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Suns' Booker out vs. Thunder with ankle sprain

Published in Basketball
Sunday, 03 March 2024 16:14

Phoenix Suns star guard Devin Booker is out for Sunday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a right ankle sprain.

Booker sprained the ankle late in the Suns' loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night after his feet got tangled with teammate Royce O'Neale. He limped off the court and did not return.

Suns coach Frank Vogel said X-rays were negative.

O'Neale also suffered a right ankle sprain in the game but started for Booker in Sunday's game. Jusuf Nurkic, who exited vs. Houston with a sprained neck in the second quarter, and Bradley Beal, who returned from a five-game absence due to a hamstring injury but only played 20 minutes in Saturday's loss because of an ejection, were also both in the starting lineup vs. the Thunder.

The Suns enter Sunday's game 0.5 game up from the Sacramento Kings for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.

Celtics stomp Dubs for record third 50-point win

Published in Basketball
Sunday, 03 March 2024 16:14

BOSTON -- Jaylen Brown scored 29 points, Jayson Tatum had 27 on his 26th birthday and the NBA-best Boston Celtics posted their third-largest winning margin in franchise history, drubbing the weary Golden State Warriors 140-88 on Sunday.

Payton Pritchard added 19 points for the Celtics, who set a league record with their third win this season by 50 points or more and extended their season-best winning streak to 11 games. Boston led by a franchise-record 44 points at halftime and pushed it to 51 early in the third quarter before coach Joe Mazzulla went to his reserves the rest of the way.

The Celtics are beating teams by an average of 22.1 points over their past 11 games, the best point differential over a win streak of at least 10 games in a single season in NBA history, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.

Boston has outscored teams by 29.8 PPG over their past six games, a span that includes two 50-point wins, something that only two other teams have done in an entire season. That's the best point differential over a six-game span in NBA history, passing the 1971-72 Lakers (+28.3), who won a then-record 69 games.

"It feels great, but, at the same time, it's always within humility," Brown said. "We don't take the game for granted. We didn't come and mess around and that's just how we show our respect to the game, we handle business and take care of it. ... It's a lot of respect for the Golden State Warriors, but we feel like it's our time now."

Stephen Curry didn't play the second half and finished with a season-low four points for Golden State, his fewest since he had three points in 16 minutes on March 16, 2022, at Boston -- a game he departed with a foot injury. Curry was 2-of-13 from the field Sunday and missed all 9 of his 3-point attempts, including consecutive airballs in the opening quarter.

"The way that they've been playing, they seem very sure of themselves in their identity and who they are," Curry said. "Give them credit. They came out and whooped us tonight from the jump, and it was one of those perfect storms of a rough [day] on our end and them taking it to us."

It was the fourth-worst loss in franchise history for the Warriors. They had won 11 of 13, including the first three of their East Coast trip that included three games in four days and a difficult journey to Toronto in which they sat on a tarmac for hours overnight.

Lester Quinones led Golden State with 17 points in a team-high 33 minutes. None of the Warriors' starters played more than 20 minutes, and Moses Moody (11 points) was the only one to score in double figures.

"We lost," Draymond Green said. "Just flush it and move on."

Boston's only bigger blowout wins were 133-77 at Chicago on Dec. 8, 2018, and 128-75 over visiting Sacramento on Jan. 25, 2022.

Celtics forward Kristaps Porzingis missed the game with a bruised left quad.

The game was tied at 21-all in the opening quarter before the Celtics scored the next 14 points to begin a 58-13 spree that put them ahead by 35 late in the second quarter.

Brown sparked the run by hitting three straight 3s in a 40-second span, with Green playing some interesting defense by leaving him all alone and dropping off by at least 5 feet several times in the opening quarter.

"We told Jaylen, 'If they're going to keep doing that, you should shoot 20, 30 3s,'" Pritchard said.

Brown scored 19 points in the period, connecting on 5 of 8 3s, to push Boston to a 44-22 lead.

"First time it's ever happened to me," Brown said of the lax defense. "Honestly, I was a bit surprised. It took a little bit of adjusting and I think we just took advantage of whatever that attempt was and made the best of it."

"If you want to dare me to shoot, we can do that, too," he added. "I thought it was a little disrespectful, but we took advantage of it and we didn't look back."

