Joe Willock scored late on to salvage relegation-threatened Newcastle United a potentially massive point in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham, who missed the chance to go fourth.   At the end of a week in which Harry Kane's future was something of a hot topic, it was only fitting for the England captain to score twice, but they were pegged back in the closing stages as Jose Mourinho's Spurs flattered to deceive again.   Having already gone extremely close to opening the scoring, Newcastle went in front through Joelinton, but six minutes later the home side trailed – Kane's predatory instincts on show as he scored a quick-fire brace.   But less than a minute after Kane hit the post in the second half, Willock – who is on loan from Spurs' bitter rivals Arsenal – blasted in from close range to seal a deserved point for Steve Bruce's men.

Erling Haaland continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona, but head coach Ronald Koeman has insisted the final decision over a move for the Borussia Dortmund striker will be made by president Joan Laporta.

Barca are one of a number of elite teams to have been credited with an interest in the Norway international, who has scored 49 goals in 50 appearances for Dortmund in his 15 months at the club.

Talk of a possible switch to Camp Nou intensified on Thursday when Haaland's agent Mino Raiola and father Alf-Inge were pictured in Barcelona reportedly on their way to a meeting with Laporta.

The pair were later spotted in Madrid and reports from Spain suggest talks are planned with a number of English clubs next week for arguably the most in-demand player in world football.

Koeman confirmed at a pre-match news conference on Sunday that he has held talks with recently elected president Laporta over possible targets, but he was unwilling to discuss any specific interest in Haaland.

"We discuss future plans, but the decision is made by the president," Koeman said ahead of Monday's clash with Real Valladolid.

"Everyone, including the president, is working to improve the team knowing the club's economic situation, which is not the best. 

"They have shown me from day one that they will try to improve this situation and, in terms of signings, everything depends on the possibilities we have. 

"It is normal to talk in the last part of the season about the next one. Now I am not interested in the names that come out, we have to be focused on the final games we have left to play."

Haaland has 21 goals in 22 Bundesliga games this term, adding another 10 from six matches in the Champions League, a competition in which he tops the scoring charts.

Asked again if a move for Haaland has already been discussed with Laporta, Koeman said: "I am not going to talk about players who are not ours

"We have used the break to have meetings, to talk about this season, about the next one - this happens in all the clubs in the world."

A move for Haaland could be directly linked to Lionel Messi's Camp Nou future, with the superstar forward set to be out of contract at the end of the season.

The club's all-time leading goalscorer may be persuaded to sign a new deal if Barca can signal their ambitions by bringing in exciting talent Haaland.

"Messi's contract is an important matter and we are doing our all so that he stays at the club for many more years," Koeman said.

"But we are talking about tomorrow's game, which has all our thoughts right now, not next season. The future is down to the president and his team. As a coach, and as players, all we can do is focus on each game."

The 20 goals Haaland has scored in 14 games since making his Champions League debut for Salzburg in September 2019 compares to eight for Messi from the same number of outings.

Haaland's average of a goal every 53.95 minutes in Europe's elite club competition is the second best return of any player to have scored at least five times over that same timeframe, behind only Chelsea's Olivier Giroud (six goals in eight games for a return of 52.67).

David Luiz is expected to be out of action for a number of weeks after undergoing a "small procedure" on his right knee, Arsenal have confirmed. 

The Brazilian centre-back missed the Gunners' 3-0 Premier League defeat to Liverpool on Saturday after experiencing discomfort during training. 

He underwent a successful procedure on Sunday and will be available for selection in the "upcoming weeks", according to the north London club. 

A statement on the Arsenal website read: "David Luiz underwent a small procedure on his right knee on Sunday morning.

"The procedure has been a success and David Luiz is now back at home rehabilitating. He will be able to return to daily support and recovery with our medical team at the training centre in the coming days.

"David Luiz is expected to be back to full fitness and available for selection in the upcoming weeks."

