Beer thrown on Michael van Gerwen at World Darts Championship

Michael van Gerwen’s opening match at the World Darts Championship was delayed after beer was thrown at the world No 1 at Alexandra Palace.

Van Gerwen was the headline act of the evening session, where the 29-year-old began his bid for a third world title in the sold-out venue against England’s Alan Tabern.

Tabern made his way to the stage first but was left waiting several minutes after the unsavoury incident at the back of the walk-on area, where Van Gerwen was waiting to be introduced to the sell-out crowd.

Van Gerwen and his neighbouring security guard were left covered in beer thrown by a spectator, who was immediately removed from the venue, leaving the Dutchman having to go back outside of the main arena to change his shirt.

Despite the hold-up in play for Van Gerwen being left visibly upset by the event, Van Gerwen was still able to post a 102.59 average on his way to a 3-1 victory and set up a third-round meeting with Max Hopp.

“It has never happened to me before,” Van Gerwen told Sky Sports. “I didn’t know how to react, I was so angry. What can you do? You can’t do anything.

“The only thing I could do was change my shirt and wash my hands, as it was all over my arms. We throw darts with our hands and every little thing on your hands gives you a different feeling. It was quite difficult and I was a little bit emotional, but I’m glad I won this game.”

Click on the video above to see the beer-throwing incident!

Live World Darts Championship

December 16, 2018, 12:30pm

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Katie Taylor puts in classy display with impressive win over Eva Wahlstrom to retain IBF and WBA world titles

The pair had met six times in the amateur ranks but this was their first as pros, with the fight billed as one of the highest-profile bouts in women's boxing to date.

And Taylor wasted no time in getting into her work in-front of a packed crowd at The Garden, dominating the early stages and drawing blood from the Finn's nose within the opening round.

Wahlstrom didn't have an answer to Taylor's superior hand-speed, as she demonstrated some terrific combinations to break through the defences all too easily again in the fourth.

A defensive Plan A clearly wasn't working for the Finn, who attempted to go on the attack in the fifth only to be on the receiving end of some stunning right-left combos from the Bray Bomber.

The 2012 Olympic champion upped the tempo again in the next two rounds and had too much for Wahlstrom, who couldn't muster a meaningful response to the silky skills on show from the Irish world champion.

Despite a brave rally in the eighth, Wahlstrom needed treatment to a cut following a clash of heads and was caught all too easily due to the speed, agility and power of Taylor.

But she showed terrific guts to make it through to the judges, despite being outclassed from the first bell to the last.

Taylor was given every round by the judges, taking all three 100-90 and was delighted to end Wahlstrom's three-year grip on the WBC belt.

She said: "What an experience. It was a privilege to box here. I thought I boxed very smartly. With the crowd here behind me, it was just so special.

"Obviously I would've loved the stoppage, but with the two-minute rounds they're tough to get.

"But I'm so happy tonight. I've a lot of respect for Eva and she's a great person. It was an honour to share a ring with her."

Taylor also retained her IBF and WBA world titles with the stunning win.

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Maple Leafs young star is face of NHL’s contract revolution

A strange wrinkle has been added, courtesy of William Nylander.

As the Maple Leafs terrific young forward held out until hours before the deadline and then finally signed a contract extension on the afternoon of Dec. 1, it became clear that the script had flipped between teams and players when it comes to restricted free agency. The 22-year-old did not want a one- or two-year bridge deal. After just two full seasons in the league, he wanted to get paid — big-time and long-term.

Nylander did not have arbitration rights, which actually turned out in his benefit. If he had more service time, he would have had that right to file for arbitration, and if the case actually reached the arbitrator, the settlement coming in August would have been for a one-year deal. Instead, after holding out, he was rewarded with a six-year deal worth $41.4 million, carrying what amounts to an annual salary-cap hit of $6.9 million.

If he had not signed by Dec. 1, he would have had to sit out the whole season, which forced the hand of both his agent and Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas. It resulted in a deal that seems equitable for both sides.

Under normal circumstances with a RFA without arbitration rights — and with normal talent — the team either tries to negotiate a bridge deal, or just gives a qualifying offer. The latter would mean that if the player rejects it, the team retains the rights to that player — which is what Nylander did — unless he signs an offer sheet with another team. That almost never happens because the team who gives the offer sheet would then have to send a slew of draft picks back in return if the original club allows the player to leave.

