HIGHLIGHTS: Italy wins Euros on penalties; Argentina beats Brazil in Copa America final; Kuss wins Tour stage 15; Nigeria shocks U.S. men’s basketballers

First American to win a Tour de France stage since 2011: a happy Sepp Kuss! (Photo: ASO/Pauline Ballet)

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Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world/updated/:

Athletics ● Sweden’s World Champion Daniel Stahl extended his world lead in the men’s discus with a mighty toss of 71.40 m (234-3) in a small meet in Bottnaryds (SWE). He opened with 70.27 m (230-6), which only one other person has reached this year, then extended to 71.40 m, his third world-leading throw this year.

Stahl has been everywhere; this was his 13th meet of the year and now has four throws past 70 m (229-8) this season. The 71.40 m on Saturday is his second-longest throw ever and is the 15th-longest throw in history. And, excluding himself, this was the longest throw in the world since 2013!

Basketball ● The U.S. men’s Olympic Team was defeated by Nigeria, 90-87, in an exhibition game in Las Vegas on Saturday evening, a shocking start for the American squad for Tokyo.

Nigeria, coached by NBA veteran Mike Brown and with five NBA players on its roster, made 20 of 42 three-pointers and was led by Gabe Vincent (Miami Heat) with 21 points, followed by Caleb Agada (17) and Ike Nwamu (13).

The U.S., still missing some players who are in the NBA Finals, was 26-63 from the floor (41.3%) and 10-24 (41.7%) from the three-point line. Kevin Durant led with 17 points – but just 4-13 from the floor – plus 15 from Jayson Tatum and 14 from Damian Lillard.

The game was tight throughout: Nigeria led by 66-64 after three quarters and extended to 85-77 with 1:43 left and held on. The U.S. was out-rebounded, 46-34, losing to an African team for the first time ever in international play.

“I think with four days of practice, there were a lot of things I liked out there, but in a way, I’m kind of glad it happened,” said U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich. “That loss means nothing if we don’t learn from it. But it could be the most important thing in this tournament for us, to learn lessons from this and see what we did to move on, because it’s a great group of guys, high character, and we’ll figure it out.”

The U.S. will get a further test on Monday vs. third-ranked Australia on Monday at 8 p.m. Easter time, to be televised on NBCSN.

In the FIBA men’s U-19 World Cup in Riga, Latvia, the U.S. sprinted ahead of France in the fourth quarter of the championship game, then held on for a 83-81 win.

The U.S., Serbia and Canada all went 3-0 in their group games, then the American men defeated Korea, 132-60, and Senegal, 88-58, to reach the semifinals. Facing undefeated Canada, the Americans managed a 92-86 win, after lading by 49-38 at halftime. Canadian forward Caleb Houstan led all scorers with 23 points and Louisiana Tech forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. led the U.S. with 16 and TCU guard Michael Miles had 15.

France rallied from 14 points down to defeat Serbia in the other semi, with guard Jayson Tchicamboud scoring 19.

The final was tight, with the U.S. holding a 21-19 lead at the quarter, but with France up by 42-37 at half and 64-59 at the end of three. The U.S. went on a 10-4 run to start the fourth quarter and edge ahead, 69-68 and extended to 75-68 with 4:30 left. But the French fought back, with Louis Lesmond scoring five points in the last 1:34, but it was not enough. Purdue guard Jaden Ivey and Lofton had 16 points each to lead the winners, with 12 from LSU guard Adam Miller. France’s Victor Wembanyama led all scorers with 22. The U.S. enjoyed a 43-29 rebound edge.

Canada defeated Serbia for the bronze medal by 101-92.

The U.S. finished 7-0 and 7-1 Gonzaga center Chet Holmgen was named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He averaged 11.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 blocks, hitting 62.0% from the field (53.8% on three-pointers) in just 21 minutes a game.

The All-Star Five included Holmgren, Lofton, Wembanyama of France, Canadian (and Purdue) center Zach Edey and forward Nikola Jovic of Serbia.

The U.S. has now won eight times in the 15 editions of this event, and four of the last five, winning in 2013-15-19-21.

Beach Volleyball ● The last major FIVB World Tour event prior to Tokyo was the Gstaad four-star in Switzerland, with a major surprise on the men’s side.

Dutch pair Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot came in seeded 41st, but ran through the tournament to score get their first World Tour win together in just their seventh event together. They defeated Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan in a tight, 23-21, 19-21, 15-10 match in the final. It was the sixth final of the season for Younousse and Tijan, with two wins.

