There was an uncertain start to last week, as a number of sports fixtures in England were threatened with cancellation by rioting. Fortunately, only a couple of football fixtures were cancelled; England’s friendly against Holland and Tottenham Hospur’s first match of the season against Everton.
The remaining home nation’s international matches went ahead, as Scotland beat Denmark 2-1 and showing signs they may reach Euro 2012 under Craig Levein’s management. Northern Ireland comprehensively thrashed the Faroe Islands in their qualifying match, which has strengthened their chance of making it to the finals. They are now only 2 points behind second placed Slovenia with a game in hand. Wales did not fare so well, as the succumbed to Australia 2-1 meanwhile the Republic of Ireland managed to maintain their unbeaten run by holding Croatia to a 0-0 draw.
The Barclays Premier League returned on Saturday to much fanfare, but was dominated by draws. Only three teams managed to secure a win; Bolton who thrashed QPR 4-0, Wolves who beat Blackburn 2-1 and the reigning champions, Manchester United who secured a 2-1 win against West Brom, despite losing three of their starting back four to injuries. Arsenal and Chelsea made innocuous starts both drawing 0-0 while Liverpool drew 1-1 with a Sunderland side who will be trying to secure a Europa League place this season. I predict Manchester Utd. Will be champions, Manchester City second, Liverpool third and Spurs in fourth with Norwich, Swansea and Blackburn the teams to go down.
In cricket England thrashed India by an innings and 242 runs to become the world’s number one test side. This astonishing victory included a workmanlike innings of 294 by Alistair Cook, a total greater than either of the Indian’s Innings totals.
In Rugby Union, the International sides played a number of warm up matches for the autumn’s World Cup. Ireland were beaten by France who led by 10 points at half time due to a Clerc try and two penalties from Yashvilli. Ireland narrowed the gap after the break thanks to three O’Gara penalties, but no try was forthcoming and it ended 19-12 to France. Wales played England at the Millennium stadium and triumphed as James Hook scored a try and two penalties to win the match 19-9. This is a welcome boost for Wales before the World Cup, but an unwelcome setback for Martin Johnson and England.
In Racing news, trainer, Howard Johnson has been suspended for racing a horse eight times after the animal underwent a palmar neurectomy, which involves severing nervous connection to the lower leg to cause numbness – something that is banned on welfare grounds. He has since decided to retire as a trainer.
At the US PGA championship American rookie Keegan Bradley beat fellow countryman Jason Dufner in a play-off to win his first major. Keegan Bradley looked to have handed his opponent the championship on the 15th when he triple bogeyed, but he held his nerve to force the play off. Lee Westwood and Luke Donald both halved their six hole deficit only to stumble late on.
In cycling, Mark Cavendish set out his stall for the Olympics, as he won the 87 mile test event with a time of 3 hours, 18 minutes and 11 seconds.
The GB badminton pair, Chris Adock and Imogen Bankier made it to the final of the badminton world championship to be beaten by Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei of China, 21-15, 21-7.
In MotoGP Stoner increased his lead in the standings with a dominant display at Brno in the Czech Republic. The Australian gained the lead after team mate, Dani Pedrosa crashed out in the fourth lap. Mario Simoncelli, finally gained his first podium place with third place, while Jorge Lorenzo completed the podium with his second place finish.