Time off is the only antidote to Chelsea's ongoing malaise, according to Thomas Tuchel. 

The Blues were held to a 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday, extending their winless streak in the Premier League to four matches – their worst such run under Tuchel. 

Chelsea have won just one of their past seven top-flight matches and sit 12 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand. 

The meeting with Brighton was Chelsea's 15th game in all competitions since the start of December and Tuchel believes the only way they can get back on track for a prolonged period is through rest. 

"We look tired. And we are. It's like this," Tuchel told BT Sport after Adam Webster's header cancelled out Hakim Ziyech's opener. 

"We knew they were well prepared, they had more time to prepare and you saw at the end the stadium celebrates like a victory. That's what you face. 

"We need our full strength to overcome these obstacles. In these moments there's no blame for the team. We tried everything. We are mentally and physically tired. We need some days off, there's no other solution. 

"We have two days off then we have two days to prepare the match against Tottenham. There's no other solution." 

Tuchel was critical of Ziyech after the 1-0 loss to City at the weekend and the former Ajax winger did not celebrate his first-half goal. He was also regularly engaged in heated conversations with Romelu Lukaku. 

The Chelsea boss was unbothered by either of those aspects, though.

"I am happy. [Ziyech] can score 20 more and not celebrate, I have no problem," said Tuchel. 

"It's normal that they talk. It's normal they're not happy and they don't like it if we say we want more from them. In the reaction to the goal, you can see we are tired because we are saving energy even there." 

Brighton boss Graham Potter said: "We're really pleased and proud of the performance, definitely. We gave Chelsea a good game. Our performance was full of everything. 

"It's not easy because they have some top players but the courage of our defenders... The boys played on the front foot as much as they could. They scored from not much, but it was a performance I really enjoyed. 

"We were well in the game and the boys could feel it was a good performance. Chelsea don't give much away, so you have to work for everything. We could maybe test the goalkeeper more, but I thought we had everything." 

Erling Haaland's penalty was not enough to rescue Borussia Dortmund as they crashed out of the DFB-Pokal following a shock 2-1 defeat by St Pauli.

The reigning champions' title defence came to an abrupt end at Millerntor-Stadion, where the 2. Bundesliga leaders claimed a memorable victory.

Dortmund arrived in the tie having netted five goals without reply in their opening two matches of this season's DFB-Pokal, defeating Wehen Wiesbaden 3-0 and Ingolstadt 2-0.

Meanwhile, only Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg had beaten them in this competition since 2011.

However, they fell behind to Etienne Amenyido's fourth-minute strike, while an Axel Witsel own goal doubled the hosts' lead before the break.

Haaland halved the deficit from the penalty spot 13 minutes into the second half but ,despite eight shots on goal and 70.4 per cent of the possession, the visitors were unable to avert a shock exit.

Juventus launched their Coppa Italia title defence with a commanding 4-1 victory over Sampdoria at the Allianz Stadium.

A free-kick from Juan Cuadrado gave the reigning champions a 25th-minute lead, while Daniele Rugani's first Bianconeri goal in almost three years doubled the advantage after the break.

Andrea Conti replied for Sampdoria, whose fortunes were overseen by Felice Tufano following the sacking of coach Roberto D’Aversa on Monday.

But substitute Paulo Dybala put the hosts back in control, before Alvaro Morata's penalty sealed their place in the quarter-finals.

 

Juventus had won eight of their nine previous Coppa Italia meetings with Sampdoria, while they had not been eliminated from this stage of the competition since 2005.

The Bianconeri made a strong start as Cuadrado tested Wladimiro Falcone with a fierce drive, but soon after there was no denying the Colombian, who drilled a low free-kick into the far corner.

Juve thought they had doubled their lead when Morata swept home within 60 seconds of the restart. But the Spain international was denied by VAR after Adrien Rabiot was adjudged to have fouled Tomas Rincon in the build-up.

The second goal arrived seven minutes after the interval; Rugani, who last found the net for Juventus in February 2019, climbed to nod home Arthur’s inviting cross.

Despite a turbulent build-up that included the departure of D’Aversa, Sampdoria responded in the 63rd minute. Unmarked at the far post, Conti was allowed too much time to control before drilling past Mattia Perin.

However, their hard work was undone almost immediately as they were robbed of possession outside the penalty box, with Dybala gratefully sweeping home.

Morata then put the icing on the cake from the penalty spot after Marley was brought down by Tommaso Augello.