The all-Russian third-place match saw 2019 World Champions Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy defeat countrymen Nikita Liamin and Taras Myskiv, 21-16, 21-12.

The women’s final was an all-Brazilian affair, with Agatha Bednarczuk (38) and Duda Lisboa (22) dispensing with Ana Patricia Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti, 23-21, 21-18. It’s the seventh World Tour title for Agatha and Duda in their four years as a pair on the circuit, and their fifth medal on the World Tour this season (2-1-2).

World Champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes (CAN) won the bronze medal with a 21-13, 13-21, 17-15 win over Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina (LAT).

Cycling ● The Tour de France concluded its second week on Sunday, with Slovenian star Tadej Pogacar continuing his grip on the race, but with an American stage winner for the first time in 10 years on Sunday.

Saturday’s stage 14 winner was Bauke Mollema (NED), who broke away from the field with 43 km to do on a difficult, six-climb stage over 183.7 km, finishing in 4:16:16. That was 1:04 ahead of Patrick Konrad (AUT) and Sergio Higuita (COL) and 1:06 up on Mattia Cattaneo (ITA). Pogacar could not keep up and finished 18th, 6:53 behind the winner, but maintained a 4:04 advantage over France’s Guillaume Martin, who was 11th in the stage.

Sunday’s 15th stage ran for 191.3 km, through the Pyrenees, including the highest peak on the Tour for 2021, the Port d’Envalira at 2,406 m, then attacking the Col de Beixalis before descending into Andorra at the finish. A huge breakaway group of 32 riders tore away from the peloton within the first 20 km and had an advantage of up to 11 minutes midway through the race.

At the front, it was Colombian star Nairo Quintana who crested the Port d’Envalira first, but was joined on the descent and then dropped with 20 km to go by David Gaudu (FRA), 41-year-old Alejandro Valverde (ESP) and American Sepp Kuss, 26. Kuss simply exploded and moved away from both of the others and steamed over the Col de Beixalis and into Andorra for his first career Tour de France victory and the first stage win by an American since Tyler Farrar in 2011. Kuss is the 10th American all-time to win a Tour stage.

Kuss finished in 5:12:06, with Valverde second (+0:23) and Wout Poels (NED: +1:15) third; Gaudu was seventh, in the same group. Further back, Pogacar was attacked relentlessly by challengers, but fenced them all off and the race leaders finished together some 4:51 behind the winner.

Pogacar goes into Monday’s rest day with a 5:18 lead over Rigoberto Uran (COL), with Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) third (+5:32) and Richard Carapaz fourth (+5:33). France’s Martin had trouble and dropped back to ninth.

The 32nd Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile finished in Cormons with another American win, this time for Coryn Rivera, 28, who beat three others to the line in 2:56:40 over 113 km. She could be in the mix in the Tokyo road race in a couple of weeks.

Saturday’s 122.6 km ninth stage finished with a brutal ascent up Monte Matajur finishing at 1,294 m from a baseline of 134 m. South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman broke away on the climb and separated from Dutch stars Demi Vollering and race leader Anna van der Breggen in the final 8 km. Moolman, who was second going into the stage, won by 1:26 over both, and cut her deficit to 1:23 behind van der Breggen heading into Sunday. Italy’s Marta Cavalli was the only other rider close by, some 1:39 behind the winner.

The final stage saw Rivera sprint to the finish ahead of Lizzie Deignan (GBR), Elise Chabbey (SUI: +0:03) and overall winner van der Breggen (NED). For van der Breggen, who is retiring after this season, it was her fourth career “Giro Donne” win – in 2015-17-20-21 – tying Italy’s Fabiana Luperini (1995-98) for the most ever.

Van der Breggen finished a comfortable 1:43 ahead of Moolman, 3:25 up on Vollering and 6:39 ahead of Deignan.

The UCI Track Cycling Nations Cup in St. Petersburg (RUS) showed off a powerful Russian squad, but with the medals widely distributed.

Russian women went 1-2 in the Sprint, as Anastasiia Voinova swept Yana Tyshchenko in both finals races and those two combined with Nataliia Antonova to win the Team Sprint. Two women won two individual events: Colombia’s Martha Bayona Pineda took the Keirin and the 500 m Time Trial, and Portugal’s Maria Martins won the Elimination Race and the Omnium.

Ireland’s Kelly Murphy won the Individual Pursuit and then won the Team Pursuit with Lara Gillespie, Mia Griffin, and Alice Sharpe. Russians Gulnaz Khatuntseva and Diana Klimova won the Madison.

