Josh Allen has agreed a six-year contract extension with the Buffalo Bills reportedly worth $258million with $150m guaranteed.

The deal will keep Allen tied to the Bills through the 2028 season and will see him average an annual salary of $43m.

Buffalo traded up to select Allen with the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft, making the bet that his outstanding athletic gifts would translate to NFL success despite concerns over his accuracy.

That looked a questionable move over the first two years of his career, despite a playoff appearance in the 2019 season.

However, Allen took a spectacular leap forward in 2020, leading the Bills on a run to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Having failed to complete 60 per cent of his passes in 2018 or 2019, Allen posted a completion percentage of 69.2 in 2020, throwing for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Allen's completion percentage, passing yardage and passing touchdowns all marked single-season records for the Bills. He also set franchise records for 300-yard games (8) and total touchdowns (46).

Per Stats Perform data, Allen was the seventh-best quarterback in the NFL when it came to delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball. He recorded a well-thrown percentage of 80.5 and was ninth in air yards per attempt among quarterbacks with at least 200 passes, averaging 8.92.

Yet the Bills were ultimately second-best to the Chiefs by a wide margin, losing 38-24 in the AFC title game. Buffalo start their campaign to go one better in 2021 with a Week 1 encounter against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 12.

The British and Irish Lions lock horns with South Africa once more in Saturday's decider, with the Test series on the line at 1-1 as it boils down to the final game.

The Lions battled to a 22-17 opening victory but will now have to lick their wounds and respond to the heavy 27-9 defeat that the Springboks inflicted in Cape Town last Saturday.

While Warren Gatland's men eye a first series win on South African soil since 1997 in the winner-takes-all showdown, the Boks are also aiming to piece together consecutive series successes over the tourists for the first time since 1962-1968.

Each of Gatland's three Lions series have gone to the wire, though it will be a tough task to bounce back from South Africa's comeback victory last time out.

Having suffered an 18-point loss, the Lions head coach has made a host of changes, bringing in front-row forwards Ken Owens and Wyn Jones alongside scrum-half Ali Price, full-back Liam Williams, wing Josh Adams and centre Bundee Aki.

Despite Gatland's changes tailoring to the pre-existing strategy of matching their opponents physically, attack coach Gregor Townsend insisted creativity would be the key to overcoming Siya Kolisi's reigning world champions.

"If you create opportunities, you have more chance of winning the game," Townsend said. "You may create more through pressure. We know we have to control the game more by moving South Africa around, draining them of energy whenever we can."

The introduction of Finn Russell, who Townsend explained "can ask different questions than any fly-half in the world," on the bench for Owen Farrell may offer the tourists that.

The Boks, in contrast, make just the two enforced changes. Pieter-Steph du Toit and Faf de Klerk miss out through injury, opening up room for Lood de Jager and Cobus Reinach to start.

De Jager's arrival will force Franco Mostert into the back row role he filled after 55 minutes last time out. Indeed, Mostert's shift gained control of the lineout, ensuring the hosts won the remainder of the game 16-0.

 

Discipline key

The war of words between both camps, following Rassie Erasmus' remarkable campaign against the match officials, carried over onto the pitch in the second Test, yet Kyle Sinckler was the only player cited amid a hostile showing from both teams.

However, if the Lions are to succeed in the decider, they must remain composed in response to the Boks' contentious style of game management.

Gatland commented on the "stop-start" nature of the first two Tests but Courtney Lawes maintained his team "can't get too caught up in the niggle of stuff, scrapping."

"They can throw their handbags around, as long as we can get the ball out and play some rugby," the 32-year-old added.

Kolisi jumped to the defence of his side, who have been accused of time-wasting and suffocating games to their benefit, declaring: "If there are niggles we can't leave a man behind. That's our system and what we believe in."

 

Aerial bombardment

The Lions struggled under the high ball in the second Test and any chance of success for Gatland's men largely hangs on the aerial performances of their back three.

Duhan van der Merwe has endured a mixed tour so far, with a positive first outing and a fairly poor second showing. He is joined by Williams and Adams who will go head-to-head with key Springboks Willie le Roux and Makazole Mapimpi.

The latter battle between two try machines promises to be a thriller. Adams leads the Lions' scoring charts with eight tries in four appearances, though Mapimpi also boasts an impressive 15 in 16 internationals.

In response to the tourists' heaviest defeat since 2005, Gatland has rolled the dice in his selections and, if the Lions can get the ball in hand and play as opposed to battling themselves into the ground, they have a chance of legacy-making glory.

 

TEAMS

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach; Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Morne Steyn, Damian Willemse.

British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Adam Beard, Sam Simmonds, Conor Murray, Finn Russell, Elliot Daly.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Since 1962-1968, the past five series between the Lions and the Springboks have seen the winner alternate, with the hosts winning the most recent series in 2009.

- The Lions gained just 105 metres from 85 carries against South Africa in the second Test, their average gain of 1.24 metres per carry the lowest by a tier-one side in a Test match since Opta began recording such data in 2010.

- Both matches in this series have been won by the side trailing at the break; the Lions defeated the Springboks in the opener after outscoring them 19-5 in the second half, while in the second Test South Africa scored 21 unanswered points in the second 40 minutes.

- The Lions have lost just two series after winning the first Test (W10, D1) – against New Zealand in 1930 and Australia in 2001 – with the tourists winning four and drawing one of their five such series against South Africa. 

- Alun Wyn Jones is set to win his 12th Lions Test cap, joining Mike Gibson and Graham Price as the joint-fourth most capped player in Lions history, behind only Willie John McBride (17) and Dickie Jeeps (13).

- Damian de Allende has made 25 carries during the series, six more than any other player, gaining the most metres (76), as well as the most post-contact metres (67).

Andre Iguodala has confirmed he will return to the Golden State Warriors on a one-year deal and plans to end his career with the franchise he helped to three NBA titles.