Chelsea's worst winless Premier League run under Thomas Tuchel was extended to four games as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday. 

Tuchel's side missed a chance to quickly close the gap to leaders Manchester City, who beat the European champions 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to go 13 points clear. 

Hakim Ziyech put the Blues ahead in the first half at the Amex Stadium, but Brighton restored parity through an unmarked Adam Webster in the 60th minute. 

Chelsea were unable to bring an end to their worst top-flight run under Tuchel by finding a winner, with Brighton earning an impressive point. 

Brighton started positively and pressed Chelsea well, but Danny Welbeck spurned their best opportunity when he failed to connect with the ball in the six-yard box. 

However, Chelsea took the lead in the 28th minute when a speculative Ziyech effort got the better of Robert Sanchez and found the bottom-right corner.

The Seagulls made a strong start to the second period and drew level on the hour mark when Webster powered a header home from Alexis Mac Allister's corner. 

Romelu Lukaku made a brilliant dart in behind to latch onto Antonio Rudiger's lofted throughball but was thwarted by the onrushing Sanchez, with the Blues having to settle for a draw.

What does it mean? Still concern for Tuchel 

After a run of three wins in nine games in all competitions across December and January, Chelsea looked to have got back on track by beating Tottenham in the EFL Cup semi-finals and thrashing Chesterfield in the FA Cup. 

However, on the south coast they were unable to bounce back from the disappointment of defeat at City, which effectively brought an end to any faint title hopes they may have had. 

Lacklustre Lukaku 

Tuchel has been frustrated by the performances of Chelsea's attackers this season and Lukaku did little to appease him here. Although he supplied two key passes, he had just eight touches in the first half and only managed one shot on target in the whole game. 

Webster unwatched 

Webster was allowed to steam in completely unmarked from the back post and send a bullet header past Kepa Arrizabalaga for the equaliser. Tuchel's men showed a lack of awareness when defending the set-piece. 

What's next? 

Chelsea will welcome their former coach Antonio Conte back to Stamford Bridge when they face Tottenham on Sunday, when Brighton travel to Leicester City. 

Diego Simeone has opened up about conversations with Luis Suarez as Atletico Madrid attempt to get the former Barcelona striker back to form.

The Uruguay international is Atletico's top scorer in all competitions this season, albeit with just nine goals from 27 appearances.

The 34-year-old, whose contract at Wanda Metropolitano expires at the end of the campaign, has only found the net once in his last 11 club matches.

Suarez's frustration was evident when he was substituted during last month's defeat at Sevilla, with the former Liverpool striker appearing to direct expletives towards coach Simeone.

With the striker's sharp shooting deserting him and his future uncertain, the Atleti boss said there have been discussions between the pair in recent times.

Ahead of Atletico's Copa del Rey clash with Real Sociedad on Wednesday, Simeone said: "We have spoken with Luis for two months about what I think of him, of how important he is for us.

"What I think of him, he knows it and I didn't speak to him after Sevilla, I have spoken to him for two months."

 

Suarez has scored 30 goals across all competitions since his September 2020 transfer from Barcelona – more than any other Atletico team-mate. Karim Benzema (54) and Gerard Moreno (41) are the only players currently based in Spain to have scored more often during that time.

Additionally, only Messi (231) betters Suarez's tally of 175 LaLiga goals since the Uruguayan joined Barcelona from Liverpool in July 2014.

South Africa will have to do without Kagiso Rabada when they face India in a three-match ODI series.

Rabada was released from the squad on the eve of Wednesday's first game at Boland Park, afforded a rest ahead of the Tests against New Zealand next month.

The selectors did not call up a replacement for the paceman, who helped the Proteas come from behind to consign India to a 2-1 defeat in the recent Test series.

Spinner George Linde has been retained from the Test squad and the left-armer will be hoping to add to his tally of two ODI appearances.

South Africa have not won an ODI series since a whitewash of Australia in March 2020, and their most recent series against the Netherlands was postponed due to concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Virat Kohli is set to play in his first match since stepping down as India's Test captain.

With Rohit Sharma out of the tour due to a hamstring injury, KL Rahul leads the side and will open as the tourists strive to put behind them the disappointment of failing to win a first Test series in South Africa.

India have won the last two ODI series they have contested, beating both England and Sri Lanka by a 2-1 margin. The tourists have added Jayant Yadav and Navdeep Saini to their squad, with Washington Sundar missing out after testing positive for COVID-19.

