Madrid, May 9 (AP/UNB) — David Ferrer's career came to an end with a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Alexander Zverev in the second round at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old Spaniard had announced earlier that this would be his last tournament because he didn't feel he was fit enough to keep competing at a high level on tour.
Ferrer finished his 20-year career with 27 singles titles, fifth-best among active players behind the top four of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Ferrer had 733 wins in 1,111 matches, fourth-best among active players.
Visibly overcome by his emotions, Ferrer had a difficult time serving while facing match point, backing off a few times and asking for a towel to wipe his face.
After losing he received a standing ovation from the crowd at the packed "Magic Box" center court, then went back to leave his headband on the ground near the net.
Ferrer spoke for several minutes in a ceremony to honor him, thanking everyone who helped his career.
"I'll never forget this day," he said, with his wife and son by his side. "I've been very lucky. I've always wanted to end my career like this. I couldn't keep playing at the level that I wanted, but I'm very happy and very proud of my career."
Messages from other players were shown on the large screens during the ceremony, with most praising Ferrer's toughness and "never-give-up attitude" on the court.
"All the players are very sad he is retiring," said Zverev, who also looked moved. "You always left everything on the court, in every single match. It's a privilege for me to be here playing against you in your last match."
Ranked 144th entering the Madrid tournament, Ferrer got off to a good start against Zverev, opening a 4-1 lead in the first set. But the defending Madrid Open champion rallied to win the next five games to close out the set and eventually the match.
Ferrer lost to Nadal at the 2013 French Open final, the only time he made it to a Grand Slam title match. Ferrer was No. 3 in the world that year, his highest ever ranking. He was among the top 10 for seven seasons. He also won three Davis Cup titles with Spain.
Atlanta, May 9 (AP/UNB) — Atlanta United is starting to resemble the team that won the MLS Cup five months ago.
Hector Villalba and Julian Gressel scored to lead resurgent Atlanta to its third victory in a row, 2-0 over Toronto FC in a matchup of the last two MLS Cup champions Wednesday night.
After a sluggish start under new coach Frank de Boer, United (4-3-2) is finally rounding into its expected form. Atlanta dominated the stat sheet, piling up a 19-8 advantage in shots, knocking two attempts off the post and preventing Toronto from putting any balls on net.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan extended his scoreless streak to three games without much effort, giving the 3-year-old Atlanta franchise its first victory over Toronto FC in five matches.
"This shows the confidence is growing," de Boer said. "It's a big step forward against a very good team."
After Josef Martinez was denied on a couple of chances in close, Atlanta broke through in the 17th minute. The play was set up by Ashtone Morgan's hard foul on Gressel just outside the box, giving United a dangerous free kick. Pity Martinez launched one over the wall, only to have Alex Bono make a brilliant save diving to his left.
But Josef Martinez hustled after the rebound, sending the ball back in front where Villalba flicked it past the keeper for his first goal of the season.
Villalba got a chance to shine, moving into the starting lineup with Ezequiel Barco called away by the Argentina national team for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland. Villalba nearly scored again late in the first half, shifting the ball from one foot to the other to get away from four defenders before banging his shot off the post.
"He's unpredictable," de Boer said. "You never know what he's going to do. He's difficult to defend. He's so quick. I know he wants to play. This is his time."
In the 65th, Villalba knocked another one into the net off a pass from Josef Martinez but the play was nullified by an offside penalty. Just 2 minutes later, United struck again with a goal that counted.
Again, it was set up by Martinez, the reigning MLS goal king who spent this night delivering for his teammates. Getting the ball just inside the area, he dumped off a pass to Gressel, who cut inside the deliver a booming left-footed shot that deflected off a defender's foot and skipped past Bono for the German's second goal of the season.
Gressel said it took some time to adjust to a new coach putting in a different system, but the players' confidence is growing after United managed just one victory through its first six league games, in addition to being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
"The feeling here in the locker room has changed quite a bit," Gressel said. "It's just time. We've said it before. Once you're together a little bit longer ... it starts clicking, you start getting on the same page. It's just a natural path."
