In Brief | Nation and World March 25


Costa Rica asks FIFA for replay of US match

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Costa Rica is asking soccer’s governing body for a replay of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against the United States, won 1-0 by the Americans during a snowstorm in Commerce City, Colorado.

Costa Rican Football Federation Treasurer Rolando Villalobos said in a statement Sunday that documentation had been sent to FIFA to back the claim, including photographs and videos.

The Costa Rican federation said the climatic conditions threatened the physical integrity of the players, left the sidelines and markings on the field largely not visible and led to the entry onto the field of snow-clearing personnel, which it claimed was not permitted.

The federation also argued that “ball movement became impossible given the quantity of snow on the field” and called on FIFA to punish the match officials who allowed the game to proceed.

“What happened the night … has no precedents, since it not only went against the sporting spectacle, but also against the physical integrity of the officials and players,” the statement said.

During Friday’s game, plows and shovels were used to clear the penalty areas, center circle and midfield stripe as snow got heavier, and a yellow-and-purple ball was used.

Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto urged the referee to suspend the game, but U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made a case for playing on because both teams faced the same conditions.

Clint Dempsey scored the winning goal in the 16th minute.

The protested loss left Costa Rica at the bottom of its division with one point.

The U.S. Soccer Federation declined to comment Sunday night.

Heat win 26th straight, top Bobcats 109-77

MIAMI — LeBron James finished with 32 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, Chris Bosh added 15 points, and the Miami Heat won their 26th straight game, topping the Charlotte Bobcats 109-77 on Sunday night.

Norris Cole scored 15, and Ray Allen added 14 for the Heat, who played without Dwyane Wade, held from the lineup because of right knee soreness that the team believes is minor. The Heat are now seven wins shy of matching the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the league record of 33.

Charlotte led by 11 in the early going and was within five in the third quarter, but two huge spurts by the Heat were more than enough to put the game away. Miami used a 31-6 run in the first half to erase the deficit and a 26-5 blitz in the second half finished the job.

Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 20 points.

Sharapova reaches 4th round at Key Biscayne

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Mired in a marathon game midway through the opening set, Maria Sharapova wore down her opponent with characteristic resolve and relentlessness, winning the last point without hitting a shot.

That put Sharapova ahead to stay, and she beat fellow Russian Elena Vesnina on a muggy, 85-degree afternoon at the Sony Open, 6-4, 6-2.

The No. 3-seeded Sharapova moved into the fourth round, eager to fill one of the few holes in her resume. While she completed a career Grand Slam last year, she has never won Key Biscayne, losing the final in 2005, ‘06, ‘11 and ‘12.

Her pivotal moment Sunday came at 3-all in the first set. The next game went to deuce seven times, with Sharapova repeatedly erasing a deficit, until Vesnina dumped a weary second serve into the net on break point.

All told, Sharapova benefited from eight double-faults by the No. 29-seeded Vesnina, and erased eight of the nine break points she faced.

Lauren Davis of the United States lost to No. 32-seeded Alize Cornet at the peak of the heat, and their 2½-hour match left both players so exhausted they were taken off the court in wheelchairs. Davis also required treatment in the third set after being stung by a wasp.

Both players later said they were fine. Cornet won 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, seeking his fourth Key Biscayne title and third in a row, defeated No. 254-ranked Somdev Devvarman 6-2, 6-4. Djokovic next faces No. 15-seeded Tommy Haas, who beat No. 19 Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-2.

Haas turns 35 next month and is playing at Key Biscayne for the 12th time.

Among the seeded women to lose were No. 6 Angelique Kerber, No. 11 Nadia Petrova and No. 14 Maria Kirilenko. Kerber was beaten by No. 28 Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-0. Petrova was ousted by No. 22 Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (7), 6-4. Kirilenko lost to No. 21 Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Busch avoids Hamlin-Logano wreck in Fontana

FONTANA, Calif. — Denny Hamlin was airlifted to a hospital Sunday after colliding with Joey Logano on the last lap while NASCAR’s newest rivals raced for the win in a thrilling finish at Fontana.

And Logano has even bigger worries than his burgeoning feud with Hamlin, whose team expects him to be fine: Three-time champion Tony Stewart got into a post-race shoving match with Logano, threatening to “whoop his (butt)” after the 22-year-old Logano aggressively blocked Stewart out of a late restart.

“It’s time he learns a lesson,” Stewart said. “He’s run his mouth long enough. ... He’s nothing but a little rich kid that’s never had to work in his life, so he’s going to learn what us working guys who had to work our way up (know about) how it works.”

Almost forgotten in all that Fontana drama was Kyle Busch, who earned his first victory of the season when he sped past Hamlin and Logano on the final turn.

But the final lap was a spectacle pitting Hamlin against Logano, their cars side by side in their first race since the drivers confronted each other last week at Bristol in another argument about driving tactics.

Logano eventually hit the outside wall at Fontana and managed to finish third, while Hamlin never made it to the line after hitting the inside wall with force. He received attention in an ambulance and was airlifted out due to traffic around the track.

Stewart, the defending Fontana champion, ran over to Logano’s car and confronted him after the race, shoving the younger driver — who then threw a water bottle at Stewart, the veteran said — before teammates pulled them apart.

Tampa Bay Lightning fire coach Guy Boucher

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning fired coach Guy Boucher on Sunday, with the team in next to last place in the Eastern Conference and on its way to missing the playoffs for a second straight year.

Assistants Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix shared the coaching for Sunday night’s game at Winnipeg.

“Guy has poured his heart and soul into the Lightning organization for these past three years and we appreciate all the work he has done,” general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “But ultimately I am not satisfied with the direction we are heading and I believe making a change today is in the best interest of our franchise.”

Boucher’s dismissal came one day after the Lightning fell behind by four goals in the first period of a 5-3 loss at Ottawa.

The Lightning have a 13-17-1 record and will likely miss the postseason again after reaching the conference finals during Boucher’s first year. He was hired as the Lightning’s seventh coach in June 2010.

Yankees’ Jeter expected to start season on DL

TAMPA, Fla. — Derek Jeter will likely join Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the New York Yankees’ star-studded disabled list for the season opener against the Boston Red Sox on April 1.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says it’s “more likely than not” Jeter will start on the DL because of a sore left ankle, still recovering from surgery last October.

“April 1 is unrealistic in my mind now,” Cashman said Sunday. “There’s nothing new going on other than growing pains as he gets through these final hurdles of his rehab.”

Eduardo Nunez, known for his bat more than his glove, would fill in at shortstop for the 13-time All-Star, who broke the ankle Oct. 13 during the AL championship series opener against Detroit and had surgery a week later.

The 38-year-old, who has repeatedly vowed to be ready for opening day, played in his first big league spring training game on March 9 as a designated hitter.

He returned to shortstop four days later, then played consecutive games on March 15 and 16 before inflammation kept him out of the lineup.

He received an anti-inflammatory injection Wednesday and had four at-bats as a DH Saturday in a minor league exhibition game.

Jeter is 3-for-11 with a double in five spring training games. New York could put him on the DL backdated to Friday, meaning he could be activated on April 6, when the Yankees are at Detroit.

Cashman wants Jeter to be available to play the field when he’s on the active roster.

By wire sources