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Leicester City 4-0 Swansea City: Mahrez, Ulloa move Foxes eight points clear

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Well, it turns out Leicester City isn’t a one-man team. Not that there was any doubt.

Without Jamie Vardy, the Foxes grabbed a pair of goals from his replacement Leonardo Ulloa and another from Riyad Mahrez as they stormed Swansea City 3-0 at the King Power Stadium to move eight points ahead of Tottenham at the top of the table.

The game took some time to build off the opening whistle, but a cataclysmic moment for Swansea was all Leicester needed to move in front. Mahrez stole a horrible Ashley Williams pass in the Swansea defensive third, and the Foxes went in front as Mahrez slotted it into the bottom corner for a 1-0 lead.

It was a disastrous moment for Swansea, who have relied on Williams for years as their defensive rock, but his lumped ball struck Mahrez in the torso, and the Leicester attacker was able to settle and do the rest.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

As Leicester maintained possession while holding the lead, the King Power Stadium was absolutely exploding with noise. Leicester City got a second on the half-hour mark as captain Wes Morgan won a free-kick on the left flank, and the free-kick by Daniel Drinkwater met Leonardo Ulloa’s head, and the man in place of Jamie Vardy scored.

The move was all made possible by a mind-boggling run from Swansea defender Federico Fernandez, who ran around the back of the pack and played three Foxes onside as Drinkwater sent in the ball. Had he stood his ground, the flag would have gone up.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Swansea moved into the ascendency as Leicester hoped to hold at 2-0 until halftime. Gylfi Sigurdsson took a free-kick from straight on with less than five minutes to the break, and his swerving, bouncing effort was turned aside by Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester wrapped it up in the 60th minute as Schmeichel distributed to Jeffrey Schlupp down the left. Schlupp took Fernandez to school, freeing him to go for goal. He looked to find Ulloa streaking down the other end of the box, and while his first attempt at a cross was blocked, Schlupp worked to get it back, and Ulloa tapped it in with a slide to the post.

For posterity, the Foxes grabbed one more with five minutes to go as substitute Marc Albrighton finished a selfless bit of play by fellow substitutes Demarai Gray and Andy King. Gray found King at the far post with a lofted cross, and while King’s header back in front of net for Albrighton missed its target, it fell back to Schlupp. His initial effort rebounded to Albrighton who crashed home Leicester’s fourth.

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The only worry for Leicester in the match would be the end of Ulloa’s day, which came early due to what appeared to be a back problem. He was substituted off in the 79th minute in clear pain, and should Vardy find himself suspended extra matches, it could leave Claudio Ranieri with a lack of strikers.

All in all, it was a stunning response by Leicester to the draw last time out, and the Foxes moved a whopping eight points clear of Tottenham, although Spurs have a game in hand. The magic number for Leicester City is now five, meaning a combination of five points for Leicester and dropped by Spurs would officially hand the Foxes the title.

Swansea, meanwhile, has little to play for, already safe on 40 points in 14th position but without another target to aim at.

Belarusian Premier League roundup: BATE Borisov pick up win, end early-season drought

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The Belarusian Premier League – the only active European top-flight league at the moment – continued on Saturday despite the coronavirus pandemic.

FC Rukh 0-1 BATE Borisov

With an early goal from midfielder Stanislav Dragun, BATE Borisov, Belarus’ most successful team (15 league titles) and a regular face in European competition, earned their first win of the season. Kirill Alshevsky, who took over at the helm prior to the season, had started his spell on a two-game losing streak.

BATE, despite not winning the possession battle decisively, generated twice as many shots on target as the visitors, registering a total of 11 shots throughout 90 minutes at Borisov Arena.

A winner of 13 straight Belarusian Premier League titles – spanning from 2006 to 2018 – pressure began looming over BATE after starting the 2020 campaign with back-to-back lackluster results. BATE, who lost to Arsenal in Europa League’s Round of 32 in April 2019, were outscored 5-2 in the first, two games of the league.

Dinamo Minsk, the second most successful Belarusian side, also picked up their first three points on Friday, following a slower-than-usual start to the season. Meanwhile, defending champion Dinamo Brest fell 2-1 to Slavia-Mozyr, dropping to eighth on the table.