South Africa were hammered 5-1 when they last faced India in an ODI series on home soil four years ago, Kohli claiming the man of the series award.

There will be no World Cup Super League points to play for in this series, but South Africa must build some momentum as they are currently outside the automatic qualification spots for the showpiece in India next year.

Kohli overdue a century

Kohli brought a halt to his long reign as Test skipper a day after South Africa were beaten by seven wickets in the third and final Test at Newlands.

The 33-year-old had relinquished the Twenty20 captaincy following the World Cup late last year and was then replaced by Rohit as ODI skipper.

Kohli had to contend with further questions about his lack of runs ahead of that decisive match in Cape Town and you have to go back to November 2019 for his last international century, that coming against Bangladesh in the longest format.

He has not reached three figures in an ODI since a game against West Indies in August 2019, but averages 59.07 in this format and could thrive without leadership duties.

South Africa have unearthed a gem in Jansen

Marco Jansen was magnificent in his first Test series, the all-rounder taking 19 wickets at an average of 16.47 as he caused the India batters all sorts of problems.

South Africa have unearthed another gem in the form of the towering 21-year-old, who has a very big future ahead of him and can make a big impact in his first taste of ODI cricket.

Quinton de Kock brought his Test career to an end after a defeat to India in the first Test at SuperSport Park but can still have a big role to play in the shorter formats.

Skipper Temba Bavuma impressed with the bat in the Test series and South Africa will look to him to make some significant contributions as they battle to inflict another defeat on India.

Cristiano Ronaldo "cannot do things on his own" and Manchester United will therefore not look to build their team around one player, according to interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

The Portugal international has scored 14 goals and assisted three more in 21 appearances since returning to Old Trafford from Juventus in September.

That is double the number of goals than any other United player, with compatriot Bruno Fernandes next on the list with seven strikes to his name in 2021-22.

Ronaldo's incredible longevity was recognised with a special award from FIFA on Monday after becoming the all-time top goalscorer in men's international football history in 2021.

But while Rangnick is in awe of Ronaldo's scoring record, he has no plans to centre his United side around the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"What he has done with his career so far is amazing: 800 goals in competitive games, which no one has achieved that in the last 80 or 100 years," Rangnick said.

"That shows what kind of exceptional player he is. But the Premier League is the most competitive league in the world and he cannot do things on his own. 

"He is one important member of this team and that’s how we have to develop."

Ronaldo has missed United's last two games – a 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round and a 2-2 draw against the same side five days later in the Premier League.

Rangnick is hopeful of having Ronaldo back for Wednesday's trip to Brentford, which has been rescheduled from last month after a COVID-19 outbreak in the United camp.

A raft of games have been called off in the English top flight in recent weeks, with bottom side Burnley having as many as four games in hand on some sides around them.

Thomas Tuchel is among those to have asked for more transparency in terms of games being called off, with Chelsea recently having a postponement request declined. 

Asked if he feels more should be done to prevent postponements, Rangnick said: "I don't know, I can only speak about our club here, we had some problems four weeks ago.

"Right now we don't have any issues, we have players available, we haven't had any COVID cases. I can't judge other clubs, it's something the Premier League has to deal with."

United head to Brentford sitting seventh in the Premier League and with just one win from their last five away top-flight matches. 

The Red Devils have scored in all 10 of their Premier League away games this season, which is the best-such 100 per cent record in the competition this term. 

However, three of the last four times they have failed to find the net on the road in the league have been in games in London (v Arsenal, Chelsea and Crystal Palace last season).

J.J. Watt reflected on the Arizona Cardinals' 34-11 playoff defeat to the Los Angeles Rams as "a massive failure".

The Cardinals ended their season with a whimper at SoFi Stadium on Monday as the Rams dominated the Wild Card round clash between the NFC West rivals.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford ended his wait for a first playoff win, throwing touchdown passes for Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp while running in another.

Los Angeles will face defending champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida next Sunday in the divisional round. 

The Cardinals, on the other hand, are left to lick their wounds following a fifth defeat in seven games that brought their campaign to a juddering halt.

Watt returned from a shoulder injury to face the Rams and the defensive end pulled no punches with his verdict on the Cardinals' performance.

He said: "It was a massive failure from what we were capable of doing and from what we showed we can do [up until the game Monday], there's no other way to describe it than as a failure.

Quarterback Kyler Murray endured a game to forget, passing for 137 yards and throwing two interceptions in the Cardinals' first playoff game since 2015.

