Bond car sells for four million

James Bond’s famous Aston Martin car, complete with gadgets including ejector seat and revolving number plates, sold at auction in London Wednesday for a lower-than-expected four million dollars.

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Hopes were high that the 1964 silver Aston Martin DB5 would smash the five-million-dollar barrier — but in the end the car driven by Sean Connery when he played the fictional British spy fell short.

Veteran silver screen star Connery got behind the wheel of the car when he played Bond in the films “Goldfinger” (1964) and “Thunderball” (1965).

A spokesman for RM Auctions, which had dubbed the vehicle the most famous car in the world, said that the sale price was “still a lot of money and I don’t think anyone’s disappointed.”

The auctioneers did not release the identity of the buyer, who paid 2.6 million pounds (4.1 million dollars, three million euros) for the Aston Martin.

The Bond movie car is fitted with the full complement of operational “Q-Branch” gadgets.

The car is also equipped with machine guns, bullet-proof shield, tracking device, removable roof panel, oil slick sprayer and smoke screen, all controlled by “toggles and switches hidden in the centre arm-rest”.

“The machine guns, as you can see, do come out of their intended place. As far as I know, they don’t shoot bullets, but then again, I haven’t tried,” Don Rose, a car specialist for the auctioneers, told AFP.

The gear stick top flips up to reveal the red ejector seat button. It also has a homing radar and a telephone mounted inside the driver’s door panel.

The car has been on tour over the past five months, with appearances in Britain, Germany, Monte Carlo, New York and Hong Kong.

Its US owner, Pennsylvania broadcaster Jerry Lee, bought it for 12,000 dollars in 1969 and hopes the sale will raise money for his charitable foundation.

“He’s owned it now for 41 years, and it’s spent most of that time in a special room built in his house,” Rose said.

“It’s been out of the public eye, with one or two exceptions, for over 30 years.”

On being at the wheel, Rose added: “I’m a DB5 owner myself, so I do know what such a car feels like to drive. However, this one, because of its unique provenance, makes one feel very special.

“On one hand, it was a thrill; on the other, it was always in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be the one to go down in history as the man who crashed the most famous car in the world,” he added.

Admission to the sale in Battersea, south London, required the purchase of an official auction catalogue available for 50 pounds.

Purchase of the car, lot 197 in the sale, also included a stay at the GoldenEye resort in Jamaica, the original Caribbean estate of Ian Fleming, the British author who created James Bond.

A custom-made suit woven with gold thread made by the tailors who dressed Connery as Bond was also thrown in.

Stranded Qantas passengers to return

Passengers on board a Sydney-bound Qantas flight that was forced to turn back after one of its engines exploded, will return to Sydney late on Friday.

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The super-jumbo, bound for Sydney from Singapore on Thursday, was forced to turn back after one of its four engines “shut down” over the Indonesian island of Batam.

The airline has suspended all of its A380 flights around the world as the carrier investigates the cause of an explosion.

Qantas on Friday said a special relief flight was dispatched from Sydney on Thursday night to bring back the affected passengers, who were put up in Singapore overnight.

It was due to leave Singapore at 10.30am local time (1.30pm AEDT).

Arrangements also were being made to get passengers who were stuck in Los Angeles on flights to Australia, the statement issued on Friday morning said.

Investigations had continued overnight into the incident, Qantas said.

“Qantas has liaised closely with Rolls-Royce and Airbus overnight in an effort to understand the cause of the incident,” it said.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on Thursday said the airline’s investigation into the incident “will take as long as we need to take until we are comfortable”.

“It looks like it’s an uncontained engine failure, but it’s too early to speculate and will involve us doing a detailed investigation with the manufacturer Airbus and the manufacturer of the engine, Rolls Royce,” he added.

Flights between Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne have been delayed for 24 hours.

Friday’s QF93 Melbourne-Los Angeles service, QF12 and QF108 Los Angeles to Sydney services, and QF94 Los Angeles-Melbourne service were all affected by the delay.

The QF10 London to Singapore service would be operated by an aircraft chartered from British Airways.

