Jordi Alba leapt to the defence of Spain coach Luis Enrique after La Roja suffered their first World Cup qualifying defeat since 1993 at the hands of Sweden on Thursday.

In what was their first game since losing to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 semi-finals, Spain were in Stockholm hoping to go top of Group B on the road to Qatar 2022.

It was initially going well too, as Carlos Soler opened his account less than four minutes into his international debut as he turned in an Alba delivery.

But the Valencia midfielder made an error almost straight after the restart and Alexander Isak netted from 20 yards, meaning Spain's lead lasted just 63 seconds.

Viktor Claesson got the winner for Sweden in the second half, producing a cleverly disguised finish after inventive play by Dejan Kulusevski, with Spain's late pressure coming to nothing.

In the end, Spain – who had 75 per cent of the ball – finished with an expected goals value of 2.2 to Sweden's 0.6, highlighting the lack of decisiveness shown by La Roja in front of goal compared to their hosts.

Alba does not believe a major re-think is required for Luis Enrique, though he accepts Spain now have to be faultless if they are to usurp Sweden atop Group B given they are now two points adrift having played a game more than Janne Andersson's men.

"As in all matches, when you win or lose, you have to improve," he told Teledeporte. "The ideas of ​​the coach have been very good since he arrived and the players are taking to it perfectly. We have to improve as in all games, but we are doing a good job.

"It's clear we still have a lot to do. We have no margin for error. Today we have lost and there are still difficult games to be won.

"We have done things well, they have had their chances, they have put them in and we must continue to improve and do the job that the coach asks of us.

"We didn't deserve to lose. We had a very good first half, it's just a shame that after our goal they scored their goal in the next play.

"In the second half they waited for their strengths [counterattacks] and they did very well. We have no margin for error, we must win every game; we had that idea from the beginning, but now more than ever."

Luis Enrique echoed his left-back's sentiments and stressed Spain did not play poorly in general, though he rued a lack of success in midfield duels as well as Sweden's success in transition, with the pace and ability of Kulusevski and Isak routinely threatening the defence.

"It was not a bad game, there was ambition, good positioning, we have created many chances but we have lost many duels in midfield," he added.

"And with the transitions they have done us a lot of damage. We have lost many duels and they have generated more transitions than in the last ten games."

Australia made it nine World Cup qualifying wins in a row on the road to Qatar 2022 with a straightforward 3-0 triumph over China at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. 

The Socceroos finished top of their group in the previous round and made a winning start to the third qualifying stage thanks to goals from Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and substitute Mitchell Duke. 

China had won their previous four qualifiers and managed to restrict their opponents to minimal opportunities in the opening quarter of the contest on neutral territory. 

But Mabil acrobatically volleyed home to give Australia the breakthrough – the goal allowed to stand despite a high boot from the winger – and Boyle fired in a second from the edge of the box less than two minutes later. 

Graham Arnold's side had a penalty shout for handball turned down, but they had a third goal that their dominance deserved with 70 minutes on the clock. 

Duke was on hand to tap home after Mabil was denied from one of his five shots on target – the joint-most of any player in a game in the 2022 Asian World Cup qualifiers – as he scored just 59 seconds after being introduced off the bench. 

That was the fastest any substitute has scored in the Asian qualifiers since Tana Chanabut for Thailand after 36 seconds against the United Arab Emirates in October 2016.

Italy extended their unbeaten run to a record-equalling 35 games despite being held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Bulgaria in Florence on Thursday. 

The Azzurri, who last lost a game in September 2018, matched the European mark set by Spain despite being far from their best in the Group C clash - their first outing since overcoming England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final. 

Federico Chiesa gave Roberto Mancini’s men the lead with a powerful finish in the 16th minute, but Atanas Iliev restored parity before half-time. 

Although Italy were unable to find a winner and maintain their 100 per cent start in Group C, they can still make history by avoiding defeat away to Switzerland in their next qualifier on Sunday. 

Lorenzo Insigne had a great chance to open the scoring in the 12th minute but, after being played in by a fortunate ricochet, he was unable to guide his shot past Georgi Georgiev. 

After Kiril Despodov missed the target with Bulgaria’s first decent effort, Chiesa dribbled in off the right and lashed an excellent drive into the bottom-right corner to put Italy in front. 

Georgiev did well to keep out a powerful attempt from Ciro Immobile and Bulgaria surprisingly equalised in the 39th minute when Iliev got in front of Francesco Acerbi to turn home Despodov’s pass. 