David Luiz has made 29 appearances across all competitions for Arsenal this season, starting 26 of those matches. 

No player has made more than his 20 blocks for the Gunners – level with Rob Holding – while his 64 successful aerial challenges is behind only Holding's 68. 

Arsenal have a 36.8 per cent win rate in the 19 Premier League games that have featured David Luiz this season, compared with 45.5 per cent in the 11 games for which he has been absent.

They have collected an average of 1.4 points when he has played and 1.5 when he has not.

Arsenal host Slavia Prague in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday before travelling to Sheffield United in the Premier League three days later.

Ronald Koeman has no intention of resting Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong ahead of next week's El Clasico, despite both players being one booking away from a suspension.

Barca will be looking to extend their 18-match unbeaten run in LaLiga when they welcome Real Valladolid to Camp Nou on Monday.

Messi and De Jong are both available for the game as the Catalan giants look to keep the pressure on leaders Atletico Madrid, who are four points better off ahead of Sunday's trip to Sevilla.

However, both players risk being banned for next Saturday's showdown with bitter rivals Real Madrid, having each been booked four times already this season.

But while the pair may be walking a disciplinary tightrope, Koeman is ready to risk star man Messi and central midfielder De Jong against Valladolid.

"We know that these two players are one card away, but it is not the time to rest players due to cards or freshness," he said at Sunday's pre-match news conference.

"We have ten games left. There is always the risk, but the best thing is to put the team out that I think can win the game."

Messi has been directly involved in 23 league goals in 2021 - 16 goals and seven assists - which is more than any other player in the top five European leagues. 

The Argentinian has had a direct hand in eight goals in his last four LaLiga games against Real Valladolid - four goals and four assists.

Those goal involvements have helped Barca to 13 wins in their previous 14 LaLiga games against Valladolid, with the only exception being a 1-0 defeat away from home in March 2014.

Sergio Gonzalez's side have won just one of their past 11 league games, but Koeman will not take Monday's opponents lightly.

"You have to be prepared, you can't think that it will be an easy game," he said. "We have to go in with a lot of energy and rhythm and be good with the ball.

"We have to get back to our level. It could be a game without problems, but you always have to work hard to win."

Gerard Pique returned to training this week after recovering from a knee problem, while Sergi Roberto is also closing in on a comeback after two months on the sidelines.

Koeman will make a late decision on whether the defensive duo are ready to play a part against Valladolid.

"They are training with the team lately. They have improved a lot," he said.

"These are decisions that will be made tomorrow after the last training session. We aren't going to take risks [with injuries], nor next week, because there are more games coming this season."

Leon Goretzka insists Germany's players are to blame for their shock defeat to North Macedonia and not under-fire head coach Joachim Low.

Germany lost 2-1 on Wednesday to the side ranked 52 places below them in the FIFA rankings – their first World Cup qualifying defeat since September 2011, a run spanning 35 games.

The loss was Die Mannschaft's second in four competitive matches, having also been thrashed 6-0 by Spain in November's Nations League clash.

Low recently announced he will quit his role with the national side after the rescheduled Euro 2020, though Germany's poor form – just five wins in their last 11 matches – has led to calls for a change before the tournament.

But Goretzka, who started all three of Germany's March qualifiers, has absolved the long-serving head coach of any blame for the latest calamitous loss, which leaves Germany third in Group J.

"We players are to blame for the defeat and no one else," he told ZDF. "We felt a touch of euphoria in the country after beating Iceland and Romania. 

"We have just got to tell ourselves now that it is behind us. You have to see that the scaffolding is becoming even more stable. In any case, that is primarily the job of the players."

Goretzka marked his return to club duty on Saturday with the winning goal in Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich's 1-0 win over closest challengers RB Leipzig.

He has been a key player once again for Bayern this term, featuring 28 times in all competitions, 21 of those appearances coming in the Bundesliga.

