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The Ukrainians' striker Yevhen Seleznyov headed the only goal of the night to end Rafael Benitez's side's 10-game unbeaten run in the competition and seal a 2-1 aggregate win.

Sevilla of La Liga completed the job against Fiorentina, winning 2-0 in Italy and 5-0 on aggregate with goals from Carlos Bacca and Daniel Carrico.

The final is in Warsaw on 27 May.

Sevilla

Sevilla have won the Europa League/Uefa Cup three times in the last 10 years

The winners of the final will qualify for next season's Champions League.

Sevilla are likely to start as favourites to defend their crown, having recorded the competition's record aggregate margin of victory in a semi-final.

Bacca netted his 26th goal of the season to end any faint hopes of a Viola comeback - the Colombia forward hammering the ball into the back of the net after the hosts failed to deal with Ever Banega's free-kick from the right.

Just five minutes later, the victory was sealed when Carrico tapped home. Fiorentina's Josip Ilicic missed a penalty to complete a miserable night.

It was no better for their Serie A rivals Napoli in Ukraine as goalkeeper Denys Boyko produced an inspired performance to keep the tournament's top scorers out.

Seleznyov headed home a cross from deep - his second of the tie - to earn Dnipro their first appearance in a major European final.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal says he does not want Luke Shaw to play for England at this summer's European Under-21 Championship.

Full-back Shaw, who joined United from Southampton last June, has missed much of this season because of injuries.

Van Gaal said: "When you are not playing for Man Utd you cannot play for other teams. He needs the rest.

"He is 19. We have to protect him. I hope that the coach of the Under-21s understands that."

Shaw has started just 18 games for United since joining them for £27m last summer, as ankle and hamstring injuries disrupted his maiden campaign with the club.

He will miss United's match with Arsenal on Sunday after receiving an elbow to the face in the win at Crystal Palace last weekend.

The left-back's fitness was also questioned by Van Gaal during pre-season.

Harry Kane

Harry Kane has scored 30 goals for Tottenham this season

Van Gaal's comments put further doubt on the prospect of England Under-21 manager Gareth Southgate being able to select a full-strength squad for this summer's tournament, to be held in the Czech Republic between 17-30 June.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who scored on his senior England debut, could feature for the U21s but Spurs have arranged a friendly in Australia less than three weeks before England's first game against Portugal on 18 June.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez said recently that midfielder Ross Barkley would need a "proper break" in the summer, while Southgate has previously said he is "not convinced another tournament in the summer would be right" for Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, who played for England in the 2014 World Cup.

However, in March, Southgate, whose side qualified for the finals without losing a match, said he does not expect Premier League clubs to oppose the release of players, adding: "We've looked after the players physically, and that helps us in terms of their release."

England's last appearance at the tournament in 2013 ended with Stuart Pearce's side exiting from the group stage having lost all three of their matches.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/

Relegation-threatened Newcastle have cancelled an end-of-season awards night because of the position they are in.

The fundraiser event was scheduled for next Wednesday, but their top-flight status could still be in the balance if Saturday's results do not go their way.

"It would not be appropriate to be celebrating the season and collecting awards when our focus is securing Premier League status," the club said.

The club, in 17th place, do not plan to have a summer party either.

The Magpies are two points above the relegation zone and face QPR this weekend. If they win and 18th place Hull fail to beat Tottenham then their Premier League status will be secured with one fixture remaining.

"The club would like to extend its apologies for any inconvenience caused to those businesses who had purchased tables to support the event, but we hope that you can appreciate our decision has not been taken lightly," the club's statement added.

"We will work with the [charity] Newcastle United Foundation to find another opportunity to support them to raise funds for their outstanding work, which engages with over 50,000 people in our community."

Source: http://www.bbc.com/

Goalkeeper Petr Cech could be set to end his 11-year career at Chelsea after his agent said he has been given permission to talk to other clubs.

The 32-year-old has only made 16 appearances this season, with Belgian Thibaut Courtois now first choice.

"We have been permitted by Chelsea to negotiate with interested parties," said agent Viktor Kolar.

But Blues boss Jose Mourinho said on Friday: "I want my best players. Petr is one of my best players."

Cech joined Chelsea in 2004 and has one year left on his current contract.