Iguodala was a pivotal part of the Warriors' dynasty, which saw them reach five successive NBA Finals between 2015 and 2019 and win championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Having accepted the role of sixth man in the 2014-15 season, Iguodala moved into a more prominent position for the 2015 Finals, with his defense of LeBron James crucial to Golden State's 4-2 victory.

Iguodala was named 2015 Finals MVP and continued to have a significant influence on the Warriors' success thereafter.

The swingman shot 49.4 per cent from the field and 37.8 per cent from three-point range in the playoffs in 2018 when Golden State won their most recent title.

He produced the same field goal percentage in the 2019 postseason as the Warriors lost in the Finals to the Toronto Raptors, before then moving on to the Miami Heat and helping them reach the Finals in the NBA Bubble.

Iguodala's field goal percentage of 38.3 for the Heat last season was the worst of his time in the NBA, but while he admitted to pondering retirement this offseason, he is relishing the chance to bring the curtain down at the place where his career reached its zenith.

"Who would have thought I'd have the opportunity to go back to the place where I was able to have, whatever you want to call it, legacy years, in terms of the accomplishments, winning multiple championships, the relationships that I was able to build with some of my closest friends and teammates?" the 37-year-old told The New York Times. 

"The relationship with the fans, the relationship with the Bay, the opportunity to end it here, was just something special."

Iguodala will likely play a key role in mentoring the younger members of the Warriors' roster.

Golden State did not pull off the blockbuster draft-night trade many were anticipating, instead using picks 7 and 14 on two teenagers in Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. The Warriors used the second overall pick in 2020 on a center with just three games of college experience in James Wiseman, who showed flashes of his potential before a meniscus injury ended his rookie year.

While that trio will look to call on Iguodala's experience, he is hopeful he can still make an impact on the court perhaps even beyond the 2021-22 season.

"I think I've got some more time left," Iguodala said. "Where I'm comfortable at is I can decide when I'm ready to go.

"I think I want to leave with just a little bit left. I don't want to go out on one leg. I know I've got a few more years. It's just my decision whether it's one or two or three or whatever it may be. I shouldn't even say three. One or two."

Elaine Thompson-Herah completed a stunning sprint hat-trick at the Tokyo Olympics as Italy enjoyed further success on the track on Friday.

Having won both the 100m and 200m individual finals, Thompson-Herah was part of the impressive Jamaica team, alongside Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson and Briana Williams, that won the women’s 4x100m relay, finishing ahead of the United States.

No female athlete had been victorious in all three sprint events at a Games since American Florence Griffith Joyner back in 1988.

Thompson-Herah now has five Olympic golds in total, one behind Allyson Felix, who added to her collection with a bronze medal in a 400m race won convincingly by Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas.

After success in the 100m, Marcell Jacobs doubled his tally of golds from the Games as part of Italy’s 4x100m relay squad that pipped Great Britain on the line.

However, it was Filippo Tortu who ran an outstanding final leg for the Italians, seeing him edge out Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake on the line.

 

ITALIAN JOB SECURES MORE GOLD

Italy's relay triumph takes them up to five golds in athletics – they had never previously won more than three at a single Olympics. It is the first time they have made the podium in the 4x100m relay since a bronze in 1948.

"This is the year of Italy, this is our year," said a delighted Jacobs. "We won the Eurovision, we won the football European championships, we won five gold medals (in athletics)."

Also in Friday's action on the track, Joshua Cheptegei triumphed in the men's 5000m final while Faith Kipyegon claimed gold in the women's 1500m, with Sifan Hassan – who had won the 5000m – finishing third. She has a chance to claim another medal when running in the 10,000m on Saturday.

"I am very happy with my race. I tried my best, but I couldn't do more than this," Hassan said after her bid to complete an Olympic treble came to an end.

"I think, for me, the third place is good. There was a lot of wind at the stadium today and that is what made it difficult for me. I can't do anything about that, I just didn't have any more strength.

"For now, it is all about taking enough rest in order to be able to race again tomorrow."


KENNY KEEPS ADDING TO COLLECTION

Laura Kenny now has five Olympic gold medals after teaming up with Katie Archibald to win the madison for Great Britain.

The pair were dominant in the inaugural women's event, finishing up with 78 points. Denmark were a distant second on 35, with the Russian Olympic Committee taking bronze.

Kenny had already managed a silver in Tokyo in the women's pursuit, with this latest Olympic medal taking her to six. Only dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin can match that tally for a British woman.

"When I fell pregnant, there was a moment two months into the pregnancy where I woke up and said to Jason (Kenny, husband and fellow Olympian), 'I can't do this, I'm not going to be able to carry on (with cycling), there's just no way'. And here we are," said Kenny.

There was a one-two result for the Netherlands in the men's sprint, Harrie Lavreysen seeing off compatriot Jeffrey Hoogland in a tense final. Britain's Jack Carlin claimed the final spot on the podium.

 

GROSSO HITS THE SPOT

Canada held their nerve in a penalty shoot-out to become Olympic champions for the first time in women's football, overcoming Sweden in a dramatic final.

Julia Grosso slotted in the winning kick to secure a 3-2 triumph after Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe had twice made crucial saves. Sweden had the chance to win it with their fifth attempt, only for captain Caroline Seger to fire over the crossbar.

In the men's tournament, Mexico defeated Japan 3-1 in the bronze medal game.

"We wanted to win a medal at these Olympic Games, so I feel very thankful," said Mexico coach Jaime Lozano. "In football, this is the most important day in my life. What we have experienced today will be with us for the rest of our lives."
 

ANNAN ACHIEVES A FIRST

In the women's hockey final, the Netherlands claimed a record fourth title as they defeated Argentina 3-1.

The result sees Alyson Annan become the first woman to get a gold as both a player and a head coach.

"It's nice but it's not why I do this," Annan said of that achievement. "My goal as a coach is to hopefully be a part of someone's career and have them look back and say 'That was a great time and I learned a lot and I became a better player and a better person'.

