Anthony Davis will make his long-awaited comeback following an injury lay-off after being named in the Los Angeles Lakers' starting line-up against the Dallas Mavericks.

Lakers superstar Davis has been sidelined since exiting the NBA champions' clash with the Denver Nuggets on February 14 as he recovers from tendinosis and a calf strain in his right leg.

But after 30 games – the longest injury absence of his nine-year career – eight-time All-Star Davis will suit up to face the Mavericks on Thursday, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirmed pre-game.

"I wanted to make sure I was coming back 100 per cent, because it wouldn't be fair to myself, wouldn't be fair to my team," Davis said on Wednesday. "I feel great.

"These last games leading to the playoffs, a lot of teams aren't healthy, a lot of players aren't healthy. I'm 100 per cent, and we've got Bron [LeBron James] coming back [from an ankle sprain] as well who's going to be 100 per cent healthy. I think we've put ourselves in a good position."

Davis, who will return on a minute's restriction, was averaging 22.5 points per game this season before the injury – his lowest since his second year in the league with the New Orleans Pelicans (20.8).

The 28-year-old's average of 8.4 rebounds in 2020-21 is the lowest since his rookie season (8.2) in 2012-13.

The Lakers (35-23) are fifth in the Western Conference, behind the Utah Jazz (44-15), Phoenix Suns (42-16), Los Angeles Clippers (42-19) and Denver Nuggets (38-20).

Ronald Koeman does not believe Barcelona are stronger than LaLiga title rivals Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Sevilla this season.

Barca – who have a game in hand – moved within five points of leaders Atletico following Thursday's 5-2 victory over Getafe.

Lionel Messi scored twice in an action-packed first half at Camp Nou, where Clement Lenglet's own goal cancelled out the superstar captain's eighth-minute opener within four minutes.

Getafe's Sofian Chakla turned the ball into his own net in the 28th minute before Messi extended Barca's lead five minutes later.

Enes Unal's penalty after a VAR review gave Getafe hope, but Ronald Araujo headed in from Messi's superb corner before Antoine Griezmann converted from the spot in stoppage time.

Copa del Rey champions Barca are a point ahead of fourth-placed Sevilla and two adrift of Madrid, and head coach Koeman said post-match: "I don't think we're stronger than the other three teams [Real Madrid, Atletico and Sevilla].

"They're winning games too and we all have tough matches left.

"The fight will be until the final day."

Messi reached 25 LaLiga goals for the season in Barca's win over Getafe, and in doing so he matched a feat achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Juventus foe Ronaldo are the only players from the 'top five' European leagues to have scored at least 25 goals in 12 different seasons this century.

Unlike Ronaldo, Messi has achieved his run of seasons with at least 25 goals by reaching the mark in consecutive campaigns, beginning in 2009-10.

While Ronaldo has had such seasons for Manchester United, Real Madrid and current club Juventus, for whom he has scored 25 in Serie A this season, Messi's goals have all come with Barcelona.

The twin strike on Thursday also ended a mini barren run in home league games against Getafe. Messi had previously not scored in his three most recent appearances against them at Camp Nou, his longest streak without scoring at home against them in the competition.

Messi has scored four doubles in his last six games, as many as in his previous 25 games in all competitions.

It comes amid continued uncertainty of Messi's future, with the 33-year-old out of contract at season's end and linked with either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

"If I had spoken to Leo, I wouldn't tell you," Koeman added. "The decision [to stay] is in his hands.

"He never lets his concentration slip. If he does, you don't notice it in his game.

"We need him. Today, he was decisive again. Let's hope he stays for many years."

Lionel Messi reached 25 LaLiga goals for the season in Barcelona's win over Getafe, and in doing so he matched a feat achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Barcelona captain's double strike in Thursday's 5-2 win means he and Ronaldo are the only players from the 'top five' European leagues to have scored at least 25 goals in 12 different seasons this century.

The 33-year-old scored twice before the break, before teeing up Ronald Araujo to head a contest-settling fourth Barca goal and then playing in Antoine Griezmann to win a late penalty.

Unlike Ronaldo, Messi has achieved his run of seasons with at least 25 goals by reaching the mark in consecutive campaigns, beginning in 2009-10.

While Ronaldo has had such seasons for Manchester United, Real Madrid and current club Juventus, for whom he has scored 25 in Serie A this season, Messi's goals have all come with Barcelona.

The twin strike on Thursday also ended a mini barren run in home league games against Getafe. Messi had previously not scored in his three most recent appearances against them at Camp Nou, his longest streak without scoring at home against them in the competition.

Barcelona kept within touching distance of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid as Lionel Messi inspired Ronald Koeman's team to a 5-2 victory over Getafe.

As Atleti were beating Huesca to move three points clear at the top of LaLiga, Barca released a statement prior to their own contest at Camp Nou, reiterating a commitment to the seemingly failed European Super League project.

While that topic seems set to rumble on, Messi served up a reminder of just what the game is at its very best with another sublime showing, scoring twice in an action-packed first half which also saw Sofian Chakla and Clement Lenglet turn into their own nets.

Enes Unal's penalty after a VAR review gave Getafe hope, but Ronald Araujo headed in from Messi's superb corner before Antoine Griezmann converted from the spot in stoppage time.

A magnificent Messi strike seemed set to put Barca ahead within three minutes, yet Getafe survived – the ball bouncing down and away off the underside of the crossbar.