A decision would be made later on Friday regarding the onward flight to Melbourne.

Customers had been contacted regarding the flight changes, the airline said.

Meanwhile, the President of the Pilot’s Association and Qantas pilot Barry Jackson said he would be happy to fly an A380 plane once the investigation was concluded.

“I’m quite confident that this is a one-off, that once the preliminary reasons for this incident have come out and the engineers are quite happy for us to get going, then I’m quite happy to accept their word and get back in the saddle,” Mr Jackson told ABC radio on Friday morning.

Qantas was working with the Australian regulators, which also were investigating the incident, as well as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

So You Think drove Cup betting record

Australians wagered a record amount on the Melbourne Cup, all thanks to the popularity of the Cups King Bart Cummings and his horse, So You Think.

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So You Think ran the shortest Melbourne Cup favourite in almost 40 years at $3, in the hope he would deliver Cummings his 13th Cup.

Alas, So You Think could only finish third behind Americain and Maluckyday but his presence helped deliver a record $98.1 million in Cup turnover for Tabcorp in NSW and Victoria, up from $95.6 million last year.

Victorians wagered $40.2 million, up from last year’s $39.6 million, while NSW punters bet $58 million, up from $56 million in 2009. TAB Sportsbet, which for the first time allowed punters to bet live during the race, held $9.3 million, compared with $6 million in 2009.

“So You Think’s popularity helped TAB Sportsbet reach a record $9.3 million,” spokesman Matt Jenkins said.

“There was nearly three times the amount of money wagered on So You Think than the next most popular horse. “So You Think had been odds-on every race this preparation so I think punters jumped at the chance to take $3, even in a Melbourne Cup.”

Brad Tamer from UniTab said the popularity of So You Think drove punters in Queensland to place a record $45 million worth of bets, up three per cent from 2009.

“The fact that everyone loves Bart, everyone recognises Bart, So You Think is a great horse and obviously got a lot of press as to whether he could go to 3200m, so no doubt that was very helpful,” Tamer told AAP.

In Sydney, bookmakers reported heavy backing for last year’s winner Shocking, who placed 18th this year, in the Randwick betting ring.

“The best backed runner with me was Shocking and the winner was my equal worst result,” said veteran bookmaker Bill Murphy. Sportingbet Australia’s Bill Richmond said this year’s placegetters were well-backed in what was a “great betting race”. “(Americain) was certainly very well-backed, although certainly not in the league of the favourite,” Richmond said.

“We took two bets of $10,000 each-way (on Americain) at $14, so two punters have certainly had a very nice result there.”

But Richmond said betting agencies enjoyed a winning race. “It was a fair result, mainly because of the money for So You Think, it was enormously backed and it would’ve been an absolute strip out,” he said.

Richmond said there hadn’t been a favourite as strong as So You Think since Makybe Diva won her third Cup in 2005.

Americain paid $10.90 on the Victorian TAB, $12.30 in NSW and $12 on UniTab. Betting exchange Betfair reported more than $7 million was matched on the race between punters around the globe.

There was almost $350,000 traded on Americain with a highest price of $24 matched in the run.

Pressure ramps up on Malthouse in AFL

Three years after Carlton sacked Brett Ratten, another upset AFL loss to a Queensland team has ramped up the pressure on Mick Malthouse.

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Brisbane posted their first win of the season on Sunday, beating the Blues by nine points at Etihad Stadium.

The 12.12 (84) to 11.9 (75) leaves Carlton ahead of the Lions and Gold Coast only on percentage at the foot of the ladder with 1-5 records.

“We know where we’re at – if we’re not on the bottom then we’ve bottomed right out,” Malthouse said.

In the wake of last weekend’s appalling capitulation to arch-rivals Collingwood, Malthouse conceded that no club board could sustain a coach who is not winning.

But when asked on Sunday about the inevitable increase in pressure whether he remains determined to see the job through, Malthouse was typically defiant.

“I find that strange that you’d ask,” the three-time premiership coach said.

“What’s my history? Turn the toes up and go, you reckon? No – the simple fact is that while there is a job to be done I will be doing it as best as I possibly can, along with the rest of my match committee.”