Curry, listed as questionable with right knee bursitis, went through warmups and decided to play. He front-rimmed his first 3 before airballing the next two.

"Boston was amazing," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. "We weren't beating them today. This was not a day off for Steph, though he probably could have used one. He's played so well and for so long this year, hopefully the next few days he'll get it recharged."

In the opening quarter, Boston shot 62.5% on 3s (10-of-16) and 57.1% overall (16-of-28).

Tatum's 3 from the left wing pushed it to 74-34 in the second.

The Warriors missed 15 of 18 3-point attempts in the first half, and Boston had as many 3s (15-of-24) in the half as Golden State had baskets.

Boston left the floor to a standing ovation at halftime, holding an 82-38 lead.

In the second half, the crowd was somewhat subdued during the nationally televised matchup between teams that met in the NBA Finals two years ago. Golden State won that series in six games, wrapping it up at Boston.

The fans gave Tatum a standing ovation when his birthday wishes were posted in the final quarter. He waved to the crowd with a big smile.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Andrus lands with D-backs on minor league deal

Published in Baseball
Sunday, 03 March 2024 17:06

The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed veteran infielder Elvis Andrus to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league spring training, the team announced Sunday.

"There's nothing that's been promised to him," Torey Lovullo said. "I told him to go out and play your game and let it fall where it may. What he will get are some opportunities to show us what he can do. That excites us."

Andrus, a two-time All-Star, has played in the majors for 15 seasons, spending time with the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox. He has 2,091 career hits, which ranks third among active players, behind only Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman.

The 35-year-old Andrus has been a shortstop for the majority of his career, but he played some second base for the White Sox last season, when he hit .251 with six homers and 44 RBIs.

Andrus could be the Diamondbacks' backup middle infielder behind shortstop Geraldo Perdomo and second baseman Ketel Marte. Perdomo made his first All-Star team last season.

Lovullo said it was a "huge priority" to have a backup shortstop who can play in the same way the starter does.

"There are a lot of moving parts to some key decisions that we need to make down the stretch here," Lovullo said. "With [Andrus] playing the way he can, his name is going to enter into those conversations. He will get that opportunity. That's all you can ask for."

ESPN's Jesse Rogers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ott, who helped Pirates win WS title in '79, dies

Published in Baseball
Sunday, 03 March 2024 17:06

PITTSBURGH -- Ed Ott, a former major league catcher and coach who helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win the 1979 World Series, died Sunday. He was 72.

Ott died in the central Pennsylvania town of Danville, according to the Pirates. No further details were provided by the team.

"We are saddened by the loss of such a beloved member of the Pirates family," Pirates president Travis Williams said in a statement. "Ed spent seven of his eight years in the major leagues with the Pirates and was a valued member of our World Series championship team in 1979."

Ott, a Muncy native, was selected by Pittsburgh in the 23rd round of the 1970 amateur draft out of high school. He batted .259 with 33 homers and 195 RBIs in 567 major league games.

He and Steve Nicosia were the main catchers when the Pirates won it all in 1979. Ott hit .273 with seven homers and a career-best 51 RBIs in 117 regular-season games that year. He played in three World Series games against Baltimore, going 4-for-12 and driving in three runs.

Ott appeared in his last major league game with the Angels in 1981. After his playing career was over, he was a minor league coach with the Angels, Pirates and Reds before working on big league staffs with the Astros and Tigers.

Bahamas athlete improves her own mark to 7.65 at World Indoor Championships on Sunday

Devynne Charlton took the womens world record for 60m hurdles back to the Bahamas when striking gold at the World Indoor Championships on Sunday (March 3).

Charlton set a world indoor record of 7.67 at the Millrose Games last month, only to see American Tia Jones equal the mark at the US Championships in Albuquerque.

But with Jones absent from Glasgow this weekend, Charlton stormed to victory in 7.65. The world record aside, it was her first world title.

Behind, the defending champion Cyrena Samba-Mayela of France finished runner-up this time in 7.74. In third, Pia Skrzyszowska of Poland clocked 7.79 as Irelands Sarah Lavin was fifth in 7.91 and Britains Cindy Sember seventh in 7.92.

Devynne Charlton, Cyrena Samba-Mayela and Pia Skrzyszowska (Getty)

This mean a whole lot because I have set myself goals, said Charlton. I have not changed my technique much just a few tweaks but I have been working hard off the track making sure my mental health is good and working with a sports psychologist. Just taking care of myself. Indoors really plays well to my skillset too.

