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LAM Jan 25
Gareth Bale praised Zinedine Zidanes impact since taking over at the Bernabeu following Real Madrids progression to the Champions League final on Wednesday night. Vapormax 97 Uomo . Real beat Manchester City 1-0 in their Champions League semi-final second-leg tie to set up a meeting against Atletico Madrid at San Siro on May 28, with Bale playing a key role in Los Blancos winner in the Spanish capital. Bale celebrates after Real opened the scoring against Man City The Wales international was keen to highlight his managers contribution to the home teams victory, exactly four months since Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez in the Madrid dugout. Hes given us that belief and freedom to go out and express ourselves and enjoy ourselves, Bale told UEFAs official website.When players can do that you see the best of them. Bale disagreed with Manuel Pellegrinis comments that Real Madrid were lucky to progress However, Bale admitted the 20th-minute goal that finally separated the two sides was slightly fortunate, with the forwards centre taking a crucial deflection off Fernando on its way past City goalkeeper Joe Hart.I went to cross, but obviously it doesnt matter however the ball goes in the back of the net, he said. Were very happy and the most important thing is were in the final.Were very excited to get to the final. Were going to enjoy this result. It was a very difficult two-legged game against Manchester City. Hes given us that belief and freedom to go out and express ourselves and enjoy ourselves. Gareth Bale on Zidane But were very happy that we kept two clean sheets and nicked a goal to get into the final. It was a very professional performance. Weve really worked together as a team and that showed again tonight.Bale, meanwhile, was delighted with his own display against City as he carried on his impressive form of late that has seen him score four times in his last five games in all competitions for Real.I enjoy taking responsibility on the pitch, he said. Hopefully I can keep doing it, keep improving and putting in good performances. Bales cross deflects off City midfielder Fernando in the decisive moment of Wednesdays Champions League semi-final Bale, though, knows just what a tough encounter now awaits him and his team-mates against Atleti, the second time the two city rivals have faced each other in the Champions League final in the space of just three years.We know that come the final its going to be a very difficult, very cagey game again, he said.We know how they play, we know what theyre like, he added. Its going to be a difficult game, but were confident we can win. Watch live coverage of Real Madrids La Liga clash at home to Valencia from 3.55pm on Sunday, via the Red Button on Sky Sports 2 HD, on Sky Sports Xtra or via the Sky Sports for iPad app. Highlights on Sky Sports 3 HD from 8.40pm. Also See: Own goal knocks out City R Madrid 1-0 Man City recap Zidane: City made it hard Kompany limps out of Real clashVapormax 2019 Uomo .J. -- Marty Brodeur beat the Pittsburgh Penguins yet again. Vapormax Plus Bianche . DAmigo scored twice in regulation and added the shootout winner as the Toronto Marlies edged the San Antonio Rampage 5-4 in American Hockey League action. http:///...x-97-nere-saldi.html . -- Matt Ryan needed one of the best games of his career to lead the Falcons and their depleted offence out of their three-game losing streak last week. RIO DE JANEIRO -- Bruised and battered but still wearing a gold medal, the first Russian champion in Rio de Janeiro seemed to mirror his countrys standing at the Olympics.Despite eye and hand injuries that might have ruled out a lesser rival, Beslan Mudranov upset the reigning world champion in his judo final. The victory showed that Russia is set to remain a serious contender for medals in Rio, even though it lost some of its top athletes to a widespread doping scandal.For us, this medal means a lot because people were putting a lot of psychological pressure on us, Mudranov said. A gold medal like this will really please our country.Russia will field no weightlifters and only one track and field athlete among the 278 athletes it has sent to Brazil, shutting down two of the main medal producers for the sports superpower. But it has been extremely successful in minimizing the damage elsewhere and escaping a blanket ban, with a mixture of a savvy public relations campaign and old-fashioned backroom lobbying.On the world stage, Russian prestige hasnt fared so well lately. The legacy of its Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 has been tarnished by the doping scandal, and on Sunday, it was kicked out of the Rio Paralympics over evidence of systematic drug cheating.The July 18 report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren alleging a state-run doping cover-up across dozens of summer and winter Olympic sports had little effect on the Russian