(Quick aside: Colleague Larry Brooks recently pointed out a salary-cap loophole. What if a team signed a player to a big one-year deal — say, $15 million — and then come Jan. 1, they have an agreement in place for a five-year, $25 million extension. If you have the cap room in Year 1, then the next five years carry a cap-hit of $5 million while the player is actually averaging $6.67 million per in salary over the six-year span. Would the league OK that, or would it be circumvention?)

Because this is a league that has become so predicated on youth and talent, draft picks are too valuable to risk. Under that same premise, that is why young RFAs are treated like gold and handed massive, long-term contracts that used to be unheard of. It used to be that arbitration rights were good because a player knew they would get signed to what could be considered at least a reasonable deal. Now, that stop-gap is a benefit to the team.

Just look at some of the contracts handed out to RFAs in the past few years. Of course Connor McDavid is a generational talent, but just a few years ago the Oilers would have tried to kept his salary under control — at least, in term. Instead, they handed him a historic eight-year, $100 million deal (at $12 million per, turns out to be a bit of a bargain). The Lightning didn’t even let Nikita Kucherov sniff RFA status, signing him this July, with one year left on his bridge deal, to an eight-year, $76 million deal ($9.5 million per). Johnny Gaudreau held out in the summer of 2016 coming off his entry-level deal and the Flames rewarded him with a six-year, $40.5 million deal ($6.75 million per).

Heck, even the Rangers didn’t give defenseman Brady Skjei a bridge deal, instead signing him to a six-year, $31.5 million deal ($5.25 million per). Ehh, how’s that working out?

If Nylander got $6.9 million per, what is Dubas going to have to pay Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner as they come up on RFA this summer? What is Colorado GM Joe Sakic (not known for being the most patient negotiator) going to have to give Mikko Rantanen, who just happens to be leading the league with 52 points through 31 games?

There are still big-ticket unrestricted free-agent signings, but the idea that this has become a young person’s league is no longer just an idea. It’s translating to the business, and the system is going to have to adjust.

Ludicrous Lightning

Yeah, this is just what the Lightning needed — getting their No. 1 goalie back and then watching as Andrei Vasilevskiy makes saves like this.

Having suffered a broken left foot back on Nov. 10, the 24-year-old Russian made his return on Thursday night and just casually made 48 saves in a 4-1 win over the terrifically talented Leafs. It was a battle of the league’s top two teams, but Vasilevskiy’s return might have just separated the Lightning from the rest of the pack.

Appreciating Alex

Still, somehow, it seems like Alex Ovechkin’s greatness is overlooked. On Tuesday, Ovechkin notched his 21st career hat trick, passing Pavel Bure for the most all-time by Russian-born players. He now has 632 career goals, passing Marcel Dionne for the second-most goals at age 33 or younger (behind Wayne Gretzky’s 804). He’s also third in goals within a player’s first 14 seasons (Mario Lemieux’s 654 might get passed, but Gretzky’s 765 will not).

That’s the kind of company Ovechkin is keeping. It’s rarified air up there.

Stay tuned . . . (to the Sabres)

This segment of The Backcheck is now officially dedicated to New York’s other team, who are this year’s Great Story. After showing they can hang with the big boys with an overtime loss to the Leafs last week, the Sabres took a 6-2 hammering from the visiting Flyers this Saturday. They recovered with wins over the Kings and Coyotes, and now have a stern weekend test, a road back-to-back in Washington on Saturday then Boston on Sunday.

Buffalo is currently 19-9-4, in third place in the Atlantic Division.

Parting shot

Andreas Martinsen now has nine career NHL goals in 148 games. He had an interesting way of saying how he got his first of this season to go in.

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7am Man Utd news: Mourinho's lost '90% of the squad', Jose calls Liverpool lucky and Dalot is the new Neville

Read this and more gossip, plus all the latest transfer news, from Old Trafford.


JOSE MOURINHO has ‘lost 90 per cent’ of his squad, according to one senior Manchester United player.

And backroom staff who have fallen out with the Portuguese boss are confident they will outlast him at the club.


LIVERPOOL are “the lucky ones” insists Special One Jose Mourinho.

The Manchester United boss heads to Anfield today claiming Jurgen Klopp’s men are riding a wave of good fortune.


JOSE MOURINHO rates Diogo Dalot highly he has already drawn comparisons with Gary Neville.

Ashley Young has led the chorus of team-mates who was once tipped to rival the success of Cristiano RonaLdo and is now bacled to be a Manchester United hero for a decade.