Sember said: There was more in the tank so I was a little frustrated that I didnt run the time I can but I am grateful to make the final and it bodes well for the outdoor season.

Indoors was good preparation for outdoors. It would have been nice to win a medal but that didnt happen, but the focus turns to outdoors now.

Check out our Glasgow 2024 coverage here

Misfiring Mondo still finds the route to gold

Published in Athletics
Sunday, 03 March 2024 16:20
Duplantis says he owes his Mum an apology for throwing in a few scares as he wins second world indoor title, while Davis-Woodhall takes long jump honours and Ehammer edges the tightest of heptathlon battles

Mondo Duplantis appetite for gathering major honours shows no signs of being sated. A successful defence of his pole vault world indoor title in Glasgow landed the Swede the seventh consecutive championships gold of his career.

This was not one of his more straightforward victories, though, with the Olympic and world champion far from his fluid best, Yet still he was the only competitor able to clear 5.95m. He was then able to establish a world lead of 6.05m and, as is his custom, the 24-year-old had the crowd in the palm of his hand with a world record attempt.

Unlike when he created history in the Emirates Arena with a clearance of 6.18m four years ago, there was to be no moment of magic this time around. Thanks to Duplantis efforts, the world record now stands at 6.23m and a height of 6.24m proved elusive.

Still, it was hardly a bad nights work, albeit the European champion admitted afterwards that he was due his mother, also his coach, an apology for giving her a couple of scares along the way.

Sam Kendricks had applied some pressure earlier in the evening, producing first-time clearances from 5.50m through to 5.90m and establishing himself at the top of the standings. Duplantis was more disjointed, only getting over 5.85m with his final chance.

It was that 5.95m leap which turned the tide and Kendricks had two attempts at the same height before then opting for a do or die effort at 6.00m. The two-time world outdoor champion would have to settle for a third world indoor silver and instead turned his attentions towards cheerleading Duplantis record attempts, while Emmanouil Karalis of Greece produced a seasons best of 5.85m for bronze.

This was the hardest I have ever worked, said Duplantis, who also needed three attempts to clear 6.05m. It seems to be that way when I am against Sam. Hes such a tough competitor he brings out the best in me. I had my back against the wall quite a few times today and Im glad I was able to pull it out on the third attempts. I was never negative about the fouls. It is always pressure on the last attempt because you are on the line but I always look at it positively. If I have one attempt left then I have a chance.

I try not to overthink it and learn from the mistake I made on the first two and put it all together. I gave my mum too many scares tonight than she would have liked. I think she got quite nervous watching me there. I knew I had it under control. Ill have to say sorry about that. Im glad I could pull out the win for her. She is my inspiration.

Tara Davis-Woodhall (Getty)

The womens long jump competition also threw up an intriguing contest, with Tara Davis-Woodhall ultimately coming out on top in the battle of the Americans to take the first major senior title of her career.

The world silver medallist in Budapest last summer traded the lead with her compatriot Monae Nichols but a fourth round 7.07m clinched gold and kept her unbeaten indoor record this year intact.

Nichols had led with an opening mark of 6.75m, two centimetres further than Davis-Woodhall, but the world leader moved ahead with jumps of 6.79m and 6.93m before the 7.07m which made sure of victory. That mark arrived during the same round in which Nichols produced her best jump of the night (6.85m). Spains Fatima Diame took bronze with a fifth-round 6.78m.

Every time someone says Im a world champion it really hits me, I really did this, said Davis-Woodhall, who had entered the arena wearing a Stetson hat, and rounded off the competition with a 7.03m jump. I am so happy, so grateful. Glasgow has been so welcoming and Im excited to go home and celebrate this medal before I start training again.

(L-R) Sander Skotheim, Simon Ehammer and Johannes Erm (Getty)

The mens heptathlon competition, meanwhile, could barely have been closer and came right down to the wire.

Going into the closing discipline, the 1000m, Simon Ehammer had established a lead of 140 points over overnight leader, Ken Mullings of the Bahamas. However, with two of his biggest rivals Sander Skotheim and Johannes Erm possessing superior track speed, the Swiss knew he would have to make sure he didnt allow either of them to finish any more than 14 seconds ahead of him.