He said: "I play to win the Super Bowl. That's the goal, that's the mission, is to win the Super Bowl not to make the playoffs or go to the second round. We fell short."

He added: "It's disappointing that we didn't make it a game and come out and play the football we know we're capable of playing, that's really the most disappointing part.

"Losing is one thing, but when you don't even make it competitive, it's another thing.

"I put a lot on my shoulders, put a lot on myself and to dream of this moment and then be in the playoffs, the first game of the playoffs and then to play the way I did, to play the way we did, it's, like I said, disappointing."

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury: "When you're dropping back against that that group, it's not a good recipe.

"And that's what we've found ourselves in. So, we just made it a tough night."

Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick will consider selecting Anthony Martial to face Brentford after holding clear-the-air talks with the forward.

Martial was absent from United's squad for Saturday's 2-2 Premier League draw with Aston Villa, which Rangnick explained was down to the player not wanting to be included.

However, the 26-year-old subsequently refuted his manager's claims by stating on social media that he "will never refuse to play a match for Man United".

Speaking on Tuesday, Rangnick did not explain the contrasting versions of events, but he left the door open for Martial to return to the squad should the forward prove his fitness.

"I had a conversation with him on Sunday about what happened and how I saw the situation," Rangnick said at a news conference previewing Wednesday's trip to Brentford.

"The matter is now resolved. He didn't train yesterday or the day before. But he will probably train today and after training I will then take the decision if he is selected or not."

Martial is reported to have rejected loan offers from other Premier League clubs, while Juventus and LaLiga pair Barcelona and Sevilla have also been credited with an interest.

The ex-Monaco man has scored 79 goals in 268 appearances since his debut in September 2015 – only Marcus Rashford (91 in 286) has scored more for United in that period.

Martial's 79 goals have come from an expected goals (xG) return of 64, meaning he has scored 15 goals more than expected from the quality of his chances.

That is the largest positive xG differential of any player at the club over the same period, followed by Mason Greenwood (11) and Rashford (10).

However, Martial's playing time has been limited this term – not helped by injury issues – with his 358 minutes on the field only the 21st most of all United players.

The player's agent, Philippe Lamboley, revealed last month that Martial is looking to join a new club in January due to a lack of playing time.

While Martial may play a part against Brentford, team-mate Paul Pogba is still not being considered for selection despite returning to training this week.

Pogba has been used just 13 times this season – and not at all under Rangnick – but could return from a three-month lay-off in the next few weeks.

"Paul had his first day of training with the whole group yesterday," Rangnick said. "He showed what kind of extraordinary player he can be.

"He will not be available for the two games this week. Hopefully after the break, with the cup game against Middlesbrough and the away game at Burnley, he can be an option."

Rangnick also confirmed he will make a late decision on whether Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo will feature in west London as they recover from knocks.

Wednesday's meeting will be the first between United and Brentford in the league since 1947 and their first in any competition since 1975, when United won 2-1 in an EFL Cup tie.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay is thrilled that quarterback Matthew Stafford will no longer have to face questions about never winning a game in the NFL playoffs.

NFC West rivals the Arizona Cardinals were convincingly swatted aside by the Rams in the Wild Card round on Monday, the hosts triumphing 34-11.

The Rams will now move on to face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a huge Divisional Round game with a place in the NFC Championship up for grabs.

Stafford had only previously reached the playoffs three times in 12 years with the Detroit Lions before his trade to LA ahead of the 2021 campaign and had been winless in each of those postseason appearances.

"I thought he did a great job leading the way," McVay said, per ESPN, after Stafford threw touchdown passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp.

"He's still the same great player to me, and he always was before this game.

"So I think it's good so you guys don't have to talk about [him not having a playoff win] anymore. So he can get that one out of the way. 

"I am really proud of him. Just so lucky to be able to do this with him. He's our leader. We wouldn't be here without him."

Stafford only had to throw a season-low 17 pass attempts, but he was impressive in completing 13 of them, with three of his four incompletions being dropped passes.

The Rams' defense played a big part in the win too. The Cardinals were 21-0 behind before they were even able to record a first down, while cornerback David Long had a three-yard pick six on Kyler Murray, the shortest in playoff history.

"I'm just excited for our team to get the win," said Stafford. 

"What a team effort. Our defense played outstanding, special teams basically set up a score with [punter] Johnny [Hekker] pinning them down there, we did a great job on field goals. 

"And we were good enough on offense to score some points and come away with the win. Just happy to be moving on."