Kolar added: "Petr has confirmed his interest to play regularly at a top club. That's the task that we are now working on, but other than that there has not been any other change in terms of Petr Cech's employment and the transfer period only begins on 1 July."

Mourinho said last week  he wanted the keeper to remain at Stamford Bridge and he reiterated that position on Friday.

"I don't know that it's absolutely true what the agent is saying. Maybe it is, but the player has a contract with Chelsea and Chelsea will have a very important say in the decision," said Mourinho

I expect [Cech to be at Chelsea next season] because I'm positive, I'm optimistic and I would like him to stay."

The Czech Republic international has won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one Champions League and one Europa League title during his 11 years with the Blues.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/

Striker Sergio Aguero is not intending to leave Manchester City, says manager Manuel Pellegrini.

The Argentine, 26, has scored 31 goals in 40 appearances for City this season.

Asked if he was concerned about interest in Aguero, the Chilean said: "I don't think so because we are not a selling team and I think that Sergio is very happy here, so he doesn't have any intention to go."

City, second in the Premier League, are away to Swansea on Sunday (13:30 BST).

Aguero, a £38m signing from Atletico Madrid in 2011, scored a hat-trick in last Sunday's 6-0 thrashing of relegated QPR.

Projected to be a top-five pick, D'Angelo Russell is also considered to be the best shooting guard in the 2015 NBA Draft. But Russell doesn't think that he is just the best two-guard in the draft, he believes that he is the best player overall.

When asked at this week's NBA Draft Combine why an NBA team should draft him, Russell confidently answered, "I'm the best in the draft."

His smile afterwards is simply great.

The Philadephia 76ers are reportedly interested in drafting Russell (they also posted this video), and he could be a great fit since the Sixers actually need a shooting guard. Russell only spent one year at Ohio State but was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 35 games. Solid numbers and his game should translate to the NBA but is he actually the best player in the draft?

We will have to wait till the 2015-2016 NBA season to find out.

By Ananth Pandian | NBA writer

CHICAGO -- The 2015 NBA Draft Combine kicked into full gear on Thursday, with athletic testing and a pair of games taking center stage.

There were plenty of takeaways from the day, but here are the five things you need to know, as well as some other notes from media sessions.

1. Pat Connaughton might be the best pure athlete at the combine

Seriously. It shouldn't be a total surprise to those who have watched the Notre Dame product play (I mean, did you see this block against Butler?) but his performance today was exemplary by any measure. His 44-inch vertical leap led the way among players tested today (35 of the 63), and is tied for the highest recorded since 2001 when Kenny Gregory put up a 45.5-inch leap. Connaughton also performed well in the lane agility drill (tied for fourth among the 35 tested) and the sprint (tied for seventh). It's also worth noting that he made a decent impression on scouts in the 5-on-5 session, with the crowd universally noting how hard he plays. His defensive communication was also pretty strong in calling out screens, and his offensive game looked okay as he knocked down a pair of first-half 3s.

DRAFT COMBINEWinners and losers after players are measured

The wing was something of an afterthought coming into the combine, but he certainly won't leave it that way. On top of his athleticism, he measured well at 6-5 with a 6-8 wingspan, which should give him solid size to play the 2 in the NBA if he can work to improve his body (he put up that 44-inch vertical despite carrying 10 percent body fat, one of the highest in attendance). Whether or not all of this translates into someone using a second round pick on him and convincing him to leave his professional baseball career on the table is debatable, but he's definitely one of the big winners of the combine process thus far.

2. Overall, the group tested today looked very good athletically

Already, there are seven players to post a vertical over 40 inches after only six did out of all of the players tested. In fact, this is the first combine since at least 2000 that at least four players have posted a vertical leap of 43 inches. One of those players, Justin Anderson with a chiseled 6-6, 230-pound frame that has sub-5 percent body fat, put up a 43-inch vertical leap. Rondae Hollis-Jeffferson had a 38-inch vertical leap to go with a 10.51-second lane agility time, the second-lowest posted by a small forward since 2007. Larry Nance leaped 37.5 inches at 6-9 and posted one of the better agility times from a power forward since 2009. Diminutive Green Bay point guard Keifer Sykes finished in the top-three of all three categories tested today, and is probably the only player with an argument to athletically be superior to Connaughton.

