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NHL Game Highlights | Blues vs. Avalanche – Jan. 13, 2020 – SPORTSNET

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-DEBYMdE7E

NHL Game Highlights | Blues vs. Avalanche – Jan. 13, 2020 - SPORTSNET
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Dembele, Pique 8/10 as Barca rally from two-goal first-leg deficit to reach Copa del Rey final – ESPN

https://www.espn.com/soccer/barcelona/story/4328645/dembelepique-8-10-as-barca-rally-from-two-goal-first-leg-deficit-to-reach-copa-del-rey-final

Dembele, Pique 8/10 as Barca rally from two-goal first-leg deficit to reach Copa del Rey final - ESPN

Barcelona produced a remarkable comeback to beat Sevilla 3-0 after extra time at Camp Nou on Wednesday, turning around a two-goal first-leg deficit to make the final of the Copa del Rey and keep their best chance at a trophy alive.

Substitute Martin Braithwaite headed home the winner in the 95th minute after Gerard Pique‘s glancing header, which proved the last touch of normal time, had dramatically forced extra time.

Ousmane Dembele had earlier opened the scoring with a stunning effort from 20 yards, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen saving a second-half penalty from Lucas Ocampos before Fernando was sent off for Sevilla minutes before Pique’s equaliser.

Barca will meet either Athletic Bilbao or Levante in the final in April. The two sides meet in Valencia on Thursday after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Bilbao last month.

Positives

Barca’s season was written off after a 2-0 first-leg defeat in Seville was followed by a 4-1 Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain. However, since then, they’ve cut the gap on La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid to five points and now have a cup final to look forward to next month. A repeat of last season’s trophy-less campaign is looking a little less likely than it once did.

In Wednesday’s win — as was the case in the win at Sevilla in the league on Saturday — Barca looked hungry again. They pressed well, giving Sevilla no time to breathe, and adapted well to their formation, with Ronald Koeman once again opting to play with three central defenders. Regardless of the off-pitch problems, the team looks united and committed to its coach.

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Negatives

It looked like Barca’s impressive performance and all their hard work would be for nothing heading into injury time. Prior to Pique’s goal, they’d failed to make the most of their possession in and around the box, with a desire to walk the ball into the back of the net costing them. They need to shoot when they get the chance in and around the area, and they also need to be quicker about it.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Koeman stuck with the same side that beat Sevilla comfortably on Saturday and reaped the rewards in the first half. His substitutions, which seemed strange at first glance, also helped swing the game in Barca’s favour in the end.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 8 — The penalty save from Ocampos was huge. Without it, Sevilla have an away goal and Barca would have been all but out of the competition.

DF Oscar Mingueza, 8 — The B-team defender showed once again that he’s with the first team to stay. A perfect fit for the right-sided centre-back role in a three-man defence. Unfortunate to give the penalty away for a foul on Ocampos.

DF Gerard Pique, 8 — A colossal performance from the defender both at the back and up top. It’s incredible to think he has just returned from what many thought was a season-ending knee injury and been able to play so many minutes in such a short space of time.

DF Clement Lenglet, 6 — Looked more confident on the ball than in recent weeks but had a nervous wait in extra time when VAR reviewed a possible handball in the Sevilla box.

MF Sergino Dest, 6 — Almost a right-winger when Barca are on the front foot in this shape. Had some nice touches but struggled in one-on-ones with Marcos Acuna, who had too much strength for him. Came off after an hour.

MF Sergio Busquets, 7 — Good on the ball and pressed well but couldn’t quite find that incisive pass in the final third.

MF Frenkie de Jong, 7 — Didn’t stop running for 120 minutes, helping in defence and in attack.

MF Pedri, 7 — Started the game despite being ruled out for two weeks with a calf problem as recently as Sunday. Quick on the ball and vital to Barca’s press, he just needs to work on his shooting — or at least start shooting more.

MF Jordi Alba, 9 — A threat in attack, thumping the bar with a brilliant volley and setting up the winner. Also worked hard to get back and defend, covering his colleagues and making some crucial blocks.

FW Lionel Messi, 7 — For once, he wasn’t involved in the game’s key moments, although he did slide in the pass for Dembele’s goal. That said, he was still central to almost every attack Barca pieced together.

FW Ousmane Dembele, 8 — Relishing playing as a focal point through the middle in this new formation. Had already had two chances when he expertly took his third. Sevilla were frightened whenever he ran at them.