There is no obvious short-term relief, with Carlton playing emerging GWS, Geelong, Sydney at the SCG and Adelaide ahead of the Blues’ round-11 bye.

Three years ago, Ratten’s fate as Carlton coach was sealed when Gold Coast upset his team in the second-last game of the season.

The Blues sacked him a few days later.

On a weekend where the unexpected became commonplace, West Coast capped the shocks late on Sunday with a 10-point win over Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.

The injury-plagued Eagles kicked seven of the last 10 goals to win 11.12 (78) to 10.8 (68) and claim their biggest scalp so far this season.

The Giants had the biggest win in their short history on Saturday night, shocking reigning premiers Hawthorn by 10 points.

And outsiders St Kilda staged the equal fifth-biggest comeback in AFL history to beat the Western Bulldogs.

The Saints were 55 points down early in the third term before they came marching in to down the Bulldogs by seven points.

On Friday night, Collingwood’s favouritism lasted as long as it took for Geelong to blast them away with the first seven goals of the match.

While the Cats are deep in transition, the 41-point win showed their best is still lethal.

Carlton’s loss was manna from heaven for Richmond coach Damien Hardwick.

Without the latest instalment of the Blues’ crisis, the blowtorch would have been firmly on Hardwick and the Tigers.

Saturday’s 35-point loss to North Melbourne left Richmond mired in a 2-4 mess.

Sydney predictably took care of Melbourne by 38 points and Adelaide similarly were too good for undermanned Gold Coast, beating them by 41.

Fremantle’s 28-point win over Essendon leaves the unbeaten Dockers two games clear at the top of the table.

It is the first time since Melbourne in 1956 that the top team has held a two-game buffer after six rounds.

That season, the Demons won the second of three-straight premierships.

Late Brisbane Lions surge stuns Carlton

Brisbane Lions went into their clash against Carlton a club in crisis, but left Etihad Stadium with a gutsy, morale-boosting nine-point win on Sunday.

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The winless and last-placed Lions endured a week of intense media scrutiny after they surrendered to Gold Coast in round five, and also faced serious questions about their handling of young players James Aish and Zac O’Brien.

But Justin Leppitsch’s men put aside a week under the blowtorch to play with aggression and grit as they came from behind in the third quarter to post the 12.12 (84) to 11.9 (75) win.

“I think the week was built up more externally than internally but it’s just good to win because we hadn’t won a game yet for our group,” Leppitsch said.

“It’s good for our group to build a little bit of belief.

“It was the ability to play roles and I thought we were diligent today. Not perfect but we restricted the opposition scoring well and more consistent in what our output was.

“That was probably the pleasing thing and hopefully that builds a bit more faith in what we’re doing with the group and a bit more belief.”

The match was punctuated by turnovers and skill errors from both sides, but Leppitsch was pleased with the improved work rate of his players and their desire to “guts it out” in the scrappy affair.

Allen Christensen had a quiet first half but he sparked Brisbane with 10 possessions in the third quarter, while Dane Beams impressed throughout with 29 touches.

Daniel McStay and Josh Green were lively in attack with four and three goals respectively.

Tom Bell, who was outstanding for Carlton with 26 disposals, sliced the margin to just nine points with under five minutes left, but the Blues spurned chances to snatch the win in the frantic final minutes with Levi Casboult and Liam Jones sending shots at goal wide.

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse lamented a crucial period late in the game when his side failed to capitalise on a 15-point lead.

“In that third quarter I thought if we could just squeeze another goal … goals were hard to get for both clubs,” Malthouse said.

“I just thought if we manage to get that next one (to put us) 21 points up … every goal we got we had to fight for and the goals they got I thought they came pretty well-structured.

“We just lost our initiative for 10 minutes – I don’t think we went into our forward line for that 10 minutes.”

Young Lion Nick Robertson was involved in a scary incident in the third term when he clattered into the advertising signage.

He was taken from the field on the cart, but was later cleared to return, with Leppitsch saying it was more of a back issue than a concussion scare.

