Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
We start with Champions League news today.
Real Madrid needed a late winner from Marco Asensio and VAR's debut in the Champions League to beat a spirited Ajax 2-1 in the first leg of the last-16 on Wednesday
Ajax have not beaten Madrid in 24 years and thought they were on their way at the Johan Cruyff Arena when Nicolas Tagliafico headed home after a Thibaut Courtois error.
But referee Damir Skomina judged Dusan Tadic to be offside upon review and Madrid showed no pity on their youthful opponents, Karim Benzema and Asensio scoring two precious away goals in the second half.
Hakim Ziyech's equaliser at least keeps Ajax in touch heading into the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu but Asensio's 87th-minute winner was a sucker-punch in a match the Dutch team had largely dominated.
Their ruled out opener will only add to the sense of what might have been and it was no surprise to see a cluster of red and white shirts surrounding the officials at the final whistle.
Elsewhere, defender Jan Vertonghen scored once and set up another goal for Son Heung-min as Tottenham Hotspur thumped Borussia Dortmund 3-0 at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday to give them the clear edge following the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.
Tottenham looked unfazed by the absence of injured captain Harry Kane and Dele Alli, scoring all three goals in a strong second half to take control of the tie and leave the Germans on the brink of a European exit.
Belgian Vertonghen notched his first goal in the Champions League with a well-timed volley in the 83rd minute after he had set up forward Son for a 47th-minute lead. Substitute Fernando Llorente grabbed their third in the 86th, two minutes after coming on.
That was Son's ninth goal against Dortmund in 11 matches, with the South Korean, who played in the Bundesliga from 2010-15, having also scored twice in the competition's group stage last season.
Bundesliga leaders Dortmund, eliminated from the German Cup last week, were nowhere to be seen in the second half, with speedy teenager Jadon Sancho given no space to operate after the break. The return leg is on 5 March.
Paris St Germain manager Thomas Tuchel said that the team's forward Angel Di Maria was spurred on by the hostile crowd at Manchester United on Tuesday.
Di Maria played a part in both PSG goals in that 2-0 win. The 30-year-old was booed by fans and had a beer bottle thrown in his direction during the Champions League last 16 contest. Di Maria was United's record signing in 2014 when he was acquired for 59.7 million pounds but had an underwhelming debut season under Louis Van Gaal. That mediocre performance led to the Argentine's transfer to PSG just a year later.
But the hostility from the crowd proved counterproductive. Tuchel said, "He had a hard time in the first half, the guy is very competitive. If you tease him, it does not make him weaker. I thought he had a good relationship with the fans. He was a bit nervous and needed to be calmer in the first half. In the end he did well."
Hockey news now. Former India captain N Mukesh Kumar and his brother are in legal trouble for allegedly obtaining fake Scheduled Caste certificates and securing jobs in Indian Airlines.
Acting on a complaint by a local tahasildar in Hyderabad, an FIR had been registered under the Indian Penal Code sections 420 (cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) against Kumar and his brother Suresh Kumar, Bowenpally Police Station Inspector D Rajesh told PTI.
According to the complaint, Kumar, a triple Olympian and a recipient of the prestigious Arjuna and Padma Shri awards, is accused of furnishing false SC 'A' Mala caste certificates along with his brother, and thus securing employment in the government-run Indian Airlines while they actually belong to backward class 'Nayee Brahmin' community. Indian airlines had requested Hyderabad district officials to inquire into the matter after receiving a complaint that the two brothers did not belong to the SC community.
Mukesh defended himself saying Mukesh he had the SC certificate right from class 1.
He said, "I got the job in the Indian Airlines under the sports quota." Mukesh Kumar was a star forward and represented India in over 300 international matches, including the Olympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000, and scored 80 goals.
Delhi U-23 cricketer Anuj Dedha, who had assaulted former India pacer and Delhi selector Amit Bhandari, was banned for life by the DDCA yesterday.
Dedha was one 50 Delhi probables for the National U-23 one day meet. After being rejected for the state U-23 team, Dedha brought some hired goons and attacked Bhandari, the senior and U-23 selection committee chairman, on Monday during a practice game of the senior team. Bhandari had to be rushed to the hospital with multiple injuries on his forehead, ear and leg. Dedha is currently under police custody.
DDCA president Rajat Sharma said, "Anuj Dedha will be banned for life and the decision was taken at a meeting which was also attended by the selectors and Gautam Gambhir, who is a member of the apex council. We will get the recommendation ratified at a general body meeting. Henceforth, Dedha will also not be allowed to play in any club match or any tournament affiliated with the DDCA."
An incensed former Delhi captain Gautam Gambhir, who is a member of DDCA's apex council, proposed a life ban for Dedha during a meeting with DDCA president Rajat Sharma and the selectors. Sharma added, "It was Gautam, who mooted the idea of a life ban and also suggested that from now on, no parents, relatives or friends will be allowed to watch the trials. Only the players whether U-14 or U-16 will get entry inside the stadium premises."
West Indian bowler Shannon Gabriel has been suspended by the ICC for the first four ODIs of the upcoming five-match series against England. The suspension comes after his total demerit points reached eight within a 24-month period. His latest indiscretion, a scrap with Joe Root, saw him receive a 75% fine and three demerit points.
During the third day of the St Lucia Test against England on Monday, Gabriel directed a comment towards Joe Root that was not audible to television viewers. But British broadcaster Sky Sports said the England captain was heard responding to the bowler, "Don't use it as an insult. There's nothing wrong with being gay". Gabriel's use of apparent homophobic remarks was not picked by the stump mics.
The bowler admitted to the offence after the match ended on Tuesday, and accepted the sanction proposed by Jeff Crowe of the Elite Panel of Match Referees. Gabriel was found guilty of breaching article 2.13 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel. The code relates to "personal abuse of a Player, Player Support Personnel, Umpire or Match Referee during an international match."
Level 2 breaches warrant a penalty of 50-100% of a player's match fee, or 1 or 2 suspension points. A guilty finding will see three or four demerit points added to the player's disciplinary record. Gabriel already had five demerit points against his name for two earlier incidents- against Pakistan in April 2017 and against Bangladesh last November. With three demerit points from the Joe Root incident, Gabriel reached the threshold of eight demerit points that get converted into four suspension points - that equates to a ban from two Tests or four ODIs/T20Is, whatever comes first in the player's schedule.
Gafur Rakhimov, head of the International Boxing Association or AIBA, said he "understands" the International Olympic Committee's concerns over the troubled AIBA which has led to a freeze on the sport's preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The AIBA president, a prominent Uzbek businessman, blame his predecessor Wu Ching-Kuo for the "extremely serious" situation. Rakhimov said, "The former leadership of AIBA left our organisation in a complete mess, not only financially but also in terms of governance, anti-doping and refereeing." He went on to claim that under his leadership the AIBA had "improved dramatically on all fronts". He said, "IBA members and boxers from around the world should be proud of this¦ (AIBA) is healthy now and in better shape than ever before."
Speaking about the uncertainty that's hanging over boxing in the Tokyo Olympics, Rakhimov said, "Our boxers are waiting, they need to know when, where or how to qualify for the Olympic Games next year. They must be the priority of everybody!" Boxing's fate at next year's games depends on the outcome of an investigation into the AIBA by the IOC.