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Manuel Pellegrini has vowed to give Manchester City the perfect parting gift of a Champions League place at the expense of Manchester United, while champions Leicester will bring down the curtain on their astonishing season at Chelsea on Sunday.

With a memorable Premier League campaign coming to a conclusion with the final round of fixtures this weekend, the focus is split between the Manchester rivals’ battle for the last spot in Europe’s elite club competition and a fitting finale for Leicester as the fairytale champions bow out at the home of last year’s winners.

For City manager Pellegrini, his side’s trip to Swansea offers an opportunity to leave on a high note as the Chilean prepares to clear his desk ahead of the arrival of Pep Guardiola, who moves to Eastlands from Bayern Munich in the close-season.

Fourth placed City are two points clear of United and, with their goal difference at +30 compared to their fifth placed rivals’ +12, Pellegrini’s side need only to draw in south Wales to qualify for the Champions League and consign their neighbours to the drudgery of the Europa League.

After three years and three trophies with City, Pellegrini would love to say farewell in style.

“We have always been in the Champions League spots for 37 games, so I think we deserve to be there,” Pellegrini said.

“It’s about a style. For me it’s important to be the highest-scoring team for three seasons, to be always in the Champions League and to win three titles.”

United’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham in midweek took their European fate out of their own hands and Louis van Gaal’s men host Bournemouth knowing only a victory, combined with a City defeat at Swansea, will be enough to snatch a top four finish.

Despite the unpromising situation, United midfielder Michael Carrick, whose side face Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final on May 21, urged his team-mates not to coast through the Bournemouth game.

 

Saracens boss Mark McCall praised the performance of England full-back Alex Goode as the Premiership leaders warmed up for next week's European Champions Cup final with a 43-19 win away to Worcester on Saturday.

Victory saw the London club, bidding for a domestic and continental double, finish top of the Premiership regular season standings and set up a home semi-final against fourth-placed Leicester.

Saracens were 14-7 down against Worcester but, inspired by Goode, scored three first-half tries.

"Alex was rested last week but he was outstanding today and he's been the best full-back in England for some time," said McCall, whose side scored six tries in all including a hat-trick for wing Chris Ashton.

Several Saracens stars spent much of the season on international duty helping England win the Six Nations, with goalkicker Owen Farrell, the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, plus locks George Kruis and Maro Itoje all key members of Eddie Jones's grand slam-winning side.

"To get 80 points, without our internationals (who were) away for such a long period is a tremendous achievement but the best is yet to come as we have a young squad," said McCall.

 

 

 

Syria's army said Wednesday it will abide by a two-day ceasefire in second city Aleppo agreed between the United States and Russia.

"A truce will be in place in Aleppo for 48 hours from 1:00 am on Thursday (2200 GMT on Wednesday)," a statement from Damascus's army command said, according to the official SANA news agency and state television.

Washington and Moscow agreed earlier Wednesday to work with Syria's warring parties to extend a shaky truce to Aleppo, which has seen more than 280 civilians killed in fighting since April 22.

 

 

 

Mercedes released an open letter to fans on Wednesday in which they dismissed social media claims that the German team are deliberately favouring Nico Rosberg over world champion Lewis Hamilton.

 

 

While Rosberg has won the first four races of the season, Hamilton has been bedevilled by mechanical problems and currently lies 43 points behind his German team-mate in second place in the drivers' championship.

 

 

Team boss Toto Wolff said after Sunday's Russian Grand Prix in Sochi that the conspiracy theorists were a "bunch of lunatics lying in their beds with their laptops on their chests".

 

 

And in a 1,100-word letter published on their website, Mercedes said: "To paraphrase Mr Toto Wolff, we have worked our a**es off to get where we are today -- and we have done so as a team.

 

 

Britain's Anthony Joshua could yet defend his International Boxing Federation world heavyweight title at Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium, promoter Barry Hearn said Monday.