On the men’s side, Russians Lev Gonov and Ivan Smirnov won the Madison and also took the Team Pursuit over Italy, with the additions of Glen Syritsa and Egor Igoshev. In the Sprint, Kevin Quintero (COL) came from one race down to beat Mikhail Iakovlev (RUS), but Iakovlev, Danila Burlakov and Ivan Gladyshev took the Team Sprint.

France’s Tom Derache, the bronze winner in the Sprint, took the Keirin; Canadian Quentin LaFargue won the 1 km Time Trial and Scotland’s Kyle Gordon won the Individual Pursuit. Italian Carloalberto Giodani won the Elimination Race, and Yauheni Karaliok (BLR) took the Omnium over Portugal’s Iuri Leitao, 177-166.

The massive U.S. Mountain Bike National Championships was held in Winter Park, Colorado, with competitions in classifications as young as 11-12 and up to 80-89!

In the professional Cross Country races, Keegan Swenson won the men’s national title over Stephan Davourst, 1:22:14 to 1:24:36 in the four-lap race and Tokyo Olympian-to-be Erin Huck took the women’s crown, beating Alexis Skarda, 1:11:31 to 1:13:46.

The Short Track races on Sunday saw Savila Blunk win by six seconds over Gwendalyn Gibson, 30:01-30:07, with Rose Grant and Evelyn Dong well back in third (30:34) and fourth (30:35).

Swenson doubled back to win the men’s Short Track title, just ahead of Davoust, 29:19-29:37, with Cole Paton third (29:47).

In the Pro Downhills, Dakotah Norton won the men’s title over Aaron Gwin and Luca Shaw by 3:28:24-3:29.89-3:31.72. The women’s race was a win for Kailey Skelton (4:11.35), beating Ella Erickson (4:25.65) and Kialani Hines (4:26.08).

Football ● The classic Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro pitted Lionel Messi and Argentina against Neymar and Brazil, but it was an Angel Di Maria goal in the 22nd minute that made the difference for Argentina in a 1-0 victory.

It was the 15th Copa America victory for Argentina, now tied with Uruguay for the most ever, but its first since 1993. For Argentinian icon Messi, it was his first championship with the national team after five Copa Americas and four World Cups (although he did win the Olympic tournament in Beijing in 2008).

The final was dominated by Brazilian possession, especially in the second half, but the hosts were chasing the game since Rodrigo De Paul’s long pass found Di Maria at the right of the Brazilian goal. With keeper Ederson out to cut down the angle, Di Maria popped the ball over his head and into the goal for his first-ever score for the national team.

The game got increasingly physical in the second half, with 41 total fouls called and nine yellow cards. Brazil led in shots, 13-6, but could not get by Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez.

Messi was co-high scorer with four goals and had five assists and was both the tournament’s high scorer and Best Player.

/Updated/The UEFA Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium in London was a classic match between Italy and England, with the home team trying to win its first international title since 1966, when it won the FIFA World Cup.

And the partisan crowd of more than 67,000 went into dreamland as a perfect cross by Kieran Trippier from the right side of the box flew over the Italian back four and found Luke Shaw to the left of goal and his left-footed volley flew into the goal for a 1-0 lead in the second minute! It was the fastest goal in history of the European Championship.

Italy had 65% of the possession in the half and out-shot England, 6-1, but was unable to get a goal against a tight defense and keeper Jordan Pickford.

The Azzurri kept the pressure on from the start of the second half, but missed the net repeatedly. But from a corner in the 67th minute, a wild flurry developed on front of the goal and Marco Verratti got off a header that hit the goalpost, but the rebound was available for Leonardo Bonucci, who scored for a 1-1 tie.

Italy remained dangerous, Domenico Berardi running behind the defense in the 74th minute and off a long volley, launched a shot that went over the goal. But neither side could score and regulation time ended 1-1. Italy had held the ball for two-thirds of the time and had a 14-4 shots advantage, but only the one goal.

In extra time, Italy continued the pressure and had a 3-1 shots advantage, but could not get the ball into the goal. England was more offensive-minded in the second extra period, but Italy controlled the last half of the period and it ended 1-1, with Italy finishing at 19-6 on shots.

The penalty shoot-out started off with two makes, then the drama started. Andrea Belotti’s try was saved by Pickford and Maguire made his for a 2-1 England lead. But Bonucci scored (2-2) and Marcus Rashford hit the left post! Federico Bernardeschi made his shot, but Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma guessed right and saved Jadon Sancho’s shot, leaving Italy up 3-2.

