Zenit St Petersburg v Celtic: Europa League second leg – live!

6.09pm GMT

It’s all square, and it’s the birthday boy! Ivanovic loves attacking a set piece and he does exactly that – the ball is delivered from the right and, rising above a static Simunovic, he thumps home a colossal header into the top corner!

6.08pm GMT

7 min: “Can’t beat SPb for cold as it’s only -12 down the road here in Tallinn. Though forecast for -25 next week, which is a bit nippy. Saturday is the country’s (Estonia’s) 100th birthday party but they’re worried the bands won’t be able to play because of the cold. Freezes lips to trumpets apparently. Hope Celtic haven’t brought a version of England’s Billy the Trumpeter tonight,” writes Robin Hazlehurst, hopefully from a sauna or in front of a log fire.

Meanwhile Zenit show, at last, and Paredes has a low shot turned round by De Vries. It’s a corner, from which …

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Elise Christie may take up long-track skating after Winter Olympic pain

• Short-track skater will consider doubling up in bid to end jinx
• Briton reveals plan to retire and switch sports had she won gold

Elise Christie will consider moving abroad to take up long-track speed skating – where there are far fewer opponents and crashes than in short track – in a bid to end her jinx at the Winter Olympics.

Related: I wasn’t ready to let go of Olympic dream, says Elise Christie

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Blaklion’s Aintree chances unharmed by defeat, says Nigel Twiston-Davies

• Grand National hope ‘has come back and he’s fine,’ insists trainer
• Twiston-Davies will have no runners in Cheltenham Gold Cup

A combative Nigel Twiston-Davies has attempted to shoot down concerns that Blaklion may have left his Grand National chance in the Haydock mud on Saturday.

The horse appeared exhausted as he clambered over the final fence and tottered his way to a 54-length defeat by Yala Enki but the trainer insisted there was no ground for concern that his Aintree chance might be compromised.

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Short ready to give Sunderland away for free

Ellis Short at the Stadium of Light

Owner Ellis Short is prepared to give Sunderland away for free if a buyer can be found to take on the Championship club’s substantial debt.

Short has said he is open to offers for the relegation-threatened club, but has failed to find a buyer.

Reports had said the American would accept £50m for his shares.

But he is now ready to sell for nothing as long as any new owner takes on debts which stood, according to the last published figures in 2016, at £137.3m.

It marks a stunning fall in value with Short believed to have set an asking price of £170m as recently as late 2016, when the club was still in the Premier League.

Around half of the debt, £69m, is owed to the London-based businessman personally and it is thought the billionaire may forego some or all of that figure as part of any deal.

The balance of £68m is owed to Security Bank Corporation, which is owned by Guggenheim Partners, while interest payments are currently running at approximately £8m a year.

Fresh club accounts are due to be filed in April and the gross debt may have been potentially reduced further in the intervening months, since the last set of figures.

It is believed Short – together with Sunderland’s American-based board member Per Magnus Anderson – have held talks with several prospective buyers in recent months. Discussions are believed to be continuing but no solid agreement for a sale has yet been reached.

He hired an adviser last year to process a takeover of the club, but decided to remain in June as he was unhappy with the potential deal with a German consortium.

Sunderland are bottom of the table and winless in five games, with Chris Coleman’s team facing the prospect of starting next season in League One.

Speaking in November, Short, who took a controlling interest in Sunderland in 2008, said: “I may or may not sell the club in the future, that’s not completely out of my control, but mostly it is out of my control.

“As long as I own it I’m going to be focused on what is good for the club, and the immediate focus is getting out of the situation we’re in now.”

A spokesman for Sunderland declined to comment.

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Lewis Hamilton prepared for F1 rivalry with Sebastian Vettel to become spikier

• ‘I don’t play mind games, I just drive faster’ says champion
• Mercedes’ Toto Wolff condemns new halo cockpit safety device

Lewis Hamilton has warned his relationship with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel could deteriorate in this year’s Formula One world championship and that he is “expecting the worst”.

The British driver claimed his fourth world title in 2017, equalling Vettel, after a tense struggle with the German, who led the championship until the 13th round at Monza where Hamilton took top spot and held it until claiming the title five races later in Mexico.