Messi would not be denied again five minutes later, as he beat Getafe's offside trap and finished over David Soria.

But with Oscar Mingueza off the field receiving treatment for a knee injury, Barca were swiftly pegged back when Angel Rodriguez's wayward shot diverted in off Lenglet.

It was a huge stroke of misfortune that saw Getafe concede for a second time.

Soria rushed out to get onto a loose ball, only for Chakla to instead play a blind pass beyond his goalkeeper, whose despairing dive into the net only added to the comedy of errors.

It was 3-1 five minutes later – Messi's right-footed volley coming back off the post, but Barca's talisman was on hand to tuck in the rebound.

Getafe received a lifeline when Araujo was adjudged after a VAR check to have fouled Unal, who converted the resulting penalty to reduce the deficit with 21 minutes remaining.

Yet Araujo made amends in the 87th minute, powerfully heading home from Messi's corner to secure the points, with Griezmann's last-minute penalty adding further gloss to a win which moves Barca third, five points behind Atleti with a game in hand.

Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco were on target as Atletico Madrid returned to the top of LaLiga with a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Huesca.

Correa struck twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Eibar on Sunday and he opened the scoring at the Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday with a deflected strike.

Carrasco eased the nerves with a second goal - his third in as many matches - 10 minutes from time to put Atleti three points clear of Real Madrid with six games to go.

Diego Simeone's Atletico side ought to have won by a more emphatic margin a day after they confirmed their withdrawal from the collapsed European Super League.

Yet Dimitrios Siovas should have given Huesca a shock third-minute lead when he shot straight at Jan Oblak from close range after Atleti failed to deal with a free-kick from the left.

Alvaro Fernandez produced a sharp double save at the other end to deny Carrasco and Saul Niguez, and then Correa opened the scoring six minutes before the break.

The in-form forward turned sharply after taking a pass from Marcos Llorente and beat Pablo Insua before finding the back of the net with a deflected left-footed strike.

Atleti picked up where they left off following the interval, with Fernandez making himself big to keep out Koke's effort from close range.

The busy Huesca goalkeeper was called into action again to palm Renan Lodi's drive away for a corner as Simeone's men continued to dominate.

Sergio Gomez came agonisingly close to equalising when his free-kick flashed wide of the post before Fernandez beat away another effort from Niguez.

Carrasco gave Atleti breathing space, tapping in after Llorente unselfishly squared the ball as Huesca appealed for offside. The goal was awarded following a VAR check.

Dani Escriche should have pulled a goal back in the closing stages when he stabbed wide from point-blank range, as Huesca's survival hopes suffered a blow.

The NFL Draft offers a stage for sporting drama, yet there is seemingly no suspense surrounding the identity of the player whose name will be announced first by commissioner Roger Goodell.

Trevor Lawrence was the presumptive number one pick long before he wrapped up his college career after a third and final season with Clemson. There was no need to return for a senior year – the time has come to head to the next level.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are waiting to select what they hope will be their long-term answer at quarterback, someone who can help turn around the fortunes of a team who finished the 2020 campaign with a dismal 1-15 record.

Whether they were 'Tanking for Trevor' or not, their reward for consistently losing is a shot at one of the most talked-about prospects at the position in the past decade. For a franchise with just one winning season in the previous 13 years, the presence of Lawrence offers a fresh start and immediately changes expectation levels.

New head coach Urban Meyer has not even bothered to try to hide the fact either: Lawrence will become a Jaguar on April 29.

This will be a new situation for him, though, having lost just twice with the Tigers. Those defeats came in the 2020 National Championship against an LSU offense led by Joe Burrow, last year's first overall selection by the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Sugar Bowl in January, when Justin Fields – another signal-caller expected to be selected early – led scoring drive after scoring drive for Ohio State.

So, can a serial winner live up to the hype and help the Jags move forward? Stats Perform data helps provide a picture of what Jacksonville - and indeed the league as a whole - can expect.

Law in order with Tigers

Lawrence threw for 10,098 yards in his Clemson career. There were 90 touchdown passes and just 17 interceptions in an impressive three-year run, while the average yards per attempt improved - 8.26 to 9.00, then 9.44 – in each of his seasons in South Carolina.

His completion rate also continued to rise the longer he played at the college level. After hovering just above 65 per cent during years one and two, he was successful on 69.2 per cent of his attempts in 2020.

That number barely dropped when it came to throwing in the red zone (68.5 per cent), ranking him second for quarterbacks in the FBS across the period of 2018-2020, though he completed on 56.8 per cent of his attempts in third-down situations during that span - only good enough to sit 78th out of those to have at least 100 attempts.

Still, on third downs with eight or more yards to go in 2020, Lawrence was on target with 27 of his 43 passes. Taking into consideration just third-and-long circumstances when needing 11 yards or more, he was good with 12 out of 19 throws.

There will undoubtedly be a need to learn quickly on the job, but wide receiver Amari Rodgers - one of Lawrence's main targets when lining up together for the Tigers - has no doubts about his former team-mate delivering on his promise once in the NFL.

"I think he knows what he's walking into," Rodgers, who had 77 catches for 1,020 yards and seven scores in 2020, told Stats Perform News ahead of the draft.

"He knows that it might take a little time to change the program around, but just because he came from that winning culture at Clemson and even in high school, he barely lost any games in high school, he just has that winning mindset.

