Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard netted a brace as the Gunners beat strugglers Chelsea 3-1 on Tuesday to climb back to the top of the Premier League table.
There was shocking news from the world of athletics. Tori Bowie, the 100m silver medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 world champion, has died at the age of 32, her management company and World Athletics said on Wednesday.
In Madrid, US Open champions Carlos Alcaraz breezed past Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-final. Aryna Sabalenka was tested in her quarter-final match but beat Mayar Sherif to reach the semis.
Veteran Jordi Alba took Barcelona to the cusp of the La Liga title after firing in a late winner against Osasuna.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 3 May, 2023:
Arsenal back on top of Premier League
Martin Odegaard fired Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League as the Norway midfielder’s double inspired a 3-1 win against woeful Chelsea on Tuesday.
Mikel Arteta’s side lost control of the title race after last week’s 4-1 defeat at Manchester City.
But the Gunners signalled their intention to push City all the way to the wire with a much-needed first win in five games.
Odegaard’s brace was followed by a Gabriel Jesus strike as the hosts raced into a three-goal before half-time at the Emirates Stadium.
Noni Madueke’s second half goal was no consolation for Chelsea’s wretched performance.
Arsenal are now two points clear of second placed City and while Pep Guardiola’s men remain favourites to win the title, the north Londoners have at least applied a little pressure on the champions.
City will go back into first place if they beat West Ham at home on Wednesday in the first of their two games in hand on Arsenal.
After 10 weeks at the top, Arsenal were knocked down to second place by City’s win at Fulham on Sunday.
Three successive draws, including two blown two-goal leads, and the calamitous loss at City have led Arsenal to be written off as title race chokers.
But Arteta insisted this week that the title was still winnable and his players responded to the Spaniard’s rallying cry.
Troubled Chelsea were ideal opponents for Arsenal to get back on track before a tricky trip to Newcastle on Sunday.
The Blues have now lost all six games since Frank Lampard returned as caretaker boss to replace the sacked Graham Potter.
Languishing in 12th place, Chelsea are on an nine-game winless run in all competitions and face the prospect of failing to finish in the top half of the table for the first time since 1996.
US sprinter Bowie dead
World Athletics confirmed the American’s death, posting on Facebook that it was “deeply saddened by the passing of Tori Bowie”.
“We’re devastated to share the very sad news that Tori Bowie has passed away. We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister,” Icon Management tweeted.
Bowie converted from the long jump in 2014 and had an immediate impact, becoming the fastest woman in the world that year.
Alcaraz earns Zverev revenge
World number two Carlos Alcaraz breezed past Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-2 to reach the Madrid Open quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Third-ranked Daniil Medvedev crashed out against Russian compatriot Aslan Karatsev, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, while Stefanos Tsitsipas eased through against Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-3, 6-1.
In the women’s competition world number two Aryna Sabalenka was forced to sweat by Mayar Sherif but eventually came through 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals.
Top-seeded Spaniard Alcaraz, who also beat Zverev in last season’s Madrid final, gained revenge for the German’s triumph when they met later in the 2022 French Open quarter-finals.
Two-time Madrid winner Zverev, 26, was blown away in the opening set. He improved a little in the second but not sufficiently to trouble Alcaraz, who moved his opponent around at will.
In the last eight, the Murcian will face Karen Khachanov who dispatched Andrey Rublev 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 in another all-Russian battle.
Medvedev, second seed in the Spanish capital, has admitted he struggles on clay and fell to another defeat against Karatsev on the dirt, as he did in Rome two seasons ago.
Karatsev will face Zhizhen Zhang, who became the first Chinese player to reach the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 event.
Zhang eked out a nailbiting victory over world number 10 Taylor Fritz, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8).
World number five Tsitsipas will face lucky loser Jan-Lennard Struff, who saw off Pedro Cachin 7-6 (9/7), 6-7 (7/9), 6-3.
The other quarter-final pits Croatian Borna Coric, ranked 20th, against Germany’s Daniel Altmaier.
Australian Open champion Sabalenka struggled badly at first against Sherif but turned the two-hour match around convincingly to reach the semi-finals.
Sabalenka will face Greek world number nine Maria Sakkari after she came from behind to beat Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-2 in the second quarter-final.
Results in the Madrid ATP/WTA 1000 tournament on Tuesday (x denotes seeding; players representing Russia and Belarus are banned from competing under the name or flag of their countries):
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) bt Pedro Cachin (ARG) 7-6 (9/7), 6-7 (7/9), 6-3
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x4) bt Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-3, 6-1
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP x1) bt Alexander Zverev (GER x13) 6-1, 6-2
Karen Khachanov (RUS x10) bt Andrey Rublev (RUS x5) 7-6 (10/8), 6-4
Daniel Altmaier (GER) bt Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-3, 6-0
Aslan Karatsev bt Daniil Medvedev (x2) 7-6 (7/1), 6-4
Borna Coric (CRO x17) bt Alejandro Davidovich (ESP x29) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)
Zhang Zhizhen (CHN) bt Taylor Fritz (USA x8) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (10/8)
Maria Sakkari (GRE x9) bt Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM x31) 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-2
Aryna Sabalenka (x2) bt Mayar Sherif (EGY) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
Djokovic to play in the US Open
Novak Djokovic will be free to play in this year’s US Open after the United States government confirmed it is lifting its Covid-19 vaccine mandate on international travelers.