Substitutes

FW Antoine Griezmann, 7 — Defended brilliantly and showed a calm head to beat his man and cross for Pique in the last minute of normal time.

DF Junior Firpo, 6 — Replaced Mingueza, who was on a booking, and did a good job on the right.

MF Ilaix Moriba, 6 — Koeman showed huge faith in the 18-year-old to bring him on with Barca still chasing the game, and he didn’t look out of place.

FW Martin Braithwaite, 6Scored the winner, getting in front of his man to connect with Alba’s cross.

FW Francisco Trincao, 6 – Impressively danced through the Sevilla defence late on but his shot was blocked.

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The Hurry-Up: Buckeyes Offer No. 1 DT James Smith, Austin Jordan Cuts List to Three, Clemson Lands Its Quarter – Eleven Warriors

https://www.elevenwarriors.com/ohio-state-football-recruiting/2021/03/121471/the-hurry-up-buckeyes-offer-no-1-dt-james-smith-austin-jordan-cuts-list-to-three

The Hurry-Up: Buckeyes Offer No. 1 DT James Smith, Austin Jordan Cuts List to Three, Clemson Lands Its Quarter - Eleven Warriors

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Buckeyes offer No. 1 DT

Ohio State has not made a true run at the nation’s No. 1-ranked defensive tackle prospect since it was in a good position in the 2020 class to land Bryan Bresee. (Unless you want to count J.T. Tuimoloau as a defensive tackle in the 2021 cycle with the positional versatility he brings to the table. Leonard Taylor in 2021 and Walter Nolen in 2022 were offered by the Buckeyes, but Taylor signed with Miami and Nolen is already very unlikely to end up with Ohio State.)

Not that Larry Johnson really cares about rankings. He’s constantly going after the guys he truly wants from a talent and personality perspective.

It looks like Johnson may have found both of those things, however, in his latest defensive line offer in James Smith, the No. 3 overall prospect and No. 1 DT in the 2023 class. Johnson has gotten in early on Smith in this cycle by extending an offer to the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder on Tuesday night.

The man with the nickname “Big Kong” has offers (or at least listed offers) from a dozen programs – Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M are the highlights alongside Ohio State.

Smith hails from Montgomery, Alabama’s Carver High School, making him the second player in this cycle that Ohio State has extended an offer to, following an offer to the nation’s No. 1 cornerback in Tony Mitchell last week. 

Again, it’s rare for the Buckeyes to extend offers to Alabama players and even more rare for them to win out in a recruitment from a player residing in the state. They have never signed a high school player from Alabama, and Smith is only the fifth player Ohio State has offered from the state among the 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 cycles.

The Crimson Tide have done an excellent job keeping their in-state talent home, as to be expected, but Ohio State is dipping its toes in the water here for Mitchell and Smith – a player whose physicality and versatility to play as a 3-tech and on the edge is one item that has to be a reason Johnson and Co. value Smith so highly with an early offer. He is more of a 3-tech prospect, but Johnson loves to bring in players who can be moved around along the defensive line.

Jordan’s top three

With five-star cornerback Will Johnson committing to Michigan and five-star cornerback Denver Harris recently pushing the Buckeyes out of the running for now, Ohio State’s other top targets at the position have become a bit more clear.

Toriano Pride sits atop that small list, and Ryan Turner is a player we know that the Buckeyes absolutely love and are hoping to bring into their 2022 class.

But do not count out Austin Jordan, a four-star prospect out of Texas powerhouse Ryan High School. Jordan, the No. 173 overall player and No. 21 cornerback in the cycle, provided a recruiting update to us on Wednesday afternoon, narrowing his list down to three schools.

None of the schools in that trio is a surprise as Ohio State finds itself pitted against Oklahoma and Texas for the Lone Star State’s 28th-ranked prospect.

We believe the Buckeye staff likes Pride and Turner as cornerback prospects a bit more than Jordan, but the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder is a burner on the outside (runs a 10.98 in the 100 meters) who can keep up with top-level receivers. He faces some of the state of Texas’ best competition, and he has the length to be a good cover guy at the next level.

This is a recruitment, however, that probably won’t see much movement to the Buckeyes until the dead period is lifted, and that won’t happen until at least June 1. Jordan has never visited Ohio State, and he probably needs some more in-person evaluation before he becomes a no-doubt Buckeye prospect. Jordan is absolutely worth keeping an eye on, though, as Ohio State searches for at least one more cornerback in this class for a total of three (and that number could possibly push to four, but three is likelier at this point).