"He's going to do whatever it takes to change that program around and make them a winning team. I have no doubt he's going to do that."

The key, though, will be getting enough opportunities to make plays.

Coping with the heat

Pressure is coming in many different forms for Lawrence, who prepared for his impending football marriage with the Jaguars by tying the knot with his long-time girlfriend.

The 21-year-old will have to cope with not just the expectations of a new team's fanbase but also the national spotlight. Going first overall comes with added pressure in itself, but with an opening round set to see a bevy of young quarterbacks selected in the early stages, there will inevitably be comparisons to his fellow rookies.

Then there is also the added focus awaiting him from NFL defenses. Jacksonville gave up 44 sacks in the 2020 season, one more than Lawrence endured in his entire career at Clemson.

However, teams will be aware of the risks that come with sending extra rushers at Lawrence, who completed 63.8 per cent of his pass attempts when blitzed. That number ranked him eighth in the FBS across his three-year stint, making the message clear to opponents: get home or be prepared to pay the consequences.

While not widely regarded as a running quarterback, Lawrence is also mobile enough to make plays with his legs; he rushed for 18 touchdowns in 40 games for Clemson, including eight in his final campaign.

If not able to make use of his arm to counter a blitz, the QB's footwork and speed off the mark is capable of seeing him sneak out of trouble and exploit the sudden spaces available.

'The ultimate competitor'

Lawrence's athleticism allows him to rush for yards when the situation requires, but it is undoubtedly his capabilities as a passer that makes him so appealing to the Jaguars.

In a campaign where little went right after a Week 1 win over the Indianapolis Colts, James Robinson's emergence as a dual-threat running back provides Lawrence - who completed 64.6 per cent of passes in play-action situations – a potential safety blanket to hit when coming out of the backfield.

Accuracy is a key trait, too, and the signal-caller has demonstrated how he can go deep when the option is open. On throws of 20 or more air yards, he completed 42.1 per cent. 

"He's the ultimate competitor, every time he steps on the field he's trying to be the best out there," Rodgers said of his former QB.

"He's trying to win every single day. Every single rep, he's trying to be perfect, and if it's not, if you miss a ball in practice, we're doing it like three or five times afterwards just so we can have it on mind, that muscle memory that it actually works.

"He's one of those that prepares like a pro. Ever since he got on campus his freshman year, he prepared outstanding and it showed on the field. I have no doubts he's going to succeed at the next level."

Lawrence has the talent, temperament and tenacity required to prosper. Now he just has to wait for the formalities of getting picked before joining a franchise desperately in need of a superstar.

After a trying though ultimately successful rookie season, Zion Williamson has ascended into the upper echelon of NBA players in 2021 and there's every reason to believe he could top that list relatively soon.

Stardom was predicted for Williamson long before the Pelicans made him the number one selection in the 2019 draft, but he dealt with injury problems and conditioning issues as a rookie before the pandemic put the season on hold for a few months.

He still managed to average 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 58.3 per cent from the field in 24 games. Williamson finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting behind winner Ja Morant and Kendrick Nunn, but there's little doubt that he would've taken home the award had he been healthy for a full season.

Now slightly leaner and more in attack mode, Williamson has taken his game to another level in his second season, doing things rarely seen in league history. He ranks eighth in the league in points per game (26.9) and that has come on 61.7 per cent shooting, a level of scoring volume and efficiency few players have ever approached.

Only two other players have previously shot 60 per cent while averaging 25.0 points per game and both trail Williamson. Kevin McHale scored 26.1 points on 60.4 per cent shooting in 1986-87 and Charles Barkley had 25.2 with 60.4 per cent shooting in 1989-90. Shaquille O'Neal in 1993-94 (29.3 points, 59.9 per cent) and Amar'e Stoudemire in 2007-08 (25.2, 59.0) are next on the list.

Of those, Williamson's body most resembles Barkley. Both measure 6ft 6in, though Zion is far more muscular, while McHale (6ft 10in), O'Neal (7ft 1in) and Stoudemire (6ft 11in) all had the advantage of playing much closer to the rim. Williamson's field-goal percentage this season is on pace to be the highest ever by a player of his height or shorter.

After Barkley's 1989-90 season, a second campaign from the former Philadelphia 76ers superstar ranks third for the highest field-goal percentage at this height, shooting 59.4 per cent in 1986-87. That mark was matched by 6ft 5in Mike McGee three years earlier.

Williamson won't turn 21 until July and is just the 10th player in NBA history to achieve All-Star status at 20 years old. The others on that list are Luka Doncic, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, O'Neal, Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson. Only Bryant, James and Johnson were younger when making their first All-Star Game appearance.

Perhaps Williamson's consistency has been the most surprising aspect of his stellar season. Players of his age, regardless of talent, often have bad stretches where shots don't fall or the energy is lacking, but he seems almost immune to it.

Williamson scored at least 20 points and made at least 50 per cent of his field goals in 25 consecutive games from February 6 to April 6 before that run ended with 16 points on 4-of-12 shooting in a loss at Brooklyn on April 7. His streak equalled O'Neal's record mark of 25 straight games (2001).

In a five-game stretch over February 10-17, Williamson averaged 31.6 points with a 70.1 field-goal percentage. He was the first player to average 30 points on 70 per cent shooting over a five-game span since James during his last MVP season in 2012-13. The only other players to achieve this since 1991-92 are O'Neal (January 1994, December-January 1995-96) and Dwight Howard (February 2011).