My finest win: Eagles AFL coach Simpson

Adam Simpson hopes his finest moment as West Coast coach is a watershed for his AFL club.

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Simpson’s Eagles are perched in second spot on the ladder after they stunned Port Adelaide with an upset 10-point victory on Sunday.

“It’s the best win I have been a part of since I have been at the club,” said second-year coach Simpson of a tenacious 11.12 (78) to 10.8 (68) away triumph.

The Eagles were in danger of losing touch with Port, who led by 17 points at halftime.

But West Coast kicked seven of the last 10 goals of the game for a stirring victory.

“It’s probably just the next step of, hopefully, the evolution as a side and what we stand for,” Simpson said.

“Good clubs have a distinct brand and we are still working on ours. Hopefully today was a step towards that.

“That second half and the way the players stood up, how we went about it – and then the last 10 minutes when we were under siege, I thought our backs really stood up as well.

“We are really starting to see some development and excitement with our kids coming through.”

Simpson said the Eagles’ punt paid on playing spearhead Josh Kennedy despite an elbow injury paid off, with Kennedy collecting 14 possessions, kicking a goal and setting up two others.

West Coast were brilliantly served by a senior core of Mark LeCras (28 disposals), Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis (31 touches) and Chris Masten (30 possessions).

Basking in the Eagles’ ruck dominance, the trio provided plenty of drive into a forward line featuring two-goal cameos from Josh Hill, Jamie Cripps and Luke Shuey, who slotted his brace in the final term.

Port, now with three wins and three losses, were overly reliant on brilliant utility Robbie Gray, who gathered 25 disposals and kicked three majors.

Midfielders Hamish Hartlett (25 touches) and Brad Ebert (23 disposals) were prominent and Chad Wingard roamed far and wide in an influential two-goal, 20-possession game.

But Port coach Ken Hinkley said his side paid the price for a tardy approach.

“We didn’t get up again for a contest that we should have,” Hinkley said.

“The boys haven’t been able to consistently back it up over the journey.”

Real team mates not passing to Bale enough, agent says

Bale’s troubled second season in Spain hit a new low with a poor performance in last week’ Champions League defeat at Juventus and he again failed to spark in Saturday’s 2-2 La Liga draw at home to Valencia.

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He has been whistled by disgruntled fans at the Bernabeu, a startling turnaround for a player who scored in the finals of the Champions League and the King’s Cup last term.

Real broke the transfer record to buy the 25-year-old but he has lately been struggling to live up to expectations in a season partly disrupted by injury.

“Real have to work with Gareth and pass the ball to him more,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett was quoted as saying in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

“Give him more of the ball and let him show everybody what he’s good at,” Barnett added.

“He’s going to be the best player at Real Madrid when his team mates work with him and help him.”

Real are in danger of ending the season without defending their Champions League crown or securing a first La Liga title since 2012.

Eliminated from the King’s Cup by Atletico Madrid in January, Real lost the semi-final, first leg at Juve 2-1 and are four points behind leaders Barca in second in La Liga with two matches left.

Bale’s statistics are actually similar to last season, with 17 goals and 10 assists in 46 matches compared to 22 goals and 12 assists in 44 games in 2013-14.

However, he has been criticised for being selfish in front of goal and not contributing enough in defence.

“Most people would have been broken by this but he is determined,” Barnett said.

“He could have screamed and shouted or knocked on the manager’s office door but he doesn’t want to upset anyone.

“Every top club in the world would want to sign him but he will be at Real Madrid next season.

“There’s no way he is going anywhere in the summer. When we said he always wanted to play for Real, it was 100 percent true and he’s determined to be a success there.”

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ed Osmond)

Snapshot of NRL round nine

SNAPSHOT FROM ROUND NINE OF THE NRL:

THEY SAID IT: “When you’re younger you can take it the wrong way sometimes.

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It’s a big period leading up to Origin. It’s always the same sort of talk as a player every year.” – Roosters half Mitchell Pearce on the pressure being placed on him as he bids to reclaim his NSW halfback jumper.

