April 2013: Encore une fois

  • Last Updated: December 23 2013, 16:40 GMT

We look back at what happened in the world of sport in April, as Auroras Encore won the Grand National at 66/1.

Auroras Encore: Grand National winner, at 66/1
Auroras Encore: Grand National winner, at 66/1

April 1: Sunderland issued a statement on behalf of their new head coach Paolo Di Canio in which the Italian defended himself against controversy over his political beliefs.

Leeds parted company with manager Neil Warnock following their 2-1 home defeat to Derby.

Wigan Warriors racked up their biggest win of the Super League era and inflicted Hull KR's record defeat, 84-6 at Craven Park.

2: Paris St Germain twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Barcelona in their Champions League quarter-final, while Bayern Munich beat Juventus 2-0.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney left his position after the Irish Rugby Football Union announced it would not offer him a new contract.

Manchester United pulled Old Trafford out of the running to be a venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup due to concerns over the likely damage to the pitch.

3: Sunderland finally responded to continuing uproar over their appointment of Paolo Di Canio as manager by releasing a statement from the Italian insisting he is not a racist and that he does not support "the ideology of fascism".

Real Madrid beat Galatasaray 3-0 at the Bernabeu in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, while Borussia Dortmund wasted a host of chances to take a healthy advantage into the second leg of their tie against Malaga and had to settle for a 0-0 draw at La Rosaleda.

The Lawn Tennis Association confirmed Britain's Heather Watson had been diagnosed with glandular fever.

4: Two goals from Fernando Torres helped Chelsea beat Rubin Kazan 3-1 in the opening leg of their Europa League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge. Newcastle fell to a 3-1 loss at Benfica in Lisbon while Tottenham were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Basle.

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure signed a new four-year contact which will keep him at the Etihad Stadium until 2017.

The opening day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree was overshadowed by the death of a horse. Battlefront was pulled up during the fourth race by jockey Katie Walsh and later collapsed and died.

5: Tottenham announced that Gareth Bale suffered sprained ankle ligaments during the Europa League game against Basle and would be out for two weeks.

Martin O'Neill claimed the "opportunity (to save Sunderland from relegation) should still have been afforded to me" almost a week after he was sacked as manager.

The second day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree was marred by the death of a second horse. Little Josh was put down after breaking his shoulder during the Topham Chase.

6 Auroras Encore, trained by Sue Smith and ridden by Ryan Mania, won the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree, at 66-1.

Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga title with six games to spare after a 1-0 victory at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Arsenal beat West Brom 2-1, Reading suffered a 2-0 defeat at home to Southampton, Aston Villa were 3-1 winners at Aston Villa and Norwich and Swansea drew 2-2.

7 Paolo Di Canio's debut match as Sunderland boss ended in defeat as Chelsea claimed a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge. Elsewhere, Wigan and QPR remained inside the Premier League relegation zone after a 1-1 draw, Tottenham and Everton drew 2-2, Liverpool were held to a goalless stalemate at home to West Ham, while Papiss Cisse's injury-time winner gave Newcastle a 1-0 win against Fulham.

An air ambulance was called to Hexham as Grand National-winning rider Ryan Mania had anything but a dream return to action when he suffered a nasty fall less than 24 hours after steering Auroras Encore to a famous 66-1 success at Aintree.

Great Britain fought back from 2-0 down in a Davis Cup tie for the first time in 83 years to defeat Russia 3-2 and set up the chance to return to the World Group.

8 Manchester City defeated rivals Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford to reduce the deficit at the top of the table to 12 points. Sergio Aguero scored the winner after James Milner's opener was cancelled out by a Vincent Kompany own-goal.

Darren Clarke withdrew from the Masters owing to a hamstring injury.

The Football Association announced it had failed to find evidence of England fans making alleged racist chants during the recent World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

9 Jockey Ryan Mania was released from hospital after an MRI scan revealed he suffered just minor injuries in a fall at Hexham, which occurred just one day after the 23-year-old won the Grand National on 66-1 shot Auroras Encore.

Castleford parted company with coach Ian Millward and assistant Stuart Donlan after seven straight defeats in Super League.