Approaching a full 82-game season for his career, Williamson already ranks among some of basketball's legends for total points at this juncture.

With 1,968 points, he ranks sixth through 77 career games among all players to have debuted since 1963-64. Just four players - Elvin Hayes (2,216), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,197), Michael Jordan (2,161) and Billy Knight (2,049) - passed the 2,000 mark, while Williamson had only a point fewer than David Thompson (1,969).

Already an elite finisher, Williamson has even taken on the role of playmaker for the Pelicans with point guard Lonzo Ball sidelined with a hip injury. Coach Stan Van Gundy played Williamson at the point for a full game earlier this month, following his one-game slump against the Nets, and the result was perhaps the best game of his career.

Williamson had 37 points on 15-of-28 shooting with a personal-best 15 rebounds and career high-tying eight assists in that 101-94 victory over Philadelphia on April 9. He became the youngest player (20 years, 277 days) in NBA history to record at least 35 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.

This is unlikely to be the season the Pelicans make noise in the playoffs, but the core of Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Ball is in place, so the franchise's future is extremely bright.

Ingram is enjoying another outstanding season and easily could've been an All-Star for the second consecutive season. He's averaging 24.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

Williamson and Ingram are on pace to be just the fourth pair of team-mates aged 23 or younger to average 23 or more points per game in the same season. The others are Walt Bellamy and Terry Dischinger (1962-63 Chicago Zephyrs), Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (2011-12 Oklahoma City Thunder) and Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins (2016-17 Minnesota Timberwolves).

One area where Williamson does need to improve is on the defensive end. His size prevents him from guarding most opposing power forwards or centers and his 285-pound frame gives him trouble staying with most wings. The Pelicans are a potent offensive group but rank as one of the league's poorest defensive teams and that will be a point of concern in the offseason for Van Gundy.

New Orleans has long been a football town, crazy about the Saints and star quarterback Drew Brees for two decades. But with Brees now retired and the Saints in transition, the time has arrived for Williamson to become the Big Easy's most beloved athlete.

"They are trying," said a weary Gary Neville. "This is it." 

The former Manchester United captain was responding to Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, who suggested the Red Devils might show a little more pluck during a miserable 2-0 defeat to Everton in April 2014. 

That game was the final straw when it came to the future of manager David Moyes. The limp performance against his old club meant the reigning Premier League champions could not mathematically finish in the top four. The embarrassment – and the loss of Champions League income – was too much to bear. 

On April 22, seven years ago, Moyes was sacked just 10 months into a six-year contract as Alex Ferguson's successor. His 34 league games in charge had yielded 17 wins, 11 defeats and a points-per-game average of 1.68, the lowest of any United manager in the Premier League era. In all competitions, he won just 27 of his 51 games in charge. 

It was a record-breaking season for all the wrong reasons. United finished on 64 points, their lowest full-season tally in the Premier League era and their lowest finish. At the time, it was the worst title defence of any Premier League side in history, and it meant they failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1995. 

There was also a first home loss to Newcastle United since 1972, to West Brom since 1978 and to Stoke City since 1984. They were beaten home and away by Everton for the first time since 1969-70. Most damning of all was their return against the 'Big Six', as they won one of 10 of those games in 2013-14, losing home and away to the top two, Manchester City and Liverpool. 

A parting of the ways became inevitable, and United, three managers later, are still waiting for a meaningful shot at their 21st top-flight title. There were more problems for Moyes, too, at Real Sociedad and Sunderland. It makes his transformative work at West Ham, turning relegation-battlers into top-four contenders, all the more remarkable. 

It also begs the question: has history been unkind to Moyes? 

'You were the chosen one!' 

Few United sympathisers were arguing the case for Moyes to stay after Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas condemned them to defeat at Goodison Park – apart from Neville, who said the idea of sacking him in his first season was "foreign". 

Neville would later insist United had been the architects of their own mismanaged and relatively barren years since Moyes departed, with progress often fleeting at best. He's not wrong. 

Ferguson won 70.2 per cent of his 748 league games in charge at Old Trafford, and none of his successors have matched that record, with Jose Mourinho (66.2 per cent) and Louis van Gaal (66 per cent) closest. At 57.7 per cent, Moyes does not even boast the worst such ratio: that figure belongs to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (57.1 per cent), a man given substantially more patience by the United hierarchy than Moyes was. 

It's also often forgotten that their best performances under Moyes came in the competition in which he had no experience. United won five of their 10 Champions League games in 2013-14, a record bettered only by Mourinho (eight out of 14) among Ferguson's successors, as they reached the quarter-final stage – something they have only managed to do once since. 

The unenviable task of following Ferguson had the added complication of the squad not quite being up to standard. United's greatest manager had squeezed one more title out of a group of players whose best years were mostly behind them and who were buoyed by the singular brilliance of Robin van Persie, who plundered 26 goals and nine assists in 38 league matches in 2012-13. 

Under Moyes, Van Persie's output fell dramatically as injuries took their toll: he scored only 11 times and set up a further three in 18 games, while his chances created per 90 minutes plummeted from 2.05 to 0.98. 

With the old guard labouring and the squad overhaul poorly handled by new executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, it sometimes felt like Moyes was fighting a losing battle from the off. 

