So many sports happenings, so little time – but we’re here to help. Yahoo News Singapore picks the top sporting moments of this past week, and tries to make sense of what had happened.
1. Mourinho provoked as Man United were denied at the death
Another week, and yet again Jose Mourinho was involved in the biggest talking point in the English Premier League. This time though, he was not the main provocateur.
The drama occured deep into stoppage time, with Mourinho’s Manchester United leading 2-1 against his old club Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (20 October). The Red Devils had outplayed the hosts, and a win would have been a major boost in their bid to rebound from a poor start to the season.
However, they failed to deal with an in-swinging Chelsea cross from the right flank, and midfielder Ross Barkley reacted quickest to slam the ball home. Cue wild celebrations from the Chelsea bench, as Mourinho slumped back to his seat glumly.
One Chelsea assistant coach, Marco Ianni, went in front of the Portuguese, thrusted out his hips and pumped his fists at the Man United manager. An incensed Mourinho leapt from his seat to confront Ianni, and pandemonium ensued as he was restrained from reaching the alarmed Italian.
Later on, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri ordered Ianni to apologise to Mourinho, and the Man United manager confirmed that he accepted the apology.
Still, the incident overshadowed the significance of the match. Firstly, Chelsea were the inferior team and paid the price by dropping two points off the league-leading Manchester City and Liverpool, both of whom won their weekend matches. Secondly, while Man United showed that they can match the top sides and should be higher than their ninth spot, they still have weaknesses to fix before they can be considered contenders this season.
2. LeBron begins Lakers career, and drama follows
LeBron James wanted to play in Los Angeles. He got what he wanted – plus all the drama that comes along with being in the entertainment capital of the world.
By joining the LA Lakers, he would be aware that all eyes will be locked on him this National Basketball Association (NBA) season. The Lakers are 16-time champions but have missed the post-season for the last five seasons, and while their fans are not expecting a title instantly, they do expect James to lead and improve their young and promising team right away.
They would have been thrilled to see James picking up where he left off at his previous club Cleveland Cavaliers, as the three-time NBA champion showcased his all-around skills from the opening game against Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, scoring his first points for his new team with two consecutive dunks:
LEBRON JAMES 😱😱😱
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) October 19, 2018
The Lakers, however, ran out of steam after a good start, and lost 128-119 at the Blazers’ home arena. A couple of days later, they faced the formidable Houston Rockets in their home opener, and lost again, 124-115. This time though, the spotlight moved from James to an ugly fight near the end of the game:
Rondo and CP3 threw hands in Lakers-Rockets brawl 😳 pic.twitter.com/Z0eWmxDdTH
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 21, 2018
The NBA has come down hard on the instigators, banning Lakers forward Brandon Ingram for four games, Lakers guard Rajon Rondo for three and Rockets guard Chris Paul for two. Yes, drama always follows the Lakers, and James surely got a big taste of what lies in store for him for at least this season.
3. Marquez lands 5th title, chases Rossi’s record mark
Lewis Hamilton did not clinch his fourth straight Formula One drivers’ title during the weekend, as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen won the United States Grand Prix. With Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finishing ahead of the Mercedes GP driver in second place, Hamilton will have to wait another race to build an unassailable lead over Sebastian Vettel atop the drivers’ standings.
But there was still a motor-racing star who won his season on Sunday: Marc Marquez, who clinched his fifth MotoGP title – and third consecutive one – after emerging victorious at the Japanese Grand Prix.
There was a farcical tinge to the Spanish motorcycling racer’s victory, as he suffered a dislocated shoulder while celebrating with his team. Nevertheless, his title victory brought him closer to two all-time records – Valentino Rossi’s six MotoGP titles and Giacomo Agostini’s eight premier-class world championships.
Still only 25 years old, Marquez has thrilled racing fans since his world championship debut in 2008 by pushing the limits of human skill on the motorcycle. Check out his exquisite balance and technique while cornering, leaning so far over the bike that his elbow and knee almost touch the tarmac:
4. Talent and grit at the WTA Finals Singapore
The final edition of the WTA Finals Singapore kicked off on Sunday, as the top eight women’s tennis players began their quests to end their season on a high by winning this prestigious tournament.
Even though this year’s tournament lacks a bit of superstar power – with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova unable to make the top-eight cut, and world No. 1 Simona Halep pulling out injured – there is certainly no lack of talent among those in the running for the title. Check out these two instances of brilliant shot-making on the first day of the competition:
— WTA (@WTA) October 21, 2018
Perhaps the best statistic that showcased how much this tournament matters to the players came from Karolina Pliskova, who produced a surprise result on Sunday by beating defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 in their White Group tie. Faced with 10 break points during the match as Wozniacki tried to put pressure on her, the tall Czech former world No. 1 saved every one of them to frustrate the Dane. Sheer grit and determination:
🔟 break points faced.
🔟 break points saved!
— WTA (@WTA) October 21, 2018
5. ‘All-or-nothing’ catch for crucial victory
Major League Baseball can sometimes be tough to grasp for beginners, who may be intimidated by the sheer number of rules, strategies and statistical categories. But at its heart, it remains a simple game of teams alternately trying to hit the ball far enough to score runs around the bases, or catch the ball mid-air to eliminate the hitter.
So even casual sports fans can appreciate what Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox did to win a crucial game for his team on Wednesday. Here was the scenario: the Houston Astros were trailing the Red Sox 8-6, but had men on every base in their final at-bat. Had they got a big hit towards the outfield, they could possibly score three or four runs and snatch a victory to level the American League Championship Series at 2-2.
And to the delight of the home fans, the player at bat, Alex Bregman, managed a huge hit towards the outfield. Moments later, their delight turned into crushing disappointment, as Benintendi did this:
Andrew Benintendi with the most “All or nothing” play you’ll ever see.
Miss this ball and the series goes 2-2.
He caught it. The series is now 3-1. pic.twitter.com/xUxI3lmAqQ
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) October 18, 2018
The game-saving catch meant the Red Sox went up 3-1 in the series, which they eventually wrapped up 4-1 a day later to book themselves a spot in the World Series. Quality in high-pressure moments – that is what sports is all about.