STAT THAT MATTERS: Canberra confirmed their status as the Gold Coast’s bogey team when the Raiders ran out 56-16 winners at GIO Stadium on Saturday. It was the Titan’s fifth worst losing margin of all time. The Gold Coast’s biggest loss (56-10 in round 18, 2007) and equal third biggest loss (46-4 in round 20, 2008) also came against the men from the nation’s capital.

MAN OF THE ROUND: Shaun Johnson set up one try and scored one himself as the Warriors twice came from behind in the last 10 minutes to beat the Sharks 20-16. After a see-sawing final stanza, the Kiwi halfback sliced through the Sharks line to score a great solo try and seal a memorable win for his team.

MAGIC MOMENT: Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt went from zero to hero in the space of a few minutes after setting up Corey Oates’ match-winning try against Penrith. Earlier Hunt had missed a field goal which could have tied the scores at 5-5. Deep in the Panthers’ half again, he could have taken another attempt at one point but instead took on the Panthers defence to send Oates over for an 8-5 win.

TALKING POINT: Are the Raiders the real deal? Ricky Stuart’s side has now won three games on the trot to sit in fifth spot. Five-eighth Blake Austin is firming as the buy of the year and has been talked about as a smokey for the NSW State of Origin side.

JUDICIARY WATCH: Tyrone Peachey (dangerous throw), Konrad Hurrell (lifting knee).

KEY INJURIES: Sharks – Anthony Tupou (broken jaw), Tinirau Arona (hamstring); Raiders – Sam Williams (collapsed lung); Warriors – Manu Vatuvei (sternum).

UNDER PRESSURE: Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds is under pressure to retain his NSW jumper after some indifferent form and a suspension for tripping during City-Country. The Roosters’ James Maloney meanwhile has surged into form and the two will meet head-to-head on Friday night.

Johns urges NSW to be flanked by Roosters

New South Wales great Andrew Johns has urged Blues coach Laurie Daley to select the entire Roosters left flank after their destruction of the Tigers last weekend.

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Winger Daniel Tupou bounced back to form with a hat-trick in the side’s 36-4 beatdown of the Tigers that Johns said left Daley with no choice but to have the club combination in his Game I side when it is named on Tuesday week.

That also means going with James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce as the halves.

“Laurie’s talking about combinations, the left side for NSW will be [Boyd] Cordner, [Michael] Jennings and Tupou,” Johns said.

“And you put Maloney in there because that’s the (Roosters’) left side.

Storm fullback Billy Slater also signalled his immediate return to Origin-level form with a starring effort in Melbourne’s comfortable 28-10 win over Parramatta.

The win pushes the Storm into second spot on the NRL ladder, while the Eels join Manly and Cronulla at the bottom of the table.

The Sea Eagles recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season with a convincing 30-10 win over Newcastle, who have now lost five on the trot.

The streaks also continued up in Townsville, where North Queensland made it six straight, after Michael Morgan rescued his side from an embarrassing defeat with a long-range try at the death.

After leading 12-0 at the break, the Cowboys fell behind before Morgan and Johnathan Thurston came up with a couple of clutch plays to give the Bulldogs their fourth loss in five matches.

Perhaps the biggest winners of the round were Canberra, whose resounding 56-16 victory pushed them into outright fifth.

Five-eighth Blake Austin again starred for the home side with two tries, while centre Jarrod Croker finished with a personal haul of 24 points.

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson carried his sublime Test form into the NRL premiership after coming up with some clutch plays in his side’s 20-16 victory over Cronulla.

The Broncos were also clutch performers; Corey Oates’ try in the 79th minute gave the Broncos a thrilling 8-5 win over Penrith.

Wayne Bennett protege Darius Boyd made his long-awaited return in Broncos colours and should be available to slot straight into the Queensland team to be picked next week.

“It’s good to be back with the boys and enjoying a win,” Boyd said.

“I have been nervous the first eight weeks to be honest.

“But I was really excited as well – I couldn’t wait to get back out on the field.”