"For me it's not about the gold medal. That's for them."

Great Britain took bronze with a 4-3 win over India.

Marcell Jacobs declared 2021 as "the year of Italy" following his second gold at Tokyo 2020 in the men's 4x100m relay on Friday.

Jacobs, 26, powered to a surprise gold in 9.80 seconds in the men's 100m final before combining with Lorenzo Patta, Eseosa Desalu and Filippo Tortu to win Italy's first medal in the relay since London 1948.

The relay win gave Italy a fifth athletics gold in Tokyo, tied with the United States for the most. They had never previously claimed more than three at a single Games.

Jacobs has become just the second Italian to win multiple athletics Olympic titles after Ugo Frigerio's three walking golds between 1920 and 1924.

An outstanding meet continues a remarkable year for Italy, in which the country also won Eurovision before ending a 53-year wait for a European Championship triumph at Euro 2020, beating England in July's Wembley final.

"This is the year of Italy, this is our year," Jacobs said. "We won the Eurovision, we won the football European Championship, we won five gold medals [in athletics]."

Tortu's superb final leg gave Italy victory ahead of Great Britain by only 0.01s. Canada, led by 200m champion Andre De Grasse, finished third.

It was another unexpected success for Jacobs, who added: "I would never expect this [a second gold] before leaving, nobody would have expected that.

"Thank you Italy. We really have worked well and we believed in it so much. I adore these guys.

"Before entering the track, we looked at each other and we were determined to win a medal."

As Jack Grealish begins training at the Etihad Campus and Harry Kane continues not training in Florida, it is worth remembering Pep Guardiola left a warning in plain sight that Manchester City would be prime movers and shakers in this year's transfer market.

Speaking to Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport ahead of May's Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, Guardiola pondered the ingredients needed for sustained success, having already lifted three of the past four Premier League titles on offer.

"Did you have the same squad when you won your sixth Premier League as you did your first one?" he asked former Manchester United defender Ferdinand.

"You have to shake, you have to move. With the same guys, it is almost impossible. We change. After defeats or a win, we change."

Such are the talents at Guardiola's disposal within the City squad, the £100million British record outlay to secure Grealish brought plenty of derision. Kane will cost more and, should any offer pass muster with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, it will be the same story.

But the City boss knew well of what he spoke and who he was speaking to. In 2002, Ferdinand joined United from Leeds United for a British record £30m. That deal usurped the £28.1m fee Alex Ferguson required to bring in Juan Sebastian Veron from Lazio a year earlier. In 2004, United made Wayne Rooney (£27m) the most expensive teenager in world football.

Even as the great 1998-99 United team went on to win the subsequent two Premier Leagues, Ferguson decided he had to shake. He had to move. Despite the successes of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal and Jose Mourinho's Chelsea at the start of this century, this thirst to improve from a position of strength meant United were able to dominate again.

LEGACY SIGNINGS

Comparisons to Ferguson will no doubt grate for plenty of the City faithful, but geography and the scale of Guardiola's achievements to date – eight major honours in the past four seasons – mean they are easy to reach for.

The former Barcelona coach became the first manager to retain the Premier League since the great Scot and, as he looks to repeat that feat, another Fergusonism has been laid at his door.

Last season, some observers contended Guardiola had built his second great City side. Team building and re-building was a perfected art form at United in the 1990s and 2000s and the shorter tenures of the modern era mean today's elite coaches are rarely called upon to accomplish such a tall task.

Guardiola certainly fitted the contemporary template at Barca and Bayern Munich, working with bristling intensity for four and three seasons respectively before standing down amid a sense that parties on both sides of the player/coach divide were burnt out to some extent.

You only needed to study the City manager on the touchline as a team featuring a crop of youth team players won recent friendlies against Preston North End, Barnsley and Blackpool to see plenty of that intensity remains. But the combination of ideal working conditions under old Barcelona allies Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano along with the lack of either Camp Nou's tumultuous politics or ex-playing grandees as at Bayern have persuaded the 50-year-old that Manchester is a place to burnish his legacy with longevity.

A contract extension penned in November last year means Guardiola is set to remain City boss until June 2023, by which point he will have completed seven seasons.

Club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero departing at the end of last term means only captain Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling remain from the pre-Guardiola years and the latter two signed a year before his arrival when City's direction of travel was fairly well signposted.

Grealish's arrival and the potential capture of Kane for another nine-figure outlay feels like a significant pivot point in a way that 2020-21, with its inverted full-backs, false-nines and off-the-cuff solutions, did not. A new chapter begins with Saturday's Community Shield encounter against Leicester City at Wembley.

GUARDIOLA'S CITY 2.0

Guardiola's third Premier League title and fourth consecutive EFL Cup did not tell the story of a new team being methodically put together. From the point City lost 2-0 at Tottenham last November, which left them 11th in the Premier League with 12 points from eight games, it was a tale of shrewd adjustment and pragmatism within the manager's signature style.

"I said we have to come back to our first principle. We started to rebuild and reconstruct the team," Guardiola said. "We had success in the past and [we had to] come back on our positional play, move the ball quicker, do more passes, stay more in position, run less with the ball."

City adapted better than any other Premier League side to the rigours of pandemic football. The effective pressing that is a hallmark of all Guardiola's sides was in evidence – 377 high turnovers and 80 shots from high turnovers (open play sequences that begin within 40 metres of the opposition goal) were the best numbers in the Premier League.

This was despite City allowing 11.5 passes per defensive action (PPDA), putting them joint-sixth in a category headed up by Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds Untied and their rabid pressing (9.3 PPDA).

The conclusion to be drawn here is that City picked their moments judiciously rather than relentlessly harrying opponents. Even as their press faltered during their meek 2019-20 title defence, their PPDA was 10.1.

