Mario Balotelli won’t be leaving Manchester City in the offseason, according to the player’s agent.


LONDON _ Sebastian Coe predicts China will outperform the United States to win the medals race at the London Olympics. Coe, the two-time 1,500-meter Olympic champion who heads London’s organizing committee for the games, said China has expanded its sporting prowess beyond its traditional strengths and should take home the most medals this summer. Moved. By Stephen Wilson.



MADRID _ Hernan Perez’s goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time gave Villarreal a 2-1 win over 10-man Malaga Thursday to improve its chances of avoiding relegation while Racing Santander look doomed after a heavy defeat. Moved.


LIVERPOOL, England _ Liverpool released director of football Damien Comolli on Thursday following widespread criticism of his transfer strategy since being hired by the Premier League club’s American owners 16 months ago. Moved.


MILAN _ Mario Balotelli won’t be leaving Manchester City in the offseason, according to the player’s agent. The Italian forward has had a rocky season at the Premier League club, being sent off twice for a total of four red cards since his move from Inter Milan in 2010 and creating numerous headlines off the field. Moved.


PARIS _ Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, says the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as planned despite ongoing political instability in the country and threats by some groups to disrupt the event. Moved.


SHANGHAI _ World champion Red Bull hopes to show some sign it has closed the gap on McLaren when practice for the Chinese Grand Prix begins on Friday. First practice session begins at 0200 GMT.



MILAN _ Alessandro Diamanti’s stunning free kick earned Bologna a vital 1-0 victory over Cagliari in a Serie A relegation battle on Thursday. Moved. By Daniella Matar.


JOHANNESBURG _ Johannesburg has become the latest major South African city to balk at being a host for next year’s African Cup of Nations, which would leave the tournament without the landmark Soccer City stadium as a venue. Moved. By Gerald Imray.


COLOGNE, Germany _ Cologne has sacked coach Stale Solbakken four games before the end of the Bundesliga season. Former coach Frank Schaefer is returning on Friday morning to prepare the side for Sunday’s Rhine derby at Borussia Moenchengladbach, the club announced Thursday. Moved.


LONDON _ Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic will miss Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal against Tottenham and two key matches in the team’s Premier League run-in after his appeal against a charge of violent conduct was dismissed. Moved.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark _ Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark easily reached the quarterfinals of the e-Boks Open on Thursday by cruising past Pauline Parmentier of France 6-2, 6-1. Moved.


HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. _ Top-ranked Luke Donald and defending champion Brandt Snedeker highlight the start of the RBC Heritage, the first tournament after the Masters. Snedeker defeated Donald in playoff last year. By Pete Iacobelli.



AINTREE, England _ Big Buck’s became the first horse to win 17 straight British jump races when he cruised to an easy victory Thursday on the opening day of the Aintree Festival. Moved.


CHENNAI, India _ Albie Morkel plundered 28 in an over to help Chennai Super Kings pull off a stunning last-ball victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore, while Dmitri Mascarenhas grabbed 5-25 as Kings XI Punjab prevailed over Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League on Thursday. Moved.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand _ Embattled All Blacks scrumhalf Piri Weepu has taken to Twitter to answer critics of his off-season weight gain, telling one outspoken tweeter to “get a life.” Moved.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand _ The Auckland Blues try to win for only the second time in seven matches when they take on the Sharks to open the eighth round of rugby’s Super 15 tournament on Friday. By 1030 GMT.


BRUSSELS _ Time trial world champion and Olympic medal favorite Tony Martin was being treated for a broken cheekbone and jaw Thursday after colliding with a car during a training run a day earlier near his Swiss home. Moved.






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