Feb 23, 2021
MATCHDAY: Man City, Madrid resume Champions League campaigns
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A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:
Manchester City, the form team in Europe, resumes its latest bid to win the Champions League for the first time with a first-leg match against Borussia Monchengladbach in the last 16. City has won its last 18 matches in all competitions and is facing a team which hasn’t reached the knockout stage of Europe’s top competition since getting to the European Cup semifinals in 1978.City, though, has yet to advance beyond the quarterfinals since Pep Guardiola joined in 2016. Real Madrid traveled to Bergamo with a squad decimated by injuries. Forward Karim Benzema did not recover in time and remained in Spain, along with captain Sergio Ramos and a number of other players. Madrid will still be the outstanding favorite as the 13-time European champion visits Atalanta, which is making only its second appearance in the competition. Atalanta will have poignant memories of the same stage last season. The Champions League outsider beat Valencia 4-1 in the first leg but the joy was shortlived as, days later, Bergamo became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. The match was dubbed “Game Zero” by media.
Tottenham looks certain to become the first team to qualify for the last 16 as the English club takes a 4-1 lead into the second leg of its match with Austrian opponent Wolfsberg. Such a commanding first-leg advantage should allow Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho the opportunity to rest key players like Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for the Premier League, where Spurs are in a free fall after losing five of their last six games.
Barcelona hosts Elche in a match postponed from the first round of the Spanish league because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Catalan club was given extra time to rest after it played in the Champions League later into last season. A win will move Barcelona back into third place in the standings. It would stay two points behind second-place Real Madrid and five points behind leader Atlético Madrid, which will have a game in hand. Barcelona is coming off a 1-1 home draw against struggling Cádiz and a 4-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 of the Champions League. Elche, sitting 18th in the 20-team standings, defeated Eibar in the previous round to end a 16-game winless streak in the league.
Two teams fighting against relegation meet in Ligue 1 when Nimes hosts Lorient. Second-to-last Nimes can climb out of the relegation zone — and drop third-to-last Lorient into it — with a win.
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Kevin Sutherland upends Mike Weirs bid for first PGA Tour Champions victory
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TUCSON, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 28: Kevin Sutherland hits a tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the Cologuard Classic at the Catalina Course of the Omni Tucson National Resort on February 28, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
A Mike Weir victory seemed to have had an air of inevitability about it this week, notwithstanding golf’s predilection for not following a script, as it did again in the final round of the Cologuard Classic on Sunday.
Weir, whose eight PGA Tour victories include a Masters, appeared destined to make his first PGA Tour Champions victory a wire-to-wire one until he stalled en route to the trophy presentation and Kevin Sutherland slipped ahead and won it by two.
“I’ve got to think about it,” Weir said. “I need time to refresh and take some time to digest it and think about the little adjustments probably I need to make, but there wasn’t a lot to do different out there. I clearly didn't strike it quite as good as the first two days, but I didn't strike it poorly either. I just didn't really get much out of it.”
The victory was the sixth on the senior tour for Sutherland, 56, who began the final round trailing Weir by two. Sutherland shot a four-under 69 in the final round to Weir’s even-under 73 at Omni Tucson National.
The turning point came when Sutherland birdied the 16th and 17th holes and Weir bogeyed the 16th to fall one behind, then bogeyed the 18th, too.
Weir, whose last win came in 2007 in the Fry’s Electronic Open, had introduced victory as a possible inevitability by virtue of what now is five top 10s in 12 senior starts, as well as the lead he took into the final round that increased to four over Sutherland through eight holes.
But Weir played the last 10 holes in three-over and Sutherland played them in three-under, a six-shot swing.
“I just kind of hung in there on the back side and I wasn't swinging my best at it today,” Sutherland said. “I was struggling a little bit with the wind, my rhythm was all off and everything.
“All of a sudden I made a couple birdies, and then the chip-in on 16 was huge. It just kind of flipped everything. All of a sudden we're tied and then I started making really good swings.”
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Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, stumbled to his worst round of the week, an even-par 70 that included a triple bogey on the ninth hole when he hit his tee shot into water. He finished at four-under par 215, 11 shots back of the winner, in this his failed bid to become the first in senior history to win his first three starts.
“I'm frustrated obviously,” he said. “I haven’t played well for a little while, and yet the parts seem like they’re there when I’m home. I have great practice sessions, but I'm not putting it together on the course and it's been frustrating.”