage in 2016-17 (53.7).

Jude Bellingham had a tongue-in-cheek comment for his doubters after another dazzling Champions League display earned the Borussia Dortmund midfielder plaudits from Pep Guardiola and Edin Terzic.

Bellingham was part of the BVB team beaten 2-1 by Manchester City on Wednesday to exit the quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate.

But the England international was the game's outstanding player for 45 minutes in which he scored his first Champions League goal.

Denied a breakthrough strike in contentious circumstances in the first leg, Bellingham coolly picked out the top-right corner after 15 minutes at Signal Iduna Park.

The 17-year-old became the second-youngest scorer in a Champions League knockout tie, older only than Bojan for Barcelona in 2008.

It ultimately counted for little, with Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden scoring to send City through, but Bellingham certainly felt he had proved a point less than a year on from his big move from Championship side Birmingham City.

"Not bad for a Championship player," he told beIN Sports. "I think I've taken every game in my stride.

"I had a tough start away at Lazio and then, since then, I think all of my best performances in BVB colours have come in the Champions League - including tonight.

"For me, it's brilliant to play in this competition and play for this club. It's a huge honour. I can take a little bit away from it and learn from that, but I'm still gutted."

Bellingham was making his 10th Champions League appearance; only Youri Tielemans, in 2014, had previously reached that mark before the age of 18.

And opposition manager Guardiola was taken aback by the maturity of the teenager's performance.

"I cannot believe it," Guardiola said. "Maybe he's a liar. He's so good for 17 years old.

"I saw him when he didn't get the ball from his central defender and he was shouting at them, demanding the ball to be played into him. At 17, this means a lot."

As well as scoring from his only shot, just four days on from his first Bundesliga goal, Bellingham contested a team-high 11 duels, winning two fouls and conceding two.

An all-action performance also included two tackles, two clearances and two blocks - one of which sensationally denied Mahrez in the first half.

"The only thing we don't know about Jude is his limit," Dortmund coach Terzic said. "He has so much potential and talent.

"He is a great boy who wants to improve. We need to find out what is his limit and try to push him towards this limit.

"Tonight the whole world saw what he is capable of. We see it every day on the training ground. We are very happy he can perform like this. We need him to perform like this.

"This performance can help the team achieve all the targets. It doesn't mean he has to stop now.

"We have to keep going and stay focused like this and then we are going to find his limits."

Zinedine Zidane said Real Madrid always want more after reaching the Champions League semi-finals as they also fight to retain their LaLiga crown.

Madrid booked a semi-final berth for the first time since 2018 after Wednesday's 0-0 draw away to Liverpool secured a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Los Blancos, who are only a point adrift of city rivals Atletico Madrid with eight games remaining in LaLiga, have qualified for the semi-finals of the European Cup/Champions League for the 30th time – at least 10 more than any other team as Chelsea await in the final four.

Zidane led Madrid to three consecutive Champions League titles between 2015 and 2018, and after eliminating Premier League holders Liverpool, the Frenchman said: "We're all pulling together and this side always does that and it always wants more.

"We've not won anything yet, but we're alive in Europe and the LaLiga."

Without the likes of captain Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane at Anfield – Madrid benefited from Liverpool's wastefulness after the likes of Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino all had chances.

Madrid, who seized control of the tie thanks to Vinicius Junior's first-leg brace, weathered the storm – the Spanish giants have now progressed from 11 of their 12 two-legged knockout ties in the Champions League under Zidane, with the club's only elimination coming against Manchester City in last season's round of 16.

"We were up against it and we knew we had to suffer tonight, but in the end we got what we wanted, which was to go through," said Zidane, who has reached the Champions League semi-finals for the fourth time as a coach, more than any other French manager in the history of the competition – surpassing Arsene Wenger.

"I think we handled the game well, we rode the storm and can be proud of our display.

"We knew they'd start fast and they were really good in the opening 15 minutes, but that's normal. In the quarter-finals of the Champions League you have to dig in and we did that and got through."

Madrid have faced Chelsea more often without winning than any other side in their entire history, failing to win in all three games against the Premier League outfit (D1 L2), while their upcoming semi-final encounter will be their first ever Champions League meeting.

Jurgen Klopp lamented Liverpool's failure to take their chances in the second leg against Real Madrid at Anfield, but admitted: "We didn't lose the tie tonight - we definitely lost it in Madrid".

The Reds' Champions League campaign was ended by opponents from the Spanish capital for a second successive season, Madrid holding on for a 0-0 draw on Merseyside for a 3-1 aggregate triumph in the quarter-final clash.

Liverpool needed at least two goals to turn the tie around, but were unable to find a way through at home, despite creating a number of excellent opportunities - particularly in the opening 45 minutes.