Insigne failed to take another good opening before half-time, while Immobile rounded Georgiev but was unable to convert from a tight angle three minutes after the restart. 

Italy were back on top but a strong hand from Georgiev stopped Chiesa clipping home a second after spinning away from his marker in the 62nd minute. 

The Bulgaria keeper made another fine stop to thwart Immobile from close range and the Azzurri had to settle for a point.

What does it mean? History on Italy’s side  

Italy will of course be keen to make it 36 games unbeaten against Switzerland at the weekend. Not only would it be a new European best, it would equal the world record set by Brazil between 1993 and 1996.  

History suggests a loss in Switzerland would not have to be a bad thing, though. Spain’s 35-game streak came to an end against the United States in 2009, less than a year before they lifted the World Cup for the first time in their history. 

Ballon d’Jorginho  

Jorginho is considered a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or after winning the Champions League with Chelsea and Euro 2020 with Italy last season. His display was of the quality you would expect from such a player, with the midfielder creating four chances while 89 of his 125 total successful passes took place in the opposition half. 

King Georgiev 

Italy would have been comfortably out of sight midway through the second half had it not been for Georgiev. The Bulgaria keeper made seven saves in total, with the pick of the bunch coming from second-half efforts courtesy of Chiesa and Immobile.  

What’s next?  

Italy’s historic night could come against Switzerland in Basel on Sunday, while Bulgaria will be hoping to score their first Group C win against Lithuania. 

Germany enjoyed a comfortable start to life under Hansi Flick as they ran out 2-0 winners over minnows Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifying Group J. 

Following a trophy laden 18-month stint at Bayern Munich, Flick replaced long-serving Germany coach Joachim Low after Euro 2020. 

Liechtenstein's goal lived a charmed life throughout on Thursday, with it taking until the 41st minute for Timo Werner to break the deadlock. 

The scoreline would have reflected Germany's dominance if not for Liechtenstein's goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel, yet Leroy Sane capped a fine individual display with a terrific strike to ensure there was no chance of a shock comeback. 

Two of Flick's former Bayern players combined in the fourth minute, Sane teeing up Joshua Kimmich, who saw his on-target strike blocked. 

Sane swiftly crafted another chance – Buchel making a fine stop to deny Werner – before Robin Gosens headed Kimmich's wonderful cross against the left-hand upright. 

Germany's opener finally came with their 12th attempt of a one-sided contest, Werner slotting home from Jamal Musiala's flick after a brilliant run from the Bayern youngster.  

Buchel somehow denied Germany a second before the hour, making a fantastic double save to keep out close-range efforts from both Gosens and Ilkay Gundogan. 

Gosens finally seemed set to get his goal with a blistering strike that was destined for the top corner, yet Daniel Kaufmann's brave block summed up a stoic defensive effort from Liechtenstein. 

Their resolve was finally punctured again in the 77th minute by Sane's brilliance, however, as the winger set himself up with some neat footwork before drilling a low finish across Buchel, emphatically making sure of the victory for new boss Flick. 

 

What does it mean? Easy does it for Hansi 

The short trip to Liechtenstein was never likely to present too many issues for Germany, though a stunning defeat would hardly have been the way Flick wished to start his reign. 

Germany, who are second in the group, barely got out of first gear, so there cannot be too many judgements made based on this display. Still, Flick will want his team to be more clinical in future. They ended the game with 85.3 per cent possession and had 30 attempts, albeit just seven were on target, so cannot truly be pleased with only the two goals. 

Buchel keeps things respectable  

With no points and 12 goals conceded from their first four games, there is no doubting Liechtenstein's place as the whipping boys in the group. 

Yet their goalkeeper can come out of this match with his head held high. Buchel made four saves, including a truly excellent stop from Gundogan in the 58th minute – a chance which registered an expected goals (xG) value of 0.51, making it the second-best opportunity of the match after Werner's opener. 

Sane returns to form in style 

It has been a difficult start to the season at Bayern for Sane, who was substituted off at half-time in Julian Nagelsmann's first competitive home game in charge last month. 

However, playing in his preferred position on the left, the former Manchester City winger had plenty of joy on duty for his country. He created a game-leading four chances, all of which were missed by his team-mates, before slamming in a deserved goal for himself. 

What's next? 

Germany host Group J leaders Armenia in Flick's first home game at the helm, while Liechtenstein face Romania, with both matches taking place on Sunday. 