Djokovic, one of the highest profile athletes to remain unvaccinated, has not been able to play in the United States since the vaccine mandate came into effect in November 2021.
The 35-year-old world number one last played the US Open in 2021, when his bid to complete a calendar year Grand Slam ended in defeat in the final to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
Since then Djokovic has been a glaring absentee from US tennis tournaments due to the travel mandate.
The 22-time Grand Slam singles winner applied unsuccessfully for a special exemption to enter the United States to play this year’s Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami.
US Open organizers, as well as the US Tennis Association, both called for Djokovic to be granted an exemption.
Djokovic was also infamously deported from Australia last year due to his vaccine status, missing the Australian Open. He returned to Melbourne this year and won the event.
However, on Monday, the White House confirmed that its vaccination requirement for travelers entering the United States would be lifted on May 11.
More than a million people died from Covid-19 in the United States. However, the White House noted that the pandemic had been all but stopped.
Barca on the brink of La Liga title
Jordi Alba struck a late winner for Barcelona in a 1-0 win over 10-man Osasuna on Tuesday to move the Catalans a step closer to their first La Liga title since 2019.
Xavi Hernandez’s side climbed 14 points clear of second place Real Madrid, who lost 2-0 at Real Sociedad.
The visitors had debutant Jorge Herrando sent off in the first half for a professional foul on Pedri, as they sat deep and tried to frustrate hosts Barcelona.
Visiting goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez kept the leaders at bay in the second half but eventually substitute Alba, who has had reduced minutes this season, sliced home a volley to snatch a late victory.
If Barcelona earn two more points from their last five games, they will be champions.
Former Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo and Ander Barrenetxea netted the goals for Real Sociedad against Los Blancos, tightening their grip on fourth spot and Champions League qualification.
Madrid defender Dani Carvajal was sent off after an hour for a second yellow card to make matters worse for Los Blancos, who face Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.
If third place Atletico Madrid beat Cadiz on Wednesday, they can move second.
Real Sociedad are eight points clear of fifth-place Villarreal, who have played one fewer game.
Bottom-of-the-table Elche were relegated after a 2-1 defeat at Almeria.
Messi’s PSG future in doubt
Lionel Messi’s future at PSG was plunged into doubt on Wednesday after he was suspended by Paris Saint-Germain after travelling to Saudi Arabia without the club’s permission.
A source with knowledge of the disciplinary procedure told AFP that Argentina’s 35-year-old World-Cup winning captain, who is out of contract at the end of the season, would be sidelined for “several days”, while various media in France reported that he would be suspended for two weeks.
“He cannot train, cannot play, and will not be paid while disciplinary measures are in place,” the source added.
Another source, also speaking on condition they were not identified, indicated that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner would “probably” be sidelined for a fortnight, noting that “nobody is more important than the club”.
Messi played the whole game in PSG’s 3-1 home defeat by Lorient in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
He then travelled to Saudi Arabia to fulfil commercial commitments in his role as a tourism ambassador for the Gulf state.
The Saudi Tourism Authority said in a press release on Wednesday that Messi had “returned to Saudi for a second time, this time with his family” and had been treated to a demonstration of palm weaving and had fed Arabian gazelles.
As a result of the trip, Messi missed a training session scheduled for Monday following the weekend defeat.
The PSG squad were given a day off on Tuesday and Messi did not take part in training on Wednesday either.
PSG are due to return to league action away at struggling Troyes on Sunday, a game that Messi may now miss.
If he were to be sidelined for two weeks he would also sit out a home match against Ajaccio on May 13.
The disciplinary measures make the prospect of Messi staying in the French capital after his two-year deal expires at the end of this season even more remote.
Having at one point looked set to extend his stay for another year, a source close to the club told AFP last month that he was now “much more likely” to depart.
Messi arrived from Barcelona, the club where he had spent the majority of his career, in 2021 but has struggled to reproduce his best form at Qatar-backed Paris.
Despite that, he has scored 31 goals in 71 appearances in all competitions.
He was recently jeered by a section of the PSG support, who see him as a symbol of all the club have done wrong in focusing on superstar signings while failing to build a genuinely competitive team.
Messi has scored 20 goals in all competitions this season and is the leading assist provider in Ligue 1, with 15.
However, his form since leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar has declined along with that of most of the PSG team.
Their insipid performance against Lorient was a sixth defeat in 17 Ligue 1 matches in 2023.
They remain five points clear of Marseille at the top of the table with five games left, and are therefore still on course for a record 11th French title.
However, they were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 by Bayern Munich and also went out of the French Cup at the same stage to Marseille.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day