Chelsea and Liverpool made to wait, Sonia O’Sullivan’s half century

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Tiger Roll enjoys some light reading at Gordon Elliott’s yard in Meath. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Tiger Roll enjoys some light reading at Gordon Elliott’s yard in Meath. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Chelsea and Liverpool will have to wait to join Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the last-16 of the Champions League, after both were held to draws in their penultimate group fixtures last night. Frank Lampard’s side head into their final match at home to Lille knowing three points will guarantee their place in the knockouts, following their 2-2 draw away to Valencia. Christian Pulisic gave the Blues a 2-1 lead after 50 minutes but they were forced to settle for a point after a mistake from Kepa Arrizabalaga allowed Daniel Wass to equalise late on at the Mestalla. Meanwhile Liverpool need to avoid defeat in their final round visit to Salzburg in order to progress after they drew 1-1 with Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli, Dejan Lovren equalising after Dries Mertens opened the scoring at Anfield. In the night’s other games, Barcelona guaranteed their progression as group winners for the 13th-consecutive season after a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Nou Camp, with Lionel Messi on the scoresheet. Later today a youthful Manchester United continue their Europa League campaign away to Astana in Khazakhstan, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side already through to the last-32 (kick-off 3.50pm).

It is Sonia O’Sullivan’s 50th birthday, and in her column today she has reflected on her brilliant career and her enduring relationship with running - which burns bright long after stepping down from elite competition. She writes: “I still question myself today: why do you do this now? I have finally reconciled with myself that I truly love to run. There is no greater sense of satisfaction than that which you feel on completing a run, and which is even greater when you can fill an hour of your day with a purposeful run. The energy it gives is hard to find anywhere else in life, the time outside in nature a time to escape. There is a calmness to running now that I never even knew existed when I was training and competing at the highest level.” O’Sullivan’s finest year came in 1995, when she won 23 of her 25 races as well as securing a famous World Championships gold medal in Gothenburg. You can read about that HERE.

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