team. Its track and weightlifting athletes were likely to be excluded before the report came out because of other doping scandals, making up most of the 109 athletes who are missing in Rio from its original 387-member delegation.Russia is still likely to dominate in those events where it has been traditionally strong: gymnastics, synchronized swimming and wrestling.The country first staved off the threat of a blanket ban from the International Olympic Committee, then fought the imposition of further restrictions on its team from the sports federations which implement the IOC rules.One hastily imposed IOC rule was overturned, allowing several athletes caught in doping tests back on the Russian team, while even some implicated in the McLaren report as having benefited from a cover-up were reinstated.Yulia Efimova, the 100-meter breaststroke world champion, was initially banned with six other Russian swimmers who either had positive tests or were implicated in the scandal. Now, all are expected to be added to the start lists in Rio. Efimova, who received a smattering of boos after her name was announced as the winner of her heat Sunday, described the last six months as crazy and said she didnt understand whats going on.An IOC rule excluding Russians who have not faced regular drug testing was ignored by all sports, except for rowing, where Russia was reduced to fielding only one boat -- although it was never a serious contender for medals there.Russias lobbying power in the federations probably helped in judo, where President Vladimir Putin is the honorary head of the international federation, and fencing, where Putins billionaire ally Alisher Usmanov runs the sports world governing body.The most powerful man in the Olympics -- IOC President Thommas Bach -- has business and personal links to Russia. Vapormax Plus 2020. A former fencer, his sport has been boosted by Usmanovs financial support. Russia also has sustained minimal damage in events like swimming, where it also holds some influence.Meanwhile, an international public relations campaign spread Russias soft power worldwide and undermined McLarens report. The U.S. firm Burson-Marsteller distributed a speech by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev urging the IOC to keep Russia in the games. Embassies in the U.S. and Canada pressed for an exemption for Russias top track and field star, Yelena Isinbayeva, although none has been granted for the pole vaulter.Russia also has sought to present McLarens report as flawed and overly reliant on the testimony of former Moscow anti-doping lab chief Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, who now lives in the U.S., and admitted to covering up doping samples on what he said were orders from the Russian Sports Ministry. Rodchenkov had faced accusations in Russia of supplying banned substances in 2012, a case that was closed in unclear circumstances, and faces a criminal case in Russia over the destruction of samples.Reacting to the McLaren report last month, Putin said the officials who were implicated would be suspended for a further investigation -- although not Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.The Russian leader also made clear what he thought of the reports conclusions, calling Rodchenkov a man with a scandalous reputation.Can conclusions be trustworthy and compelling if they are exclusively based on the evidence of people like this? Putin asked.In recent weeks, however, evidence has emerged to back up some of Rodchenkovs allegations.Nine Russian weightlifters have been confirmed for failing retests of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. All tested positive for oral turinabol, a steroid that was widely used by the former East Germany and a substance that Rodchenkov said he had given athletes in a cocktail along with alcohol.This is a strong indication that they were part of a centrally dictated program, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said in upholding the Olympic ban on the Russian weightlifters.Russia got a boost when an IOC meeting before the Olympics saw senior officials take turns blasting WADA for what many saw as exceeding its mandate.Mutko was jubilant, telling the Russian state news agency Tass that Im very pleased that the IOC session supported what we insisted upon, adding that WADA needs to be reformed.Even with evidence of the mass manipulation of tests, Mutko said, WADA should not have dared to accuse Russia of state-sponsored doping. If you want to prove that there is some kind of manipulation going on in some laboratory, then you shouldnt accuse a country, he added.Despite being battered by the turbulence, Russia remains strong on the Olympic stage.The opening gold medal by Mudranov probably pleased Putin, who is often described as the worlds most famous judo fan and is so passionate about the sport that he recorded a DVD to help train athletes.---AP National Writer Paul Newberry contributed to this story. ' ' '