Real-ity bites 

In November 2014, Moyes was handed a breath of fresh air via an 18-month contract at Real Sociedad to succeed Jagoba Arrasate. Spain never quite suited him – perhaps living in a hotel didn't help – and he was sacked almost exactly a year later, after winning just 12 of 42 games in charge. 

However, Moyes was, to some extent, burdened with unfair expectation. La Real had won just two of their first 11 La Liga games in 2014-15 before he arrived and three points off the bottom. Moyes guided them to a safe, if not spectacular 12th-placed finish. That first campaign included a 1-0 win at Anoeta in January over Barcelona, who would go on to win the treble that term. Looking at the league table since Moyes' arrival in November 2014 until the end of that season sees La Real sit bang in the middle of the pile in 10th spot.  

Yet the demand for a return to European football was significant and, despite a strong transfer window that included the signing of Asier Illarramendi back from Real Madrid, Moyes could not inspire the performances he wanted. In the end, he became the second Real coach in a row to leave after only two wins in the first 11 league games of a season – and they were against the bottom two clubs. 

An ill omen 

It's perhaps not surprising that, when Moyes returned to the Premier League with Sunderland in July 2016, he sought to temper expectations. Sam Allardyce had led the Black Cats to survival – by just two points – the season before and it appeared Moyes wanted fans to be realistic. 

Unfortunately, his pragmatism came across as overly negative to a fan base desperate to see him build on Allardyce's work. A poor transfer window didn't help, either, as old Everton stalwarts such as Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe arrived looking well beyond their best and sizeable sums were spent on the likes of Papy Djilobodji, who was on the winning side just three times in 18 appearances in 2016-17. 

Two days after his first relegation as a manager was confirmed by a 1-0 loss to Bournemouth, Moyes resigned. He had lost 28 and won only eight of 43 games in charge; at the time, it was the worst return of any permanent Black Cats manager in the top flight aside from Howard Wilkinson, who won just 14.8 per cent of games from October 2002 to March 2003.  

Stop – Hammer time! 

It was a surprise, therefore, when West Ham turned to Moyes to keep them in the Premier League in November 2017. Eight wins – including his 200th in the division, the fourth man to achieve the feat – and nine draws in 27 matches was enough to secure their survival, if not a longer-term contract. 

When the Hammers turned to Moyes again in December 2019 to replace Manuel Pellegrini, many saw it as another fire-fighting job, a panicked move by the owners to stave off fears of the drop. It's proven to be so much more. 

This season, West Ham are averaging 1.72 points per game, the best return of Moyes' career in England's top flight – better even than the Tim Cahill-inspired Everton side in 2004-05 that finished fourth. The Hammers find themselves in that position in the table with six games to go and, according to Stats Perform's league predictions, they have an almost 26 per cent likelihood of finishing in the top four – more than double Tottenham's chances.

New ground is being trodden under Moyes once more, but in far brighter pastures. Against Arsenal, Wolves and Leicester City, they scored three goals in three consecutive top-flight games for the first time since 1928. They have scored at least three in a league game 15 times since Moyes' return; only Manchester City (19) and Manchester United (16) have done so in league games more often in that time. 

In Moyes' first 50 games in charge during his second spell at London Stadium, West Ham won 75 points, the most over that number of matches in 13 years. Indeed, in 2021, only Manchester City (17) have won more Premier League games than Moyes' men (10), who have earned 32 points from a possible 45 since the turn of the year. 

Perhaps it's fitting that Moyes' most recent star performer is another who was cast adrift at United. Jesse Lingard has scored eight goals in nine league games since joining on loan since January, equalling his best return for a top-flight season set back in 2017-18. Lingard also has three assists to his name in those nine outings, making him the quickest Hammers player in history to reach double figures for direct goal involvements. Like Cahill at Everton 16 years ago, Lingard is proving an unlikely talisman in West Ham's charge towards upsetting the top order. 

Moyes has walked a long road to redemption since his United dismissal. However West Ham's season finishes, he deserves to be held in a little higher esteem. 

A philosophical Stephen Curry reflected on a "great run" after his record-breaking scoring streak finally came to an end on Wednesday.

Curry went into the game against the Washington Wizards having scored at least 30 points in his previous 11 outings, the longest run by any player aged 33 or over in the history of the NBA.

However, as the Golden State Warriors fell to a narrow defeat on the road, the seven-time All-Star finally went cold.

Successful with just two of his 14 three-point attempts, he finished the 118-114 loss with 18 points, though did also contribute seven rebounds and eight assists for the beaten Warriors.

"It was a great run," Curry said. "It was something that hadn't been done before. It was going to end at some point. Now you've got to start another one.

"It's just a matter of the next-play mentality. Just try to get rejuvenated when we go home – to do it home, road, some big games, put a streak together. It was a special ride, for sure.

"And never really get too hyped up on individual streaks or accolades like that.

"There were some historical names that I was able to pass and doing something at this age was pretty special."

Kobe Bryant previously held the record for successive games with at least 30 points by a player 33 or older, managing 10 in a row in 2012.

Curry's streak started with 32 points against the Chicago Bulls on March 30. Across the 11 games he hit 78 three-pointers, also an NBA record.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr praised the Wizards for their defensive efforts, but also admitted tiredness was a factor for his players at the end of a gruelling five-game road trip.