England claimed a comprehensive 4-0 victory in Hungary in their first match since the Euro 2020 final, taking a giant stride towards 2022 World Cup qualification.

Goals from Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Declan Rice gave the Three Lions a fourth win in four in this campaign as they aim to move on from July's Wembley heartbreak against Italy.

An England side showing only one change from that penalty shoot-out defeat – Jack Grealish in for Kieran Trippier – dictated play in Budapest, but had to bide their time.

Sterling took his chance early in the second half, though, and Gareth Southgate's men were comfortable thereafter, the outing only marred by objects thrown from the home supporters during England's celebrations as they moved five points clear at the top of Group I.

England had waited until the 50th minute for their first clear-cut opportunity, which Kane then uncharacteristically squandered, scuffing his finish and allowing Peter Gulacsi to block after an incisive Kyle Walker pass.

But the visitors soon carved Hungary open again and Sterling was less forgiving, steering into the bottom-right corner from Mason Mount's cutback.

And there was no way back for Hungary when Mount and Sterling combined again and the latter's driven cross deflected off Attila Szalai onto the head of Kane, who this time did not disappoint.

Gulacsi was able to deny Kane again as Grealish led a counter on the left, but the goalkeeper was less impressive moments later as Maguire's header squirmed into the net, further rewarding a patient first-half display.

A bizarre display from Gulacsi was complete when he recovered a tame Sterling finish after the forward had set up an open goal and then blocked once more from the profligate Kane, only to let Rice's straightforward shot beneath him.

Spain suffered their first defeat in 90 minutes since October 2020 as Sweden came from behind to emerge 2-1 victors at the Friends Arena and take control of Group B in World Cup qualifying. 

The two sides drew 0-0 during Euro 2020 but in front of a vibrant home support, Sweden were far more of a threat going forward this time, with star duo Dejan Kulusevski and Alexander Isak playing decisive roles. 

Isak got the swift equaliser after Carlos Soler netted a debut goal early on in a largely enjoyable but undramatic first half. 

The second period was considerably more exhilarating, and it was fine work by Kulusevski that created Viktor Claesson's winner, which leaves Sweden top of the group with nine points, two clear of Spain who have also played a game more. 

Soler's international career was less than four minutes old when he turned in Jordi Alba's pinpoint delivery at the end of a flowing move, but their lead lasted only 63 seconds. 

An error by Soler in the Spain midfield allowed Isak to seize possession and he clinically found the bottom-right corner from 20 yards. 

Spain predictably dominated possession but did not create any other clear-cut chances before the break, while at the other end they needed Unai Simon alert as he blocked Kulusevski's effort from a tight angle in the 36th minute. 

Sweden had a lucky escape just after the restart, Robin Olsen saving from point-blank range when Filip Helander diverted a Cesar Azpilicueta cross towards his own goal. 

They soon made the most of that let-off by going 2-1 up. 

Kulusevski beat Eric Garcia on the left and pulled a wonderful pass back to the centre of the box for Claesson, whose disguised finish found the bottom-left corner. 

Spain piled the pressure on in the final stages, substitute Adama Traore particularly lively on the right, but ultimately Sweden held on for a deserved victory. 

Italy extended their unbeaten run to a record-equalling 35 games despite being held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Bulgaria in Florence on Thursday. 

European champions Italy, who last lost a game in September 2018, matched the mark set by Spain and Brazil despite being far from their best in the Group C clash - their first outing since overcoming England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final. 

Federico Chiesa gave Roberto Mancini’s men the lead with a powerful finish in the 16th minute, but Atanas Iliev restored parity before half-time. 

Although Italy were unable to find a winner and maintain their 100 per cent start in Group C, they can still make history by avoiding defeat away to Switzerland in their next qualifier on Sunday. 

Lorenzo Insigne had a great chance to open the scoring in the 12th minute but, after being played in by a fortunate ricochet, he was unable to guide his shot past Georgi Georgiev. 

After Kiril Despodov missed the target with Bulgaria’s first decent effort, Chiesa dribbled in off the right and lashed an excellent drive into the bottom-right corner to put Italy in front. 

Georgiev did well to keep out a powerful attempt from Ciro Immobile and Bulgaria surprisingly equalised in the 39th minute when Iliev got in front of Francesco Acerbi to turn home Despodov’s pass. 