Scottish First Division side Dunfermline were docked 15 points for going into interim administration.

10 Barcelona advanced to the Champions League semi-finals, Pedro Rodriguez's goal securing a 1-1 draw against Paris St Germain at the Nou Camp which saw the tie end 3-3 and sent the Catalan club through on away goals. Bayern Munich won 2-0 in Turin to complete a 4-0 aggregate win over Juventus.

Campaigners welcomed UEFA's decision to bring in a minimum 10-match ban for players found guilty of racism, saying the standard sanction will avoid the inconsistencies seen in the John Terry and Luis Suarez cases.

Pompey Supporters Trust pledged to transform Portsmouth into a club the city can be proud of after an agreement was reached in the High Court allowing them to take control at Fratton Park.

11 Chelsea reached the Europa League semi-finals, beating Rubin Kazan 5-4 on aggregate despite a 3-2 defeat in Moscow. Newcastle went out 4-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw with Benfica. Tottenham were beaten 4-1 on penalties by Swiss side Basle after the game ended 2-2 on the night - 4-4 on aggregate.

The Premier League announced it would use goal-line technology provided by Hawkeye from next season.

Stade Francais scrum-half Jerome Fillol was suspended for 14 weeks for spitting at Bath scrum-half Peter Stringer during the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final.

12 German champions Bayern Munich were drawn against Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League, while the other tie saw Real Madrid paired with Borussia Dortmund.

Chinese teenager Guan Tianlang, already making history as the youngest player in Masters history, made more controversial headlines after being penalised for slow play.

Leeds appointed Brian McDermott as their new manager with immediate effect.

13 Wigan defeated Millwall 2-0 in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley which was marred by fighting in the Millwall section of the stadium. Twelve arrests were later made by police.

The Rangers board announced it would commission an independent investigation into Charles Green and Imran Ahmad's management of the club.

Tiger Woods was given a two-shot penalty for taking an incorrect drop during his second round at the Masters the previous day but was not disqualified. Woods could have been thrown out for signing an incorrect scorecard as it did not have the two-shot penalty on it.

14 Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters following a play-off against former winner Angel Cabrera.

Manchester City defeated Chelsea 2-1 in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley to set up a final against Wigan.

Manchester United stretched their lead in the Barclays Premier League to 15 points with a 2-0 win at Stoke which left the home side on the verge of the relegation zone.

15 Two bombs at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured a further 176.

Reconstruction plans for Scottish football were defeated after Ross County and St Mirren voted against them at a Scottish Premier League meeting.

Kell Brook's long-awaited world title shot was postponed for a third time after the Sheffield fighter suffered a foot injury in training.

16 Cardiff earned promotion to the Premier League following a goalless draw at home to Charlton.

England batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out of the home Test series against New Zealand with a knee injury.

Organisers of the London Marathon announced there would be a period of silence lasting 30 seconds prior to the start of the elite men's race and mass start on the following Sunday to "mark the tragic events that have unfolded in Boston".

17 Manchester United drew 2-2 at West Ham in the Premier League, while Manchester City saw off Wigan and Chelsea were victorious at Fulham.

Hull half-back Brett Seymour left the club to focus on his recovery from depression.

Worcester appointed Dean Ryan as their new director of rugby.

18 Cyclist Chris Hoy - with six golds Britain's most successful Olympian - announced his retirement.

Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc agreed a new two-year agreement with the Saints.

Andy Murray crashed out of the Monte Carlo Masters following a 6-1 6-2 defeat by Stanislas Wawrinka.

19 John Terry snubbed FA chairman David Bernstein by refusing to shake his hand during the handover of the Champions League trophy. Bernstein was instrumental in Terry being stripped of the England captaincy after he was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

Mike Denness, the only Scotland-born cricketer to have captained England, died of cancer aged 72. Denness captained England in 19 of his 28 Tests and scored 25,886 first-class runs for Kent and Essex.

Portsmouth came out of administration after 14 months with the club now owned by the Pompey Supporters' Trust (PST).

20 Mansfield earned promotion to npower League Two after winning the Conference, while Bournemouth confirmed their promotion to the Championship after they beat Carlisle and Brentford could only draw at bottom side Hartlepool.