While Martinez has only four goals through nine games after setting an MLS record with 31 a season ago, he showed he's capable of contributing in other ways. Opponents are so conscious of him in the area, it frees up space for his teammates.
"I know he's eager to be involved in goals," de Boer said. "But I'm very pleased with his performance."
Playing its fourth straight game without top scorer Jozy Altidore as he recovers from a hamstring injury, Toronto (5-3-1) got so desperate for a scoring chance that Jonathan Osorio took a dive in the area off minimal contact, hoping to draw a penalty kick in the closing minutes.
Instead, he picked up a yellow card.
""Look, they are a good team," Toronto coach Greg Vanney said. "When you give them space to attack through you, they are going to attack fast and they are going to attack through you. ... We spent a lot of energy chasing them in the wrong direction."
Dhaka, May 5 (UNB) - The 2nd phase of the 13-team Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football begins on Thursday (May 9) with four matches billed for the day at four different venues across the country.
League leader Bashundhara Kings will play Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club at Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari, holders Dhaka Abahani Limited will encounter lowly NoFeL Sporting Club at Shaheed Bulu Stadium in Noakhali, Chattogram Abahani Limited will face Muktijoddha Sangsad KC at Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium Gopalganj, all at 4 pm.
Sheikh Russel KC will meet Arambagh KS in the other match of the day at the Sylhet District Stadium at 7 pm.
On the following day (Friday), Dhaka Mohammedan SC will face Team BJMC at 4 pm at the Shaheed Bulu Stadium in Noakhali while Saif Sporting Club will play Rahmatganj MFS at 7 pm at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
Earlier, the 2nd phase league was deferred by three days following cyclone Fani which unleashed its weak force on Bangladesh last Saturday.
After the first phase matches, Bashundhara Kings comfortably dominated the league as the lone unbeaten team securing 34 points from 12 matches while defending champions Dhaka Abahani Limited followed them with 30 points from 12 encounters.
Standings of the BPL Football after first phase matches: (Tabulating under match played, win, draw, loss, goal for/goal against and points)
Teams M W D L GF/GA Points
Bashundhara Kings 12 11 1 0 26/6 34
Dhaka Abahani 12 10 0 2 28/12 30
Sheikh Russel KC 12 8 3 1 16/4 27
Saif SC 12 7 2 3 17/11 23
Arambagh KS 12 6 1 5 16/13 19
Muktijoddha SKC 12 4 3 5 15/13 15
Sheikh Jamal DC 12 3 5 4 11/14 14
Chattogram Abahani 12 3 5 4 8/11 14
Rahmatgonj MFS 12 2 6 4 13/19 12
NoFeL SC 12 2 3 7 6/15 9
Brothers Union 12 2 2 8 7/20 8
Dhaka Mohammedan 12 1 3 8 8/23 6
Team BJMC 12 0 4 8 2/12 4
Liverpool, May 8 (AP/UNB) — Liverpool's players had their hands on their heads, seemingly unable to comprehend their achievement. One of them, James Milner, was in tears. When he wasn't punching the air, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp stood in front of The Kop in full voice and just took it all in.
Just when Liverpool fans thought they had seen it all — the so-called "Miracle of Istanbul" in particular, but also those storied comebacks at Anfield against Saint-Etienne, Olympiakos and Borussia Dortmund down the years — along came another European night that just might top them all.
The Liverpool players faced a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona from the first leg of the Champions League semifinals. They faced the great Lionel Messi, perhaps in the best form of his life. They faced fatigue from a grueling Premier League title race with Manchester City and the absence of two of the team's key forwards, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
How to explain, then, a remarkable 4-0 win that sent Liverpool into a second straight Champions League final, 4-3 on aggregate?
"We know this club is a mix of atmosphere, emotion, desire and footballing quality," Klopp said. "For me, this club has a big heart and tonight the heart was pounding like crazy. You could feel it all over the world."
It took a goal of breathtaking quality — but also extraordinary cheek — to complete the greatest in a long line of famous comebacks by Liverpool, which is one win away from becoming European champion for a sixth time.