Clemson lands its QB

Dabo Swinney’s program has had a formula that’s been working for the last several cycles when it comes to how it cycles quarterback recruiting.

Stud-developmental guy-stud-developmental guy.

Clemson is back at it again, as the Tigers landed their man on Tuesday night, and the quarterback dominoes continue to fall.

Cade Klubnik, the nation’s No. 74 overall player and No. 5 pro-style quarterback, announced his commitment to Clemson just four days after he was extended an offer. That comes after newly minted five-star quarterback Ty Simpson committed to Alabama on Friday after Simpson had been considered a Clemson lean for a while.

This affects the Buckeyes in the fact that their own five-star quarterback, Quinn Ewers, is even further solidified to his Ohio State pledge. (Though he wasn’t going anywhere, anyway.)

Texas has its own five-star quarterback in the fold in Maalik Murphy, and with Clemson and Alabama each getting their guy, it’s another piece of evidence that Ewers is fully locked into Ohio State. (If that profile picture of the Buckeyes’ hat on the deer head didn’t do it for you.)

As another fun fact, Klubnik’s recruitment picked up last fall when his Westlake (Austin) program defeated Ewers’ Southlake Carroll team in the Texas 6A-Division I state championship game. Klubnik finished 18-of-20 for 221 yards and a score (plus 90 yards rushing and two touchdowns) while Ewers went 23-of-39 for 351 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

We can only hope the two will meet again in 2021 for a rematch between the two likely future College Football Playoff opponents. Maybe Ewers will get his revenge in Round 2 over Klubnik in the same way Justin Fields got his over Trevor Lawrence in the Sugar Bowl.


Header photo: James Smith – Jason Caldwell/247Sports

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Rangers analyst Steve Valiquette eviscerates dreadful Sabres – New York Post

https://nypost.com/2021/03/03/rangers-analyst-eviscerates-sabres-amid-jack-eichel-rumors/

Rangers analyst Steve Valiquette eviscerates dreadful Sabres - New York Post

MSG hockey analyst Steve Valiquette took several shots at the Sabres after Buffalo fell to the Rangers in a Tuesday night snoozefest.

“I think the Buffalo players should be wearing ski masks on the 15th and 30th of every month,” the former Rangers netminder said in reference to NHL paydays, “because there’s no way you can have that star power and then not have any pushback. I mean, they look like they’ve quit on their season.”

The Sabres, who also play their games on the MSG network, actually had more chances than the Rangers in the 3-2 loss, but mustered only five shots to New York’s three while down a goal in the third period.

“The Rangers packed it in in the third period but did Buffalo even make an effort to [get to high-scoring areas]? I think they’re very easy to play against,” Valiquette said. “I think that’s a dreadful hockey team. They should be embarrassed.”

It was the fourth straight loss for a Buffalo team that has often looked lackadaisical. At 6-11-3, the Sabres are last in the East division and well on their way to missing the playoffs for the 10th straight season.

Buffalo entered the pandemic-shortened 56-game season with reason for optimism after signing Taylor Hall, the 2018 league MVP, to a one-year, $8 million contract, adding him to a talented core of forwards.

But Hall has scored just one goal, while captain and face of the franchise Jack Eichel and his $10 million annual salary has two goals. Jeff Skinner, who is being paid $9 million, hasn’t scored at all and has been benched a couple times this season for poor play. The Sabres are second-to-last in goals per game with 2.20.

Jack Eichel during tonight's Sabres-Rangers game.
Jack Eichel during Tuesday night’s Sabres-Rangers game.
NHLI via Getty Images

The disappointment has led to rumblings that the Sabres could trade the 24-year-old Eichel — possibly to the center-needy 8-9-3 Rangers — which could set the lowly franchise back even further.

“It’s sad to see because Buffalo is one of my favorite cities,” said Valiquette, who grew up in nearby Ontario, Canada. “Unbelievable people there, hard-working people. They must have a hard time watching that team play hockey.”

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UFC parts ways with former champion Junior Dos Santos, perennial contender Alistair Overeem – MMA Junkie

https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2021/03/ufc-news-junioe-dos-santos-alistair-overeem-no-longer-roster-departure-part-ways

UFC parts ways with former champion Junior Dos Santos, perennial contender Alistair Overeem - MMA Junkie

Two staples of the UFC’s heavyweight division are no longer on the roster.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos and perennial contender Alistair Overeem have parted ways with the promotion.