Hearn said he was talking to Chinese officials about a contest involving the 26-year-old Joshua, who won his version of the heavyweight crown when he defeated previous title-holder Charles Martin in London last month.

If the plans become reality it would mean Joshua, a gold medallist at the London 2012 Olympics, fighting in the stadium that was the centrepiece of the 2008 Games.

"When you plan someone's career like Joshua you tend to plan in advance and I think we're two years away from saying we can sell out the Bird's Nest in China," explained Hearn.

 

 

China's Ding Junhui became the first player to reach the semi-finals of this year's World Snooker Championship after thrashing Mark Williams 13-3 inside two sessions on Tuesday.

 

 

Williams, world champion in 2000 and 2003, was largely reduced to the role of a spectator, as Ding -- who had to come through qualifying -- made short work of seeing off the Welshman.

 

 

Ding scored at least a half-century in every frame he won as he increased his first-session lead from 6-2 to 10-2 at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre in northern England.

 

 

Williams potted a mere two balls before the mid-session interval and, although he won the 13th frame, the two-time champion could not stop Ding's march to victory.

 

 

Eliud Kipchoge and Jemima Sumgong gave a timely boost to the tarnished reputation of Kenyan athletics on Sunday with courageous wins in the men's and women's London Marathons.

Kipchoge set a new course record for the men in winning the full-distance London race for the second straight year.

The 31-year-old former track star clocked an official time of 2hrs 03mins 04secs, the second fastest run in history over the distance, just seven seconds shy of the world record set by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto at the Berlin Marathon in September 2014.

Kipchoge broke clear of another Kenyan, Stanley Biwott, with about three kilometres to go and sprinted home well ahead of Biwott with track legend Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia in third.

He celebrated by raising his finger as he made the final turn but appeared to realise just before the line that he could have broken Kimetto's world best time.

West Ham move home to the Olympic Stadium in August at a cost of £2.5million ($3.54 million) per year, it was revealed on Thursday.

The Premier League side have taken up a 99-year tenancy agreement with The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

West Ham's new landlords will meet running costs for the centrepiece of the London 2012 Games for areas such as the pitch, goalposts, floodlighting and corner flags.

The stadium is also to host the 2017 IAAF and IPC Athletics World Championships and there is a 50-year agreement for British Athletics to use the venue each July.

West Ham won the bid to be lead tenants of the 60,000-seat arena ahead of Tottenham and Leyton Orient.

 

The transformation of the venue from its Olympic and Paralympic condition cost £272 million, with West Ham contributing £15 million.

The Hammers will pay an annual rent of £2.5 million for 25 matches - or £1.25 million if they fall out of the top flight - with a £100,000 fee for any additional match.

 

 

Former England footballer Adam Johnson has launched an appeal against his six-year prison sentence for sexual activity with an infatuated teenage fan, it was announced on Tuesday.

Johnson, once a winger with Sunderland and Manchester City, was jailed last month following an incident with a 15-year-old female supporter in his Range Rover in County Durham, north-east England, last year.

A statement on the Adam Johnson's Appeal Fight page on Facebook, run by his sister Faye, said: "Adam's appeal against his sentence has now been lodged!"

"Thanks everyone for your support it means a lot! X"

Judge Jonathan Rose, passing sentence, said the victim - who cannot be named for legal reasons - had been a Sunderland fan who would wait after matches to take pictures of her "favourite player", Johnson, who had known her age.

 

 

 

Nick Blackwell said he was in the “toughest fight of his life” after waking from an induced coma following his British middleweight title defeat by Chris Eubank Jr.

Blackwell, 25, collapsed shortly after his tenth-round stoppage loss to Eubank Jr at London’s Wembley Arena on March 26.

He was then taken to London’s St Mary’s Hospital with a bleed on the skull before doctors placed him in an induced coma.

Tuesday saw Blackwell make his first public comment since the bout as he posted a message thanking well-wishers for their support on his brother Daniel’s Facebook account.

“Just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been there for me, all my friends and family, those who wished me well and those who raised money for me,” Blackwell said.