Spanish soccer club Barcelona set a La Liga record Saturday with its 39th consecutive game without a loss as it rebounded from its humbling Champions League ouster by defeating visiting Valencia, 2-1, to continue its march to the domestic league title. Philippe Coutinho set up Luis Suarez (15th minute) and Samuel Umtiti (51st) for goals as Barcelona established the milestone four days after squandering a 4-1 first-leg advantage by losing, 3-0, at Roma and failing to reach Europe’s final four for the third year in a row. Real Sociedad’s mark of 38 straight league games without a loss had stood since 1980. Barcelona is undefeated through 32 games this season after going unbeaten in its final seven games last season. Barcelona has a 14-point lead over second-place Atletico Madrid.
Manchester City closes in on EPL title
First-half goals from Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan and a Raheem Sterling strike after the break led Manchester City to a 3-1 win at Tottenham, leaving the club on the verge of clinching the English Premier League title. Manchester City will clinch its third league crown since 2012 if Manchester United fails to beat West Bromwich Albion on Sunday or loses to Bournemouth on Wednesday. Regardless of United’s results, City will take the title by beating Swansea on April 22 . . . Two days after South American governing body CONMEBOL asked FIFA to fast-track the increase of men’s World Cup teams from 32 to 48, 2022 host Qatar said it wants to have talks with FIFA to discuss the logistics of increasing the feld four years earlier than planned. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said he is receptive to CONMBEOL’s request but acknowledged a feasibility study is needed. Qatar’s infrastructure, which is being rapidly developed to cope with the World Cup, will already be stretched by the requirements of staging the Middle East’s first World Cup. Growing the tournament would see the number of games rise from 64 to 80. The tiny desert nation has only eight stadiums planned for the event and expanding the tournament might work only if the additional games are shared in the region . . . Spanish third-division club Toledo says Tunisian forward Lassad Nouioui was hospitalized after suffering a cardiac arrest on Saturday. The 32-year-old is in intensive care after falling unconscious during practice. The club says Nouioui is in stable condition and will remain in the hospital for 48 hours for additional tests.
Rockies’ Arenado drops suspension appeal
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado dropped his appeal and started serving his five-game suspension in Washington for his part in Wednesday’s brawl with San Diego. Major League Baseball handed down the punishment after Arenado charged the mound after Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo threw a pitch behind his back during the Rockies’ 6-4 victory. Colorado outfielder Gerrado Parra is still appealing his four-game suspension from the incident . . . The Mariners activated designated hitter Nelson Cruz (sprained right ankle) from the 10-day disabled list. The slugger belted two home runs in his first six at-bats of the season before slipping on the dugout steps during Seattle’s opening homestand . . . The Athletics put righty reliever Liam Hendriks (right groin strain) on the 10-day disabled list and activated reliever Ryan Dull (strained right shoulder). Hendriks left Friday's series opener against Seattle in the middle of an at-bat in the eighth inning after throwing a pitch.
Michigan's Wagner says he’s entering draft
Michigan big man Moe Wagner has decided to forgo his senior season, announcing in an essay written for The Players’ Tribune that he is entering the NBA draft and will sign with an agent. He entered his name in the draft last year but later withdrew it. Wagner helped the Wolverines reach the NCAA title game earlier this month, where they lost to Villanova. The 6-foot-11, 245-pound German forward averaged 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds and made 39.4 percent of his 3-point shots last season . . . The Mavericks and Bulls won tiebreakers on Friday to put them in better positions ahead of the NBA draft lottery. The Mavericks won a tiebreaker with the Hawks after they shared the NBA’s third-worst record at 24-58. Dallas gets a 13.8 percent chance to win the lottery and Atlanta at 13.7, and should neither team move up, the Mavericks would pick one spot higher in the draft. Chicago and Sacramento both finished 27-55. They will have the same odds in the lottery, but the Bulls will be sixth and the Kings seventh if nobody jumps ahead of them and neither moves up.
.@moritz_weasley left his mark as a player and as a person fans could relate to, and now he leaves to pursue the next step in his basketball dream.— Michigan Athletics (@UMichAthletics) April 14, 2018
STORY � https://t.co/YaT9iiPlkX
Forever, #GoBlue. pic.twitter.com/G90KzroUIR
Preece speeds to Xfinity victory at Bristol
Ryan Preece won the NASCAR Xfinity Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway to take home the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus prize. The 27-year-old became the Series’ seventh different winner this year in as many races, beating Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric to the line. Elliott Sadler finished fourth and Spencer Gallagher was fifth. Series regulars were not eligible to compete because of restrictions placed on the Dash 4 Cash races. old Preece was racing in only his third Xfinity Series event of the year. He was strong all day, but it all came down to the final 10 laps. Brandon Jones bemoaned the final caution that came out late. He gambled by taking on only two tires. Preece, who took four tires, was able to take him on the restart and he pulled away for an easy victory. Preece was competing with three other qualifying drivers — pole sitter Cole Custer, Christopher Bell, and Hemric — for the $100,000 prize . . . Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, where the German will be going for his third straight victory to open the Formula One season. Vettel and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen will start on the first row in Shanghai. Mercedes, which has dominated the last four seasons, will start on the second row with Valtteri Bottas ahead of No. 4 Lewis Hamilton — the defending and four-time series champion. Vettel had his quickest time on his final qualifying lap, clocking 1 minute, 31.095 seconds on the 3.39-mile course to edge out Raikkonen . . . Alexander Rossi will start on the pole for Sunday's IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in California after a qualifying lap of 1 minute, 6.5528 seconds. Will Power will start second followed by Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon .
All-American final on tap in Houston
Defending champion Steve Johnson wore down fellow American Taylor Fritz, 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, breaking the 20-year-old twice in the third set after letting two match points slip away in the second in the US Men’s Clay Court semifinals in Houston. Johnson will play Tennys Sandgren, another American who advanced to his first ATP World Tour final by neutralizing second seed Ivo Karlovic’s huge serve in a 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4) victory . . . Second-seeded Kyle Edmund will face two-time champion Pablo Andujar in the Grand Prix Hassan II final after they each played two matches on a hectic day in Marrakech, Morocco. Edmund beat fourth-seeded Richard Gasquet, 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals after a 6-2, 6-1 quarterfinal win over Malek Jaziri. Andujar followed his 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Alexey Vatutin with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-4. The doubleheaders were necessary after rain washed out play on on Friday . . . Second seed Elise Mertens downed Vera Lapko, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, in the Samsung Open semifinals at Lugano, Switzerland. She will face Aryna Sabalenka, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Stefanie Voegele, 6-4, 6-2.
Blue Jackets’ Wennberg will miss Game 2
Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg will not play Sunday in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first round playoff series against the Washington Capitals, NHL.com reported. Columbus coach John Tortorella said Wennberg is day to day after being injured on a hit from Washington forward Tom Wilson in the third period of a 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 on Thursday. Wennberg, who had eight goals and 27 assists on the season, scored in the second period to start the Blue Jackets’ rally from a 2-0 deficit . . . Sam Apuzzo scored three of her four goals in the second half to lead the No. 2-ranked Boston College women’s lacrosse team (16-0, 6-0 ACC) to a 9-7 win over No. 13 Virginia Tech (11-5, 4-2) at the Newton Campus Fields. With the win, BC clinched at least a share of the program’s first ACC regular-season title . . . Davy Russell rode Tiger Roll to a photo-finish Grand National Steeplechase win over Pleasant Company in one of the closest races in years at Aintree, England. The 10-1 shot was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line at the end of the 4½-mile race, but held on by only inches for the $710,000 first prize.