Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
We begin with football news. In ISL, Bengaluru FC won their first Indian Super League title in Mumbai on Sunday after defeating FC Goa 1-0 in a closely contested match. Both teams failed to make any breakthroughs during either half, and were locked 0-0 after 90 minutes. Even the first extra time saw no goals. Eventually, Bengaluru got the better of Goa four minutes from the end of the second half of the extra time. Rahul Bheke scored the championship-winning goal to ensure Bengaluru lifted the trophy.
Both the teams began with caution. Goa earned a corner early in the game but Edu Bedia's header went wide. Bengaluru's chance came when mid-fielder Nishu Kumar sent Sunil Chhetri through with a lobbed pass. The Bengaluru skipper passed it to Miku, who cut past three players and shot, but Goa goalkeeper Naveen collected it safely. Bengaluru's strikers kept Goa's defense and goalie on their toes, but Goa proved equal to the task. FC Goa suffered a setback when their skipper and mid-fielder Mandar Rao Dessai was stretchered out after he pulled a hamstring just before the half-time break.
Later, Goa were reduced to 10 men after mid-fielder Ahmed Jahouh was shown a second yellow card. At one point, it looked like Goa's defenders would take the game into penalties but Bheke looped a header off a corner kick from Dimas Delgado and to beat goal-keeper Naveen Kumar, triggering celebrations in the Bengaluru camp.
A Premier League update now. Liverpool reclaimed the top spot from Manchester City after a 2-1 win over Fulham on Sunday. But the win came only in the closing minutes, after a James Milner penalty just nine minutes from time.
Sadio Mane put the visitors ahead midway through the first half, but a rare defensive mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker allowed Ryan Babel to give his former club a huge scare 16 minutes from time.
Fulham's awful defending all through the season is a major reason they are heading back to the Championship after just one season back in top flight football. They gave Jurgen Klopp's men a much-needed gift when goalkeeper Sergio Rico bundled over Mane first, and then Milner. Klopp remarked after the game, "Average game, sensational result. City don't look like they will drop a lot of points, so we have to win and win and win. That's our job to do."
With three points from last night's game, Liverpool now hold a two-point lead over City, but the defending champions still have a game to go.
Meanwhile, Everton dented Chelsea's Champions League qualification hopes after beating them 2-0 in a comfortable win at Goodison Park. It was a frustrating afternoon for Maurizio Sarri who watched on as Chelsea suffered a second-half collapse. The game began predictably - , Chelsea looked well in control, and it remained that way for the majority of the first half with Barkley, booed lustily by Everton supporters every time he touched the ball, clearly relishing a return to his former club.
However, the second half was a different story. Richarlison struck in the 49th minute for Everton, after Gylfi Sigurdsson's right-wing corner had been met by a powerful header from Dominic Calvert-Lewin which Kepa Arrizabalaga saved well on his goal line. Chelsea were forced to respond to the game's first goal and Pedro's cross soon picking out Alonso who drove the ball into the side-netting. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the second goal for Everton in the 72nd minute.
A Formula One update now. Valtteri Bottas upstaged his Mercedes world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton to blitz the field and win the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in a sizzling performance on Sunday.
The Finnish driver started second on the grid but got a jump on the Hamilton, who was on pole, at the first corner and never looked back, scorching round the Albert Park circuit to take the chequered flag a massive 20.9 seconds ahead of the 2018 champion. Max finished third in the Red Bull to join them on the podium after audaciously overtaking Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel midway through the race. Four-time world champion Vettel had to settle for fourth place, 57.1 seconds behind Bottas.
Bottas, who was overshadowed by Hamilton in 2018, had failed to win a race. He was hampered by mechanical problems and bad luck but was fast in qualifying and only narrowly edged out of pole position.
Mercedes were in a class of their own all weekend, turning the tables on pre-season testing when Ferrari looked like the team to beat. On the other hand, Ferrari's performance will be a source of worry. They have not won the constructors' title since 2008 and their last driver to become world champion was Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
India's Irfan KT has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after finishing fourth at the Asian Race Walking Championship on Sunday. Irfan clocked 1:20.57 in the 20km walk to attain the standard qualifying mark for the quadrennial extravaganza in Tokyo.
With the fourth place finish, Irfan has also ensured a berth for himself in the upcoming IAAF World Championship in Doha from 27 September to 6 October. Two other Indian race walkers also qualified for the World Championship - Devinder, who clocked 1:21.22, and Ganapati who finished the race in 1:22.12.
Tokyo 2020 will be Irfan's second time at the Olympics. He represented India in 2012 London edition as well.
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli stated that Team India's World Cup-bound players should managing their workloads responsibly, adding that there is no cap on matches. With the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League less than a week away, the cricketers are set to play, train and travel non-stop. The IPL will be followed by the ICC World Cup soon after, and that has generated a lot of debate over the players' workload. The tournament begins on 23 March and is likely to finish mid-May, leaving cricketers with only a couple of weeks to recover before the World Cup begins on 30 May in England.
Virat Kohli has asked his India teammates to be smart about their training and playing schedules. Kohli, who captains Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, believes it would not be feasible to enforce caps on the players and added that the fitness levels of cricketers varies. He said, "You cannot put a cap on anything...If I'm able to play 10, 12 or 15 games, it doesn't necessarily mean that the other guy can only play that many. My body might demand I play a certain number of games and I need to be smart about that and rest. Someone else's body might be more capable than mine or less, that is a very individual thing. And everyone wants to play the World Cup, so people will be smart about it because you don't want to miss out on such a big event."
He added, "From a responsibility point of view, all the Indian players will have the responsibility during the IPL to keep a watch on their fitness and their workloads...And to continue the frame of mind we have created in the Indian team " strive towards excellence and improve every day. Each player will take this tournament as an opportunity to go to the World Cup in a good frame of mind."