Arsenal and Liverpool play out thrilling wins against biggest rivals; Fury remarkably un-furious after controversial draw in LA; Kiwis romp to Sevens title; Rahm wins Tiger’s year-end jamboree in the Caribbean; Copa confusion continues. This is your Monday sporting recap.
Bragging rights for the Gunners, Reds
For the last couple of years the balance of power in North London has shifted and the derby is something Spurs fans have come to look forward to, rather than approach with dread. But old habits die hard.
The 4-2 home win for Arsenal was the kind of pulsating match that is the ultimate advertisement for the Premier League and at the end of the 90-plus minutes the Gunners find themselves in familiar territory – in fourth place, and, crucially, ahead of Spurs.
Arsenal started with its tail up and capitalized early through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 10th-minute penalty, but a swift reply from Eric Dier, and an even swifter penalty from Harry Kane to take the lead looked to have brought Spurs out of its funk. The visitors played well up to and past the half time whistle but a second from Arsenal’s Gabonese striker – who’s absolutely on fire this season – before the hour, followed up by strikes from substitute Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torriera, restored Arsenal to winning ways over its biggest rival.
Up north another ancient rivalry played out amid frantic scenes as Liverpool overcame Everton 1-0 thanks to a late, late injury time winner from substitute Divock Origi, who scored a freak goal after a Virgil van Dijk volley bounced off Everton keeper Jordan Pickford’s gloves before bouncing off the bar and allowing Origi, who had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes, to nod in. The Kop erupted, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp erupted and Liverpool have another famous win over the blue half of Merseyside.
On the other side of London, Chelsea played out its own derby against crosstown rivals Fulham, with Maurizio Sarri’s men proving too much of a handful for former manager Claudio Ranieri – who was brought down to earth with a bump after last week’s first win – and the Cottagers, who lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Fury keeps cool after controversial draw
Who says draws can’t be exciting?
Tyson Fury said he genuinely thought he’d gotten the better of Deontay Wilder when the final bell went for their WBC title fight, and he wasn’t the only one – but the 12-round matchup was judged a draw. The fight was an absolute belter, a true return to the days of glamor heavyweight ties, which saw Fury knocked down twice, including in the dying seconds of the 12th round, Wilder bloodied and swollen and a split draw that summed up the wild mood of the night.
Even though the draw allowed Wilder to retain the title, Fury was sanguine.
“I enjoyed every second of it,” Fury said after the fight at LA’s Staples Center. “I’m not going to sit here and complain all night and scream robbery. I thought I won the fight, I’ll leave the audience to decide what they thought. But listen: two men tried their hardest, tried our guts out, trained for 10 weeks, away from their families.”
It’s been a hell of a journey for the Mancunian since his unlikely rise to heavyweight champ, ending Wladimir Klitschko’s 10-year reign in 2015.
In the aftermath, Fury bought a Ferrari, with the intention to drive it at high speed off a bridge. That he twice got up off the canvas in the WBC heavyweight title fight Saturday might be one of the clumsier metaphors out there for the massive, 30-year-old Brit, but still it speaks volumes about his determination. His post-match comments say equally as much about his class and sportsmanship.
A rematch looks on the cards, with both fighters having one eye on a likely chance at Anthony Joshua and his WBA, WBO and IBF straps.
Kiwis prove their mettle in Dubai
New Zealand proves once again that it doesn’t really matter how many men are on the pitch – put a rugby ball in there somewhere and they’ll quickly prove that they’re the best there is. This time there were seven, and the USA played the part of unwitting punching bag.
The occasion being the opening tournament of the men’s World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai, where the Eagles were soundly beaten 21-5.
The victory, New Zealand’s first in Dubai since 2009, backed up July’s World Cup win in San Francisco. The omens for this season are good, too, as for the past three seasons the winner of the season’s first tournament has also gone on to lift the overall title.
It’s not New Zealand’s favored format but with the added incentive of Olympic qualification on the line in this year’s tournament, the win couldn’t have come at a better time for this lesser-known All Black squad.
Tiger’s year-end bonanza ends well for Rahm
Jon Rahm took advantage of the balmy Caribbean weather to stroll to a seven-under 65 on Sunday for a four-shot victory in the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ year-end charity bash in Nassau.
Starting the day even with Tony Finau and Henrik Stenson, Rahm held his nerve as his challengers fell away, capping out a great end to what is only his second year as a pro.
Harking back to his Ryder Cup victory over Woods earlier in the year, the Spaniard said that playing with the legend was a career highlight.
“That Sunday with Tiger is still the most emotionally, most important moment of my golf career,” he said. “It means so much to play against Tiger. A couple months later, to win his event, it’s really special.”
Woods himself – complaining of ankle trouble just months after ridding himself of the back pain that has plagued his form over the last couple of years – ended the weekend with a one-over 73 to finish 17th, last but one in the 18-man field. He finished 19 shots behind the 24-year-old Rahm.
“Overall, it was a long week, but one that I hope the players enjoyed,” Woods said.
Libertadores fate decided – or is it?
It’s back on. Wait. No, it’s not. Is it?
The ongoing saga of the Copa Libertadores continues, even after Spain agreed to host it at the Bernabeu in Madrid.
River Plate has objected to playing the second, rescheduled leg of the tournament final in Spain after it was moved from its El Monumental stadium following crowd trouble, calling it “incomprehensible” that South America’s footballing centerpiece be played 6,000 miles away from home.
Playing the second leg in Spain “distorts the competition” and “denied unjustifiably” the home fans who will miss their chance to see the Buenos Aires derby – known as the Superclasico – writ large as the Copa final.
The match was initially set to take place on November 24 but was canceled after rioting River Plate fans attacked the Boca Juniors team bus, throwing projectiles, smashing windows and injuring several players, including the Boca Juniors captain Pablo Pérez and midfielder Gonzalo Lamardo. It was again postponed the following day, leaving fans and players alike wondering if, and when it would ever happen.
The wait continues.