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Milan Keeps Champions League Hopes Alive After Bologna Win

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AC Milan revived their Champions League hopes with a 2-1 win over Bologna on Monday as tempers flared with three players sent off and a bust-up between French midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and coach Gennaro Gattuso on the sidelines.

Gattuso’s side moves back into fifth place, three points behind Atalanta who occupy the final Champions League berth with three games left to play this season.

Milan had dropped out of the European places after a draw against Parma and loss to Torino but now move level on points with Roma who are sixth.

Champions Juventus and second-placed Napoli are already assured of Champions League football next season but the battle for the final two berths remains tight with Inter Milan on 63 points, followed by Atalanta (62), AC Milan (59), Roma (59) and Torino (57).

Spanish winger Suso opened for Milan on 37 minutes with the game springing to life in the second half with Fabio Borini tapping in the second on 67 minutes.

Bologna’s Mattia Destro pulled one back on 72 minutes, with Milan playing the final quarter of an hour a man down after midfielder Lucas Paquetá was sent off for arguing with the referee.

In a nervy finale, Bologna finished the game with nine men with Nicola Sansone and Mitchell Dijks both sent off late.

There was also pitchside drama early when Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia picked up an injury 25 minutes into the game at the San Siro with the Milan coach asking on-loan Chelsea player Bakayoko to start warming up.

Bakayoko — on the bench after arriving late for training — started to warm up without enthusiasm to the fury of Gattuso who instead asked another substitute, José Mauri, to come on.

Gattuso and Bakayoko were caught on camera exchanging insults with the French player saying twice “Fuck off, man” and the coach replying “I’ll see you later”.

Bakayoko joined the club on loan from Chelsea last summer with an option to buy but has been the subject of racist chanting this season several times notably from Lazio supporters.

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Naomi Osaka withdraws from Italian Open quarter-finals with hand injury

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World number one Naomi Osaka pulled out of the Italian Open quarter-finals on Friday with a right thumb injury, casting doubts over her participation in this month’s French Open.

The 21-year-old Japanese was scheduled to face sixth seed Kiki Bertens after coming through two matches on Thursday in the rain-affected tournament.

But she said she was forced to withdraw due to pain and swelling at the base of her thumb.

“I woke up this morning and couldn’t really move my thumb,” Osaka told reporters.

“I tried to practise and grip my racket but I couldn’t, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions.

“Right now I’m… in between sad and disappointed because I really wanted to play my match today. For me, it was sort of a test to play against Kiki because she’s playing really well and I wanted to see how well I could do today.

“I didn’t feel anything yesterday. That’s why I’m kind of confused right now because I literally woke up in the morning and couldn’t move my thumb. So, I was like, maybe I slept on it and maybe it will go away, but it didn’t.”

An abdominal injury had forced Osaka to pull out ahead of her semi-final clash in Stuttgart last month before she was beaten by Belinda Bencic in the Madrid Open quarter-finals.

“I would describe (my clay season) as rocky,” Osaka added.

“But I can’t necessarily say it’s been ups and downs because if I think about it, it’s definitely been going up. Every match I’ve played I’ve learned a lot. I’ve tried to take what I’ve learned into the next match and I think I’ve done that well.”

Following her U.S. Open and Australian triumphs, Osaka is chasing a third straight Grand Slam trophy at the French Open which begins on May 26.

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Obi Mikel To Lead Super Eagles At Africa Cup Of Nations

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John Obi Mikel has confirmed he is available to return to the Super Eagles for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, according to a team official.

The former Chelsea star last played for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and was not involved in the qualifying for this year’s Nations Cup.

“Mikel has met with coach (Gernot) Rohr in England and he has confirmed he will feature at the Nations Cup in Egypt,” said a top team official.

The 32-year-old Obi, now with English Championship side Middlesborough, has won 85 caps and scored six goals since his full international debut in 2005 against Libya.

Experts said his experience and leadership would be invaluable to a squad that includes many players making their debut in this competition after Nigeria missed out on the last two editions.

The tournament in Egypt is widely seen as the last hurrah for the player in international football.

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Brighton fire manager Chris Hughton after 4-1 home defeat to Manchester City

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Premiership club, Brighton and Hove Albion have sacked manager Chris Hughton after the club suffered a 4-1 home defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.

The defeat, which left them in 17th-place finish in the Premier League also gave Manchester City their second Premier League titles in a row.

Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said in a statement on the club website:’Chris has done an excellent job over the past four and a half years.

‘Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as chairman of Brighton, but ultimately one I have made due to how we struggled in the second half of the season.

‘Our run of 3 wins from 23 Premier League matches put our status at significant risk. It is with that in mind, and the performances during that period, that I now feel it’s the right time for a change. 

‘Chris will always be very fondly remembered by Albion staff and fans as one of our club’s finest and most-respected managers.

‘I would like to wish Chris, Paul and Paul – who have all worked extremely hard throughout their time here – every success for the future, and thank them on behalf of everyone at the club.

‘They will always be welcome at the Amex, and will be remembered here with great affection.’

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