The midfielder's drilled finish against Leipzig from a Thomas Muller cutback was his fifth Bundesliga goal in 2020-21, adding to five assists – only Muller (25) and Robert Lewandowski (41) have been directly involved in more for Bayern in the league this season.

Goretzka also leads the way among Bayern midfielders in the Bundesliga for recoveries per 90 minutes (8.98) and is behind only Javi Martinez (2.57) for interceptions, with 2.27 a game on average.

Bayern are reportedly eager to agree fresh terms with Goretzka on a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of next season, and the 26-year-old has indicated he is ready to commit to the club.

"I feel very comfortable here," he said. "Bayern has helped me a lot in the last few years to take the next step in my career. That is why the tendency is clearly towards Bayern."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has ruled out a move for Sergio Aguero due to the soon-to-be free agent's long association with fierce rivals Manchester City.

City confirmed on Monday that Aguero is to bring an end to his decade-long spell at the Etihad Stadium when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.

He will bow out as City's all-time leading scorer, with a current tally of 257 goals in 385 games, the most recent of those appearances coming against Leicester City on Saturday.

The 32-year-old has won four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and five EFL Cups, a tally he can add to before leaving as City remain on course for a quadruple this term, including a first Champions League triumph.

But despite the Premier League's fourth-highest ever goalscorer being available on a free transfer, Solskjaer does not expect Aguero to join one of the Citizens' domestic rivals.

"When I played for Man Utd, if a rival club would try to sign me and I'd gone to a rival club, where's the loyalty?" Solskjaer said.

"Of course, loyalty is one of the values I rank highly. So I wouldn't expect any player who had played for a club for 10 years to want to go to a local rival.

"I know we're professional but when you play for Man Utd, you don't go to Man City."

Peter Schmeichel, Andrew Cole and Carlos Tevez are previous high-profile examples of players to have moved between neighbours United and City during the Premier League era.

In an apparent swipe at some of his former team-mates, Solskjaer criticised those who show a lack of loyalty to their clubs by crossing the divide.

"We've had examples of that and I didn't really agree to those moves, to put it that way. I don't want to name names, but you all know who I point my finger at. Enough said," Solskjaer added.

Cole is one of three players to have scored more goals than Aguero in Premier League history with 187, along with Wayne Rooney (208) and Alan Shearer (260).

Aguero, a £38million signing from Atletico Madrid in July 2011, has scored 181 goals in the English top flight in 272 appearances - a goal every 108.69 minutes.

Among forwards currently at United, Edinson Cavani boasts the best goals-per-game return in the competition with one every 153.5 minutes, albeit having played just 18 games.

Anthony Martial is next on the list, scoring 55 Premier League goals in 167 matches (209.44), followed by Marcus Rashford (221.62) and Mason Greenwood (247.45).

Joel Embiid confessed he thought his season was done after returning from a 10-game injury lay-off in the Philadelphia 76ers' 122-113 beating of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Last month, Embiid crumbled to the floor after his leg buckled during the third quarter of the 76ers' beating of the Washington Wizards.

Fortunately for Embiid and Philadelphia the issue was not as bad as he first feared and he has been recovering from bone bruising to his left knee.

The team rallied in his absence by going 7-3 in that timeframe and Embiid reflected on that night in Washington.

"When I got hurt, and was laying on the floor in Washington, honestly, I thought I was done," Embiid said.

"I thought my season was done. The pain, how bad it was hurting, I just knew that it was something worse than we saw after.

"I was just crying and asking myself, 'Why me? Why does it always happen to me? When everything seems to be going well with the team and myself, something always has to happen'."

There were positives to take for Embiid, who finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and two assists in the win.

But there was, as perhaps you would expect, a little rust. By the end of the contest, he had four turnovers, was six for 14 from the field and missed with each of his four three-point attempts.

Embiid said part of the problem was the knee brace he was wearing and is confident his rhythm will return in time.