Analysis – Strauss faces biggest test as Ashes loom

The highly respected former captain moved quickly to end Peter Moore’s unhappy year in charge of the side and the identity of his replacement will dominate Strauss’s agenda in the coming weeks.

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Whether or not Moores was badly treated by the England and Wales Cricket Board will be debated long and hard but the cold reality is that, having taken over following the humbling 5-0 defeat in the last Ashes series, he failed to improve the team.

A depressing World Cup this year in which England were eliminated at the group stage after playing a turgid and outdated style of cricket was followed by a frustrating drawn test series against a modest West Indies side.

Moores decided to recall Jonathan Trott as an opener and the experiment was an unmitigated failure, the 34-year-old retiring from international cricket after admitting he was no longer up to coping with the demands of test cricket.

Trott followed Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior out of the England fold, leaving captain Alastair Cook with just four other players who have experienced Ashes success.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad should still form a potent opening bowling partnership, particularly in home conditions, and Ian Bell and Joe Root are proven test batsman.

With Gary Ballance established at number three in the order, the batting looks in reasonable shape, but the new coach will have many other decisions to make to find a team capable of mixing it with the powerful Australians.

Strauss may be tempted to appoint an Australian coach with Jason Gillespie and Justin Langer among the favourites for the role.

Former fast bowler Gillespie, 40, has enjoyed success as coach of English county Yorkshire and is reportedly keen to step up to international level.

The 44-year-old Langer formed a prolific opening partnership with Matthew Hayden and knows Strauss well after they played together for Middlesex but he has strong family ties to his native Western Australia.

Langer famously once said that he took his baggy green cap to bed with him because he loved it so much and it is hard to envisage such a proud Australian trying to plot the downfall of his beloved fellow countrymen.

Paul Farbrace will lead England in the two-match series against New Zealand starting on May 21, giving Strauss a short window in which to find the right man for the job long-term.

As captain of two Ashes-winning teams, Strauss knows what it takes to beat the old enemy and he may care to think back to a famous day in Brisbane in November, 2010 to find inspiration.

Having scored a typically compact and stylish 110 in the first test, Strauss watched Cook and Trott share an unbroken second-wicket partnership of 329 to lift the touring side to an extraordinary total of 517 for one declared.

Surveying that surreal scorecard at the close of play, Strauss could little have imagined the situation he finds himself in less than five years later.

(Editing by Toby Davis)

Atletico miss chance to pull away in third

After fourth-placed Valencia drew 2-2 at Real Madrid on Saturday, a win for the champions would have propelled them six points clear in third with two games left but they slipped up against a team fighting for their top-flight status.

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David Barral tapped in at the far post in the 32nd minute to put 14th-placed Levante ahead at their Ciutat de Valencia stadium before Guilherme Siqueira levelled with a smart volley three minutes later.

Atletico fell behind again in the 63rd minute when Kalu Uche bundled the ball over the line and Torres secured a point when he nodded powerfully home following a corner 10 minutes from time.

“We knew what it means to play here, where Levante are very strong,” Siqueira told Spanish television.

“In this final part of the season every point is crucial,” added the Brazilian. “We have two games left to make sure of the third spot that we want.”

Atletico have 77 points from 36 matches, with Valencia on 73 in fourth, which carries a berth in qualifying for Europe’s elite club competition.

Leaders Barcelona (90 points) are on the brink of a fifth title in seven years after they won 2-0 at home to Real Sociedad on Saturday to stretch their advantage over Real Madrid (86) to four points.

This weekend’s matches are being played under the cloud of a possible strike orchestrated by the Spanish football federation (RFEF) and the players’ union (AFE) due to a dispute over a new law on collective bargaining for the sale of television rights.

The two organisations, who complain the law does not take their interests sufficiently into account, have threatened to halt games from May 16, meaning the last two La Liga match days and the King’s Cup final between Barca and Athletic Bilbao are under threat.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

QPR down after City mauling, Liverpool held

Chelsea later effectively ended Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League after the newly-crowned Premier League champions held them to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

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With two games remaining, fifth-placed Liverpool have 62 points from 36 matches, six behind Manchester United who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot and have a better goal difference (+25 to +11).

