Good Week/Bad Week: Sky Sports takes a look at the heroes and villains from the past week of sport
By Ben Hampshire | @BH92
Last Updated: 30/06/14 12:13pm
So much can change across seven days of sport and once again we have endured a gamut of emotions, with overwhelming highs and deflating lows aplenty.
In a week when the FIFA World Cup reached fever pitch, on and off the field, with two knockout matches ending in penalty shoot-outs, Andy Murray enjoyed the perfect opening week to his Wimbledon title defence.
Luis Suarez dominated headlines for all the wrong reasons, while pressure continues to mount on England cricket captain Alastair Cook.
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As he walked into the lush green gardens of the All England Club last Monday, reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray held a steely-eyed focus on defending his title. Such determination helped the Briton negotiate the opening week of the championships in seamless fashion as he reached the round of 16 without dropping a set.
A fine opening salvo to dispatch Belgian David Goffin in two hours was followed by an emphatic second-round display from Murray. The Scot produced his best return since 2007, dropping only two games on his way to an 84-minutue triumph over Slovenian left-hander Blaz Rola on Court One.
While his opening opponents may have been classed as unknown quantities, no such judgement could be levelled at Roberto Bautista Agut, who became Murray’s third victim on Friday night as the 27-year-old enjoyed the perfect start to his defence. Agut, who claimed the grasscourt crown in Holland before travelling to Wimbledon, may not be a household name but was billed as Murray’s first real threat of the competition, though, that was swiftly avoided as he completed a straight sets hat-trick.
It’s fair to say the tournament billed as the greatest football show on earth is more than exceeding expectations in Brazil this year. As the competition entered the knockout stages, two of the first four Round of 16 matches went down to spot kicks, with Costa Rica the latest to hold their nerve and a book a place in the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.
Hosts Brazil were pushed to the brink by Chile on Saturday before prevailing and they were joined in the last eight by Jorge Luis Pinto’s side after another thrilling finale. A dour goalless first half may have led many to switch off, but an early second-half goal from Bryan Ruiz set the game alight and a 91st minute equaliser courtesy of Socratis Papastathopoulos sent the game to extra time.
Sandwiched between the goals was a red card for Costa Rica’s Oscar Duarte which, when the tie was level at full time, meant they had to negotiate 54 minutes with 10 men in the searing heat of Recife before a test of nerve from 12 yards. All of the Costa Rican penalty takers succeeded as they claimed a 5-3 win to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
With nine rounds of Super League action left to play, St Helens strengthened their lead at the summit by overcoming reigning champions Wigan Warriors in a fiercely-contested derby. Nathan Brown’s side retained top spot with a thrilling 16-12 win at the DW Stadium on Friday night, only for Leeds Rhinos to keep pace and move within a point following their equally show-stopping win over Catalan Dragons.
Winger Tom Makinson, Super League's leading tryscorer, touched down twice and evergreen skipper Paul Wellens scored his sixth try in his last five matches as Saints overcame the loss of influential scrum-half Luke Walsh to grind out a 16-12 victory in front of a 20,224 crowd in Wigan.
Immediately after the success, Saints coach Brown called for his side to back up their triumph over the next month but the way they held off a spirited Warriors onslaught in a breathless finish was a strong marker of things to come for the 12-times champions. There must also be a nod towards Rhinos teenager Liam Sutcliffe, who landed an injury-time penalty to see Leeds to a 32-31 win over the Dragons on Sunday afternoon.
With the Open Championship less than a month away, Justin Rose is peaking at exactly the right time after winning his first tournament of the year at Congressional. The Englishman beat Shawn Stefani, of the United States, in a sudden-death playoff at the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda.
It should and could have been much easier for the 2013 US Open champion after he led the tournament going to the last hole on five under par, one stroke ahead of Stefani. But Rose pulled his tee-shot into the trees and ended with a bogey, and ultimately a playoff, after his second shot found the water.
Fortuitously for Rose, Stefani, who was eyeing his first PGA Tour victory, suffered the same fate at the first extra hole, the 18th, leaving him with a difficult up-and-down for par. Rose, who had found the middle of the fairway with his drive, watched as Stefani pulled his approach into the water, and a par was good enough to secure victory.
Not for the first time, and surely not the last either, Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez has dominated back pages around the world. The 27-year-old was thrust into the limelight once again after biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in their final group stage match.
It was a third strike of lightning for Suarez, who has previously been punished for the same offence when wearing Ajax and Liverpool shirts. Committing such an offence before a global audience proved the most costly of the lot for Suarez who was banned from all football-related activity for four months.
FIFA’s disciplinary committee handed the striker a nine-match ban from the international stage, while he will be barred from even training with Liverpool or entering a stadium during the time of his ban. It is hard to see the fine in the region of £66,000 troubling Suarez, but this latest furore has heightened speculation over his future, with Barcelona and Real Madrid said to be in the hunt for the reigning PFA Player of the Year.
Could it be the start of the end for Scotsman Ricky Burns? After surrendering the WBO Lightweight belt to Terence Crawford in March, Burns was subject to a second successive Glasgow defeat at the hands of Dejan Zlaticanin on Friday night as he missed out on a the WBC International Lightweight title.
The Scot was knocked down in the opening seconds of the first round and never recovered as he lost the showdown for the vacant belt on a split decision. Burns finished the fight at Braehead Arena strongly, but his good late work was not enough to secure victory on the cards as he went down 115-113, 113-115, 115-113 in a split decision in favour of the hard-hitting Montenegrin.
A late rally was not enough to save Burns from defeat and in the immediate aftermath promoter Eddie Hearn said the fighter would be taking a break from the sport before a potential return at domestic level. This latest defeat, a fourth in 41 professional fights, has inevitably sparked rumours as to whether Burns’ career has anything left in the tank.
England cricket captain Alastair Cook remains under constant fire following their latest defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in Leeds last week. While criticism continues to be levelled at Cook, the 29-year-old reiterated he has no intention of standing down despite this winter’s 5-0 Ashes mauling and Tuesday’s second Test defeat, which gave Sri Lanka their first series win in England.
Plenty around the cricketing fraternity have weighed in on the debate, while staunch Kevin Pietersen supporter Piers Morgan took to Twitter to offer his latest tirade. In defeat, it is easy to build an argument for the reinstatement of Pietersen and England’s latest on-field display, which saw them surrender dominant leads, has piled pressure on Cook’s leadership.
Opener Cook has not registered a Test match century since May 2013 and has only made a half-century in two of his last five outings, prompting suggestions handling captaincy and lead batting duties is proving too much. England’s recent change of leadership, which saw Peter Moores return to the international set-up, would suggest Cook’s position is safe, but the Essex opener is in desperate need of big Test match scores sometime soon.
Vern Cotter’s first tour in charge of Scotland was riding high after a hat-trick of wins, although ending their summer internationals by beating South Africa was ambitious to say the least. After wins against the USA, Canada and Argentina, Scotland were handed a humbling lesson in the form of a 55-6 hammering at the hands of the Springboks.
A partisan Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium roared the hosts on as they chalked up eight tries on their way to an emphatic victory, which could – and probably should – have been much more of landslide. The tourists conceded 15 penalties and were reduced to 14 men for a 10-minute period as the Springboks ran riot, with two Duncan Weir penalties the only reprieve for Scotland.
After Scotland were left chasing shadows in Port Elizabeth, the Scottish Rugby Union took the brunt of the blame having organised the one-off fixture outside the international Test window. Cotter will have highlights from their opening three victories, although accentuating the positives after such a demoralising defeat will prove all the more difficult.