In possession they were similarly methodical. City's direct speed – the metres per second they progressed upfield in open play – was the slowest in the Premier League. Opta's figure of 1.1 direct speed for the champions in 2020-21 compares to 1.4 when they won the league with 100 points for the first time under Guardiola in 2017-18 and 1.3 when the fought tooth and nail with Liverpool to retain it.

Alongside the key addition of talismanic centre-back Ruben Dias, slowing down in this manner helped City to be more defensively solid, although there was a price paid at the other end of the field.

Their goals (83) and shots on target (216) in the Premier League were lower than every campaign since Guardiola's initial trophy-less outing in 2016-17. City's 599 shots overall were the least of his tenure and down form 745 in 2019-20, they registered 68.9 for expected goals (xG) having been between 80 and 94 for the three prior campaigns.

Despite their array of creative midfield talent, City made 1,164 passes into the opposition box, having never clocked below 1,300 in the Guardiola era. In 2018-19, they made 1,522.

This was largely not too much of a problem, of course, but the manner in which City subsided to Chelsea after Kai Havertz scored the only goal in Porto was a concern. Thomas Tuchel's team saw out a 1-0 win in relative comfort and City's xG of 0.45 was their second lowest in any match managed by Guardiola.

JACKED UP ATTACK

Those initial title wins for Guardiola in England featured a forward line with the electrifying wing talents of Leroy Sane and Sterling to the fore.

Sane is now at Bayern Munich and, after the mid-season tweaks last term, Sterling struggled and lost his place as a locked-in starter. Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez generally started either side of a false nine as the importance of players being able to provide the "extra pass" became a Guardiola mantra.

Sterling returns reinvigorated by a fabulous Euro 2020 but Grealish is no more of a direct Sane replacement than Ferran Torres was a year ago. The qualities of the England playmaker and those of his international captain Kane suggest Guardiola is keen to keep the control of 2020-21 and bolt on increased attacking efficiency.

Despite missing 12 matches through injury, Grealish supplied 10 Premier League assists last season. De Bruyne (12) and Kane (14) were two of the three players above him, with the Spurs striker topping the league charts in terms of goals and assists.

Grealish edged De Bruyne by 81-80 in terms of chances created, while his advantage was 70-58 when it came to chances created from open play. City's record signing also edged De Bruyne in terms of expected assists (xA) with 6.52 against 6.21, indicating the high quality of chances his passes created.

Since the departures of David Silva and Sane, the creative burden has arguably rested too heavily upon De Bruyne. Joan Cancelo (45) and Mahrez (44) were the next best in the City squad for chances created, while the Belgian maestro created 19 of what Opta class as 'big chances'. That put him second only to Bruno Fernandes (20) in the division but none of his team-mates hit double figures. Grealish created 14 such opportunities.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

"I think everyone knows how much I admire Kevin and it's going to be a dream come true to play alongside him," Grealish said in his interview with City's in-house media channel on Thursday.

Without Silva and Sane's axis down the left channel, De Bruyne's role at City changed last season, with Guardiola granting him a broader midfield brief, as well as rotating the 30-year-old and Bernardo Silva as his two main false-nine options.

As a result, his touches on the right-hand side of the opposition half – in the spaces he roves to deliver those "score me!" crosses – were down by an average of 7.2 per 90 minutes when compared to 2019-20, when De Bruyne supplied a record-equalling 20 Premier League assists.

He made more touches in central areas and averaged 4.6 more per 90 on the left hand side, where Grealish likes to operate.

A report by The Athletic stated Guardiola intends to use Grealish as an option in the left-sided number eight position within his 4-3-3, one often occupied by Ilkay Gundogan as the Germany international enjoyed the most prolific goalscoring season of his career.

Grealish would provide a different threat, not least with his exceptional dribbling ability. His 60 carries ending with a shot at goal last season were the best in the division, one ahead of Kane. Of those, 37 were created chances for team-mates and the extent to which the 25-year-old occupies defenders should free up De Bruyne to thrive where he can deliver those balls that strikers love – not to say his delivery from the left is especially shabby.

"When I watch De Bruyne play he's a special, special player and some of the balls I see him put in for City are just a striker's dream if I'm honest," Kane told Gary Neville's Overlap podcast in May, demonstrating his aptitude for subtlety is not on a par with his goal poaching.

"He's an outstanding player with the ball, off the ball, pressing, but his delivery is as good as I've ever seen to be honest."  

Should Kane follow Grealish in realising his De Bruyne dream, Guardiola will field a team retaining the control that squeezed the competition last season and bolstered by a goal threat at least equal to his initial City configuration.

If he can knit it all together, and history suggests a very decent record in that regard, it represents a chilling prospect for the rest of the elite in England and Europe.

Elaine Thompson-Herah made it a hat-trick of Tokyo 2020 golds, Marcell Jacobs celebrated a famous double and Shaunae Miller-Uibo defended an Olympic title she won in Rio five years ago.

After Jamaica had celebrated glory in the women's 4x100 metres relay for Thompson-Herah's third top-podium finish, Jacobs – a shock winner of the men's 100m title – was part of the Italian team who won the men's race.

Elsewhere, Faith Kipyegon romped to 1500m glory to end Sifan Hassan's chances of an unprecedented Games treble.

Here's a round-up from the penultimate night of athletics inside the Olympic Stadium.

THOMPSON-HERAH AND JACOBS CELEBRATING AGAIN

Thompson-Herah's dream Olympics continued with a third gold medal of Tokyo 2020 in the 4x100m.

Having already taken out the 100 and 200m in the individual races, Thompson-Herah combined with the legendary Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Briana Williams and Shericka Jackson to take the gold in a blistering 41.02 - the second-fastest time ever run.

The United States took the silver ahead of Great Britain in third.

It was a far closer fight in the men's race, with Great Britain in pole position coming to the last changeover only for Filippo Tortu to run a blinding last leg that led Italy to victory by just 0.01s.

Andre De Grasse – the 200m champion here in Tokyo – was part of a Canadian team who earned bronze.