JESSE LINGARD has celebrated his 26th birthday by sharing adorable photos of himself adorned a Man United kit.

The England international has been on the books at Old Trafford since 2000 – joining when he was seven.


PAUL POGBA wished team-mate Jesse Lingard happy birthday in hilarious video.

The pair are known for showing off their dance moves and the Frenchman was at it once again as his English counterpart turned 26.


PAUL INCE picked his combined XI between Liverpool and Manchester United, and the 51-year-old selected Alisson Becker over David de Gea in goal.

Liverpool host arch rivals United on Sunday and Ince gave his combined XI to talkSPORT in preparation of the match. Click here to see Ince's full team.


JUAN MATA holds the keys to Manchester United getting a huge result at Anfield, says Danny Higginbotham.

The Spaniard has been in and out of the side all season but he is the creative type Jose Mourinho needs against Liverpool. Click here for the Analyst's full verdict. 


JURGEN KLOPP rose above the barbs after Jose Mourinho dug out his Liverpool rival for his failure to win trophies.

The Kop boss called under-fire Manchester United chief Mourinho “the most successful manager in the world” ahead of Sunday's crunch Premier League showdown at Anfield.


SIR ALEX FERGUSON received a nice surprise when he went for lunch in Manchester.

Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes were all waiting outside The Ivy for the 73-year-old Red Devils legend.


OLD TRAFFORD may be known as "the theatre of dreams", but for Bebe it was more of a nightmare.

The forward only played seven times for Alex Ferguson's side and has now revealed he was relieved when he left Manchester United, hailing the moment he heard he had been sold as the best moment of his life.


JAMIE CARRAGHER has claimed that Alisson Becker is starting to take over David De Gea in the race to be the world's best goalkeeper.

De Gea is now 11th in the world with a 67.5 per cent save rate whereas last season the United player finished on 80.3 per cent.


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Chelsea star Olivier Giroud reveals he wants to win the Premier League more than the Champions League at Stamford Bridge

The Chelsea striker told The Guardian that he wishes to join some of his Chelsea teammates as a Premier League winner.

Giroud also claimed winning the domestic title is more meaningful to him than the Champions League.

Giroud said: “To win a Premier League is my last dream as a footballer, maybe more than winning a Champions League, because I know how tough it is to win this league.

“I have teammates here who have won it, so I’m a bit jealous. I want to make it happen.

“I know we lost at Wolves but we beat Manchester City, so don’t count on me to give up on that dream just yet. I don’t want to end with any regrets.”

Giroud swapped the Emirates Stadium for Stamford Bridge in January last, with former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte frequently picked the Frenchman over Alvaro Morata.

The 32-year-old has scored five times in his 18 appearances in all competitions this season, but new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has mainly started Morata ahead of Giroud this term.

However, Giroud cited he would rather be at a top flight club fighting for his position in the starting 11 instead of regularly playing for a less accomplished side.

He added: “Alvaro made a great pre-season, so it was normal not to take him off the team even to put in a world champion. Let’s be patient, work in training and come back stronger.

“I prefer to be at a big club rather than playing every week in a less prestigious team and I still have targets.”

Morata suffered a knee injury in Chelsea last game, a 2-2 away draw against Vidi FC in the Europa League – a game Giroud netted a fantastic free-kick.

In Chelsea’s 2-0 win against champion Manchester City Morata was left out of the side with Giroud on the bench.

Winger Eden Hazard led the line that day, but with Morata injured for Chelsea’s next league clash against Brighton tomorrow Giroud could find himself back in the side again.

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Nike back Sterling's stand against racism in Instagram post inspired by Kaepernick

The American sportswear giants posted an image on their Instagram account similar to the one of American footballer Colin Kaepernick.

Sterling was subject of alleged racist abuse at Chelsea last weekend, and hit back in an Instagram post.

The Man City forward called for "fair publicity" and giving "all players an equal chance", and Nike have backed him.

Nike's Instagram post read: "Speaking up doesn't always make life easier. But easy never changed anything".

The close-up black and white image of Sterling's face resembles the one used in Nike's 'Just Do It' campaign featuring Kaepernick.

That Kaepernick advert that was released in September read: "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."

The 31-year-old took a knee during the US national anthem ahead of a pre-season NFL game in 2016 when he was playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

Kaepernick was speaking out against social injustice and police brutality in America, and many more black athletes have since performed similar protests.

The quarterback left the 49ers after the 2016 season and is still without a team.

He has since filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing team owners of collusion to keep him away from the league.

