World Sports News in Brief

England rise to third in world rankings ahead of Women's World Cup

England enhanced their reputation as one of the favorites to win the Women’s World Cup later this year after rising to third in FIFA’s rankings on Friday, leapfrogging tournament hosts France in the process.

England celebrates a goal against the Brazil during the second half of a She Believes Cup women's soccer match at Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA, USA, Feb 27, 2019. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
England celebrates a goal against the Brazil during the second half of a She Believes Cup women's soccer match at Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA, USA, Feb 27, 2019. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

Phil Neville’s squad moved up thanks to their success at the SheBelieves Cup in the United States earlier this month, where they drew with the hosts and secured wins over Brazil and Japan to win the four-nation competition for the first time. However, world champions the U.S. maintain their top ranking and are still the team to beat going into the World Cup which takes place from June 7-July 7.

* Ferrari's Charles Leclerc edged out team mate and four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel to go fastest in Friday's opening practise for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. The Monegasque, in his first year with the Italian team, lapped with a best time of one minute 30.354 seconds, 0.263 quicker than Vettel, as the Ferraris set a scorching pace around the 5.4-km Sakhir desert track in the afternoon heat.

* Azeri weightlifter Valentin Hristov was stripped of his 2012 Olympics 56-kg bronze medal on Friday after he was one of three athletes to test positive for banned substances in re-tests conducted by the International Olympic Committee. Anis Ananenka of Belarus, who finished 43rd in the men’s 800m, was also disqualified for the same substance, while fellow Belarussian Alena Matoshka, 25th in the women’s hammer throw, was the third athlete to be disqualified.

* Karolina Pliskova reached the Miami Open final with an emphatic 7-5 6-1 win over second seed Simona Halep in soggy south Florida on Thursday night. The Czech fifth seed will meet Ashleigh Barty in Saturday's final, after the 12th seeded Australian beat Estonia's Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-3 in the other semi-final on a day that tested the patience with a seemingly endless number of rain delays.

* Former Australia captain Tim Cahill has announced his retirement from football at the age of 39 to focus on a career in media and coaching. Cahill, who spent 15 seasons in England playing for Millwall and Everton, ended his international career after last year's World Cup in Russia as his country's top scorer with 50 goals.

* Martin Terrier's late goal gave Olympique Lyonnais a 1-0 win at Stade Rennais in Ligue 1 on Friday, boosting Lyon coach Bruno Genesio's hopes of keeping his job next season. Terrier struck four minutes from fulltime to put Lyon on 56 points from 30 games, one point behind second-placed Lille who travel to Nantes on Sunday, and nine ahead of fourth-placed Olympique de Marseille who host Angers on Saturday.

* Tiger Woods came from behind to set up a Saturday showdown with Rory McIlroy after they both won matches in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas on Friday. Woods rallied to defeat fellow American Patrick Cantlay 4&2 and Northern Irishman McIlroy prevailed over England's Matthew Fitzpatrick by the same score.

* Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi will stay at Chelsea next season regardless of whether he signs a new contract at Stamford Bridge, manager Maurizio Sarri said on Friday. Hudson-Odoi, whose current deal expires at the end of next season, was linked with a move to Bayern Munich in January by the British media and reports have since indicated the player is still looking to leave Chelsea at the end of the campaign.

* Ishak Belfodil's brace helped Hoffenheim ease 4-1 past Bayer Leverkusen at the curtain raiser of the 27th round in Bundesliga on Friday. The "TSG" boosted their hopes for a top-six finish after beating Leverkusen, who slipped out of the international business after suffering the second straight loss.

* Honda's defending MotoGP champion Marc Marquez recorded the fastest time in the opening practice session for the Argentine Grand Prix on Friday, edging out Ducati rider Jack Miller. Spain's Marquez set a best lap of one minute 39.827 seconds at the Termas de Rio Hondo track in northern Argentina, 0.353 seconds ahead of Australian Miller.

Reuters, Xinhua