Bottas ready to take one for the team in Russia

By Alan Baldwin
| SOCHI, Russia

SOCHI, Russia Valtteri Bottas says he will move aside for Lewis Hamilton if Formula One champions Mercedes ask him to, although there have been no talks about 'team orders' ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver has met the call once already in the first three races, letting team mate Hamilton chase Ferrari's eventual winner Sebastian Vettel on fresher tyres in Bahrain.

Nadal brings up half century to progress as Evans dumped out

By Bu Joseph Cassinelli

Third seed Rafael Nadal remains on course for a tenth Barcelona Open title, advancing to the quarter finals with a routine 6-3, 6-4 victory over Kevin Anderson.

It was Nadal’s 50th victory at the tournament he has won nine times and the Mallorcan never looked in danger against the world number 66, forcing ten break points throughout the match.

Albania fined 100,000 Swiss francs over firecrackers

ZURICH Albania have been fined 100,000 Swiss francs (78,427.17 pounds) after their fans let off firecrackers during the World Cup qualifier away to Italy last month, interrupting play for several minutes, FIFA said on Thursday.

Soccer's governing body added that Italy, who won the match 2-0, had been fined 15,000 Swiss francs over the same match played in Palermo.

FIFA said Iran had been fined 50,000 Swiss francs for incidents in a match against China which included the "use of pyrotechnics among supporters and an overcrowded stadium".

Defeat nothing to be scared of, Klitschko tells Joshua

By Martyn Herman

LONDON Wladimir Klitschko told IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defeat was "nothing to be scared of" at a packed news conference ahead of their sell-out title fight at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Ukrainian Klitschko, 41, said he was obsessed with reclaiming the heavyweight titles he lost against Britain's Tyson Fury in November 2015 -- his first defeat in 11 years.

Hull's Silva seeks rare away victory at Southampton

Hull City must focus on picking up results on the road starting on Saturday at Southampton if they are to avoid Premier League relegation, manager Marco Silva has said.

Silva, who took over from Mike Phelan in January, has overseen a dramatic upturn in Hull's fortunes at the KCOM Stadium, with the team unbeaten in eight league games.

However, the East Yorkshire club, currently 17th in the league and two points clear of the relegation zone, have had little success on their travels, not winning away since last August.

Syrian refugee Olympic swimmer becomes UNHCR ambassador

GENEVA She escaped the bombs of Syria, and almost drowned when her dinghy capsized off Greece, but Yusra Mardini then competed at the Olympics and has now been appointed a U.N. goodwill ambassador to be a voice for people seeking shelter from war.

Mardini had to swim for hours after capsizing in the Mediterranean with her sister. They saved 20 people who eventually reached the Greek island of Lesbos.

Barton ban harsh, says Burnley boss Dyche

LONDON Burnley manager Sean Dyche described midfielder Joey Barton's 18-month ban for breaching betting rules as harsh on Thursday.

Barton, 34, received his punishment on Wednesday after admitting a Football Association charge relating to bets placed from 2006 to 2016.

"Eighteen months seems a long time to me in light of other things I've seen in the sport," Dyche, whose side face Crystal Palace on Saturday, told a news conference.

"(Former Manchester United player) Eric Cantona was given a nine-month ban for a kung-fu kick."

Sharapova eases past Makarova into Stuttgart quarters

BERLIN Former world number one Maria Sharapova eased past fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1 on Thursday to reach the Stuttgart Grand Prix quarter-finals and continue her winning comeback from a 15-month doping ban.

The 30-year-old Russian, who has won five Grand Slams and is among the highest-paid athletes in the world, returned to action on Wednesday with a straight sets win over Roberta Vinci following her suspension for the use of banned substance meldonium.

Clement confident Swansea can avoid relegation

Swansea City are confident they can avoid relegation after ending their six-game winless streak against Stoke City last weekend, manager Paul Clement said on Thursday.

With four league games to play, the Welsh side are currently placed 18th and two points adrift of safety ahead of Sunday's trip to fifth-placed Manchester United.

"The players showed against Stoke that they can perform even when the anxiety and pressure is high," Clement told a news conference.

Totti still the centre of attention even on the bench

ROME He has barely played this season and will almost certainly start on the substitutes bench, yet Francesco Totti will still be the centre of attention when his side AS Roma face off with neighbours Lazio for their fourth derby of the season.

Totti is in his 25th season at the only professional club he had ever played for - and, even now, there is a wave of excitement whenever it looks like the 40-year-old is about to come on for a late cameo.