America's most prominent athlete LeBron James backed the advert, saying: "I stand with Nike, all day, every day."

Sterling came off the bench to score Man City's third goal in a 3-1 victory against Everton at the Etihad on Saturday.

City boss Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Sterling and the way he has handled himself this week.

Guardiola said: "My feeling is he has handled many situations in the last year.

"There are many rumours that people have been talking about, and not nice things about him or his family or, in this case, the colour of his skin.

"And that is why I admire him. I admire that it is not easy for him but he is calm, he is happy playing football and he is beloved.

"He is incredible for all the staff, locker room and his team-mates. It is good. Hopefully we can improve on that and move forward."

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Jose Mourinho brutally trolls Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool when compared to 2005 side that conquered Europe

Super Sunday takes us to Anfield this weekend as Liverpool look to keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

United, meanwhile, look as disjointed as ever, and boss Jose Mourinho will be looking for an instant reaction following his side's disappointing Champions League defeat to Valencia.

Speaking on Soccer AM ahead of the crunch clash, the Portuguese gaffer took a dig at Liverpool for not adding to their trophy cabinet.

He was asked if this current Liverpool team is "the best" that he has come up against.

Mourinho answered: "Well I played against a Liverpool team that were European champions.

"I don't know if it is better – I know the other one were European champions and this one won nothing."

Back in 2005 Rafael Benitez led the Merseysiders to a stunning Champions League triumph with a penalty shoot-out victory against AC Milan.

SunSport reported how Mourinho admitted he was sweating over the fitness of his players following the 2-1 defeat in Valencia on Wednesday.

Alexis Sanchez and Victor Lindelof are both definitely ruled out but Mourinho is hopeful the likes of Anthony Martial and Diogo Dalot will play United's fierce rivals.

Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Scott McTominay, Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw will also face late fitness tests.

When quizzed on injuries, he said: "The latest is that in Valencia only (David) De Gea and (Nemanja) Matic were available to play and didn't travel by decision.

"Apart from that the players that didn't travel were not fit to play in Valencia, all of them had injuries and they were not ready.

"All of them didn't train yesterday again and today there will be a little, I don't want to say test, but a little introduction to training to see the answer and to see if we can increase a little bit tomorrow to have them for Sunday.

"But for sure, I hope, is better not to say for sure, I hope some will be available but for sure some will not be."

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Why the Toronto Raptors are the NBA’s best team right now

The Toronto Raptors have been called a lot of things this season. The NBA’s deepest team. Its most flexible. Its most well-organized.

Yet after the most powerful wins of the season so far, it might be time to ditch all those and replace them with a convenient catch-all. Are the Raptors simply the best team in basketball?

No one has been spoken of in those terms in recent times except for the Golden State Warriors, who have kept such a stranglehold on championships and bragging rights that there has been little room for anyone else in the discussion.

It's time for that to change.

The shrewd minds of the Las Vegas sports books might disagree, with Sin City still listing the Warriors as clear favorites at an ungenerous price, but the Raptors are showing signs that suggest they are ready to mount a serious challenge for a title, no matter who they face at the final hurdle.

Regular season games are not always an accurate indicator of how things will pan out in the playoffs, but confidence does play into it and there is no question that Toronto has bundles of belief, especially after the events of this week.

First, Toronto went to the Los Angeles Clippers, until recently owners of the NBA’s best home record, and destroyed them 123-99, opening up a 29-point lead before cruising through the final quarter.

But it was Wednesday night when they ground down the Warriors on their own floor – in what looms as a potential NBA Finals preview – when the Raptors really began to raise eyebrows, winning 113-93 in a game that never felt close.

This wasn’t a depleted Warriors team. Stephen Curry is back and firing on all fronts, taking aim from three-point range and, in a cheeky podcast, at NASA. The Draymond Green/Kevin Durant beef has cooled and the recent four-game slide is long forgotten.

That didn’t stop Toronto from bursting into an early lead, quashing any hint of a home revival and generally playing like a team that feels like it is the favorite. All without its primary superstar, Kawhi Leonard, out with a bruised hip for a second straight game.

“It’s big,” Kyle Lowry told ESPN. “With Kawhi we are a different team and without him (it had to be) next man up. We want him back, and when we play with pace and energy we are really good.”

A major reason why it is easy to be high on Toronto and its title credentials is the way it has managed to deal with adversity without losing momentum. The swashbuckling start to this trip came following Leonard’s physical concerns, a four-game personal slump in which Lowry managed just 15 total points, a listless home defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks and the passing of head coach Nick Nurse’s mother.