The Rams must now beat the defending NFL champions on the road to progress further in a postseason schedule which will culminate with the Super Bowl being hosted at their own SoFi Stadium.

LA were one of only three teams who beat the Bucs in the regular season but Stafford is under no illusions over the size of the task facing them.

He added: "It is a huge challenge. Obviously, a fantastic quarterback, great defense, a really good football team.

"I think their team is different than when we played them last [in Week 3], and I think we are, too, both [in] personnel and scheme a little bit. You always evolve throughout the season. 

"So it'll be interesting to see what they look like here as of late, and we'll go out there, attack and see what happens."

Kyrie Irving does not feel compelled to change his stance regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, despite the Brooklyn Nets potentially being without Kevin Durant for six weeks.

The seven-time NBA All-Star has refused to be vaccinated against coronavirus and is therefore banned from playing in home games due to New York's vaccine mandate.

Irving was left off the Nets' initial roster for the 2021-22 season, but that decision was reversed last month when the 29-year-old was included as a part-time player.

He has been restricted to four road games so far and has averaged 20 points, which is down on his career average of 22.8.

The Nets could do with Irving more than ever after losing Durant to a knee injury that will keep him out for at least a month, but the point guard is staying rooted to his decision.

"That's what I think comes into a lot of this culture and basketball and sport and entertainment," he said. "You bring in teams and you bring in situations. 

"Kev's going to heal, Kev's going to be okay, and we're going to have to deal with that as his team-mates. 

"But in terms of where I am with my life outside of this, I stay rooted in my decision. And that's just what it is.

"It's not going to be swayed just because of one thing in this NBA life. That somehow it's brought to my attention as being more important than what's going on in the real world. 

"It's just not happening for me. I respect everyone else's decision. I'm not going to try to convince anyone of anything or any of that, I'm just standing rooted in what I believe in. 

"Though we're dealing with this right now with Kev, I know I'm protected by the organisation, by my team-mates, by all the doctors I've talked to. And I just stand rooted."

 

Irving was speaking after leading Brooklyn with 27 points in their 114-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday – his best tally since returning to action this month.

The Nets are once again denied the chance to partner star trio James Harden, Durant and Irving, but head coach Steve Nash is hopeful others can step up.

"It's a great opportunity for guys and our team to grow," he said. "We can't rely on Kevin in ways we could, and we have to find ways and solutions to be competitive without him."

The Nets' 'Big Three' have played only 16 games together, going 13-3 across that period.

"It's a great challenge for us," Nash added. "I don't spend time dwelling on it. It wouldn't do us any good. It wouldn't do me any good. 

"It wouldn't do the team any good if the leader of the team is sitting at home contemplating how many games they haven't played.

"That would take me away from being excited and positive to come in every day and try to affect the group positively for these guys to feel empowered and to grow."

Real Madrid have announced that former star Paco Gento had died at the age of 88.

The former Spain international was considered one of his country's greatest players of the 20th century and formed part of one of the finest Madrid teams in history.

Gento scored 182 goals in 600 official matches for Los Blancos, winning a club-record 24 trophies, including 12 LaLiga titles and six European Cups. He remains the only man to have won Europe's top club competition more than five times.

He also won 44 caps for Spain and featured at the 1962 and 1966 World Cups.

"Paco Gento truly represents all the values of Real Madrid, and has been and will continue to be a reference for madridistas and for the sporting world," the club said in a statement on Tuesday announcing his passing.

"He will always be remembered by madridistas and all football fans as one of their greatest."

Francisco Gento, who began his career with regional teams in his native Cantabria, joined Racing Santander in 1953 before his transfer to Madrid, where he spent 18 hugely successful years.

A fast and skilful wide player, described by Madrid as one "many believe to be the best left-winger of all time", Gento was part of an historic side that included Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa and Hector Rial.

He was part of the team that won the first five European Cups from 1956 to 1960 before he captained an all-Spanish Madrid side – known as the 'Ye-ye' Madrid – to a sixth title in 1966. Gento played in eight finals in total, a record he shares with Milan great Paolo Maldini.

Gento also won 12 LaLiga titles between 1954 and 1969, before he took over as Castilla coach following his retirement in 1971. After spells coaching Castellon, Palencia and Granada, Gento took up an ambassadorial role with Madrid and became the club's honorary president following the death of Di Stefano in 2016.

"He was fast and he hit the ball like a cannon," Di Stefano said of his old team-mate, as per Radio Marca. "That's not something you learn, it's something you're born with. You can only teach the rest."