MILLER-UIBO DEFENDS IN DOMINANT FASHION

The 400m has proven a happy event for the Bahamas over the past two nights, with Miller-Uibo defending her title from Rio just a day after compatriot Steven Gardiner won the men's race.

Miller-Uibo was dominant, powering out of the final bend and storming to the line in an area-record time of 48.36s.

Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic set a national record 49.20 to take silver ahead of American legend Allyson Felix – who now has 10 Olympic medals.

Liu Shiying of China was the victor in the women's javelin thanks to a throw of 66.34m – a good time to launch a season's best distance. Poland's Maria Andrejczyk was heavily fancied for gold but had to settle for silver ahead of Kelsey-Lee Barber from Australia.

HASSAN'S HISTORY HOPES ENDED BY BRILLIANT KIPYEGON

Hassan was aiming to become the first athlete to win a 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m treble at a single Games and had already won gold in the second of those distances.

But it was not to be in the 1500 with the Dutchwoman settling for bronze in a race won emphatically by Kenya's Kipyegon in an Olympic-record time of 3:53.11.

The two were the pacesetters for the majority of the race but Kipyegon made a break on the back straight, while Hassan was ultimately overtaken by Great Britain's Laura Muir and finished third.

The men's 5000m was won in convincing fashion by world-record holder Joshua Cheptegei in 12:58.15.

Italy doubled up in the 20km walk race, with Antonella Palmisano celebrating her birthday with gold a day after Massimo Stano took out the men's event over the same distance. Dawid Tomala of Poland was a surprise winner of the men's 50km, a distance he was walking competitively for only the third time.

Track cycling queen Laura Kenny scooped the fifth Olympic gold of her stellar career by teaming up with Katie Archibald to win the madison for Great Britain.

Kenny, who was an omnium and team pursuit champion at the 2012 and 2016 Games, became the first British woman to win gold medals at three Olympics.

Archibald was also a victorious British team pursuiter in Rio five years ago, and she and Kenny proved an irresistible partnership in Tokyo's inaugural women's Olympic madison.

They scored a staggering 78 points, with Denmark's Amalie Dideriksen and Julie Leth second on 35 points and the Russian Olympic Committee's Gulnaz Khatuntseva and Mariia Novolodskaia scoring 26 in taking bronze.

Kenny's win boosts her record tally of women's track cycling gold medals.

Of all competitors in track cycling, only her husband Jason Kenny and fellow Briton Chris Hoy have won more gold medals, with both having six to their name.

Among all female British Olympians, nobody has won more medals than Kenny, who also landed a team pursuit silver on Tuesday. The madison success meant she matched British equestrian star Charlotte Dujardin's haul of six medals (three gold, one silver, two bronze).

 

Kenny, 29, became a mother to son Albert in August 2017 and suspected at the time she had crossed the finish line in her cycling career.

She said after Friday's triumph: "When I fell pregnant, there was a moment two months into the pregnancy where I woke up and said to Jason, 'I can't do this, I'm not going to be able to carry on [with cycling], there's just no way'. And here we are."

Dutch rider Harrie Lavreysen prevailed in the men's sprint, becoming the first Olympian from the Netherlands to win two gold medals in track cycling, having landed a first in the team sprint earlier this week.

The latest triumph saw Lavreysen become the first Dutch winner of the sprint since Jacobus van Egmond in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

He led a Dutch one-two, with silver going to Jeffrey Hoogland, while Britain's Jack Carlin took bronze.

Hoogland won the first heat of the final but Lavreysen came back to level in the next before taking gold, with both riders exhausted by the gruelling decisive third sprint.

Lavreysen said: "I was really thinking confident before the races like I was going to win this. I lost the first one, but I also made a mistake. So I thought, 'Okay, just refresh and go for the second one, I can still win this'. I got my head really clear and just focused on winning the race.

"It's such an amazing feeling. When I was on the track I really wanted to cheer and put my hands in the air, but I couldn't do it, I was in so much pain."

Carlin was satisfied with his third-placed finish, saying: "The Dutch team for the last five years have been dominant and both of those boys have unbelievable talent. It was always going to be hard against them."

The Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves picked up unlikely victories on Thursday night as the National League East race continued to tighten up.

Philadelphia scored four runs in the ninth inning to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6, while Atlanta struck for six in the eighth to roll past the St Louis Cardinals 8-4. Those results combined with the New York Mets' 4-2 loss to the Miami Marlins means the top three teams in the division are within 1.5 games of one another.

In Washington, a two-run double from J.T. Realmuto and a two-run single by Rhys Hoskins provided the winning margin for the Phillies as they won their fifth in a row to move within a half-game of the first-placed Mets.

At least the Nationals could take some satisfaction in the Phillies earning the win; that was not the case in St Louis.

The Cardinals led 4-2 with two outs in the eighth when Freddie Freeman singled and Austin Riley tied the game with his 23rd homer. 

After Dansby Swanson doubled, Adam Duvall got hit by a pitch and the next five Atlanta batters walked to force in four more runs before Freeman lined out to end the inning.

According to Stats Perform, the Cardinals' 26 bases-loaded walks this season are the most since the 1999 Seattle Mariners issued 28.

With the victory, Atlanta (55-54) moved over .500 for the first time this season after having been one game under the .500 mark 28 different times.

 

Giants stun Diamondbacks with rally

The San Francisco Giants, who own the best record in MLB, were on the verge of being shut out by the team with the worst record before pulling off yet another miraculous rally. Down 4-0 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Giants scored four times in the top of the ninth to tie the game before Kris Bryant's double in the 10th provided the winning margin in a 5-4 victory.

Though Anthony Rizzo failed to drive in a run for the first time in seven games as a New York Yankee, fellow newcomer Joey Gallo picked up the slack. The former Texas Ranger pounded out two doubles and his 26th home run of the season, driving in three runs as the Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners 5-3.