Tyson Fury fought back from a second round knockdown to knock out American Steve Cunningham in Madison Square Garden.

In the Premier League Arsenal kept their top-four hopes alive with a 1-0 win at Fulham, Sunderland kept up their hopes of survival with a 1-0 win at home to Everton, while Stoke won 2-0 at QPR.

21 Liverpool striker Luis Suarez apologised for his "inexcusable behaviour" after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic during the 2-2 draw at Anfield. Elsewhere in the Premier League, Tottenham scored three times in seven minutes to defeat Manchester City 3-1.

Celtic retained the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title after a 4-1 victory against Inverness.

Novak Djokovic ended Rafael Nadal's eight-year, 47-match winning run in the Monte Carlo Masters, defeating the Spaniard 6-2 7-6 (7/1) in the final.

22 Robin van Persie bagged a magnificent first-half hat-trick to fire Manchester United to a record 20th English title after the Red Devils beat Aston Villa 3-0.

London Marathon chief executive Nick Bitel was named as the new chairman of Sport England ahead of 11-time Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was fined by the club and charged by the Football Association with violent conduct after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm.

23 Bayern Munich put themselves in control of their Champions League semi-final with a convincing 4-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg at the Allianz Arena.

Luis Suarez accepted the FA's charge of violent conduct for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

Sarah Stevenson, Great Britain's most successful taekwondo fighter, announced her retirement.

24 Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was given a 10-game ban by the Football Association after biting Branislav Ivanovic.

Robert Lewandowski scored all four goals as Borussia Dortmund beat Real Madrid 4-1 in their Champions League semi-final first leg.

England batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out of the home Champions Trophy following scans on his injured knee.

25 David Luiz scored a last-gasp free-kick to give Chelsea a 2-1 win in their Europa League semi-final first leg against Basle in Switzerland. In the night's other last-four clash, Fenerbahce were 1-0 winners over Benfica in Istanbul.

Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was banned from racing for eight years after being found guilty of doping horses.

Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani was hospitalised with bruising and concussion after being struck by a bus while on a team night out in Leeds.

26 The report outlining the reasons for Luis Suarez's 10-game ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic claimed he "did not appreciate the seriousness" of his offence.

Former Pakistan and Essex bowler Danish Kaneria lost his appeal against a life ban after being found guilty of spot-fixing.

Scotland and Glasgow full-back Rory Lamont announced his retirement due to injury.

27 Newcastle suffered a humiliating 6-0 Barclays Premier League defeat to Liverpool at St James' Park. The Reds, without the suspended Luis Suarez, had Jordan Henderson (two), Daniel Sturridge (two), Daniel Agger and Fabio Borini on the scoresheet.

Clermont Auvergne reached their first Heineken Cup final with a 16-10 victory over Munster.

Mark Selby's hopes of winning snooker's 'Triple Crown' were ended when the world number one was knocked out of the World Championship in the second round by Barry Hawkins.

28 Reading and QPR drew 0-0 and both teams were relegated from the Barclays Premier League as a result.

Robin van Persie scored on his first return to the Emirates Stadium since swapping Arsenal for Manchester United. Theo Walcott opened the scoring in the 1-1 draw but Van Persie earned the new champions a point from the penalty sport.

Gareth Bale won the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards, matching a feat only previously achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo and Andy Gray.

29 The Professional Footballers' Association said it was "totally dismayed" by the "unacceptable language" used by comedian Reginald D Hunter in the awards ceremony in London.

Christian Benteke scored a second-half hat-trick as Aston Villa thumped Sunderland 6-1 in the Premier League.

Jason Collins became the first active player in the NBA to come out as gay.

30 Wales star Sam Warburton was named British and Irish Lions captain for the summer's tour of Hong Kong and Australia, but there were no places among the 37-man squad for England skipper Chris Robshaw or 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson.

Borussia Dortmund went through to the Champions League final after a 4-3 aggregate victory over Real Madrid, who won the second leg 2-0 at the Bernabeu.

The PGA Tour cleared three-time major winner Vijay Singh of doping offences after the World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed the deer antler spray the Fijian admitted to using was not "prohibited unless a positive test results".

New Sky Bet customers: Free £30 matched bet