Insigne failed to take another good opening before half-time, while Immobile rounded Georgiev but was unable to convert from a tight angle three minutes after the restart. 

Italy were back on top but a strong hand from Georgiev stopped Chiesa clipping home a second after spinning away from his marker in the 62nd minute. 

The Bulgaria keeper made another fine stop to thwart Immobile from close range and the Azzurri had to settle for a point.

Germany enjoyed a comfortable start to life under Hansi Flick as they ran out 2-0 winners over minnows Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifying Group J. 

Following a trophy laden 18-month stint at Bayern Munich, Flick replaced long-serving Germany coach Joachim Low after Euro 2020. 

Liechtenstein's goal lived a charmed life throughout on Thursday, with it taking until the 41st minute for Timo Werner to break the deadlock. 

The scoreline would have reflected Germany's dominance if not for Liechtenstein's goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel, yet Leroy Sane capped a fine individual display with a terrific strike to ensure there was no chance of a shock comeback. 

Two of Flick's former Bayern players combined in the fourth minute, Sane teeing up Joshua Kimmich, who saw his on-target strike blocked. 

Sane swiftly crafted another chance – Buchel making a fine stop to deny Werner – before Robin Gosens headed Kimmich's wonderful cross against the left-hand upright. 

Germany's opener finally came with their 12th attempt of a one-sided contest, Werner slotting home from Jamal Musiala's flick after a brilliant run from the Bayern youngster.  

Buchel somehow denied Germany a second before the hour, making a fantastic double save to keep out close-range efforts from both Gosens and Ilkay Gundogan. 

Gosens finally seemed set to get his goal with a blistering strike that was destined for the top corner, yet Daniel Kaufmann's brave block summed up a stoic defensive effort from Liechtenstein. 

Their resolve was finally punctured again in the 77th minute by Sane's brilliance, however, as the winger set himself up with some neat footwork before drilling a low finish across Buchel, emphatically making sure of the victory for new boss Flick. 

Romelu Lukaku's double helped Belgium recover from an early setback in Tallinn as they saw off Estonia 5-2 to retain top spot in their World Cup qualifying group.

The Red Devils fell behind for the third time in four Group E matches when Mattias Kait fired the hosts – ranked 110 in the world – into a shock lead inside two minutes at A. Le Coq Arena.

But Belgium, in action for the first time since their Euro 2020 quarter-final loss to Italy, replied before the half-hour mark through a Hans Vanaken header and Lukaku's clinical finish.

Lukaku doubled his tally early in the second half and further goals followed from Axel Witsel and substitute Thomas Foket as Roberto Martinez's side made it three wins and a draw from their first four qualifying fixtures, despite Erik Sorga netting a late consolation for Estonia.

Estonia had won their previous three matches and found themselves ahead early on when Kait turned over possession, carried the ball forward and rifled a shot away from Thibaut Courtois.

Belgium soon found their rhythm and were on level terms 20 minutes later thanks to Vanaken, who added to the two goals scored in the 8-0 win over Belarus last time out in qualifying with a headed equaliser from five yards out.

Lukaku then profited from some poor home defending to fire Martinez's men in front, the prolific striker picking his spot after Karol Mets' clearance hit team-mate Vladislav Kreida and fell into his path.

Alexis Saelemaekers went close to extending Belgium's lead with a shot that crashed back off the frame of the goal, but they did not have to wait much longer for their third as Lukaku worked a yard of space and curled the ball past Karl Hein.

Witsel tapped in from close range following some excellent work from Yannick Carrasco, who also played a superb pass over the top for Foket – introduced from the bench 10 minutes earlier – to ghost in behind for Belgium's fifth.

Another substitute in Sorga pulled one back for Estonia seven minutes from time, but Belgium were already home and dry by that point.

Chris Woakes made an instant impact on his return as England bowled India out for 191, only for Joe Root to fall late on as the visitors fought back on a frantic day one of the fourth Test. 

England levelled the five-match series at 1-1 with a resounding innings victory at Headingley last weekend after bowling their opponents out for only 78 on the first day. 

India struggled with the bat again after being put in by Root at The Oval on Thursday, captain Virat Kohli falling for 50 as they collapsed to 127-7. 

The recalled Shardul Thakur (57) blasted the fastest Test half-century ever made in England, reaching the landmark off just 31 balls, before India were all out in the 62nd over after the final three wickets fell for one run. 