At 23-7 the Raptors have the best record in the league, and are worthy of it.

Lowry’s response has been particularly impressive. He tallied 21 in Los Angeles and 23 at Golden State, assuming control in the absence of Leonard and taking the team’s record in back-to-backs to 6-0.

Winning consistently without Leonard may not be possible in the postseason, but the squad has coped admirably on the occasions the former San Antonio Spur has been missing so far. Despite going 7-1, they’re not better without him, but it does speak to the true depth of the line-up and its extra parts.

Serge Ibaka is showing power and hunger, Pascal Siakam is having a transformative year, Fred VanVleet has blossomed into a master provider and Lowry, his temporary lapse notwithstanding, offers scoring power either with his own hand or as a facilitator.

It is a fun place to be around, joking and clowning in the locker room being the norm in the relaxed environment preferred by Nurse.

“Winning is always fun,” Siakam said. “We’re having a good time.”

The Raptors hadn’t won in Oakland for 13 years but Wednesday’s clash wasn’t a nail-biter by any stretch. It was the kind of win that you see from a serious team that believes in itself, no matter who it is up against.

“They’re not an up-and-coming team,” Durant said. “They’re here.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr took a slightly different, and more defensive, tack.

“I would think that we would have the edge, now that they have kicked our butts twice,” Kerr said, when asked about any psychological advantage if the teams were to meet in the Finals. “If that were to happen I know we’d be ready to play.”

Kerr likes being on top and he doesn’t want to cede ground to the team that seems to present the biggest danger to his team’s dominance. But Toronto has arrived and he knows it. The quest to be the best is in full swing, and it’s turned into an even fight.

Follow Rogers on Twitter @RogersJourno

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Islanders Continue Their Dominance of the Red Wings

Mathew Barzal scored on a power play in the third period and had the only goal in the shootout to lift the Islanders to a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Anthony Beauvillier and Casey Cizikas also scored in regulation for the Islanders, who beat the Red Wings for the fourth straight time — including a 3-2 win at Detroit last Saturday. Thomas Greiss finished with 18 saves.

Thomas Vanek had a goal and two assists, and Gustav Nyquist and Trevor Daley also scored for Detroit, which has lost six of its last eight and nine of the last 13. Jonathan Bernier stopped 45 shots through overtime.

Cizikas and Barzal scored less than three minutes apart in the third to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead with 6 minutes 4 seconds remaining. However, with Bernier pulled for an extra skater, Vanek scored against his former team to tie the score with 1:03 left.

CAPITALS 4, SABRES 3 Alex Ovechkin scored his N.H.L.-leading 29th goal to extend his points streak to a career-best 14 games and had the shootout winner as host Washington gained its fifth consecutive victory.

Ovechkin, who had hat tricks in the previous two games, has 17 goals during his points streak and goals in six straight games.

SABRES SUSPEND BERGLUND The Buffalo Sabres suspended forward Patrick Berglund indefinitely for failing to report.

Berglund, who came to the Sabres this season after 10 with the St. Louis Blues, missed the past two games with what Coach Phil Housley initially called an illness.

“From my knowledge talking to the medical staff, he was ill, so we handled it that way,” Housley said. “Obviously, it developed into something different.”

Berglund, 30, has two goals and two assists in 23 games. He was a healthy scratch earlier this season and also missed five games with an upper-body injury.

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Jesse Lingard shares adorable childhood snap as Man Utd star celebrates 26th birthday

The flamboyant midfielder turned 26 today and posted the cute snaps to his Instagram, captioning it: "BIRTHDAY BWOI".

He was also involved in a hilarious birthday dance with his team-mate Paul Pogba – who took to social media to send his best wishes.

The Frenchman seemed in good spirits as he congratulated Lingard – even after putting in another dismal display in the middle of the park in Man Utd's Champions League defeat to Valencia.

And Lingard and United will  be hoping they can get one-up over their bitter rivals and table toppers Liverpool on Sunday.

The Red Devils face the daunting task of overcoming Jurgen Klopp's rampant side  – who have won each of their last five Premier League matches.

Mourinho's men travel to Anfield in the hope of closing the 18 point gap between the sides.

Last week they were impressive against bottom side Fulham in their 4-1 victory.

But they could not repeat the feat against Valencia – where they looked lethargic and disinterested as they have so often this season.

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