Joey Votto got back in his power-hitting groove with a three-run homer that followed blasts by team-mates Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan India as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-4.

 

Baez whiffs for Mets

The Javy Baez honeymoon did not last long in New York. The new Mets shortstop struck out in all five of his trips to the plate, leaving eight men on base in New York's loss to Miami.

 

Bichette's Blue Jays bomb

Bo Bichette joined Troy Tulowitzki (2016) and Tony Batista (1999) as the only Toronto shortstops to reach 20 home runs in a season with a two-run, fourth-inning shot in the Blue Jays' 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.

 

Thursday's results 

Cincinnati Reds 7-4 Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies 7-6 Washington Nationals
New York Yankees 5-3 Seattle Mariners
Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers 8-1 Boston Red Sox
Miami Marlins 4-2 New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels 5-0 Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals 3-2 Chicago White Sox
Atlanta Braves 8-4 St Louis Cardinals
Colorado Rockies 6-5 Chicago Cubs
San Francisco Giants 5-4 Arizona Diamondbacks
Minnesota Twins 5-3 Houston Astros

 

Mets at Phillies

The NL East race is the closest of any division, and the top two teams will face off as Marcus Stroman and the New York Mets (56-52) visit Kyle Gibson and the Philadelphia Phillies (56-53).

The new Ligue 1 season is on the horizon and Paris Saint-Germain are clear title favourites. They may have lost the championship race last term, but some things never change.

If Lille's triumph was unexpected in 2020-21, another upset in the coming campaign would be on another level entirely.

While PSG have continued to spend, many of their rivals are feeling the effects of a tough financial market struggling to recover from the collapse of a mammoth television deal late last year.

Is silverware inevitable then for Mauricio Pochettino's men? Stats Perform takes a look at the state of play in France...

THE RICH GET RICHER

Few teams in Europe have recruited as impressively as PSG ahead of the new season, but many of the changes might not be immediately evident in Ligue 1.

Take Sergio Ramos, for example. PSG may have lost their domestic crown last term, but their repeated failures in the Champions League are of primary concern. Ramos should help to fix that.

Few players can match the centre-back's European pedigree. Following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure in 2018, Real Madrid won 10 of the 15 Champions League games Ramos featured in and only four of the 13 he missed.

It is likely he will be the man for the big occasion again in Paris. Now 35 and having played only 15 games in LaLiga last season due to injury, that might mean limited Ligue 1 outings.

Likewise, Gianluigi Donnarumma's role is not entirely clear. He was the standout player at Euro 2020 but must now compete with Keylor Navas, who prevented 8.1 Ligue 1 goals last season according to Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) data – the third-best mark in Europe's top five leagues.

 

Georginio Wijnaldum is a solid addition but unlikely to move the needle, although Achraf Hakimi should give PSG a new dimension. The wing-back has been involved in 30 goals (12 goals, 18 assists) since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, trailing only Robin Gosens (34) among defenders in the top leagues.

However, if Mauricio Pochettino prioritises the Champions League, Moise Kean – 13 goals in 26 league games last season but now back at Everton – might be a miss.

LILLE A LEADING CONTENDER

It was anticipated Lille's key men would be picked off following their title win and that did happen to an extent. Mike Maignan left for Milan, replacing Donnarumma, and Boubakary Soumare for Leicester City. Coach Christophe Galtier is now at Nice.

But Lille have retained their strike force in Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David along with centre-back pairing Jose Fonte and Sven Botman – two old-and-young combinations.

Fonte and Botman were particularly impressive last term, leading a defence that conceded a league-low 23 goals. They both started last week's Trophee des Champions triumph over PSG, the third time since the start of last season the capital club have failed to net against Lille.

They were not the only club to end 2020-21 with momentum, though. Monaco collected a league-high 51 points from their 21 games in 2021, while only Lille (11) have conceded fewer than their 17 this year.

Stretching that form out across an entire campaign to put PSG under pressure is no simple task, but Monaco have Ligue 1's form man in Aleksandr Golovin.

With five goals and eight assists in 969 minutes in 2021, Golovin is averaging a goal involvement every 75 minutes in Ligue 1 – the best rate among players with 200 minutes or more.

 

MAKING MOVES

Money may be in short supply throughout the division, but PSG are not quite alone in spending ahead of the new season. Rennes and Nice are looking to climb back into the top-four picture.

Rennes finished sixth last term after ex-Lyon man Bruno Genesio arrived with 11 games of the season remaining, finding the side winless in eight and stuck in mid-table.

A record-breaking run lifted Rennes into a European place. No coach in their history can match Genesio's points-per-game average (1.8) or win rate (54.6 per cent).

His reward was significant expenditure on centre-back Loic Bade, joining the third-best defence in the league (40 goals conceded), and forward Kamaldeen Sulemana.

Meanwhile, Nice will hope their own coaching change has a similar impact. Galtier has also been backed, with Jean-Clair Todibo and Calvin Stengs among his recruits.

Perhaps creator Stengs can get Kasper Dolberg firing again after a disappointing six-goal season.

No player in the Eredivisie last term underperformed their expected goals (xG) tally by as wide a margin as Stengs (9.3 xG, five assists), who will hope to find more clinical team-mates in France.

 

Harris English won his first PGA Tour title at TPC Southwind eight years ago, and he has another triumph in his sights after opening with a 62 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. 

The American has a two-stroke lead over four pursuers, as Ian Poulter, Carlos Ortiz, Jim Herman and Matthew Wolff carded six-under-par 64s Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler and Marc Leishman were three shots back after shooting 65, with DeChambeau making his first start since missing the Tokyo Olympics following a positive COVID-19 test. 

Among the group two shots behind them at five under were defending champion Justin Thomas, Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and the red-hot Louis Oosthuizen, who has top-three finishes in four of his last five starts.

Among other notables, Patrick Reed and Hideki Matsuyama are at two under, with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele at one under, and Brooks Kopeka and Sergio Garcia at even par.