Both Skotheim and Erm truly went for it. The Norwegian produced a PB to come home first in 2:33.23, while the Estonians seasons best of 2:36.15 also guaranteed a medal. Which colour it would be came down to Ehammer. The world long jump bronze medallist pulled out his own PB, of 2:46.03, to finish sixth-fastest. Crucially, however, it meant he ended up with a world-leading tally of 6418, only 11 points ahead of Skotheims national record. Erms PB of 6340 earned him bronze, while Mullings ended up fourth with 6242.

I pushed and pushed and pushed because I so wanted to win this gold, said Ehammer of his first world title. Yeah, I do the long jump as well but this proves I am a multi-eventer. This is where I belong.

Check out our Glasgow 2024 coverage here

Womens relay title goes to the Netherlands at the World Indoor Champs while Belgium pip the United States in mens 4x400m

After setting a world record in the individual womens 400m, Femke Bol was always going to be difficult to beat in the final leg of the 4x400m. When she was given the baton in the lead, though, it looked a formality.

The Dutch athlete had to dig into win her second gold of these championships, however, as she held off Alexis Holmes of the United States to clock 3:25.07.

Bols split was 50.54, although she looked like she deliberately cruised the first 200m before striding out moreso on the final lap. Lieke Klaver, the individual 400m silver medallist, ran the fastest split of the race with 50.26 on the opening leg for the Netherlands.

With Cathelijn Peeters (51.99) and Lisanne De Witte (52.28) keeping the Netherlands in pole position, it was left to Bol to bring it home on the final leg as the United States ran 3:25.34.

Bol said: I feel so tired. But the championships are like this. These girls give me so much energy to run and especially if they give me the baton on the first place. It is such a great team, you cannot let them down. If I was alone on the track, I would probably not have enough power but I just did it for these girls.

World indoor 4x400m medallists (Getty)

Behind the leading duo, Great Britain won a brilliant bronze and broke the British record for the second time in one day.

In the morning heats the quartet of Lina Nielsen, Ama Pipi, Hannah Kelly and Jessie Knight had broken the 11-year-old national record with 3:26.40. Then, in the final, Laviai Nielsen (51.43), Lina Nielsen (51.58), Pipi (51.99) and Knight (51.36) combined to clock 3:26.36.

Hopefully we can now keep this momentum going until Paris, the Brits said in unison, while Knight added: I just wanted to stay as close as possible. Down the back straight I nearly went for the overtake but I tried not to get over excited because I didnt want to burn up and lose the medal. The calibre of athletes [out there], I just wanted to do the team proud and I didnt want to lose that medal.

In a quality race, Belgium ran a national record of 3:28.05 with Ireland fifth in 3:28.92.

Alexander Doom (left) pips Christopher Bailey (Getty)

As in the womens race, the individual 400m winner produced the goods on the anchor leg in the mens 4x400m.

Alexander Doom stalked American Christopher Bailey on the final leg before pouncing in the home straight to take a narrow and dramatic victory.

After team-mates Jonathan Sacoor (46.21), Dylan Borlée (45.67) and Christian Iguacel (45.78) had put Belgium in a good position, Doom reeled off a 44.88 split to capture the title by six hundredths of a second in 3:02.54.

The United States even put world 100m and 200m champion Noah Lyles on the third leg and although he ran a solid 45.68 leg, he was unable to draw away from his rivals. This is unlikely to be the last well see of Lyles in the 4x400m either as he wants to run it in the Paris Olympics.

In third the Netherlands ran a Dutch record of 3:04.25 as Kenya also set a national record of 3:06.71 in fourth.

Check out our Glasgow 2024 coverage here

Defiant Duguma denies Reekie her golden moment

Published in Athletics
Sunday, 03 March 2024 17:19
Ethiopians turn of pace just too hot for Scot over 800m in Glasgow, while Bryce Hoppel surges through to take the honours in title bout

Tsige Duguma is a former Ethiopian 400m champion and she used that speed to deny Jemma Reekie a world indoor 800m title on Sunday night (March 3) in front of an adoring Scottish crowd.

In a stop-start race which didnt play into the home favourites hands in Glasgow the pace hardly blistering as the field hit halfway in 1:03.39 it was the Duguma who showed the quicker turn of pace with a closing 200m of 27.9 to win in 2:01.90.

