Thursday Morning Sports Update

SOCCER

Liverpool’s Champions League defence has ended at the last-16 stage.

The holders slipped to a 3-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid after extra-time at Anfield last night – losing the tie 4-2 on aggregate.

Liverpool Defender Virgil Van Dijk (PRON: Van Dyke) says they came so close:

Paris Saint-Germain have also progressed to the quarter-finals with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Borussia Dortmund.

Two of the three British clubs in Europa League action this evening will play the first legs of their last-16 ties behind closed doors because of the coronavirus.

Manchester United’s game with LASK in Austria at five to six, and Wolves’ match against Olympiakos in Greece at 8, will have no supporters in the stadiums.

Rangers’ fixture at home to German club Bayer Leverkusen goes ahead as normal at Ibrox.

RACING

Last years winners head the fields for both big Grade 1 races on Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival.

Mike Vince looks ahead.

Frodon, ridden by Bryony Frost, bids for the Grade One Ryanair Chase for the second year running at Cheltenham this afternoon.

Their rivals include Aso, narrowly beaten in last years thrilling finish.

For Bryony, who won the hearts of the Festival crowd a year ago, today’s mission is quite simple.

Today’s other meetings are at Doncaster, good, good to soft in places – 1.15; Hexham, heavy – soft in places – 1.55 and Chelmsford City – standard – 6 o’clock.

GOLF

Rory McIlroy is set to begin the defence of his Players Championship title this evening in Florida.

The world number one will tee off alongside Spain’s Jon Rahm (PRON: RAM) and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka (PRON: KEP-KA).

The Down man says he’s hoping to become the first player to defend golf’s unofficial ‘fifth major’:

BASKETBALL

The NBA has suspended its season in the US “until further notice” due to the coronavirus – with the play-offs due to start next month.

Last night’s game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after a player tested positive.