"I thought the Wizards played well defensively," Kerr said. "Did some good things to get the ball out of Steph's hands. But nothing that Steph hasn't seen before.

"I thought we were gassed. I thought that included Steph and everybody. We just didn't look like we had our legs out there tonight."

Despite a below-par performance compared to his recent lofty standards, it was still a milestone game for Curry as he passed 18,000 career points.

Fred does not believe Manchester United were even at their best in December's remarkable 6-2 thrashing of Leeds United as he fired a warning ahead of a rematch of what he calls an "English football Clasico".

United and Leeds were once party to one of the fiercest rivalries in British football, but it took a backseat to the Red Devils' other major matches after the Yorkshire club were relegated from the Premier League in 2004.

The December meeting at Old Trafford was their first in the league for over 16 years, but for Leeds it swiftly turned into a nightmare as Scott McTominay became the first player in Premier League history to score twice in the first three minutes of a match.

That was just the tip of the iceberg, however, as Leeds went on to concede four goals in the first half of a Premier League fixture for the first time, Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof increasing the lead before Liam Cooper pulled one back.

Fernandes converted a penalty in the second half shortly after Daniel James netted, with Stuart Dallas' goal at the other end scant consolation.

Although it was the first occasion a Marcelo Bielsa team had conceded six goals in a game since 1992 and the first time United had scored so many since an 8-2 win over Arsenal in August 2011, United still allowed Leeds 17 attempts.

"I don't know if it was our best performance of the season, [but] 6-2 was a great result of course," Fred told United's official website. "I think we've had better performances this season.

"Scott's two goals very early on helped us to control the game, but they're very difficult opponents playing with such high intensity, they're very strong and always looking to attack.

"We're prepared for this, we know how they play and we'll aim to be at our very best to get the win."

Ordinarily United would be entitled to a rather frosty reception at Elland Road, though the absence of fans amid the coronavirus pandemic means they will avoid the worst of it.

Fred is certainly familiar with such occasions as a veteran of several 'Grenal' matches between Gremio and Internacional, a match that in December was ranked as the eighth biggest derby in world football.

"Definitely, it's an English football Clasico," he said of fixtures between United and Leeds. "We get a feel for this anticipation from social media.

"The fans are excited about this game, as are we of course. We haven't had a midweek game this week, so the anticipation for the next game increases and it's a derby game against a massive rival.

"It'll be a really tough game but we'll be preparing well for it this week."

Sunday's clash will be United's first visit to Elland Road since October 2003, a 1-0 win – they have not won successive league games at Leeds since 1976.

Nevertheless, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are unbeaten away from home in the top flight for over a year, a run consisting of 23 games.

Schalke are seven-time Bundesliga champions and one of the biggest names in world football.

A sporting institution and breeding ground for future greats, the Royal Blues were runners-up as recently as 2018. Schalke, led by Raul, were also Champions League semi-finalists in 2011. So, after 30 straight seasons in the top flight, it seemed unfathomable that one of the Bundesliga's founding members could drop down to Germany's second tier.

But they will be playing in 2. Bundesliga in 2021-22, their demise made official with four matches remaining after Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Arminia Bielefeld.

It has truly been a dismal season for the club who have unearthed Manuel Neuer, Leroy Sane, Mesut Ozil, Benedikt Howedes and Julian Draxler thanks to their famed academy.

Schalke only have two wins to their name from 30 matches for a paltry 13 points.

The turbulent nature of their campaign has been headlined by five coaches in a season – a Bundesliga record.

After David Wagner was given his marching orders in September, Manuel Baum lasted until December before Schalke turned to one of their favourite sons Huub Stevens – a UEFA Cup and DFB-Pokal winner – on an interim basis. Christian Gross was hired but he and other senior staff officials were sacked by February as part of a shake-up amid internal turmoil and player unrest. The relatively unknown Dimitrios Grammozis was appointed in March, however the club were already doomed.

Kevin Kuranyi – one of Schalke's finest – spent five years in Gelsenkirchen, where the former Germany international was their leading goalscorer from 2005-08 as the team finished runners-up twice and secured three consecutive Champions League berths, including a quarter-final showdown against Barcelona in 2008.

"For me was special to play for such a big club," Kuranyi, who left Schalke in 2010 after 209 appearances and 87 goals following his 2005 arrival from Stuttgart, told Stats Perform News.

"We had a really good time with the club. We were playing in the Champions League, the fans and everything was really something special in my career. And for me was an honour to play there with a lot of top players who are now playing in the biggest clubs in the world.

"Of course [in recent years] they have a lot of changes. I think in the last three, four years, you know, they change a lot of the sport directors, coaches and I think they don't really have a structure and a long-term plan.

"All these changes make everything a little bit difficult."

The likes of Leon Goretzka, Alexander Nubel, Breel Embolo, Thilo Kehrer, Max Meyer, Ozan Kabak and Weston McKennie have left Veltins-Arena in recent years and the replacements have not provided value for money.

Schalke invested in Sebastian Rudy, Suat Serdar, Omar Mascarell, Rabbi Matondo, Salif Sane, Mark Uth and Hamza Mendyl and Benito Raman over the past three terms, while big-name veterans Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar arrived during this season, but failed to make an impact.

"They invest a lot of money," Kuranyi said. "The players who they bring in for €10-15million, they don't return with good performances and points so it's difficult to work with this, they make a lot of mistakes the last few years."