Reekie did secure the first senior medal of her career but silver wasnt quite the colour she had been hoping for. Her finishing time of 2:02.72, compared to the easy-looking run of 1:58.28 she had run in qualifying fastest for the final, suggested this was perhaps an opportunity missed. Noélie Yarigo, the 38-year-old from Benin, produced a brilliant performance as she clocked 2:03.15 to come through for bronze.

Jemma Reekie (Getty)

Afterwards, Reekie was looking on the bright side and applying a healthy dose of perspective to it all. She recently admitted to having felt broken as an athlete this time last year, after needing a lengthy recovery from glandular fever and having taken the decision to stop working with long-time coach Andy Young.

Im not really delighted but I should be happy, said the Jon Bigg-coached athlete. If you had said to me last year that Id get a silver medal at the World Indoor Championships Id have been very happy so I do need to put it into perspective. But I did stand on that start line thinking: Im not going to accept anything other than gold.

I knew those girls were going to throw something at me and they were just better than me today. I made some mistakes but Ive learned some lessons. Its always going to be unpredictable and its whats going to happen if all these girls are running so fast, but its my first senior medal so Im not too disappointed.

Duguma, an African U20 200m silver medallist in 2017, had been in front after the first lap, which was covered in 29.39 before the field bunched soon after as the pace dropped. Would Reekie, usually more comfortable when the pace is higher, make a move then? She opted to bide her time and was right on Dugumas shoulder at the moment of truth, but the Africans kick just proved too strong.

Bryce Hoppel (Getty)

The mens 800m, meanwhile, was almost like a boxing match at times as a number of athletes pushed and battled for position throughout the race.

It was USAs Bryce Hoppel who delivered the knockout blow as he set a world lead by winning in 1:44.92 ahead of Swede Andreas Kramer (1:45.27) and Belgiums Elliot Crestan (1:45.32).

Despite there being no home athlete for the crowd to cheer following the controversial omission of Guy Learmonth from the British team at these championships, there was still plenty to keep an eye on in this one.

Right from the start, the tension was clear as Benjamin Robert made contact with Mariano Garcia in the opening 100m, the Frenchman eventually being disqualified for his actions. The Spaniard did take up the running for the following 200m before Crestan muscled his way to the front, taking the field through halfway in 1:04.92.

He remained in the lead until the closing metres as Hoppel a bronze medallist in these championships two years ago got his upgrade.

Being finally able to grab that moment is incredible, said the American. I have a new level of confidence. The endurance and strength just gives me the ability to be very, very aware of where you are on the track, and so I was able to make that race go exactly how I want. I have a very special group around me with some incredible coaches who push me to the next level.

Check out our Glasgow 2024 coverage here

After sweeping to 1500m gold in Glasgow the Kiwi runner suggests his country could bid to stage the global event

After passing seven athletes on the final lap of the world indoor 1500m final to win gold in 3:36.54, Geordie Beamish no doubt walked off the Emirates Arena track believing anything is possible. So how about New Zealand hosting the World Indoor Championships despite not having a 200m indoor track?

Now World Athletics has called it short track, he says, I feel like we could host one in New Zealand!

After the weekend we put together here (New Zealand placed third on the medals table in Glasgow with two golds and two silvers), I think wed have a good argument for staging a championship down there.

New Zealand has plenty of beautiful grass tracks and synthetic outdoor tracks but no indoor track. But the new concept of a short track championship opens the scope for racing to take place on a 200m track with banked bends which is outdoors.

If it sounds a little unbelievable then so was Beamishs sprint for victory on Sunday (March 3) in Glasgow. He began his late charge with lots of work to do and was still in only fifth coming off the final bend, but he beat US duo Cole Hocker (3:36.69) and Hobbs Kessler (3:36.72) to the line as Isaac Nader of Portugal was fourth, last years world bronze medallist Narve Nordas of Norway fifth, Adel Mechaal of Spain sixth and defending champion Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia seventh.

Geordie Beamish (left) (Getty)

Such is Beamishs finishing ability, until the recent Millrose Games he had not been passed by a rival in the final 200m of any race since 2019. It only happened at Millrose because he miscounted his laps, too, as he started his finishing surge too early before realising he had an extra 200m circuit to go.