A lot of guys had pretty strong days.

3. However, some players didn't particularly perform well

Branden Dawson was unfortunately the player with the lowest measurements of the day from someone that was expected to test well, as the Michigan State forward posted one of the worst agility scores of the past decade for a potential small forward at 12.37 seconds, then followed that up with a 34-inch vertical (although he did put up a solid sprint score).

A pair of point guards also didn't have great days, although with these two it was mostly expected given that their games rely much more on feel and basketball intelligence. Delon Wright's 31-inch vertical was worst among the guards tested today, and his agility score placed him in the bottom-third of players. The same goes for Tyus Jones, who also wasn't particularly expected to wow anyone. His 32.5-inch vertical was third-lowest among point guards, as was his sprint score. Not a huge deal, but overall this won't kill them.

4. Rakeem Christmas was the best player in the first scrimmage

Christmas is the second-oldest player in attendance behind UC Davis' Corey Hawkins, but he has certainly helped himself this week with his performance and measurements. He scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds in Team 1's loss today. He was really aggressive offensively, making shots with both hands in the paint and drawing fouls consistently. Also, he set some solid screens both on and off ball and showed some potential in the pick-and-roll.

Others who impressed included Mouhammadou Jaiteh, a 6-11 French center that scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He finished a few hook shots over Christmas with both hands, although his defense could use some work for someone his size. Jaiteh is arguably the best player on the second-best team in France (JSF Nanterre, who allowed him to come over for the combine because they have clinched that spot). He averages 11.6 points per game, is the team's leading rebounder, and is their PER leader with a mark of 22.4. It wouldn't be a surprise if this solidly built center got some looks in the late first round.

Others who played well included J.P. Tokoto, Terry Rozier, Dez Wells, Richaun Holmes, and the aforementioned Connaughton.

5. Andrew Harrison stole the show in the second half of the second 5-on-5 game

Harrison was the best player on the floor in either of the 5-on-5 games today, throwing up a 17-point, five-assist, zero turnover line that was impressive both on a statistical and scouting level. The oft-maligned Kentucky point guard changed speeds and direction really well, getting into the lane basically at will against whoever was guarding him. He also tended to make the right decision every time the ball was in his hands, something that sometimes eluded him in Kentucky's offense and led to calls for Tyler Ulis. The increased space in the professional game seems to have really helped his game. He's helped himself a lot here, and could do even more tomorrow when he is tested athletically and plays again.

A couple of big men also really impressed. UC Santa Barbara's Alan Williams dominated the boards as he so often did in college, collected 15 of them on his way to a double-double. He told me after the game that he's "ready to step into any role that coaches need (him) to play, whether that's to be a banger and a rebounder or a ball-mover and a ball-screener" on the next level, and seems to have a really good grasp of what teams will be looking for him to do.

LSU's Jordan Mickey nearly finished with a triple-double, scoring 17 points, grabbing eight rebounds and swatting eight shots. He was his extremely active self on both ends, and knocked down some midrange jumpers that will be key to his ability to carve out a role in the NBA. Still, it'll be the defense that he hangs his hat on, and he certainly brought that today.

Some other notes and buzz from around the combine.