Unheralded American forward Matthew Hoppe has been a rare shining light, the club's leading scorer in the Bundesliga with five goals – Schalke have only found the back of the net a league-low 18 times.

Schalke's minutes-to-goal ratio is 150, by far the worst of any team in the Bundesliga. As for their shot conversion rate, it stands at just 6.69 per cent – easily the lowest in the competition. For comparison, leaders and defending champions Bayern Munich top the list with 16.93 per cent. Only Bielefeld (39.9 to 40.32 per cent) have a poorer shooting accuracy this term.

The boys in blue have also lacked creativity. In 2020-21, Schalke have only created 190 chances – the lowest return across the league, while their passing accuracy (76.7) is the sixth worst.

Schalke have had the same woes at the other end of the pitch, conceding a league-high 76 goals and keeping four clean sheets – only Cologne have managed less (three). They have also recorded five errors leading to goals, a total only exceeded by Werder Bremen (six).

Now, Schalke are preparing for life in the second division for the first time since 1990-91.

It is a situation that has outraged fans and it came to a head after Tuesday's loss away to Bielefeld. Supporters were waiting for the team in Gelsenkirchen, where some players were seen fleeing a group of angry Ultras in footage circulating on social media – Schalke later condemned the incident.

"I think [the fans are hurting] a lot you know a big club like Schalke is not a club for the second league," the 39-year-old Kuranyi said.

"Schalke have big tradition, they have a lot of good memories in the old times. So it's really difficult for the fans to get the situation, to play in the second league, to try to go up again.

"I think in the next two, three years will be a hard time for Schalke. And, of course, all the fans are in a bad moment now."

Schalke were among 16 founding members of the inaugural Bundesliga in 1963, including Hamburg.

Hamburg – another proud and historic German outfit – were sensationally relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time in 2018 and are yet to return. Schalke are now following in their footsteps.

"It's all about the plan, what they have," Kuranyi said when asked of Schalke can bounce back immediately. "It's not easy if you see Hamburg, if you see another clubs who are trying to go up in the last two, three years. You see how difficult it is to play in the second league.

"Schalke, of course, will be the top club in the second league. Every small club will do everything to beat them. So they need to have a big plan for the future. They need to check what the possibilities also to keep the top players. What's the possibility to take young talented players to play a good second league season."

Phil Foden made the difference for Manchester City once again at Aston Villa, with Pep Guardiola feeling the England international is coming of age.

Having lost their previous Premier League game at home to 10-man Leeds United and slumped to 1-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea at the weekend, City emerged from the whirlwind of the European Super League debacle to go behind after 20 seconds to John McGinn's strike at Villa Park.

But Foden excelled, crowning a fine team move to equalise before Rodri headed home Bernardo Silva's cross to seal a 2-1 win before half-time.

There were further twists, as City ended the opening period with 10 men after John Stones clattered into Jacob Ramsey.

It was 10-a-side before the hour, though, as Foden tormented Villa right-back Matty Cash into a pair of yellow cards.

Overall, it was a supreme display from the England international, following on from his goals in each leg of City's Champions League quarter-final win over Borussia Dortmund.

"He's growing, this guy is growing. He is making steps forward every time," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"His influence in our game is massive right now. He scored a goal, provoked the two yellow cards, in the final third he ran a lot and he is so aggressive without the ball.

"He is becoming a serious player."

Foden's 14 goals and nine assists mean only Kevin De Bruyne (24) among his team-mates has more than his 23 goal involvements this season and he is second to Ilkay Gundogan (16) in City's scoring charts.

Whether the 20-year-old is ahead of where he was expected to be in terms of development is not something that overly concerns Guardiola when the returns he is producing right now are so good.

"There are guys at 19 and 20 years old who are unstoppable, at 29 and 30 they are not," he said.

"The players dictate who they are. Right now for the last games, Phil is becoming such an important player

"Against Dortmund he scored an important goal, the cross for the penalty, the final goal in the last minute against Dortmund at home.

"He can play inside, outside, he is so aggressive with the ball."

It was not such a pleasing outing for Foden's international team-mate Stones.

Guardiola was initially infuriated by the decision after referee Peter Bankes consulted the pitchside monitor and elected to upgrade his initial booking.

Villa boss Dean Smith also felt Stones was harshly done by, but the City manager feels the centre-back's woes should serve to sharpen minds in his squad ahead of Sunday's EFL Cup final against Tottenham and the Champions League semi-final showdown with Paris Saint-Germain.

"He is late but the intention is not bad. He wanted to get the ball," Guardiola said.

"We are happy. If we lost we would be angry, but okay.

"It is a good lesson for the final on Sunday. You play a final 10 v 11, you have no chance. And especially then against PSG."

Andrea Pirlo will consider no longer placing Cristiano Ronaldo in defensive walls after Juventus conceded from another free-kick in their win against Parma.

Ronaldo covered his face and failed to jump as Gaston Brugman lifted a superb 25-yarder over the five-man Juve wall and past a stationary Gianluigi Buffon.

The home side recovered from that setback thanks to a couple of Alex Sandro goals either side of half-time and a header from fellow defender Matthijs de Ligt.

However, Pirlo was not overly pleased with his side's display and hinted Ronaldo - criticised for turning his back on Sergio Oliveira's extra-time free-kick that saw Porto knock Juve out of the Champions League last 16 - will no longer form part of the wall.