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EFL summer transfer window to close earlier

EFL clubs have voted through proposals to shut the summer transfer window for permanent transfers on Thursday, 9 August at 17:00 BST.That brings the 72 EFL clubs in line with the Premier League, who voted in favour of closing the window before their se…


The Fiver | A forlorn expression, well-placed scarf and miserable-looking dog

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Long, long, ago, in an office reasonably close by, The Fiver used to be sent out on weekends and bank holiday weekends too. Back then, it was a diligent tea-timely email, eager to please The Man, making its subscriber squeal with delight with the latest satire, 365 days a year. But one night, The Fiver went to one of those hideously-expensive retro cinema nights, screened at some ungodly hour, and watched Ferris Bueller. This is how we came to discover the sick-note, the sickie, aka the glorious day(s) off. More specifically, discovering the steps needed to make a sickie convincing. The key to faking out The Man is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you’re bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is this missive.

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Eddie Van Hoof sacked as men’s head coach at British Gymnastics

• British Gymnastics cites ‘irreconcilable differences’ in statement
• Decision comes after investigation into allegations of misconduct

Eddie Van Hoof has been sacked as men’s head national coach at British Gymnastics, the governing body has announced.

Van Hoof, who led the British men’s team to five medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016, was suspended from his role in November last year after allegations of misconduct.

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Manchester United were dull but does Mourinho have a duty to entertain?

The Sevilla stalemate drew mention of betraying United’s identity. José Mourinho is entitled to play the way he believes will get results but football should be about more than success

Some Manchester United fans saw a wonderful game in Seville; it just wasn’t the one their team played in. A handful of supporters made the most of the Champions League clash, travelling to Spain early, and on Sunday they were at the Benito Villamarín with 50,000 others to see Real Betis lose 5-3 to Real Madrid. Three days later and three and a half kilometres away, they were among the 40,000 who watched United draw 0-0 at the Sánchez Pizjuán, on a night when their team had a solitary shot on target.

There is something about Betis. Sunday was the second time they had been involved in a 5-3. There have also been two 5-0s, a 4-0, two 2-2s, two 3-2s, 6-3 and a 4-4. Oh, and a victory at the Santiago Bernabéu. There have been no 0-0s. When it comes to Spanish football, there is a basic rule worth adhering to, whoever you support: Always Watch Betis. It is not one many would apply to United right now, because if what happened on Sunday was predictable, what happened on Wednesday probably was too.

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Former KGB agent wins biathlon gold medal for Belarus at Winter Olympics

  • Darya Domracheva has collected two medals at Pyeongchang
  • Biathlete worked for state security organisation until 2014

At her many appearances in various biathlon events at the Winter Olympics, spectators may have wondered how Darya Domracheva became such a crack shot. Her years spent in the KGB could be the answer.

Domracheva of Belarus won a gold medal on Thursday in the women’s 4x6km relay, her second of the Games after a silver in the women’s 12.5km mass start. She has won six medals in total, including four golds, in the biathalon, which is a mix of cross-country skiing and riflery. She is married to Norwegian Olympian Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the most successful biathlete of all time.

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Shani Davis, America’s most important Winter Olympian, reaches his end game

The speedskater has been attacked for skipping the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. But he has helped transform winter sports in the US

Early last Saturday a group of mostly African American children from a club inspired by the speedskater Shani Davis gathered to watch a woman who had once been in their position competing in the Olympics. Halfway around the world, Maame Biney smiled as she glided to the starting line for her first 1500m heat.

“There she is,” a child shouted from before the television set up at the Fort Dupont Ice Arena. “I see her,” yelled another.

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Mikaela Shiffrin never had to be the Michael Phelps of skiing

The pressure on the 22-year-old to deliver a haul of golds at these Winter Olympics was immense. But now she has time and experience on her side

By no sane metric could Mikaela Shiffrin’s second Olympics, which concluded on Thursday afternoon with her silver medal in the alpine combined to go with last week’s giant slalom gold, be fairly assessed as anything but a success.

She competed in three events in Pyeongchang after the weather conspired to spoil her ambitious bid for a record-breaking five medals in five events. Expectations were warped by months of hype which could only be characterized as unrealistic in the notoriously volatile trade of alpine skiing, where the margins that separate triumph and disaster come down to the most innocuous variables.