Italy’s Jorginho was ready to ice it in the fifth round, but Pickford guessed right and deflected his shot off the post, giving England a chance to tie with Bukayo Saka. The strike wasn’t hard enough and Donnarumma flew to his left and saved the penalty, giving Italy a 3-2 win and the European title. Donnarumma was named the Player of the Tournament.

The Italians, who did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, are now on a 34-match unbeaten streak and won its second European title (also in 1968) in four times in the final. A lesson for any country which has aspirations in football.

UEFA fined the England Football Association €30,000 (~$36,000) after multiple incidents, including a fan aiming a laser pointer at Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel during the Euro 2020 semifinal at Wembley Stadium in London last Wednesday.

The fan aimed the laser at Schmeichel when he was readying for Harry Kane’s penalty kick in extra time; Schmeichel saved the shot, but Kane scored on the rebound for the deciding play in England’s 2-1 win.

UEFA’s statement included: “The UEFA Control Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) has decided to fine the English Football Association €30,000 for the use of laser pointer, disturbances during the national anthems and setting of fireworks.”

The CONCACAF Gold Cup opened on Saturday, with games at nine venues across five states in the U.S. and Mexico playing to a surprising 0-0 tie with Trinidad & Tobago in Arlington, Texas.

The U.S. will open vs. Haiti this evening in Kansas City, to be followed by games on the 15th (Martinique) and 18th (Canada). Group play will end on the 20th, with the playoffs from 24 July to 1 August.

Gymnastics ● The second FIG Rhythmic World Challenge Cup was in Moscow (RUS), and a showcase for Olympic favorite Dina Averina.

She swept all four events, winning over fellow Russian Lala Kramarenko by 27.200-26.300 in Hoop, by 28.900-26.700 in Ball, 29.250-28.250 in Clubs and 25.700-23.500 in Ribbon. Sister Arina Averina was unable to compete due to a leg injury, but is promised to be ready for Tokyo.

Russia also won the group events over Uzbekistan and Japan in 5 Balls and 3 Balls + 2 Clubs.

Table Tennis ● The U.S. National Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada saw the men’s and women’s Singles title matches pit the top two seeds against each other.

The men’s title went to top-ranked Xin Zhou, who defeated Sharon Alguetti, in five sets by 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6. It was the first U.S. title for Zhou, ending a string of four straight fr Kanak Jha, who is prepping for Tokyo.

The women’s final saw second-seed Amy Wang upset five-time national champ Lily Zhang, also in five sets by 11-9, 12-10, 4-11, 16-14, 11-7. It was Wang’s first U.S. title.

Tennis ● Wimbledon concluded its 134th edition on Sunday, with a historic win for Serb Novak Djokovic, who took his sixth title and 20th Grand Slam victory, tying him with Roger Federer (SUI) and Rafael Nadal (ESP) for the most career Slams among men.

Djokovic has now won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in the same year; the last to do that – and win all four Slams in a single year – was Australian icon Rod Laver in 1969.

Djokovic defeated Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in four sets: 6–7, 6–4, 6–4, 6–3; it was the no. 1 seed vs. no. 7.

The women’s Singles title also went to the no. 1 seed, Australian Ash Barty, who defeated Czech Karolína Plískova (no. 8) in straight sets, 6–3, 6–7, 6–3. Barty was the first no. 1 seed to win the tournament since Serena Williams (USA) in 2016.

In men’s Doubles, Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic triumphed over Marcel Granollers (ESP) and Horacio Zeballos (ARG), 6–4, 7–6, 2–6, 7–5. In women’s Doubles, Su-wei Hsieh (TPE) and Elise Mertens (BEL) overcame Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina, 3–6, 7–5, 9–7. It was Heish’s second straight Wimbledon title; she played with Barbora Strycova (CZE) in 2019.

The Mixed Doubles title was won by Neal Skupski (GBR) and Desirae Krawczyk (USA) over Britain’s Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart, 6–2, 7–6.

Volleyball ● The 21st FIVB women’s World U-20 Championship is underway in Belgium and the Netherlands, with 16 teams competing in four groups, with the pool winners advancing to the championship second round.

Serbia, Italy and the Netherlands all won their groups with perfect 3-0 records, and the U.S. women also finished 3-0, with victories over Russia (3-1), Thailand (3-0) and Turkey (3-0). The second stage will start on the 13th.

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