  • Once you get beyond the top 20 to 25 players, there's really no consensus at all from NBA teams. It's not at all out of the question right now that we could get a Josh Huestis-like surprise from a team near the bottom of the first round this season.
  • A lot has been made about Myles Turner's awkward running gait this season, and whether or not it will harm his draft stock. He was asked about that today at his media availability, and his response gave a bit of insight into how it developed and what he's doing to work on it:
    -"It's a little awkward. It's something I'm working on to get better at. I don't want to say I never really learned how to run, but it's not something I ever put a lot of effort into when I was younger. I just put all my efforts into basketball. 
    -"I'm working on my core a lot. Doing a lot of physical therapy. Yoga-type exercises. Holding poses."
  • Turner also noted that he has done multiple tests this offseason to prove that he is not injury prone. He did stress tests, flexibility tests and overall movement tests, and was told that he is 100 percent healthy, he just needs to get stronger. If this holds up throughout the draft process as teams run him through their own battery of tests, he could really rise up draft boards from the mid-to-late lottery to the top-seven.
  • Rashad Vaughn suffered a meniscus tear at the end of the season that put his NBA Draft decision into doubt. But he's totally healthy now, and Vaughn has been working out "full-go" for two months, he said.
  • Cam Payne was one of the two most enjoyable players at media availability, cracking jokes and consistently making the scrum break down laughing. His response when asked why a team should draft him:
    "I feel I can bring great leadership to the team. I've been winning all my life, so I'll definitely bring my competitive nature. And I'ma bring the swagger back."
  • R.J. Hunter was Payne's only rival in the enjoyability of his answers to media day questions. The well-spoken, articulate Georgia State coach's son gave plenty of terrific responses, including one that I asked him about in regards to conversations with his father after taking long-distance jump shots that he even admitted were questionable (as I outlined in his scouting profile)
    "You don't even want to know (what those conversations were like), man," Hunter said while laughing about what it was like to play for his father. "Some of them were explicit, some of them he just kind of let me go, some of them I'd make and he'd be like 'NOP--all right, all right, cool.' So he fell (on that shot against Baylor), right? If I missed it he still would have fell. Like, it wouldn't have mattered. That's just how he is. He was just so animated that it was like he was ready to be like 'what are you doing?' but it went in and it just shocked him."
  • Finally, George de Paula is a physical marvel, but he's been a bit timid both at both Hoop Summit in Portland last month and in his play so far at the combine. I asked him about how the transition to America has gone, and he said that "the language has been hard" that he's trying to "learn English as fast as he can," but noting that it's "a long process." He also said that this event is only the second time that he's had to converse in English with other people. It's hard to deny his physical gifts, and once he gets the language down that could really lead to a quick development cycle.

By Sam Vecenie | CBSSports.com
May 14, 2015 10:44 pm ET

The Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks played four straight games where the outcome was decided in the closing moments of the game. Paul Pierce hit a big shot in all of four of those games, which is why after his last second three-pointer swished through the net in Game 6, the Hawks were rightfully shocked.

He had done it again.

But after officials reviewed the play and determined that the ball was still in Pierce's hand when the buzzer sounded, the Hawks breathed a sigh of relief. Or in Jeff Teague's case, his heart could beat normally again.

From Chris Vivalmore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“I almost had a heart attack, man,” Teague said. “(Pierce) just won't give up. He keeps fighting. He's a great player. He makes big-time shots. When I saw him get the ball I said, ‘He's going to make it.' And he did. Luckily, the time ran out.”

Teague had the same reaction everyone watching did when Pierce shot the ball. His teammate DeMarre Carroll had a similar reaction but also believed divine intervention stepped in.

“When they ran the play, I saw John Wall get the ball,” Carroll said. “I was like, ‘Man, should I foul him or should I just contest the 3?' I know these whole NBA playoffs have been buzzer-beaters. I didn't want the game to end on a buzzer beater, and I didn't want Coach mad at me.

“John Wall handed it off, and I chased him. By the time I turned around I saw Paul Pierce shooting the ball, and I was about to cry. I said, ‘Not again.' It went through, but the basketball gods were on our side. They let us get through this one.”

Amazingly, despite all four of Pierce's heroic shots, the Wizards only won one game of out the four and now Atlanta is in the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

 

Jeff Teague was just joking about having a heart attack.

Jeff Teague was just joking about having a heart attack. (USATSI)

By Ananth Pandian | NBA writer

Stephen Curry proved that he truly does have unlimited range last night by swishing a 62-footer at the end of the third quarter.

The shot stopped any momentum the Grizzlies had which allowed the Warriors to cruise to a Game 6 victory and a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

Afterwards Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that Curry's shot was the "play of the game" and that he knew it was going in. Curry shared similar sentiments because he practices shots like that "every day" but he even acknowledged that there is no specific strategy to making shots like that.

From Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

"Just chuck it up, and it looked good the whole way," Curry described it. "So it was kind of fun to see that one go in."

A sound strategy when your name is Stephen Curry.

By Ananth Pandian | NBA writer

Chris PaulBlake Griffin, and the Los Angeles Clippers as an organization have never been to the conference finals. It's been nearly two decades since the Houston Rockets have made it to the conference finals, and the acquisitions of James Harden and Dwight Howardhappened so the franchise could return to the days of being Clutch City. As we enter Sunday's Game 7 in this Western Conference semifinals series, layers of historical context surround this showdown in past, present and future tenses.