"Defensively, it's easy. I've got to just be myself. Block shots and protect the paint, not let anything get in there," he added. 

"But offensively, I'm going to kind of blame the brace I was wearing. It just felt like I just didn't have the rhythm all game. It felt like I had an itch on my shot, every single shot. It wasn't smooth.

"I had no rhythm. I hate the brace and that was part of it.

"I just have to get used to it, play with it and hope it keeps getting better. But offensively, I had way too many turnovers."

The 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets are neck and neck with 34-15 records in the Eastern Conference.

With the Premier League back following the international break, all eyes were set to be on the Emirates Stadium for a heavyweight clash between Arsenal and Liverpool.

Or, that's what the nostalgia of the Premier League wanted us to expect – the reality was rather different, as Arsenal's current status as Europa League-hopefuls at best was made brutally clear.

In fact, as it turned out, the day's most-compelling viewing came from elsewhere in London, as Chelsea suffered an abysmal home defeat by West Brom.

In the East Midlands, Manchester City took their customary step closer to the title, while Leeds United came out on top in an all-Yorkshire affair.

We have taken a look at all the best Opta facts from the four games.

Chelsea 2-5 West Brom: Blues bruised by Big Sam's Baggies in momentous defeat

It was a day to forget for Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea as their honeymoon period came to a bruising and humiliating end in a 5-2 home defeat by relegation-threated West Brom.

Chelsea did take the lead through Christian Pulisic, his first goal in 21 games across all competitions, but Thiago Silva's red card for two bookings in the 29th minute offered encouragement to West Brom.

Matheus Pereira's first-half stoppage-time brace – the goals separated by just two minutes and 46 seconds – put the Baggies in front, and Callum Robinson got a double of his own in the second period, becoming the first player in Premier League history to score at least twice home and away against Chelsea in a single campaign.

Mason Mount and Mbaye Diagne got the other goals, with Chelsea conceding five times in a home Premier League game for only the second time, the last being against Arsenal in October 2011.

Victory ensured Sam Allardyce became the first manager in Premier League history to win at Stamford Bridge with three clubs, while it was Tuchel's first defeat since replacing Frank Lampard in January.

The hard work starts here.

Leeds United 2-1 Sheffield United: Blades approaching new low

Sheffield United have looked doomed virtually all season – no win over Leeds United at this stage of the season was going to change that.

But in losing at Elland Road, it took them to 24 defeats in the league this term from 30 games – only twice in their entire history have they suffered more losses in a single campaign, 26 in 1975-76 and 2010-11, though on both occasions were from many more matches (42 and 46, respectively).

For Leeds, however, the win saw them complete a league double over their Yorkshire rivals for the first time since 1991-92 when they actually won the top-flight title.

While no one is expecting them to go close to repeating that title feat anytime soon, Saturday's visit of Blades did provide another reminder of the positivity Leeds have brought to the Premier League – it was the fifth time this term they have attempted at least 20 shots (23 this time) in a single game, with only Manchester City doing so more often (six).

Jack Harrison's opener was one of them, with the winger netting his seventh goal of the season to make this his best ever campaign in English football, while Raphinha teed him up to move on to a Leeds-high six assists in the Premier League in 2020-21.

They needed a helping hand, though. The seventh own goal of Phil Jagielka's career – only Richard Dunne (10) has more – proved decisive, making him the oldest outfield player (38 years, 229 days) to score in his own net in the top tier since Stuart Pearce in 2001 (38y, 252d).

Leicester City 0-2 Manchester City: Guardiola has the key to cleansheets

When you think about what Pep Guardiola the coach is associated with, 'tiki-taka', free-scoring teams and ball-playing centre-backs spring to mind immediately.

But now, perhaps we should add defensive solidity to that list?

Granted, Guardiola has coached great teams for the majority of his career, and they wouldn't usually have poor defensive records, but his runaway City side seems arguably one of his shrewdest ever.