He says he barely practises speedwork either in his On Athletics Club training group under coach Dathan Ritzenhein that emphasises endurance workouts.

We do zero percent sprinting, he said when asked if he practises his finishing flourish in training. We do strides and 200s in 25-26 seconds but its never top end.

I think I just have a knack for doing it. Hopefully Ill be remembered for not just winning but the way I win.

As for later this year, the 27-year-old says he doesnt have an Olympic qualifying time yet for 1500m so could be poised to stick with the 3000m steeplechase, which he ran in Budapest last summer, finishing fifth in the world.

It proved an eventful championships for the host nations metric milers, but not in a good way. Callum Elson pulled up in the rounds with an injury that turned out to be a partially torn Achilles. His team-mate Adam Fogg was tripped in the first few metres of his heat but was hastily reinstated to the final, although he did not look or feel quite himself as he rumbled around in 3:43.81 in 14th.

Looking a shadow of the runner who clocked a 3:49 mile at the Millrose Games last month, Fogg suggested that at least hed gained some valuable lessons on his GB track debut.

The Brits fared better in the womens 1500m as Georgia Bell finished a fine fourth and Revee Walcott-Nolan sixth in a race won in dominant fashion by Freweyni Hailu of Ethiopia in 4:01.46.

Freweyni Hailu (Getty)

US duo Nikki Hiltz and Emily Mackay took silver and bronze as Bell one of the breakthrough British athletes of this season chased them home in fourth in 4:03.47.

Walcott-Nolan struggled to get into her stride and spent crucial sections of the race having to run wide but she clocked 4:04.60 and goes into spring training with a solid indoor season behind her.

Bell said: It is a bit disappointing to come so close to the medals and just miss out. I was also just off a PB too. I thought the race would at least be fast enough to be pulled around to an Olympic qualifying time, but we were about a second out.

Bell added that if you asked her three months ago if she would make the world indoor final and she would have struggled to believe it was possible.

Walcott-Nolan said: I dont go too well on the bends because I am so tall so I found that quite difficult. It is mixed feelings. I definitely had my sights set on a medal.

Check out our Glasgow 2024 coverage here

Bayer Leverkusen went 10 points clear of second-placed Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Cologne, who were reduced to 10-men in the first half of a hotly-contested Rhein derby on Sunday.

Leverkusen, who have now gone 34 games without defeat in all competitions this season, have 64 points. They extended their lead over Bayern, who drew 2-2 at Freiburg on Friday.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Cologne had Jan Thielmann sent off after 14 minutes for treading on the back of Granit Xhaka's ankle before Leverkusen took the lead through Jeremie Frimpong ahead of the break before Álex Grimaldo netted his ninth league goal of the season in the 73rd to end Cologne's brave fight.

Leverkusen, looking to win their first Bundesliga title, made the short trip across the Rhine river, where the only relaxed figure in the raucous stadium was Cologne's mascot Hennes the goat who munched happily pitchside oblivious to the tension.

Tempers flared in the 12th minute after a foul by Thielmann on midfielder Granit Xhaka and, although the referee initially only awarded a free kick, Thielmann was shown the red card after a VAR check.

Jeremie Frimpong opened the scoring for Bayer Leverkusen.

Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

Despite the extra man, Leverkusen struggled to create any clear-cut chances until the 37th minute.

Grimaldo's cross was flicked on by Patrik Schick and Frimpong tapped home from close range for his eighth league goal this season as Leverkusen took a 1-0 lead into the break.

Six minutes after the interval, Cologne had a chance to level when Rasmus Carstensen's cross was met by the unmarked Sargis Adamyan, but his volley hit the post with goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky well beaten.

Leverkusen laboured, despite the extra man, and manager Xabi Alonso sent on Borja Iglesias and Amine Adli with 25 minutes left and eight minutes later Adli's work set up the second goal.

He pulled the ball back from the goal line to the edge of the six-yard box and Grimaldo's first time shot took a slight deflection off Cologne defender Julian Chabot and went through the legs of keeper Marvin Schwabe.

Leverkusen easily saw out the rest of the game and, with 10 matches left, they will now be expected to shake off their "Neverkusen" tag to take the crown away from Bayern who have won the last 11 Bundesliga titles.

Cologne's defeat leaves them in 16th -- the relegation playoff spot -- on 17 points, eight points from safety.


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