"Unfortunately, these things happen, but we'll have to evaluate it over the next few days," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"We made life difficult for ourselves with that opening goal, then ran a few other risks on set-plays. It's a pity because we'd done well defending from dead-ball situations this season."

Juventus have now conceded goals in each of their last eight Serie A games, which is their longest such streak since May 2019.

Pirlo had a couple of defenders to thank for bailing his side out, with Alex Sandro scoring more goals against Parma in Wednesday's clash than he managed in his previous 115 matches in all competitions.

While the under-fire boss is happy to have come away with all three points, he accepted there is still plenty of room for improvement.

"We were too distant in the first half and that slowed down the passing movement," he said.

"Maybe we don't maintain the same concentration and pace from match to match. Sometimes we are a little slow, we hold onto the ball, allow the opposition to occupy the space and it all grinds to a halt.

"We did well to turn it around and the win was important for our confidence as we played well and needed to take home the three points.

"We have instinctive players, but must also give them directions on the positions to hold. They did it better in the second half than the first, especially with the body positioning to receive the ball."

The win for Juve moves them into third, one point above fourth-placed Atalanta and five ahead of Napoli in fifth, both of whom have a game in hand in a tight battle for Champions League qualification.

It was an important victory in more ways than one for the fallen champions amid a backdrop of unrest over the European Super League proposal, which is now in tatters after the vast majority of teams pulled the plug.

Juve chairman Andrea Agnelli was one of the chief architects of the breakaway plans and Pirlo reiterated his pre-match comments that, while he is not against change, the club must "respect the rules".

"Agnelli explained what was happening, but that the most important thing was to secure a place in the top four to qualify for the Champions League," Pirlo said. "He reassured and encouraged us ahead of this game.

"I already spoke about [the Super League] yesterday, so did the president and the director. We all know the same things. 

"Something has to be changed on the European level, because the ideas that were proposed were good ones, but we are also open to other suggestions and will respect the rules."

Karim Benzema delivered a sensational performance as Real Madrid beat Cadiz 3-0 to move top of LaLiga.

Madrid president Florentino Perez was perhaps in need of a distraction after spearheading widely condemned plans for a proposed – and now suspended – European Super League in recent days.

Zinedine Zidane refused to comment on the issue during his pre-match news conference and, though Madrid's off-pitch troubles look set to rumble on, they were superb on the field on Wednesday.

Benzema starred, scoring twice in the first half either side of Alvaro Odriozola's header to secure a convincing win which sees Los Blancos leapfrog would-be Super League rivals Atletico Madrid.

Perhaps inspired by Leeds United's act of defiance before Monday's Premier League clash with Liverpool, Cadiz's players wore t-shirts protesting the premise of a Super League prior to kick-off.

Yet Madrid hardly seemed affected, and their quality told in the 30th minute.

Referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz initially failed to spot Isaac Carcelen's foul on Vinicius Junior, but changed his decision after consulting with VAR, and Benzema buried the resulting penalty before turning provider for Madrid's second goal when he crossed for Odriozola to head in. 

Benzema should have had his second assist when he cushioned a header down for Casemiro, only for the midfielder to blaze over.

However, Benzema made no such mistake when Casemiro returned the favour with a delicate cross – the Frenchman glancing a deft header into the left-hand corner.

Anthony Lozano, who scored in the reverse fixture, should have pulled one back for Cadiz before the hour, but headed wide from three yards out.

Benzema's sublime flick through to Marcelo almost crafted another Madrid goal, but the visitors settled for three as Zidane claimed a win which means he has now beaten all 28 LaLiga teams he has faced as Madrid boss.

Inter extended their lead at the Serie A summit to 10 points but could only draw 1-1 with Spezia following another Samir Handanovic error on Wednesday.

In their first match since joining and withdrawing from the much-criticised European Super League project, league leaders Inter failed to fully capitalise on second-place Milan's 2-1 loss to Sassuolo earlier in the day.

After scoring an own goal in the 1-1 draw that ended Inter's 11-game winning run in Serie A at Napoli on Sunday, some more shoddy goalkeeping from Handanovic enabled Diego Farias to put Spezia in front early on at Stadio Alberto Picco.

Ivan Perisic bundled in the equaliser on his 200th appearance in all competitions for Inter, who saw Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez each denied by the offside flag late on as they failed to find the winner that would have boosted their Scudetto hopes further.

Spezia were without their top scorer M'Bala Nzola but managed to take a surprise lead in the 12th minute when Farias' effort from just outside the box squirmed past Handanovic.

Inter's final pass was often lacking but after Nicolo Barella sliced their best opportunity wide, Achraf Hakimi teed up fellow wing-back Perisic for the equaliser ahead of half-time.

The Nerazzurri were buoyed by the goal and Martinez saw his shot come back off the post before being gathered by Spezia goalkeeper Ivan Provedel.

A woeful back pass from Ardijan Ismajli gifted Lukaku a chance to put Inter in front after the hour mark but he was unable to round Provedel cleanly and the keeper recovered well to block his second attempt.

Milan Skriniar was unable to turn substitute Alexis Sanchez's free-kick home before Martinez rattled the upright again in the 80th minute.

Lukaku and Martinez were frustrated by offside decisions, but it looked like the winner was finally about to arrive when the pair combined in stoppage time. However, the Argentina international lashed his effort straight at Provedel.

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