After Saturday's 2-0 win at Leicester, who although third in the table were utterly subjugated, City have kept more clean sheets (28) and conceded fewer goals (26) in all competitions than any other side in Europe's top five leagues.

They prevented Leicester from mustering a single first-half shot for the first time in the league since December 2019 (against Liverpool), and the Foxes suffered just their third defeat in their last 17 top-flight outings.

Among the scorers for City was Gabriel Jesus, who continued his remarkable unbeaten run in games he's scored (41 – W39, D2), a record only James Milner (54) and Darius Vassell (46) can better.

It was the fifth league goal Jesus has managed against Leicester, making them his second-favourite opponent after Everton (seven goals against).

However, Sergio Aguero was unable to cross another stadium off his list. He's played four times at the King Power Stadium without scoring – only two other grounds has he a worse goalless record (eight games at Anfield, six at Selhurst Park). Following the announcement of his end-of-season departure, it seems Leicester have largely avoided his wrath.

Arsenal 0-3 Liverpool: Arteta questions mount with his record not standing up to Emery's

Mikel Arteta's 50th Premier League match as Arsenal coach was one to forget – though it feels like we could say the same thing about rather a lot of his previous 49 games.

Brought in as Arsenal attempted a hard restart, ushering in a new 'era' with fresh ideas, Arteta it was hoped would turn the Gunners back into title challengers, but it seems as though they're even further away from that than under much-maligned predecessor Unai Emery.

This was Arteta's 17th Premier League defeat, four more than Emery suffered in his first 50 games, and the game itself suggested there remains a significant gulf between Arsenal and a Liverpool side that is nowhere near what it was last season.

Nevertheless, it is true that Liverpool's issues have mostly been consigned to Anfield recently, with each of their last six league wins – including this one – coming away from home. This is only the second time they've ever achieved such a run, the first recording since 1955.

Perhaps results against Liverpool aren't the best barometer to measure Arsenal against given they've beaten the Reds once in their past 12 Premier League meetings.

But Arsenal appear to be treading water under Arteta, with their points-per-game dropping to 1.3 from 1.7 in his second 25 league matches in charge.

The Utah Jazz enjoyed a record-breaking performance as the NBA leaders crushed the lowly Orlando Magic 137-91.

Utah set an NBA record for three-pointers in a half – 18 in the first – en route to a ninth consecutive victory on Saturday.

Donovan Mitchell (22 points) made six-of-seven shots from three-point range for the Jazz, who finished with 26 threes in total.

The Jazz have now hit 25-plus threes on four occasions this season – only the 2018-19 Houston Rockets have achieved the feat in league history.

Joe Ingles (17 points) contributed five threes, while Bojan Bogdanovic (17 points) was four-of-six from beyond the arc in Utah, where the Jazz extended their franchise-best home winning streak to 22.

"This is one of those nights for us where we played really well, and we played the right way," said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. "We played a team that is going through a transition. That said, we were happy with the way we played and continue to emphasize our identity as a team."

In Philadelphia, All-Star and MVP candidate Joel Embiid returned from a 10-game absence to help the 76ers past the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-113.

Embiid had been sidelined since last month due to bone bruising in his left knee but made his long-awaited comeback against the Timberwolves, posting 24 points and eight rebounds.

Sixers team-mate Tobias Harris top-scored with 32 points as Philadelphia moved level with the idle Brooklyn Nets atop the Eastern Conference.

Karl-Anthony Towns' monster display of 39 points and 14 rebounds were not enough for the Timberwolves, who also had 27 points from Anthony Edwards.

 

Holiday fuels Giannis-less Bucks

With two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo absent due to left knee soreness, Jrue Holiday starred with a double-double of 33 points (a season high) and 11 assists to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 129-128 win at the Sacramento Kings. Milwaukee team-mate Donte DiVincenzo (12 points and 14 rebounds) also had a double-double.