Elsewhere in Belarusian Premier League 

Shakhtyor 0-0 Nerman

Dinamo Brest 1-2 Slavia-Mozyr

NWSL extends league-wide training moratorium through May

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The NWSL is extending its league-wide training moratorium another month amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced on Saturday.

All NWSL teams will be unable to partake in team trainings until at least May 5, extending its previous training moratorium that was set to expire on Sunday, April 5. The 2020 season – which was set to start on April 18 – is expected to start by the end of June, according to NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird.

“We’ve been just communicating with our players and we’re targeting for the end of June for our season to start,” Baird told The Equalizer. “I say that with conviction and hope, but … we’re gonna adhere to the public health guidelines that are in place at the time and I don’t think that we can predict what they are. But our strategy is in place.”

Earlier this week, Major League Soccer and United Soccer League extended their training moratorium through April 24 and April 19, respectively.

Report: England manager Gareth Southgate agrees to 30 percent pay cut

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England manager Gareth Southgate has agreed to a 30 percent pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic, our partners at Sky Sports reported on Saturday.

[ MORE: What PL clubs are doing to help during coronavirus ] 

Southgate’s move, which is reportedly expected to be confirmed by the Football Association (FA) next week, comes hours after the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) released a statement on behalf of the Premier League players responding to proposed pay cuts.

A FA spokesperson told Sky Sports the following: “The financial implications of the coronavirus are not yet known however, as a not-for-profit organization, we want to ensure that we take the appropriate course of action to support the wider organization and our employees.

“We will make a further announcement on our next steps in due course.”

On Friday, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe – and a handful of technical staff personnel – became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut. Howe’s “significant, voluntary” pay cuts were done in light of the club furloughing non-playing employees throughout the organization, joining Tottenham, Norwich, Newcastle and Liverpool.

Spanish league and players still far apart on salary cuts

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MADRID (AP) The Spanish league and players are still far apart on the size of the salary cuts they need to take to help reduce the financial impact caused by the coronavirus outbreak, with the footballers saying the organization wants them to carry nearly half the total losses.

The league and the players’ association have been in talks to try to find ways to mitigate losses that could reach nearly 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) if the season cannot be restarted because of the pandemic.

The players have said they are willing to reduce their salaries, but not as much as the league or the clubs want.

“After analyzing the current circumstances of the sector and given the distance in conversations with the players’ association, it is necessary to adopt measures in view of the serious economic crisis that COVID-19 is causing in the Spanish soccer industry,” the league said in a statement.

It also added that government furloughs are “an exceptional mechanism to avoid and mitigate the negative impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector, and thus guarantee its subsequent recovery.”

According to media reports, the league expects losses of 957 million euros ($1.03 billion) if the season is canceled, with 303 million euros ($327 million) lost if it resumes with games in empty stadiums and 156 million euros ($168 million) of deficits if it continues with fans.

The players said the total cuts in salaries requested by the league would account for 451 million euros ($487 million) if the top flight cannot restart.

The reduction in salaries being discussed reportedly varies depending on the clubs, and also on whether they are playing in the Champions League or the Europa League.

Team captains met with the players’ association late Friday to discuss their options after the league earlier in the day called for all clubs to put the footballers on government furloughs to reduce labor costs while the stoppage of play continued. The furloughs help the clubs and guarantee players their jobs once the crisis is over.

The league said it is responsible for preserving an industry that represents 1.37 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and employs about 185,000 people.

Atlético Madrid and Barcelona were among the clubs to resort to the furloughs in recent days. Both reached an agreement with players to reduce their salaries by 70 percent, and guaranteed the wages of other employees were unaffected.

There are nearly 125,000 cases of the new coronavirus in Spain, which on Saturday surpassed Italy as the country with the second-most infections behind the United States. The death toll in the nation stands at 11,744.

The government is expected to extend lockdown measures until April 26, likely keeping the Spanish league suspended until then.

The league has said the season won’t resume until authorities deem it safe for everyone’s health. It said it will recommend a “minimum of 15 days” of practice before the games can restart, though it suggested recently the training period may begin with restrictions before the lockdown is removed.

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