Daniil Medvedev is happy to be considered the favourite for the Australian Open title but says Rafael Nadal remains the man to beat at Melbourne Park.

World number two Medvedev is now the top-seeded player in the competition after Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday.

Competing in his first grand slam since winning the US Open in September, Medvedev made a solid start by seeing off Henri Laaksonen 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-3) on Tuesday.

The Russian, who lost last year's Australian Open final to Djokovic in straight sets, will now take on either Liam Broady or Nick Kyrgios in round two.

He is aiming to become the first man in the Open Era to follow up his maiden Grand Slam title with another in his next major appearance.

Medvedev is not shying away from the spotlight, but the 25-year-old considers Nadal the real favourite for the trophy because of his incredible record.

"I like pressure but last year I started well here in Australia in the ATP Cup and I managed to be in the final here," he said.

"The tournaments in Australia are always really important for me. I like to play in Australia on hard courts. I want to do better here than I did last year but it's not going to be easy.

"But I always say whoever is the highest ranked is the favourite so this time I will go with Rafa because he has 20 Grand Slams."

The 20 major singles titles won by Nadal is equal to Djokovic and Roger Federer, who is also absent in Melbourne due to injury, as the most by a men's player.

 

Just one of those titles have come at the Australian Open, however, with the Spaniard – who beat Marcos Giron in his opening match on Monday – going all the way in 2009.

Nadal and Medvedev are in opposite sides of the draw and are on course to meet in the final, but many challengers await between now and then.

That path became a little clearer on Tuesday as world number eight Casper Ruud withdrew from the tournament due to an injured ankle.

Ruud had been due to face Alex Molcan in the first round, but his place will be taken by lucky loser Roman Safiullin.

Matthew Stafford celebrated the end of his long wait for an NFL playoff win as the Los Angeles Rams sealed a stress-free victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.

The quarterback produced an immaculate performance as the Rams won 34-11 at SoFi Stadium, the venue for this year's Super Bowl, in the first match to be played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Stafford was 0-3 in playoff games over 12 years with the Detroit Lions but threw touchdown passes for Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp while running for another to ensure there would be no disappointment this time.

His reward is a showdown with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida next Sunday in the divisional round. The Rams were one of just three teams to beat the reigning champions in the regular season – a 34-24 win back in Week 3.

A 52-yard drive in the first quarter ended with Stafford finding OBJ with a four-yard pass for the opening TD of the game, the latter's first in the postseason.

It marked what would prove to be a display of efficiency from Stafford, who threw 13 of 17 passes – his lowest of the season – for 202 yards but did not commit a single turnover.

Von Miller – playing in his first postseason game since being MVP of Super Bowl 50 – sacked Kyler Murray as the Cardinals failed to respond, and in the first drive of the second quarter, Stafford found Beckham again for a 31-yard gain that led to his chance to run in touchdown number two.

Things went from bad to worse for the Cardinals as a Rams punt ended on the Arizona 1, and Murray thought he finally had a first down when he threw to AJ Green, but Nick Scott tackled the ball away from him to what was eventually called an incomplete pass. On the next play, Murray was panicked into rushing his throw from his own endzone, leading to a pick six as David Long intercepted and ran in for the TD.

It took until more than halfway through the second quarter for the Cardinals to get a first down as they fell 21-0 behind at halftime, and they were not back on the scoreboard until a little over four minutes remained in the third quarter.

Having surrendered a 17-0 lead over the San Francisco 49ers last week, the Rams were determined to avoid a repeat, Beckham making NFL history as the first player in the postseason to finish with 30-yard receptions and completions in the same game.

Stafford's seven-yard pass let Kupp, who finished with a team-high five catches for 61 yards, quell any fears of a late Arizona response.

Petra Kvitova was convincingly beaten to bow out of the Australian Open in straight sets in the first round on Tuesday.

The Czech 20th seed, a finalist in Melbourne in 2019, was crushed 6-2 6-2 by Romanian Sorana Cirstea on John Cain Arena.

Kvitova produced a staggering 39 unforced errors with just seven winners to bow out in 71 minutes.

It continued a mixed record at Melbourne Park for the two-time Wimbledon champion.

Kvitova has now bowed out of a grand slam in the first round 11 times – with four of those coming at the Australian Open.

Cirstea will face either Misaki Doi or Kristina Kucova in this year's second round.

The 31-year-old also beat Kvitova at the Australian Open last year – in the second round.

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