Russell Westbrook's 26 points and 14 rebounds were not enough as the Washington Wizards were swept aside by the Dallas Mavericks 109-87.

The Miami Heat topped the Cleveland Cavaliers behind double-doubles from Bam Adebayo (18 points and 11 rebounds) and Jimmy Butler (15 points and 11 assists).

All-Star Julius Randle posted 20 of his 29 points in the first quarter to inspire the New York Knicks' 125-81 rout of the Detroit Pistons. The Knicks, who snapped a three-game skid, recorded their largest margin of victory since 1996.

 

Horror show for Thunder

It was a forgettable game for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were humbled 133-85 by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Thunder shot at just 35.3 per cent away to the Trail Blazers. Theo Maledon was one-of-12 shooting from the field, making just one of his seven three-point attempts for seven points in 22 minutes. Thunder team-mate Aleksej Pokusevski was three-of-13 from the field.

It was a similar story for Terrence Ross and the Magic. Ross was two of 11 from the field in 26 minutes off the bench.

 

Turner tames Spurs

Myles Turner was an immovable force during the closing stages, his defense thwarting the San Antonio Spurs as the Indiana Pacers prevailed 139-133 in overtime.

 

Saturday's results

Dallas Mavericks 109-87 Washington Wizards
New York Knicks 125-81 Detroit Pistons
Miami Heat 115-101 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 122-113 Minnesota Timberwolves
Indiana Pacers 139-133 San Antonio Spurs (OT)
Utah Jazz 137-91 Orlando Magic
Portland Trail Blazers 133-85 Oklahoma City Thunder
Milwaukee Bucks 129-128 Sacramento Kings

 

Lakers at Clippers

Bragging rights will be on the line when injury-hit defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers (31-18) face neighbours the Los Angeles Clippers (32-18) – who have dropped two straight games – on Sunday.

Imanol Alguacil expressed his immense pride after Real Sociedad conquered Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao to win their first Copa del Rey title since 1987.

Mikel Oyarzabal's second-half penalty secured a 1-0 victory over Athletic on Saturday in what was the first ever final between the two great rivals in their current guises.

The rescheduled 2020 decider was played 350 days later than initially planned in Seville due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oyarzabal settled the first all-Basque Copa del Rey showpiece since 1927 on an emotional night for head coach Imanol and La Real.

"As a manager, you can imagine I am very proud," Imanol told reporters. "I have a great feeling.

"This week, my uncle died from COVID. We received so many messages during these two weeks from all over Gipuzcoa.

"The suffering of my family, there are so many things. When I left yesterday, I was crying after receiving a video from my family members.

"There so many feelings. I am very happy, super proud to be the manager of this Real Sociedad that have made history, as we said yesterday.

"It would not have been possible without the support of the fans. Thanks to everybody."

"There so many emotions," he added. "I was in the third division with almost half of this squad four or five years ago fighting around the stadiums of Vizcaya.

"You can't imagine the emotion I can feel in this moment for being able to make the fans happy."

Oyarzabal has scored 89.5 per cent of his penalties taken for La Real in all competitions – only Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos (18) among LaLiga players has scored more penalties than him since the beginning of the 2018-19 season across all competitions (17, same as Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi).

"It's an incredible day," said a tearful Oyarzabal post-match.

"You remember everybody, all the people who would have loved to be here, people who have left us. This is for everyone, my family, my friends. It means everything."

It was another case of so close but yet so far for Athletic, who finished runners-up in the Copa del Rey for the fifth consecutive time, having also fallen short in 1985, 2009, 2012 and 2015.

Athletic equalled Madrid (five from 1918 to 1933) as the team to lose most consecutive finals in the competition's history, though Marcelino's men have the opportunity to snap that streak when they face Barca in the 2021 decider on April 17.