Jasprit Bumrah (2-15) dismissed Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed to reduce England to 6-2 in a brilliant opening spell and Umesh Yadav struck a huge blow by bowling the in-form Root (21). 

England reached 53-3 at stumps - trailing by 138 - with Dawid Malan unbeaten on 26 and nightwatchman Craig Overton (one not out) ensuring no further damage was done. 

Woakes took 4-55 in his first Test for just over a year, including seeing the back of Rohit Sharma with a peach of a delivery in his first over. 

He also dismissed Ravindra Jadeja, promoted to number five in the order, and was gifted a further wicket when Rishabh Pant was caught at mid-off trying to hit over the top. Thakur was his final victim, though not before playing a potentially crucial cameo. 

Kohli showed his class with some glorious drives before he edged a great delivery from Ollie Robinson (3-38) through to Jonny Bairstow, who took four catches on his return to wicketkeeping duties with Jos Buttler absent.

James Anderson and Overton also took a wicket apiece in another relentless performance from the England attack. 

Bumrah was run out by Burns without facing a ball in a chaotic end to the India innings, but Kohli's men hit back impressively in the final session.

 

WOAKES MAKES UP FOR LOST TIME 

Woakes had not played for his country in the longest format since last August and he made up for lost time having recovered from a heel injury. 

Pant's latest rush of blood to the head gifted Woakes a third wicket and although he took some treatment from Thakur, the seamer had the last laugh when he ended his entertaining knock thanks to a well-judged review. 

THAKUR TAKES HIS CHANCE 

Thakur - recalled along with Umesh as Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma missed out - was another to make his mark, producing a swashbuckling knock after striding to the crease with his team in big trouble. 

He was dismissed without scoring in the first match at Test Bridge but went on the attack to give India some hope as he dominated a much-needed eighth-wicket stand of 63 in just eight overs, hitting three sixes and seven fours in a dramatic hour at the crease, during which he faced only 36 balls. 

Avishka Fernando's third ODI century set Sri Lanka on course for a 14-run win in the opener of their three-match series against South Africa.

The Proteas were always fighting a losing battle in Colombo after allowing Sri Lanka to make 300-9 – their highest total in 50-over cricket in 2021.

Avishka (118) was the star with the bat, putting on 79 in a partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva (44) that was disrupted briefly by a rain delay, with better to come as he was joined in the middle by Charith Asalanka (72).

That stand of 97 for the fourth wicket put Sri Lanka in command, as a bowling attack led by Kagiso Rabada (2-66) struggled to keep them in check.

South Africa were no more than steady in reply and keenly felt the dismissal of Aiden Markram to an outstanding Wanindu Hasaranga catch after 96 runs, including four sixes.

Captain Temba Bavuma had already retired hurt after taking a blow to his hand, and Rassie van der Dussen's departure preceded some superb death bowling to see Sri Lanka comfortably over the line – the Proteas short of their target on 286-6.

Profitable partnership

With the exception of Keshav Maharaj, who gave up 30 runs in 10 overs for his most economical ODI return, South Africa's bowlers were really poor. But Avishka and Asalanka still had to capitalise and did exactly that with a vital partnership that scored at 8.19 an over.

Denied at the death

South Africa required 41 off 25 when Van der Dussen departed, yet they mustered only two more boundaries – both fours from Rabada in the final over when the chase was up. Hasaranga started well and finished strongly, too, slowing Heinrich Klaasen in giving up just three from the 47th over.

Antoine Griezmann is relishing his return "home" after Atletico Madrid rescued him from Barcelona, with Diego Simeone set to be a big winner if the Frenchman rediscovers his best form.

The transfer window was closing when Atletico dashed in to snatch Griezmann, as Saul Niguez's move to Chelsea cleared space in coach Simeone's squad for a major arrival.

Griezmann said he was sad not to play regularly in front of a packed Camp Nou during his time at Barcelona, with the pandemic putting paid to that prospect.

That message came in a goodbye note to Barcelona supporters on Wednesday, but on Thursday he had his eye on the challenge ahead.

"Looking forward to coming home," Griezmann wrote on Twitter, replying after Atletico announced he would inherit Saul's number eight shirt.

He has joined on an initial loan with a reported obligation to buy for €40million after spending just two years at Camp Nou, with Barcelona having paid €120million to sign Griezmann, one of a string of big-money deals that proved poor value for the Blaugrana's money.

Griezmann never managed to recapture his best form in Catalonia, but Simeone will have scooped a bargain if the forward's prime performances return.