They attempted 13 shots from inside the box – their most in a Champions League home game without scoring since March 2006 against Benfica (20) - but managed just four on-target efforts.

"You always need those key moments. The performance in general was good - we didn't lose the tie tonight, we definitely lost it in Madrid," Klopp told BT Sport.

"It was uncomfortable for Madrid, definitely. We were good, we were aggressive and played some really good stuff, obviously massive chances at the beginning of the game.

"It's hypothetical I know, but if you use one of them, it feels different. They had already started to struggle, and it would have increased that. But it is 'ifs' and 'when', because we didn't score.

"It became more and more difficult and then with the experience of Real Madrid; they played the time down."

Mohamed Salah failed to convert from Sadio Mane's square pass inside the opening two minutes as Liverpool started quickly, while the Egyptian and Georginio Wijnaldum were guilty of missing the target completely when presented with clear-cut openings before the half-time interval.

For Klopp, the inability to apply the finish to some excellent approach play summed up the 2020-21 season as a whole.

"It's a little bit ourselves this year with our finishing. We've had games here – ridiculous games – where we should have won. Not tonight, but in the Premier League where we just don't finish the situation off," he said.

"We have to take that, we all know how often Mo Salah finishes these kinds of things, with closed eyes pretty much. We had a lot of situations – and could have had more. The football we played around was even better than the chances we created."

Klopp admitted his substitutions affected the rhythm of his team, with the European exit now meaning the focus solely shifts to finishing in the top four of the Premier League.

Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota were introduced at the hour mark, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri came on with just under 10 minutes remaining.

"Second half, after 60 minutes, they took a bit more control, more of the ball. We made the changes and maybe timing wise it wasn't exactly right, we wanted fresh legs but we didn’t come through that well," the Liverpool boss continued.

"We lost a little bit of rhythm and tried too hard. Tonight it was absolutely okay, but we are out anyway.

"We love this competition, and for different reasons it is very important to the club. It doesn't make it easier now, because the two or three games we could have fitted easily in our schedule.

"Obviously we can now concentrate on the Premier League. That is what we do – Monday at Leeds is the next challenge. They are leading the league in all physical stats, so we will have to run and work our socks off to get anything."

Pep Guardiola was delighted to belatedly take Manchester City into the Champions League semi-finals but acknowledged his side were potentially a refereeing decision away from another painful exit.

City had lost in the last eight in each of the prior three seasons, beaten by Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon.

The Spurs defeat was particularly painful, with Fernando Llorente scoring a contentious goal at the Etihad Stadium before a last-gasp Raheem Sterling winner was disallowed.

On Wednesday, at Borussia Dortmund, a handball call went in City's favour as Emre Can was penalised and Riyad Mahrez's spot-kick - his first Champions League goal since September 2019 - cancelled out Jude Bellingham's opener.

"This competition is nice but, at the same time, it's so unfair," Guardiola told BT Sport after a 2-1 away win.

"We are judged; if we are out, the season is a failure, it's a disaster, when you play 11 months for the Premier League, for the cups, for everything. This is the competition.

"Look, today it was a penalty with the hand. Maybe it could be not given.

"And we were out for a hand against Tottenham in the quarter-finals, when it was not given, incredible hands from Llorente. That's why this competition depends on these situations."

Mahrez's equaliser set the stage for Phil Foden to make sure of his side's progress, sending City into the last four for the first time since 2015-16 - also the last time Guardiola, then Bayern Munich coach, reached this stage.

Despite this drought, the 4-2 aggregate triumph - which sets up a tie against Paris Saint-Germain - saw Guardiola equal Jose Mourinho's record of eight appearances in the Champions League semis.

He added: "I'm incredibly happy for this club, this organisation, our chairman, our players, of course, our fans, everyone.

"It's the second time we've got to the semi-final. There's not much history in our club here, but we start to build it."

There are two English sides in the last four for the second time in three years, with Chelsea joining City.

The sides will also meet in the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend, with Guardiola's men continuing their pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple - a challenge he is still reluctant to discuss.

"We are in the Premier League; we need three games to be champions," he said. "We are in the semi-finals of the Champions League. We are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. We are in the final of the Carabao Cup.

"Honestly, it's incredible what we have done. Now we just recover, celebrate tonight, and after we'll see happens.

"One game at a time. We never speak about the four titles. One game at a time. Every competition we play, we try to win it. This is what we have to do. It's simple. There's no complication about that."

Ilkay Gundogan, who had a game-high 120 touches and only lost possession 11 times, said: "It means a lot, to be honest. I think this club, this team deserves it.

"We are grateful for being still in a great competition, reaching the semi-finals for the first time with this team. Obviously we are very happy about it."

The midfielder added: "We proved ourselves I think today that we are ready to fight also in the semi-finals."

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