Euphoria had already engulfed Anfield when Liverpool, leading 3-0 and smothering Barcelona with its intensity, was awarded a corner in the 79th minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold, a 20-year-old right back, put the ball down in the quadrant and then turned around as if he was about to leave the kick to a teammate.
In an instant, he spun round again and whipped in a low cross that Barcelona's players weren't prepared for. Divock Origi was ready, though, and he swept home a finish from eight meters (yards) into the top corner for his second goal of the game.
Klopp was full of praise for the lucid thinking of Alexander-Arnold, the youngest player on the Liverpool team, and said he hadn't even seen the corner being taken.
"Incredibly smart," Klopp said, shaking his head. "Genius."
It was only the third time in the history of the competition that a team rallied from three goals down after the first leg of a semifinal and progressed to the final, after Panathinaikos in 1970-71 and Barcelona in 1985-86. No team had done it in the Champions League era.
"When you have a collapse of this nature," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said, "we will have a few horrible days ahead."
For Barcelona, it was the second straight year that the team let a three-goal lead slip, having beaten Roma 4-1 at home in the quarterfinals in 2018 before losing the return leg 3-0 to go out.
As for Liverpool, given the opposition this display rivaled the comeback from three goals down against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.
There was also the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne in the 1977 European Cup and the 4-3 win from 2-0 down against Borussia Dortmund in the 2016 Europa League quarterfinals. The last-gasp 3-1 win over Olympiakos, sealed by Steven Gerrard's late long-range goal, in the 2004-05 group stage also lingers long in the memory.
"The people from outside, they doubted us and thought we couldn't do it," said Georginio Wijnaldum, a halftime substitute who scored two of the goals. "But once again we showed that everything is possible."
Klopp had delivered a stirring speech on the eve of the game, telling his players to "fail in a beautiful way" if they were to get eliminated.
They took that to heart.
Salah, Liverpool's top scorer who missed the game as he followed protocols after a concussion, entered the stadium before kickoff wearing a T-shirt bearing the message: "Never Give Up."
Then teammate Andrew Robertson set the tone on the field, pushing Messi's head with two hands while the Barcelona forward was on the ground after an early challenge. Fabinho followed that up with a crunching tackle on Luis Suarez, who was jeered and goaded relentlessly by Liverpool fans at the ground he graced for 3½ years.
A goal was needed to really give Barcathe jitters and it arrived after seven minutes, with Origi tapping into an empty net after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen parried a shot by Jordan Henderson.
Barcelona already appeared rattled, with Suarez living up to his role as the player opposition fans love to hate. In one incident, the striker flicked his boot back into the right knee of Robertson as they ran along together. Robertson needed treatment and was substituted at halftime, with his injury later confirmed to be a calf muscle problem.
Wijnaldum, who replaced Robertson, made an almost instant impact, making it 2-0 by sweeping home a low cross from Alexander-Arnold. Two minutes later, the Dutch midfielder made another run into the area and met a cross from Xherdan Shaqiri with a firm header into the corner past a flat-footed Ter Stegen.
The goals came in the 54th and 56th minutes — the times of Liverpool's first two goals in that 2005 final in Istanbul.
Philippe Coutinho, another former Liverpool player, was substituted for Nelson Semedo after an ineffective display and Barca quickly improved, exerting more control. Liverpool's players might also have wondered how to approach the game with the score tied on aggregate.
Then came the coup de grace after the cheeky play by Alexander-Arnold at a corner. Barcelona had no answer, with Messi — the star of the first leg with two goals — largely snuffed out.
Tottenham or Ajax await in the June 1 final in Madrid. Ajax leads 1-0 from the first leg.
Dhaka, May 7 (UNB)- Agrani Bank Ltd. SC and Soceres Club Feni won their respective matches in the ongoing Bangladesh Championship League (BCL) Football at the Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Shipahi Mohammad Mustafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur on Tuesday.
In the first game, Agrani Bank Ltd. SC defeated Swadhinata KS by 1-0 goals while in the 6th minute, Murad netted the lone goal of the match (1-0).
On the other hand, Soceres Club Feni beat Wari Club by 1-0 goals. Mollik scored the math-winner in the 45th minute of the game (1-0).