"I am not disappointed, because I was proud of the players I coach before the game, and I continue so. But obviously I am sad," head coach Marcelino said. "Especially, because we haven't been ourselves.

"When you far for your version, this can happen, the opponent in a specific action with not much superiority, although deserved overall, they win a title. So, we have to congratulate Real [Sociedad]. We have to assess calmy what we have to improve because we have one more option in 15 days."

Antonio Conte said Inter are ready to claim silverware this season after moving further clear atop the Serie A summit.

Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game as high-flying Inter edged Bologna 1-0 on Saturday to open up an eight-point lead.

Inter, who last won the Scudetto in 2010, have claimed nine consecutive league victories for the first time since 2007 to be clear of city rivals Milan with a match in hand.

Conte's Inter came close to hoisting a trophy aloft last season, beaten by Sevilla in the Europa League final, but the former Italy boss feels the Nerazzurri are better equipped for glory in 2020-21.

"Inevitably, as we get closer to the finish line, every victory weighs more and more," Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

"Winning in Bologna against a team that plays good football and presses you hard, that was certainly a big step forward. Bologna did very well, they have an excellent coach in Sinisa Mihajlovic and it wasn't easy.

"This was also a very long day for us, as we were in the hotel watching Milan's game at lunch, then I watched Sassuolo against Roma. Juventus played just before us, so I didn't see that one.

"It wasn't easy playing after everyone else, especially after international duty, but the lads kept their focus and the right spirit. It was not to be taken for granted.

"I told the lads, this is a victory that we must follow up with Sassuolo on Wednesday."

Inter are in the box seat with 10 matches remaining, but Conte added: "It cannot be a Scudetto celebration, because we have to earn that on the pitch and it needs to be mathematically certain. There are 10 games to go for us, nine for some others, and 27-30 points up for grabs.

"We know full well that Serie A is very difficult and every match is a battle to get the victory. The closer to we get to the finish line, the clearer we can see the prize at the end.

"Everyone is looking at that direction and we see it from a different angle to the others right now, but we still have it all to do. We've achieved nothing yet."

"I was called to Inter in order to change the narrative of the last few years," said Conte, who was appointed in 2019, having previously led Juventus to three consecutive titles. "The objective was in three years to either win or at least build something credible and make the Inter fans proud.

"Inevitably, a few things have changed since the start of this journey, but we must continue to focus only on our work. As I said, we must concentrate only on what we have the power to change. What happens off the field is of interest, obviously, but we cannot affect that."

Conte continued: "It would be marvellous to end a season that has not been easy for anyone by crowning it with a trophy. We went close last season with the Europa League Final, but this time I'm convinced we are more ready."

Inter are the third team in Serie A history to win each of the first nine games in the second half of the season, after Milan in 1989-90 (10) and Juventus in 2017-18 (nine). 

Former world number one Jordan Spieth has put himself in another great position to end his title drought after closing the Texas Open third round tied for the lead.

Spieth has not claimed a trophy since 2017, with the three-time major champion often struggling for form on the PGA Tour.

But no other player has more 54-hole lead/co-leads on Tour this season after American star Spieth earned his third on Saturday.

Spieth carded a five-under-par 67 to be level with Englishman Matt Wallace (67) atop the leaderboard at 12 under through three rounds at TPC San Antonio, where they are two strokes clear.

Texas Open runner-up in 2015, Spieth was either leader or co-leader at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am before finishing tied for fourth and third respectively this year.

Spieth, who is nine for 18 in his career converting to victory when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, was red-hot on the back nine, where he did not drop a shot – tallying five birdies, including his final two holes to join Wallace at the summit.

"I didn't feel like I had great control of the golf ball," Spieth said after birdieing five of his last seven holes. "I left the ball in the right spots when it was missed and really, I did a great job managing today."

Charley Hoffman – the 2016 winner – climbed 11 positions up to third and only two strokes behind Spieth and Wallace following his third-round 65.