The Houston Rockets have already seemingly done the improbable. In the 66 years of the NBA's existence, this matchup is just the 30th time in which a team down 3-1 in the series has forced a Game 7. The Rockets were embarrassed in the second half of Game 1 and after winning an ugly Game 2 that saw a lot of free throws, they were blown out in the next two games in Los Angeles. It seemed like they were dead in the water as the Clippers sailed ahead in the playoffs into territory the franchise had never been to.

Instead, Houston managed to fight back by dominating on their home floor in Game 5 and having an improbable comeback in Game 6 led by Josh Smith and Corey Brewer while Harden sat the entire fourth quarter. The Clippers were 97 percent certain to win with just a couple minutes left in the third quarter and the lead approaching 20 points or more. Instead, they made just four shots in the final period and now find themselves in a brutal Game 7 environment on the road.

Normally, this would be a near certainty that the Rockets would win Game 7 because they're at home. In NBA playoff history, the home team is 97-23 in Game 7 contests. That's a ridiculous winning percentage of 80.6 percent. The odds are very much in the favor of Kevin McHale's team. However, trying to win that third game in a row is a very hard thing to do once you've gone down 3-1 in the series.

Of the previous 29 teams that have gone up in the series 3-1 and been taken to a Game 7, 21 of those teams have gone on to win the series in Game 7. Predictably, it's much easier for the higher seed to complete this series victory at home in Game 7 because those higher seeds that led 3-1 in the series and been pushed to a Game 7 have won 14 out of 16 times. That doesn't apply to the Clippers though.

The Clippers are the 14th lower seed to go up 3-1 in a series and get taken to a seventh game on the road. Those lower seeds are 7-6 in road Game 7's. The previous three lower seeds to take the series to 3-1 before a Game 7 was forced won that Game 7 on the road. Even when it comes to getting two of those final three games at home for the higher seed down 3-1 in the series, getting that third straight victory has proven to be quite difficult.

The 4-seed Dallas Mavericks in 2006 managed to take down the 1-seed Spurs in San Antonio in Game 7 of the second round. A 119-111 overtime victory led by Dirk Nowitzki's 37 points and 27 points by Jason Terry were too much for San Antonio despite Tim Duncan's 41 points.

The 5-seed Chicago Bulls managed to win a road Game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets in 2013, although I'm not sure how much of a disadvantage having the 5-seed can be considered when facing the 4-seed. Regardless, the Bulls managed to avoid blowing their own 3-1 series lead with a 99-91 victory on the road over the Nets.

The example that can ring true the most for this Clippers team would be the one that happened in 2012. The 4-seed Memphis Grizzlies dropped a home Game 7 against the 5-seed Clippers, led by Chris Paul. It was a truly atrocious game with a final score of 82-72, as CP3, Nick Young and Kenyon Martin were the only Clippers players to score in double figures that night. Griffin scored just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and DeAndre Jordanhad zero points on 0-of-2 from the field.

While those two had horrendous games in such a big contest, they're much improved players now. Jordan has blossomed into a good defensive presence and someone that has had a monster impact (plus-16.7 points per 100 possessions on the court, minus-18.1 points per 100 possessions off the court). Griffin has become arguably the best player in these playoffs so far, averaging 26.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists while making 55.3 percent of his shots.

Houston, a team led by Harden's incredible scoring feats all season long, will have to draw on the last higher seed to go down 3-1 and win three straight games to close out the series. Back in 2006, the 7-seed Los Angeles Lakers behind Kobe Bryant's incredible scoring exploits went up 3-1 on the 2-seed Phoenix Suns. In a series that was full of big shots, clotheslines, and drama, the Suns came back to win the final three games of the series, including their Game 7 at home.

They accomplished this with a blowout victory in Game 5, a close overtime victory in Game 6 and then a huge 31-point win in Game 7 as they ran the Lakers off the floor. The Rockets had their big Game 5 win, a dramatic Game 6 comeback with the big fourth quarter and now they have a chance to complete that third victory in convincing fashion at home.

Regardless of which team wins Sunday's Game 7, the ramifications could end up being historical not only for either organization, but also for many of the players and their legacies.

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