 

WHAT COULD THIS HOMECOMING BRING ATLETICO?

With Barca, Griezmann started 66 games in LaLiga but was substituted off 37 times, with the changes of coach from Ernesto Valverde to Quique Setien and then Ronald Koeman hardly encouraging stability.

During his first stint at Atletico, he started 168 times in the league and was taken off on just 68 occasions, an indication Simeone resoundingly backed his ability.

That faith would stem primarily from the fact only Lionel Messi (176), Cristiano Ronaldo (134 from 2014-18) and Luis Suarez (131) scored more LaLiga goals than Griezmann's haul of 94 during his five-year stay at Atletico. Before that, he was a regular scorer in LaLiga for Real Sociedad, whom he helped earn promotion in the 2009-10 season.

Yet there was much more to Griezmann's game in his first Atletico spell than goals, with his hard work meaning he fitted the bill for the club's taskmaster Argentine coach.

A remarkable 651 ball recoveries in five seasons was the highest total achieved by any forward in the league (Iker Muniain second on 551), but at Barcelona he was only 11th on the list in that department for the combined two years and two months he spent with the Catalan giants.

He was top five for assists (32) among all LaLiga forwards while at Atletico, got his 88 non-penalty league goals from an expected goals (xG) haul of 68.41, showing how clinical he was, while he also ranked in the top three for Opta-defined 'big chances' created (56).

His shot conversion rate was a healthy 21.2 per cent, which fell away to 16.9 per cent while at Barcelona, where his lacklustre display against Getafe last weekend suggested it was indeed time to move on.

At Atletico, he is set to team up with Suarez, his former Barcelona team-mate whose acquisition last year proved a stimulus for the Rojiblancos' title charge.

And in a quirk of fate, Griezmann could make his return to Atletico action back in Barcelona, at Espanyol on September 12.

By scoring for France on Wednesday, albeit fortuitously against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Griezmann was again making a nuisance of himself at a high level, which is where Atletico find themselves after winning LaLiga last term.

And as much as he is "looking forward to coming home", it remains to be seen whether the scars of an acrimonious exit have healed.

Kimi Raikkonen says he "wouldn't change a single thing" about his Formula One career and does not expect to miss racing once he retires at the end of the season. 

The 2007 world champion announced on Wednesday that this will be his final campaign. 

Finn Raikkonen made his debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix and has gone on to start a record 341 races, winning 21 and finishing on the podium 103 times. 

The 41-year-old Alfa Romeo driver insists he will walk away with no regrets. 

Asked what his biggest strength as a driver is, he said: "I don't know if I have one! I had a good run, I'm happy with what I achieved. 

"Obviously you want to win and it's not easy to win. I wanted to win a championship, I got close quite a few times and managed to win it with Ferrari, so happy that it happened, especially with them. 

"But the rest, strength or not strength, I don't care. I had fun and I did it my way, and I wouldn't change a single thing even if I could, because otherwise then maybe we wouldn't be sitting here today if you changed one thing along the way. No complaints – I cannot really complain." 

Raikkonen has not thought about what comes next – and is certainly in no rush to commit to anything other than his family. 

He said: "No plans. I don't want to have some schedule put on, because obviously the last 18, 19 years in F1, since I started, I did rally in those two years [away from F1 in 2010 and 2011], there was always a schedule, always what is coming next and what is this date and that date. So I don't want that. 

"That's for sure one of the big reasons why I want to also do something else. Obviously, there's other schedules: family, the kids' schools and kindergartens and that stuff. 

"But I don't want the family life to be dictated by when is the next race or test or flight or next work. I'm not in a rush, and I've not even thought about it at all. 

"Obviously I've known this situation for quite a while, so there's always obviously opportunities to do this or do that, but right now I'm not interested to even think about it." 

He added: "Will I miss the racing? I don't know. I've done it so long that I doubt that I'll start to miss it that much." 

Christian Vieri thinks Juventus should have pushed the boat out to try and sign Mauro Icardi rather than bring Moise Kean back to the Allianz Stadium.

Kean returned to Juve from Everton ahead of the transfer deadline on a two-year loan deal following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, who sensationally joined Manchester United.

Italy striker Kean, who Juve have an obligation to buy, scored 13 goals in 26 Ligue 1 games during his loan spell at Paris Saint-Germain last season and is back in Turin two years after joining the Toffees.