Cameron Tringale lost his spot at the top of the leaderboard after shooting a 73 to be outright fourth and four shots adrift, while Anirban Lahiri (69) is a stroke further back heading into the final round.

Defending champion Corey Conners finds himself eight shots behind following a five-under-par 67 – a stroke better off than Rickie Fowler (69).

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said there is a "high probability" that Kevin Durant will make his long-awaited return this coming week.

Durant has been sidelined since February 13 due to a hamstring strain, which forced him to sit out last month's NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta.

The star-studded Nets have moved to the top of the Eastern Conference in the former MVP's absence – a half-game clear of the Philadelphia 76ers.

As the Nets prepare to face the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, Nash provided an update on Durant.

"I am not certain on Monday [against the New York Knicks]," Nash said. "I think it's an outside possibility, but I also couldn't say he's in any stretch probable for Monday.

"I think it's just wait and see. But it does look positive that this week sometime, there's a high probability he can return."

Durant is averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game for the Nets this season.

"I think a lot of first-year teams struggle to compete for a championship if for no other reason than that collective history and experience," Nash added. "So, that's something we have to accept and have to overcome."

Nets team-mate James Harden, meanwhile, remains on the sidelines with right hamstring tightness.

Harden will miss Sunday's clash with the Bulls, having sat out Thursday's win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Another former MVP, Harden has been averaging 25.9 points, 11.1 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game this season.

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid has been named in the starting five to face the Minnesota Timberwolves in his long-awaited return from a knee injury.

An NBA MVP candidate before suffering bone bruising in his left knee, Embiid has not played since the March 13 win over the Washington Wizards.

But Embiid will make his way back on to the court in Saturday's visit of the lowly Timberwolves (12-37), with the 76ers (33-15) only a half-game behind the Brooklyn Nets (34-15) in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid, who posted 23 points before exiting against Washington, is averaging a career-high 29.9 points per game in 2020-21.

The 27-year-old Embiid has also been averaging career highs in field-goal percentage (52.5) and three-point percentage (42.2).

Embiid scored 37 points in the previous meeting between the 76ers and Timberwolves this season on January 29 – Philadelphia winning 118-94.

Romelu Lukaku reflected on a "great moment" after reaching 20 Serie A goals for a second successive season, further vindicating his decision to join Inter.

Having initially seen his header turned onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Federico Ravaglia, Lukaku was able to tap home the rebound while stood on the line to secure Inter a 1-0 win at Bologna on Saturday.

The result – coupled with city rivals Milan only managing a draw at home to Sampdoria earlier in the day – means the Nerazzurri have moved eight points clear at the Serie A summit.

Lukaku's scoring feats have played a crucial role in helping Inter seize control of the title race, with the Belgian becoming only the seventh player to make it to 20 goals in back-to-back league campaigns in the club's history.

"I'm really happy with the win today; it was a complicated game. We took a big step and need to continue down this road," Lukaku – who was signed from Manchester United in 2019 – told Inter TV.

"It's a great moment for me - I made the right decision coming here.

"I'll do everything I can to help the team because I'm nobody without my team-mates. The group is the most important thing. We have our aim and need to keep this up."

Inter have a game in hand on their nearest rivals and having missed out on the Scudetto last season to Juventus, look primed to be crowned champions for the first time since 2010.

Antonio Conte's Inter were made to work hard for the victory by Bologna, who had more possession (55.9 per cent) and 12 attempts, albeit only two of those were on target.

For Lukaku, the result was a further demonstration of the strength within the team to cope in difficult situations, though insisted the job was still far from complete.

"We've all grown a lot. We deal with pressure better and turn it into positive energy," he said.

"This helps us on the pitch and we need to continue in this manner."

Inter have won nine league games in a row for the first time since 2007, when they set the all-time Serie A record by winning 17 on the spin.

They are next in action on Wednesday when Sassuolo visit San Siro.

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