Good Week/Bad Week: Sky Sports look at the heroes and villains of the past seven days
By Ben Hampshire | @BH92
Last Updated: 26/05/14 5:11pm
As sports fans across the land use the Bank Holiday to regain their breath after a festival of sport, Sky Sports looks back at the winners and losers from the past seven days.
It was billed as the 'Ultimate Weekend' and it did not fail to disappoint. Real Madrid were crowned champions of Europe, as were Toulon in rugby's premier competition, while QPR made an immediate return to the Premier League and Rotherham manager Steve Evans treated football fans to lessons in dancing as they were promoted to the Championship.
The new era of English cricket is yet to ignite, nor is the friendship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and it has also been a rough week for Rory McIlroy, although it ultimately ended in success.
Bobby Zamora’s ongoing love affair with the Championship play-off final continued on Saturday, much to the delight of Queens Park Rangers fan as he secured them a place in next season’s Premier League. Coming on as a second-half substitute, Zamora sealed promotion with a 90th-minute Wembley winner, just when it seemed everyone had written him off.
Not Harry Redknapp, though, as the QPR manager introduced the 33-year-old just before the hour and it proved to be an inspired substitution. Zamora’s late strike, latching on to a poor clearance from Richard Keogh and curling the ball into the top corner, is said to be worth in the region of £85million as the London club bounced back into the top flight after a one-year absence.
Zamora also scored West Ham United’s only goal in the 2005 play-off final as they saw off Preston at the Millennium Stadium when the promotion prize was just £30m. However, the bumper jackpot QPR landed on their return to the Premier League will probably be enough to cover a new deal for the two-cap England international, whose contract is due to expire.
Before he arrived at the Millennium Stadium for Saturday’s Heineken Cup final, Jonny Wilkinson’s name was already firmly inked into rugby folklore. Few in sport are able to pen their own scripts, but I suspect if Wilkinson had dreamt up how it would all end, becoming only the fourth man to lift Europe’s most coveted trophy twice would certainly have been there.
It was billed as his Heineken Cup final and it was an emotional affair, it seemed, for all bar himself. Europe’s premier stage was awash with Wilkinson tributes, yet he remained true to himself to the very end, impervious to any sense of occasion as he executed a flawless game with 100 per cent kicking stats.
Wilkinson played a hand in both Toulon tries as they became only the third side to retain the Heineken Cup in the final edition of the tournament as it stands. Humble as ever, Wilkinson, who also slotted over a drop-goal, claimed: "I've made no secret of the fact I've been over-supported, I've been given way too much respect. I've been given too much of an easy life compared to others who have deserved so much more but haven't had it.”
Fair to say it has been a rollercoaster week of emotion for Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. It started with an announcement that his engagement to Caroline Wozniacki, the Danish tennis player, was over but it ended with Wentworth glory.
McIlroy struggled to get a handle on his emotions after he staged a dramatic comeback to win the BMW PGA Championship at the end of a turbulent week. McIlroy began Sunday’s final round seven strokes behind Thomas Bjorn, but he recorded a classy 66 to finish on 14 under par and win his first European Tour title in 18 months.
While Bjorn, Shane Lowry and Luke Donald all made mistakes, McIlroy plotted a solid route around Wentworth, a course on which he has traditionally struggled. He reached the turn at one under par for the day before completing the back nine in 32 shots, helped by some masterful touches around the greens.
James Ward will break new ground when he takes on Tommy Robredo for a place in the second round of the French Open on Monday. Wimbledon is the only grand slam where the Londoner has played in the main draw before, and each time courtesy of a wild card.
In Paris, Ward has done it the hard way, winning three qualifying matches at Roland Garros, including 12-10 in the deciding set against Blaz Rola on Friday. That made Ward the first British man since John Lloyd in 1973 to come through qualifying in the French capital, but going any further will be tough given Robredo is the 17th seed and was a quarter-finalist here last year.
Previously Ward has shown his best form playing for Great Britain in Davis Cup, particularly his five-set victory over American Sam Querrey in February. Prior to the 2014 edition of the tournament, Ward had never won a match before at Roland Garros but was impressive in all three qualifiers, particularly in a second-round win over America's Ryan Harrison.
It had been a season of continual success for Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone’s men entered the UEFA Champions League in buoyant spirits. However, it proved to be a step too far for the La Liga champions, who turned mere spectators in extra time as Real Madrid hit cruise control to claim a 4-1 victory.
In fact, it was half-an-hour too far for Atletico, who took the lead in the 36th minute through Diego Godin, only for Sergio Ramos to cancel out his strike with a 93rd-minute headed equaliser. There were clear signs of fatigue from Atletico – a week after they lifted the La Liga trophy – as their city rivals raced to ‘La Decima’, the coveted 10th European triumph they have sought for 12 years.
Given the relentless nature of the preceding 90 minutes, it was no surprise that the tempo dipped somewhat in extra time, but Welshman Gareth Bale injected pace as he capped his debut season with Real with the biggest goal of his career in the 110th minute. Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo rubbed salt into Atletico's wounds.
It was meant to be a bright new dawn for English cricket, but it seems the sun is struggling to rise as the darkness of old continues to linger. As their batsmen crumbled to a meekly 99 all out to allow Sri Lanka to level their five-match ODI series at 1-1, there were uncomfortable echoes of the winter of discontent that proceeded the new era.
Peter Moores, the new head coach, for whom this significant defeat — England’s heaviest batting second on home soil — was a reminder that any salvage operation could take quite some time to accomplish. The scale and nature of such a loss presents a challenge to Moores and captain Alastair Cook, who was confined to the balcony through injury on Sunday - before the third game of the series at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
There was a worryingly collective seizure about the collapse with only Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan reaching double figures, the latter contributing 40 runs. In pursuit of Sri Lanka’s total of 256-8, the top order succumbed to the seam bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara, then the middle order were unpicked by the clever fingers of Sachithra Senanayake, the unorthodox off spinner.
Believe it or not, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are “not friends”. OK, it may not come as a revelation to many but Hamilton’s public admission of the fierce rivalry between the Mercedes duo saw another sour ending to the Monaco Grand Prix.
Mercedes may have won every race of the season so far, Hamilton claiming four victories and Rosberg two, but their pit is far from a place of unity. Sure, Mercedes should be topping the headlines for a remarkable season, but it is the breakdown in relations between their drivers that is dominating the British press.
Despite achieving Mercedes' fifth consecutive one-two finish in Sunday's street race, the atmosphere between Rosberg Hamilton could not have been frostier on the podium as they collected their respective trophies at the end of F1's most prestigious race. Hamilton went on to ensure everybody knew the gloves were off by claiming: "We are not friends. We are colleagues."
After claiming the Super League Leaders’ Shield last term, Huddersfield’s bid to claim top spot once again suffered another blow with defeat to St Helens. The Giants returned from the Magic Weekend unbeaten in five, but their latest reverse took their loss count to five, just one less than their entire 2013 campaign.
If ever Huddersfield would have relished the opportunity of facing the 12-time champions, it would have been off the back of a Magic Weekend nightmare. Saints were beaten 41-24 by Warrington Wolves at the Etihad Stadium the previous week in a showing which captain Paul Wellens branded “embarrassing”.
However St Helens, who suffered a 40-3 hammering in the corresponding fixture last term, bounced back in emphatic fashion with a 41-22 success at Langtree Park. A slovenly start from Huddersfield allowed the Saints to race in three tries in the opening 13 minutes and from thereon in it all seemed inevitable.