Former Bianconeri striker Vieri believes Juve ought to have tried to lure Argentina international Icardi from PSG.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Before Ronaldo left, I had said that Juventus' attack is stronger.

"Juve were stronger. Now, I put Inter in front. Cristiano's 25 to 30 goals are gone, those who said it wasn't going well will be happy. When Ronaldo leaves, there are no better options.

"But someone else must score the goals he scored. I don't think Kean will be able to get that many, but I think it's right to give him a whole championship to judge him.

"Icardi is someone who plays little for the team, but he's a finisher by trade, it's easy for him to score 20 goals. Since there's a need for those 20 goals, maybe I would have done more to get him.

"But in the market, it's not always possible to do what seems best."

Icardi has scored 21 goals in 43 Ligue 1 games for PSG, providing five assists.

 

Gerrit Cole helped end the New York Yankees' four-game skid with 15 strikeouts in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the MLB on Wednesday.

Cole struck out Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani three times in a commanding display across seven innings on the hill, allowing only four hits.

The Yankees pitcher's 15 strikeouts are tied for the second most in a game without a walk in Yankees history. It was Cole's fifth game with 12 or more strikeouts this season.

Cole becomes only the third player this season to have 15 Ks in a game after Corbin Burnes on August 11 against the Chicago Cubs and Jacob de Grom on April 23 against the Washington Nationals.

The 30-year-old right-hander's starring display came at a crucial time for the Yankees who had won 13 straight before their four-game skid, which he ended in the final game of their nine-game road trip.

Leading 3-1 in the eighth inning, Aaron Judge homered for the 30th time this season to seal the win.

Yankees general manager Aaron Boone said: "He’s obviously had some really good ones in his career and certainly with us the last two seasons. That for me was up there. That was a guy in control, I felt like a step ahead of those guys all day."

 

Rays' hot streak halted by Red Sox

The Tampa Bay Rays' nine-game winning streak was halted by the Boston Red Sox 3-2 despite rookie Wander Franco continuing his on-base run, with the result having implications in the wildcard race.

Franco delivered a two-run homer from Chris Sale to put the Rays 2-1 up at the top of the third inning but the Red Sox replied with a Christian Vasquez's solo shot in the seventh to tie it up.

With Boston at bat in the ninth inning with two on, Jarren Duran hit into right field and Rafael Devers touched down to clinch the Red Sox win.

The win keeps the Red Sox (76-59) hot on the heels of the Yankees (77-56) but it also opens a gap on the Oakland Athletics (73-60) who lost 8-6 to the Detroit Tigers.

Miguel Cabrera homered for the Tigers before a crucial RBI when scores were tied at 6-6.

The Los Angeles Dodgers moved into top spot in the National League (NL) West for the first time in months as they secured a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Max Scherzer tossed six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts before the Braves squared it 3-3, with AJ Pollock's low single allowing Justin Turner to get home for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

The San Francisco Giants suffered their fourth straight defeat, going down 5-2 to the Milwaukee Brewers, with the Dodgers jumping above them in the NL West.

The Seattle Mariners completed a shut-out of the Houston Astros to stay in the wildcard hunt with a 1-0 win.

 

Darvish's woes continue

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Yu Darvish had a tough time on the mound in his side's 8-3 loss to the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks piled on six runs in the third inning as Darvish was pulled. The Padres pitcher allowed eight hits, one walk and five earned runs.

 

Edman's flying catch

St Louis Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman went flying beyond the netting and into the front row of the stands as he took an amazing catch from Tyler Stephenson in his side's 12-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Edman hustled 120 feet, leaping over the tarp, to make the catch.

 

Wednesday's results 

St Louis Cardinals 5-4 Cincinnati Reds
Colorado Rockies 9-5 Texas Rangers
Arizona Diamondbacks 8-3 San Diego Padres
Seattle Mariners 1-0 Houston Astros
Cincinnati Reds 12-2 St Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees 4-1 Los Angeles Angels
Boston Red Sox 3-2 Tampa Bay Rays
Detroit Tigers 8-6 Oakland Athletics
Chicago White Sox 6-3 Pittsburgh Pirates
Cleveland Indians 5-3 Kansas City Royals
Chicago Cubs 3-0 Minnesota Twins
Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 San Francisco Giants 
Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 Atlanta Braves

 

A's at Tigers

The wildcard permutations will continue to evolve when the Athletics take on the Tigers again to round out their three-game series.

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