The week in numbers: w/e 12/2/12

Drogba missed a penalty in the final again

0Ivory Coast failed to win the Africa Cup of Nations despite not conceding a single goal in the entire tournament. Zambia beat them 8-7 on penalties after the teams played out a goalless draw in last night’s final.

3 – All three finals in which Ivory Coast have played have gone to a penalty shootout after finishing 0-0. They won the final in 1992 and lost in 2006.

2Didier Drogba missed a penalty in normal time. The Ivory Coast striker also missed from the spot in the 2006 final.

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The week in numbers: w/e 5/2/12

Angelo Dundee, 1921-2012. RIP (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

90 – Age of legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, who reportedly had a heart attack after being taken to hospital with a blood clot. Dundee worked alongside former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali for 20 years.

2 – The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI in the early hours of this morning. It was the second time in the past five seasons the Giants have beaten the Patriots in the NFL title game. On both occasions they have scored the winning touchdown inside the final minute. (You can find more statistically-related observations over on my Super Bowl in numbers post.)

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My sporting month: February 2012

February sees major sporting events all over the globe, from the NFL’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis to a glut of events in the Middle East: Test cricket in Dubai, and cycling in Qatar and Oman. Closer to home football’s Champions League enters its knockout phase, with eight first-leg matches including tricky assignments for the Premier League’s two survivors, Arsenal and Chelsea. And that is just the first of a series of challenging fixtures for the misfiring Gunners, who face a horrendous run of games in a short spell. But it will certainly be an exciting month, and here are five of the key events I will be following in February.

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The week in numbers: w/e 13/2/11

Clijsters has regained the number one ranking

1 – Despite losing the Paris Open final to Petra KvitovaKim Clijsters has regained the number one ranking in women’s tennis for the first time since March 2006, before her initial retirement from the sport.

4 – Chris Ashton becomes the first England player to score four tries in a Five/Six Nations match since 1914, as Italy were routed 59-13 at Twickenham.

16 – A 1-1 draw at Sporting Gijon ended Barcelona‘s run of 16 consecutive La Liga wins.

91 – Goalkeeper Iker Casillas was sent off after just 91 seconds at Espanyol last night, but Real Madrid still won 1-0. It was the earliest red card ever received by a Madrid player in La Liga history.

1 – Australia’s Mark Renshaw, more commonly employed as Mark Cavendish‘s lead-out man, won the first stage race of his career at the Tour of Qatar, beating Heinrich Haussler by eight seconds.

2Elisabeth Görgl added the downhill title to her super-G win at the World Alpine Championships. The 29-year old Austrian had never previously won a top-level downhill.

2 – Two horses died in the paddock at Newbury on Saturday. It is thought they may have been electrocuted by underground cabling. The meeting was abandoned.

The Premier League week in numbers

Rooney remains an Old Trafford lucky charm

41Wayne Rooney scored the winner as Manchester United beat Manchester City 2-1 at Old Trafford. United have won all 41 home league games in which Rooney has scored.

10Robin van Persie scored both goals in Arsenal‘s 2-0 win over Wolves, giving him ten goals already in 2011. He is the first Premier League player to reach that milestone in the first two months of a calendar year.

24West Bromwich Albion‘s run of games without a clean sheet extended to 24 as they threw away a 3-0 lead at home to West Ham, drawing 3-3.

5Blackpool‘s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa ended a run of five consecutive league defeats.

61Everton lost 2-0 at Bolton. They have now failed their last 61 away matches in which they have trailed at halftime, dating back to September 2000.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times@InfostradaLive and @StatManJon.)

Tour of Qatar stage 5: Guardini wins stage, Renshaw eases to overall victory

Stage 5  – Sealine Beach Resort to Doha Corniche, 126.5km

Farnese‘s Andrea Guardini took the win in a chaotic, disorganised sprint at the end of the fifth and final stage of the Tour of Qatar, but it made no difference to the overall standings. HTC-Highroad‘s Mark Renshaw was able to roll safely across the line in the middle of the lead group to claim the overall race victory.

Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Gediminas Bagdonas (An Post) broke away from the pack early on. The pair rapidly established a lead of over five minutes, sweeping up the first two places at the two intermediate sprints.

Behind them, Renshaw protected his advantage over Heinrich Haussler by leaping clear of the pack to claim the one-second bonus available for third spot at each sprint point, extending his lead to eight seconds.

The two leaders were eventually caught with just over six kilometres remaining, after which the pack slackened off and the peloton bunched up until Fabian Cancellara took over at the front to keep the pace up. With no team able to set up a proper lead-out, the finish became a free-for-all with riders spreading out across the entire width of the road. As Quick Step‘s Francesco Chicchi went all the way to the left-hand side of the road to open up his sprint, the first-year pro Guardini maturely left his attack until the last possible moment, pulling out of Théo Bos‘s slipstream in the last 100 metres and sneaking between the Rabobank man and the barrier on the right-hand side to win by about half a length. Victory here adds to a 2011 record which already boasts five stage wins at the recent Tour de Langkawi. He is one to watch.

The peloton passes through Doha for the final time in the 2011 Tour of Qatar (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

Behind them, Renshaw was content to sit on Haussler’s wheel, knowing that only an outright win could deprive him of the gold jersey. In the end Haussler was no threat, and the 28-year old claimed the first major stage race victory of his career.

Renshaw explained afterwards that keeping an eye on Haussler was all-important:

The last day was really a question of staying in the pack and making sure I stayed close to Haussler and at the head of the field.

The last two laps of this stage were a bit of a blur, I was going through riders right and left and just trying to follow Haussler. With 500 metres to go I managed to get out of the pack, but with 200 metres to go I knew all I had to do was stay there and win the race.

Victory brought a good end to a week which had started dismally for HTC-Highroad, as team leader Mark Cavendish suffered bad cuts and scrapes in a prologue crash which clearly affected him for at least a couple of days afterwards. Ellen van Dijk of the HTC women’s team had already won the ladies’ race last week.

British riders Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo) and Jeremy Hunt (Sky) finished fifth and sixth overall, while Bradley Wiggins ended up 31st, happy to have put some racing miles in his legs as he gears up for the major spring races.

And that’s it for the tenth Tour of Qatar, a geographically flat and featureless race enlivened by the influence of heavy winds which regularly caused the peloton to fracture and required the riders to be alert at all times. Congratulations to Mark Renshaw, and it has also been good to see the return to form after injury of both Haussler and Tom Boonen, and the emergence of the 21-year old Guardini, who looks to be quite a prospect for the future.

Stage 5 result:

1. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri) 2:44:06

2. Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) same time

3. Théo Bos (Rabobank) s/t

4. Dominique Rollin (FDJ) s/t

5. Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) s/t

General classification:

1. Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) 15:31:04

2. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:08

3. Daniele Bennati (Leopard-Trek) +0:17

4. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) +0:26

5. Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:38

Links: Tour of Qatar official

Tour of Qatar posts

Explosive Boom wins Tour of Qatar prologue

Tour of Qatar stages 1 & 2: Wins for Boonen & Haussler

Tour of Qatar stages 3 & 4: Renshaw edges in front

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