Chelsea have 84 points from their 36 games, 11 more than second-placed Manchester City, who confirmed their place in next season’s Champions League.

QPR needed to win their remaining three fixtures to stand any chance of survival but a sorry defeat at the Etihad Stadium left them nine points adrift of 17th-placed Newcastle United.

“I don’t think it’s time for any post-mortems because our fate is now what it is,” QPR’s interim manager Chris Ramsey told Sky Sports.

“Everybody is very disappointed we’ve lost our status in the Premier League. We need to make sure we rebuild and give the fans and the people from west London another Premier League club in the next couple of years.”

MISERABLE QPR

It was almost three years to the day since Aguero’s dramatic goal deep into stoppage-time lifted City to a 3-2 win over QPR which secured their first Premier League title.

Rangers survived that day, only to go down the following season, and they arrived in Manchester this time knowing only victory would prevent them from joining Burnley in an immediate return to the Championship.

QPR have collected only seven away points this season and made the worst possible start when Aguero danced through the visitors’ feeble defence before chipping the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Robert Green.

In a rare foray forward, QPR’s Charlie Austin had a header ruled out for offside before Aleksandar Kolarov’s low free kick flew through the porous defensive wall and settled in the bottom corner.

Aguero added his second when he capitalised on Yun Suk-young’s error to race away and slot past Green and he completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Matt Phillips had felled David Silva.

James Milner added a fifth with a simple finish and Silva rounded Green to slot home after a sublime move to complete a miserable day for QPR.

GUARD OF HONOUR

Liverpool welcomed the champions with a guard of honour at Stamford Bridge but the hosts were in no mood to thank them as Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas left his mark on Raheem Sterling with a heavy challenge in the opening minute.

Chelsea could have been forgiven for showing signs of a title hangover but they looked sharp early on and took the lead after five minutes when captain John Terry rose above Rickie Lambert to power a header home from a corner.

But Liverpool had their own captain to thank just before halftime as some slack Chelsea defending from Adam Lallana’s free kick allowed Steven Gerrard to sneak in at the far past and level the scores.

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had to be alert to deny Sterling’s deflected cross in the second half before Jordan Henderson dragged a volley just wide as Liverpool made one final push to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive.

“I think now this team’s got to prepare for next year. We wanted to make a statement with our performance today,” Gerrard, who is leaving for Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the season, told Sky Sports.

“Unfortunately we didn’t win the game but we’ve shown that with a few additions we can compete next year.”

Fourth spot would guarantee United a Champions League playoff with the top three automatically qualifying.

Third-placed Arsenal are two points above United with two games in hand, including Monday’s visit of Swansea City.

(Additional reporting by Michael Hann; Editing by Ed Osmond/Mark Meadows)

Dost scores twice as Wolfsburg book Champions League spot

The Dutchman, who took his Bundesliga tally to 16 goals, 14 of which have come since the start of the year, tapped in twice at the far post after Timm Klose’s header gave the visitors the lead as they ended a three-game league run without a win.

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Paderborn, in 17th place, scored a late goal through Lukas Rupp’s powerful shot.

Wolfsburg, who last played in Europe’s premier club competition after winning the 2009 Bundesliga title, can also clinch the German Cup when they take on Borussia Dortmund in the final later this month.

“Huge congratulations to my team for taking the decisive last step,” coach Dieter Hecking told reporters. “In the last three games we dropped too many points and that was unnecessary.

“We look forward to the last two games of the season as we really want to defend second place.”

The Wolves are second on 65 points, two ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach, and seven ahead of fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

Schalke 04’s slump continued with a 2-0 loss at Cologne, who are guaranteed another season in the Bundesliga.

The Royal Blues, however, have one win from their last eight games with their Europa League hopes dented after they dropped to sixth place on 45, only two behind Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen.

Bayern Munich, who have already secured the title, lost 1-0 to Augsburg on Saturday for their fourth defeat in a row in all competitions.

Pep Guardiola’s team host Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final second leg on Tuesday, trailing 3-0.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Toby Davis/Mark Meadows)