Jordan Spieth is at one over and Rory McIlroy at two over, leaving him 62nd in the 66-player field. 

But they will all start Friday chasing English. The 32-year-old carded seven birdies on a blistering front nine, then faltered a bit with bogeys at 10 and 12 before closing his round with birdies at three of the last four holes. 

"It was one of those rounds where I was hitting it really good off the tee and making a lot of good putts," English told reporters. 

English won at Memphis in its previous incarnation as the Tour's St. Jude Classic in June 2013, then added another title that fall. 

That was his last PGA Tour win before this year, which has seen him take the Tournament of Champions in Maui in January and the Travelers Championship in June. 

 

 

James Anderson rates the dismissal of India captain Virat Kohli for a first-ball duck as one of his best as he led an England fightback on day two of the first Test at Trent Bridge.

Anderson swung his team back into contention against the tourists with two quickfire wickets, getting Cheteshwar Pujara out caught behind before Kohli – who was out for a golden duck to Stuart Broad in his last English innings in 2018 – followed in the same manner.

India had been threatening to take the game away from Joe Root's side after putting on an unbeaten 97 for the first wicket, however, four wickets reduced Kohli's men to 125-4 at the end of a rain-affected second day.

The wicket of Kohli, who Anderson had not dismissed in 454 balls since 2014, represented the Lancashire bowler's 619th wicket in Test cricket – moving him level with India's spinning great Anil Kumble.

Asked where Kohli's day-two wicket ranked among his other 618, Anderson said: "It's obviously right up there, it's always good to get a world-class player out. You always want to challenge yourself against the best and he certainly is one of the best.

"There was definitely some emotion there in the celebration, getting him out early and knowing how important that is for the team."

While Anderson's back-to-back deliveries changed the mood in Nottingham, it was Ollie Robinson who got things going with the removal of Rohit Sharma, caught pulling on the boundary by Sam Curran.

Indeed, Robinson and Anderson, who is now joint-third for the most wickets in Test history, were the pick of England's all-seam four-man attack but the 39-year-old insisted the hosts' bowlers must stick to their own strengths.

"I try and not focus on individuals really, I think it's important that we as bowlers focus on what we do best, our strengths, and my strength," Anderson added.

"My first spell one of my strengths is swinging the ball, I was trying to swing it away and get the edge of the two openers. Then when I came back it was more trying to attack the stumps, we slightly changed the field to try and bowl that touch straighter.

"It's more focusing on us and trying to take that individual battle and the individual batsmen out of it, we bowl best when we focus on ourselves."

It was announced on Thursday, though, that Anderson will have to wait to partner up with Jofra Archer again as the fast bowler will be out injured for the rest of 2021 – crucially missing the T20 World Cup and Ashes series in Australia.

Archer, who burst onto the scene with 20 wickets in the 2019 World Cup-winning campaign before following up with 22 in his debut Ashes series, has been suffering with an elbow injury and will play no further part this year.

"It's a huge disappointment for Jofra and the team, he has been a really influential part of the team since he started playing for England," Anderson continued.

"Obviously he's a huge miss for what's coming up for the rest of the year but I also think this sort of injury is something that has been bugging him for quite a while, so I think hopefully now this will be the end of it; get it settled, get it healed and come back stronger.

"He's been great for this team and we want him back fully fit and firing so hopefully however long it takes that will happen in the next few months."

Aston Villa have confirmed they received a record £100million fee for Jack Grealish, who addressed the fans of his hometown club after leaving for Manchester City.

Premier League champions City announced the signing of Grealish on a six-year contract on Thursday.

A £100m fee – a record for a Premier League club – was widely reported, and Villa CEO Christian Purslow confirmed that amount in a message to fans.

City's bid – one of several approaches from numerous clubs – triggered a release clause agreed with Grealish at the start of last season, Purslow explained.

"Last summer, following interest from a number of clubs, we offered Jack a new contract to stay at the club, which he accepted with one proviso," Purslow said in a video message.

"Jack wanted to be certain that if at any point a Champions League club came in for him and Aston Villa was not in that competition, that we would not stand in his way.

"For that reason, we agreed to incorporate a so-called release clause into his contract.

"Our board set this clause at a value of £100m, knowing that would be by some way a record price for a British footballer and also a record fee for any player bought by a Premier League club.

"Put another way, we set the value at a level we hoped would not be met but which would reflect his truly unique value to Aston Villa.

"After a brilliant season for Jack, culminating in his performances at the Euros, a number of clubs expressed interest in signing him, initially at figures below the release clause. We simply refused to entertain those approaches.

"Finally, Manchester City notified us that they would be willing to pay the £100m it would take to trigger this clause.

"After many hours of discussions involving Jack, his family and his agent, during which we made clear our strong desire for him to stay at Aston Villa, Jack finally decided that he would like to go to City and instructed us to exercise his release clause as was his prerogative."

As Purslow spoke to the Villa fans on Thursday, so did boyhood fan Grealish, who had captained the side since 2019.

In a statement on his social media page, he said in part: "I'll always be a Villa fan – I love this club with all my heart and I hope you understand my reasons for seeking a new challenge."

Purslow explained how difficult the decision had been for Grealish, saying: "It was a highly emotional moment when he finally told me his decision, leaving me in no doubt how hard it had been for him to decide to leave our club, which he joined when he was six years old.

"Ultimately, he said it boiled down to wanting to play Champions League football now."

Indicating the mutual respect between player and board, Grealish's statement continued: "The club are in great hands, the manager, the lads, the new signings coming in – it's an exciting time to be a Villa fan."

Villa have already signed Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings, three players for combined fees amounting to close to £100m.

Purslow confirmed the club had planned to replace Grealish – who scored six goals and added 10 assists last season – with a trio of stars rather than going for a single like-for-like buy.