A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the two heavyweights’ promotional departures following their removal from the UFC rankings Wednesday but asked to remain anonymous as the promotion has not officially announced the moves.

UFC officials did not reply to request for comment by MMA Junkie.

Dos Santos (21-9 MMA, 15-8 UFC) made his promotional debut at UFC 90 in October 2008. He made a statement immediately when he put away Fabricio Werdum with strikes in 80 seconds. The victory kicked off a nine-fight winning streak by “Cigano.”

Included on that run were two title fights: a clinching performance and a title defense. In November 2011, at UFC on FOX 1, Dos Santos finished Cain Velasquez with punches in 64 seconds to become the UFC heavyweight champion. He would follow up that performance with a second-round TKO win over Frank Mir at UFC 146 in May 2012.

Dos Santos lost the belt to Velasquez via unanimous decision in a December 2012 rematch at UFC 155. Following a win over Mark Hunt in May 2013, Dos Santos got his trilogy opportunity but was defeated by Velasquez via TKO at UFC 166 in October 2013.

Over the next seven-plus years, Dos Santos remained a heavyweight contender. From 2018-2019, Dos Santos even established a three-fight winning streak with victories over Blagoi Ivanov, Tai Tuivasa, and Derrick Lewis.

Dos Santos followed up the streak with a four-fight losing skid. Prior to his UFC departure, Dos Santos was finished by strikes in four straight fights – losses to Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Ciryl Gane.

Overeem (47-19 MMA, 13-8 UFC) entered the UFC already an established MMA star who competed in numerous notable promotions including Strikeforce, PRIDE, and DREAM.

In December 2011, Overeem made his promotional debut at UFC 141 and finished Brock Lesnar with a body kick and punches. Over his next four fights, Overeem went 1-3 with TKO losses to Antonio Silva, Travis Browne, and Ben Rothwell.

Overeem turned around his bad luck, however, and rattled off a four-fight winning streak with victories over Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson, Junior Dos Santos, and Andrei Arlovski.

Over the span of his next 11 bouts leading to UFC exit, Overeem would have his ups and downs. Prior to his departure, Overeem won back-to-back fights against Walt Harris and Augusto Sakai before he was finished with punches by Alexander Volkov at UFC Fight Night 184 on Feb. 6.

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Giants release wide receiver Golden Tate – New York Post

https://nypost.com/2021/03/03/giants-release-wide-receiver-golden-tate-in-nfl-free-agency/

Giants release wide receiver Golden Tate - New York Post

The Giants have begun their roster housecleaning, on Wednesday releasing wide receiver Golden Tate, a move that was expected for quite some time.

Tate, 32, was scheduled to make $8.4 million in 2021 and would have counted $10.8 on the salary cap — numbers that never were going to fly, given his lack of production last season. The Giants will save $6.1 million on the cap by parting ways with Tate, and he will count $4.7 million in dead money.

The Giants also released linebacker David Mayo, saving $2.3 million.

Tate’s addition was the immediate response after the Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns in 2019. The Giants in no way expected Tate to replicate Beckham’s exploits on the field, but they gave him a four-year, $37.5 million contract that did not make it prohibitive to get rid of him after two years.

Tate got off to a bad start with his new team, missing the first four games of his Giants career on NFL-mandated suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. In 11 games that 2019 season, Tate caught 49 passes for 676 yards and six touchdowns.

His second year with the Giants was a bust. He battled injuries and in 10 games, caught 35 passes for 388 yards and two touchdowns. He was sent home from practice and benched for one game by head coach Joe Judge after a Week 8 outburst in a loss to the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, as Tate screamed, “Throw me the damn ball!’’ at the Giants’ sideline after a reception and later shouted, “Throw me the ball!’’ into a television camera after a touchdown catch. Tate also “liked’’ a post on Twitter suggesting the Giants should cut him. In Week 4, he was involved in a postgame fight with Jalen Ramsey of the Rams. There was bad blood between the two players, as Ramsey is the ex-boyfriend of Tate’s sister, who has two children with Ramsey.

golden tate was released by the giants on wednesday
Golden Tate
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

By saving $8.4 million on the cap, the Giants are now just about at the $180 million figure that is expected to be the minimum teams will be able to spend this season. There will be other cuts in the days to come to increase the cap space.

Without Tate, Sterling Shepard should be able to return to his most comfortable and productive spot as a slot receiver.

Mayo, 27, played in all 16 games (13 starts) in 2019, but was not part of the playing rotation in 2020, with only two starts in 11 games.

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