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England’s latest Fijian recruit, Lagi Tuima: ‘I get a thrill from chaos’

The 19-year-old niece of Fiji’s men’s captain will start for England against Scotland in the Women’s Six Nations and says it is an honour to represent her adopted country

England roll into Scotland on Friday night to continue their pursuit of another Women’s Six Nations title, with a smattering of fresh faces and sprinkling of Fijian flair. Lagi Tuima, the 19-year-old niece of the Fiji men’s captain, Akapusi Qera, makes her first Six Nations start and while she considers it an “honour and a privilege” to represent England, she does not intend to forget her roots.

“I guess I play what I see. I do get a thrill when there is chaos in front of me,” says Tuima. “I do like to offload – whether or not it’s the right thing to do or not – but it’s definitely one of my go-tos when I play.”

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Dirk Nowitzki: harassment and assault claims against Mavericks are ‘heartbreaking’

  • SI report details allegations of violence within franchise
  • Owner Mark Cuban has launched independent investigation

Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki has expressed his dismay after a Sports Illustrated investigation alleged the franchise is a hostile workplace for women.

The story detailed how one team employee had a history of violence against women within the organization while former CEO Terdema Ussery was alleged to have sexually harassed a number of colleagues. One former department head said there was “built-in protection for a lot of men” within the team. None of the allegations were against the playing staff.

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Stadium of plight: Sunderland at risk of their most shattering relegation | Louise Taylor

Chris Coleman spoke of rebuilding Sunderland but, with the club bottom of the Championship, a wantaway owner unable to sell and poor player recruitment, he now seems less certain

When Chris Coleman walks into a room, one question invariably seems to echo around the walls. “Why?” the former Wales manager is asked. “Why Sunderland?” The moment at a Christmas drinks party when someone put it rather more bluntly and inquired what the hell he was doing there was not an isolated cameo.

Coleman typically responds with grace and humour but, just lately, his talk of “sleepless nights” and “soul destroying” afternoons in the technical area, allied to the sense he is “in the middle of a tornado” and “staring into an abyss”, hint at inner doubts.

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Soccer – Herrera’s injury concerns Mourinho

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho fears that Ander Herrera suffered a ‘bad injury’ in the early stages of Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against Sevilla in a Champions League round of 16 first-leg encounter.

The Spaniard, who had missed United’s last three …


Soccer – Eriksen demands complete focus

Christian Eriksen is refusing to get carried away even though Tottenham are unbeaten in their last 14 games in all competitions.

Spurs are 2/5 with bet365 to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League this season and 9/20 to beat Crystal Palace i…


Rugby Union – Jones places his faith in Hughes

Eddie Jones has made just one change to the England side that beat Wales earlier this month for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland.

Nathan Hughes, who suffered a knee injury in December, will start at No 8 at Murrayfield as England contin…


Östersund, the club with ‘no history and no ideas’ that took on Europe

When Östersund fell into Swedish fourth tier – ‘the lowest of the low’ – in 2010 they tried something new. It’s still working

A film by Copa90 of the Guardian Sport Network

European football can feel very predictable. The same clubs spend their fortunes on the world’s most valuable stars, cruise to the final eight of continental tournaments, and dominate their domestic leagues. In a way, football at the very top has stagnated. But in the geographical centre of Sweden, in an isolated place known to the rest of the country as “up in the mountains of the north,” a new approach has taken root and blossomed on the European stage.

Östersund were in the fourth tier of Swedish football as recently as 2010. They had little by way of vision or resources and were struggling to make football work in a town dominated by winter sports, in a country dominated by clubs in the south, and in a game dominated by money. So how did this club based 240 miles from the Arctic Circle find themselves playing Arsenal in the last 16 of the Europa League?

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Elise Christie refuses to be defined by Olympic failure – video

Great Britain short track speed skater Elise Christie insisted that she won’t be defined by a second disastrous Winter Olympic campaign. Christie was disqualified in the 100m on Tuesday after a crash earlier in the Games saw her miss out on a semi-final spot in the 1,500m. Christie vows she’ll be back in Beijing and tougher than ever before

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