"I want you all to be reassured that the board, Dean Smith, Johan Lange and I obviously knew this day might come and we have planned accordingly," he said.

"It was never our intention to replace Jack with one footballer, our strategy was to analyse and break down Jack's key attributes – his creativity, his assists, his goals – and to find these qualities and others in three forward players.

"In signing Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings, we believe we have achieved this key objective and in doing so have also reduced an overdependency on one brilliant footballer."

Injuries limited Grealish to 26 league appearances last season, in which Villa had an outstanding 50 per cent winning record.

That dropped to 25 per cent in the 12 matches he missed, with their points-per-game return falling from 1.7 to 1.0.

Villa will hope their three lucrative signings will ensure those statistics are not repeated, with their creative talents set to boost a side that scored only 1.1 goals per game without Grealish.

Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain says record-breaking signing Jack Grealish is a "perfect match" with the Premier League champions.

Grealish, 25, completed a move to Pep Guardiola's men for a reported £100million fee on Thursday, making him the most expensive signing in Premier League history.

Guardiola's newest recruit adds further creativity to City's already handsome depth of attacking talent at the Etihad Stadium and Begiristain could not be happier with the acquisition of Aston Villa's former captain.

Begiristain, speaking to the club's official website upon the announcement of Grealish's signing, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Jack Grealish to Manchester City. He is an incredible talent.

"Jack's development over the past few seasons both for club and country has been plain for everybody to see. His natural talent together with his commitment to improve as a player, has seen him become one of the most exciting attacking players in world football today.

"I am certain that the fans are going to love seeing him in our team. Pep loves the way he plays, and we all feel he is an ideal fit for Manchester City. Our style and his style are a perfect match. I'm excited to watch him over the coming years."

Having been Villa's standout performer during their 2019-20 Premier League survival campaign, Grealish stepped up another notch the following season.

The England midfielder netted six times, recorded 10 assists and created 81 chances – putting him third in the league – in 26 appearances during the 2020-21 season.

He created 26 more chances from open play than any other team-mate and was just seven short of Bruno Fernandes' league-high 77.

Jack Grealish is, finally, a Manchester City player.

The Premier League champions have long been linked with the Aston Villa captain and, after weeks of speculation, a deal worth a reported £100million – a Premier League record – takes him to the Etihad Stadium.

Grealish, along with Harry Kane, reportedly represented City's top target as Pep Guardiola adds further creativity to an attacking unit which was already the envy of European football.

With the deal complete, Stats Perform has assessed what Grealish will bring to his new club.

THE NUMBERS

Grealish played 26 times in the league last season, missing 12 games towards the end of the campaign due to a shin injury.

He scored six times, adding 10 assists. His 70 chances created from open play was 26 more than any other Villa player, and only seven shy of Bruno Fernandes' league-leading 77.

When counting chances created in total, including from set plays, Grealish (81) ranked third in the league, behind Mason Mount (87) and Fernandes (95), though they played 10 and 11 games more than the Villa captain respectively.

Grealish outscored his expected goals tally of 4.65, while only Harry Kane (14), Kevin De Bruyne (12) and Fernandes (12) supplied more assists.

The playmaker, who generally featured on the left flank for Villa, attempted 110 dribbles, tallying up a success rate of 59.09 per cent, the seventh-best out of Premier League players to attempt 100 or more dribbles.

 

HOW HE WILL FIT IN

Capable of playing centrally or wide, Grealish will add another high-quality, versatile option to Guardiola's already packed squad. His 81 chances created leads the way out of City and Villa players from last term, with De Bruyne (80) a close second.

No Villa or City player attempted or completed more dribbles than Grealish, whose ability to carry the ball into dangerous positions and then release a timely pass will surely be a big draw for Guardiola, though he will want sharp, snappy passing to be brought into the midfielder's game.

Based on City's current options, Grealish would likely be competing with De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez – though several of those players have been linked with moves away – for a place in the team, either as a central midfielder or a wide attacker in the champions' preferred 4-3-3 system.

Of that sextet, only De Bruyne played more passes, including crosses, into the penalty area (239) than Grealish. However, he was some 90 ahead, while playing one game less.

Grealish's shot count of 50 ranked him fifth out of those seven players, with his shot conversion rate of 12 per cent also the fifth-best.

De Bruyne (7.4 per cent from 80) and Silva (7.14 per cent from 28) had a lower conversion percentage, though logic would suggest Grealish will have more opportunities to shoot in a City team that managed 599 attempts last season, 79 more than Villa's total.

 

HOW WILL VILLA MANAGE?

Villa had already gone some way to mitigating the damage a potential transfer would cause, with Emiliano Buendia – a creative fulcrum for Norwich City last season – arriving earlier in the transfer window.

Ashley Young has made a return to Villa Park on a free transfer from Serie A champions Inter, while Villa also made several bids for Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe before the 20-year-old signed a new deal with the Gunners.

Leon Bailey, Bayer Leverkusen's flying winger, was confirmed as a Villa player on Wednesday, meanwhile.

The Jamaica international scored 15 goals and provided 10 assists in 40 appearances last season, and his arrival could certainly soften the blow somewhat, though there is a chance he may need time to adapt from the Bundesliga.

Bailey created 63 chances in total, with 11 of these classed as 'big chances' – Grealish, by comparison, created 14 such opportunities in league football in 2020-21.

And Bailey's arrival was quickly followed by that of Danny Ings, a shock recruit from Southampton. The England forward has scored 31 non-penalty goals in the Premier League over the past two seasons, a tally only topped by Mohamed Salah (32) and Kane (35).

While Villa will still have to adapt without Grealish, they could also yet pursue significant upgrades elsewhere in the squad as Dean Smith looks to push for European qualification. Norwich's Todd Cantwell and Southampton and England midfielder James Ward-Prowse have been linked.

City, meanwhile, have signed one of English football's best talents, with Grealish having the opportunity to head into his prime years at one of Europe's leading clubs.

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