FC Barcelona won their first La Liga crown since 2019 after a comprehensive win over rivals Espanyol on Sunday. Meanwhile in England, Manchester City are a step away from retaining their Premier League crown after they beat Everton and Arsenal lost to Brighton.
In tennis, Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek moved to the next round of the Rome Masters, continuing their buildup towards the French Open.
Meanwhile, veteran pacer James Anderson suffered a groin injury a month before England is scheduled to compete at the important Ashes series against Australia.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 15 May, 2023:
Barcelona win La Liga title
Barcelona won La Liga for the first time since 2019 by thrashing Espanyol 4-2 on Sunday, wrestling the title back from rivals Real Madrid.
The Catalan giants clinched their 27th Spanish championship at the home of their neighbours, with scenes turning ugly at full time as celebrating Barcelona players were chased from the field by pitch invaders.
Robert Lewandowski struck twice for Barcelona, along with goals for Alejandro Balde and Jules Kounde, while Javi Puado and Joselu pulled two back late on for the hosts.
Barcelona have endured a troubled period on and off the pitch in recent years but their triumph signals significant improvement, with coach Xavi Hernandez winning his first major trophy since taking over in November 2021.
President Joan Laporta’s rebuild was widely criticised last summer in light of the club’s perilous financial situation.
Early Champions League elimination was a blow, but the club won the Spanish Super Cup in January, before sealing La Liga glory with four games to spare.
“It was a very emotional moment, a moment very hard not to celebrate after so many months of work,” said Xavi.
“We didn’t celebrate just because it was Espanyol’s stadium.”
The coach said that the victory was proof that the club was heading in the right direction.
“(It brings) a lot of calm, a lot of hope for the future,” said Xavi.
“I am very happy. We did a great job, a league won with four games remaining, that’s to the absolute merit of the team.”
Xavi’s side celebrated at full-time, to the anger of Espanyol fans, who invaded the pitch, with Barcelona players sprinting down the tunnel to escape.
“I haven’t seen the images, I always go in at the end of a game and from what I’ve been told, it’s something that should not happen and should be condemned,” said Espanyol coach Luis Garcia.
“Measures were in place to avoid it, but it was not possible.”
Man City firm favourites after Arsenal lose
Manchester City are on the brink of winning the Premier League title after Arsenal crashed to a shock 3-0 defeat against Brighton on Sunday.
Mikel Arteta’s side were rocked by second half goals from Julio Enciso, Deniz Undav and Pervis Estupinan at the Emirates Stadium.
Second placed Arsenal trail City by four points and a defeat for the Gunners at Nottingham Forest on Saturday would hand Pep Guardiola’s men their fifth title in six years.
Fired by Ilkay Gundogan’s brace and Erling Haaland’s latest goal, City’s 3-0 win at Everton earlier on Sunday had moved them within touching distance of the title.
Arsenal’s dismal loss makes the silverware almost certain to remain in Manchester.
Even if Arsenal beat Forest, City will be champions for a third successive season if they defeat Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in their next game on May 21.
City have three games to play, with the Chelsea clash followed by trips to Brighton and Brentford, while Arsenal have just a home match against Wolves after their trip to Forest.
While battle-tested City are powering towards the finish line, Arsenal’s young team have choked away their bid to win a first title since 2004.
Arsenal’s recent four-game winless run, including a 4-1 thrashing at City, allowed their rivals to seize top spot, an opportunity they have exploited in ruthless fashion.
Although Arsenal’s unexpected title challenge seems destined to fall short, it has still been a hugely encouraging season for the north Londoners after over a decade of underachievement.
There is no shame in coming second to a team of treble-chasing City’s class, although Arteta will be frustrated they failed to last the pace after leading the table for long periods.
“We gave a silly goal away and the team had no answers from 2-0. We have to apologise to our people for the second half. It was not acceptable,” Arteta said.
“Mathematically, it’s still possible, but it’s impossible to think about it. We need to digest the result, understand why and have a different reaction.
“I have no idea if Man City will lose it, but I have to think about what we can do to beat Nottingham Forest.”
Djokovic, Swiatek through
Novak Djokovic reached the last 16 of the Italian Open on Sunday after winning a battle with Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, while blistering Iga Swiatek thrashed Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0.
Six-time Rome champion Djokovic initially looked in improved form compared to his sluggish tournament opener against Tomas Etcheverry but again had a fight on his hands against the former world No 3.
“I think I’m getting close to the desired level. You can always play better but today I had a really good quality opponent and I think I delivered,” Djokovic told reporters.
No longer wearing the elbow brace he had in Friday’s second round match, Djokovic looked to have shaken off the injury which forced him to miss last week’s Madrid Masters.
“I was very happy to find the right rhythm in the first game of first set... That was super important to make a break early and hold things under control,” said Djokovic who will face Britain’s Cameron Norrie for a place in the quarter-finals
Losing finalist in Madrid last weekend, Swiatek looked again in imperious form as she breezed into the last 16 of the women’s draw.
The 21-year-old is trying for her third straight Rome title and made light work of Tsurenko after a slightly bumpy start.
Swiatek lost the first two games but then rattled off 12 in a row in a powerful demonstration of why she is world No 1 and favourite to defend her Roland Garros title.
“I’m just trying to be consistent and trying to play my game. I treat every match as a final, I try to have the right mindset,” said Swiatek on court.
Swiatek now faces Donna Vekic, who saw off Ljudmila Samsonova 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, after extending her winning streak in the Italian capital to 13 matches.
Her bid for a Rome hat-trick will be helped by six of the world’s top 10 women players being eliminated early.
In other men’s matches, Daniil Medvedev won his first ever match in Rome, 6-4, 6-2 against Emil Ruusuvuori, the former US Open champion winning a second round match which was postponed to Sunday due to the torrential rain which hit the Italian capital on Saturday.
Fifth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas will take on home hope Lorenzo Sonego in the third round after finishing off Nuno Borges 6-3, 6-3.
World No 7 Holger Rune eased past Italian veteran Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-2 to make the last 16 but eighth-ranked Jannik Sinner kept home hopes alive by seeing off Russia’s Alexander Shevchenko 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2.
James Anderson injured ahead of Ashes
James Anderson has suffered a “mild strain to his right groin” just a month before the Ashes get underway, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced late Sunday.
The 40-year-old Anderson, the most successful fast bowler in Test history with 685 wickets, sustained the injury on Thursday’s opening day of Lancashire’s County Championship match against Somerset at Old Trafford and took no further part in a match that ended in a draw on Sunday.
The ECB added Anderson’s fitness will be assessed nearer the time of the lone Test Test against Ireland at Lord’s starting on June 1.
England are due to name a squad for the Ireland game, which precedes a five-match Ashes series against arch-rivals Australia commencing on June 16, later this week.
Anderson had a scan on the injury on Saturday, with Lancashire coach Glen Chapple telling the BBC it was not “anything too serious”.
Nevertheless, England will want to avoid a repeat of the situation in the 2019 Ashes opener at Edgbaston where Anderson bowled just four overs before pulling out, having torn his calf playing for Lancashire.
With substitutes unable to bowl, his absence left a huge hole in England’s attack as Australia won by 251 runs.
That series ended in a 2-2 draw, with holders Australia retaining the Ashes.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day