It was an eventful week in sport, as important International matches from a number of sports dominated. Early in the week England beat Wales 1-0 to strengthen their attempt at qualification for Euro 2012. This was in spite of dogged determination and spirit shown by the Welsh players, who have begun to challenge under Speed’s leadership. Capello on the other hand will see the performance as a step backwards after an excellent display against Bulgaria. Scotland managed to scrape a 1-0 win against Lithuania to keep their slim hopes of qualification alive. All they need now is a win against the best in the world, Spain.
The Rugby World cup finally began late Friday night in New Zealand with a spectacular opening ceremony and a routine Victory for the hosts over Tonga. Scotland started excellently against minnows, Romania by securing early tries, but they lost their grip on the match, as Romania pulled back two tries. In the end Scotland’s quality showed through and they won 34-24. England struggled against Argentina who managed to drag them into a game of attrition. England trailed throughout the match, partly due to Wilkinson’s poor kicking, he missed 5 penalties in the match and partly due to a lack of creativity. This all changed when Ben Youngs came on around 15 minutes from the end. England suddenly looked like a team who could score and eventually Youngs made the breakthrough to take the lead from Argentina a few minutes from the end. Wales on the other hand performed excellently in their tough opening match against the Springboks. They took a 16-10 lead over South Africa in the 54th minute only to drop the lead due to a Hougaard try. There was controversy during the early moments of the game, as a Hook penalty was adjudged to have missed despite some television replays showing otherwise. Ireland, Australia, Fiji and France also secured comfortable wins in their opening matches.
The England cricket team had an excellent week by winning one and tying the other of their ODI against India in a rain affected week. The first match on Tuesday at the Rose Bowl was a close match but England edged the victory as a result of the Duckworth-Lewis method. It was a good opening spell from Anderson that set England up as India’s top four all failed to make double figures. A blistering 50 from Kieswetter set up a splendid chase from England, as they managed to reach 218-7 before the match was called off due to rain. The second match this week was at Lord’s and India performed excellently managing 270-5 thanks to a blistering partnership between M.S. Dhoni and Suresh Raina. England struggled to match India’s performance for the first time this summer as wickets fell at regular intervals. Bopara played a vital 96 before holing out at deep mid-wicket with Bell making 54 in support. It was Swann though who managed to turn the tide with 31 off only 23 balls before being run out. Towards the end of the game the players went off the field a couple of times before the match was abandoned with the D/L score level, which indicated England and India’s second tied game in a year. This meant England have beaten India in the one day series with only one match in Cardiff to play.
Sebastien Vettel managed to secure yet another win in the Italian Grand Prix, as he continued his progress towards a second championship. After an exciting start, which saw Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso side by side, Alonso managed to sneak ahead into turn one. Vettel stayed with him and overtook Alonso at 200mph while half on the grass in an amazing manoeuvre. Alonso finished the race in second, while Button claimed third, as a result of Schuhmacher holding Hamilton up. Some quarters have criticised Schumacher for defending his place too aggressively, as Hamilton was clearly the faster car.
At the US Open Andy Murray succumbed to Nadal for the fifth time in a row. Murray was outclassed in a number of areas and never managed to fully implement his game plan. Nadal is currently (Monday) facing Djokovic in the men’s final. Venus Williams was beaten in the Women’s final by Stosur in two straight sets 6-2, 6-3. Williams may face disciplinary action after an outburst directed at the umpire. Williams reportedly said, “You’re out of control” and “You’re a hater, and you’re just unattractive inside.” There was better news for the Brits, as young Oliver Golding managed to take the boys title after beating junior world number one Jiri Vesely by 5-7 6-3 6-4. This is the first junior boys title since Murray lifted the trophy at Flushing Meadows in 2004.
In the Barclays Premier League both Manchester clubs managed impressive wins against their opposition with City beating Wigan 3-0 and United beating Bolton 5-0. Liverpool succumbed to Stoke 1-0 after conceding a first half penalty. Chelsea won 2-1 against Sunderland who scored a consolation goal in injury time. The North London clubs both managed wins with Tottenham winning 2-0 away at Wolves while Arsenal beat Swansea 1-0 thanks to an Arshavin goal. Newcastle kept the fourth spot in the League after being held 0-0 by QPR. West Brom claimed their first points of the season by beating Norwich 1-0. Honours were shared between Blackburn and Fulham, as they both took a much needed point from a 1-1 draw.
At the Shanghai Masters Mark Selby managed to fight back from 9-7 against Mark Williams in the final to win 10-9 and take the world number one spot.
In boxing Vitali Klitschko beat Tomasz Adamek after ten one-sided rounds to successfully defend his WBC heavyweight title. David Haye says he will delay his retirement by 6 months, so he can have a re-match against Wladimir Klitschko or a fight against Vitali.