EPL Talk Archives for January 2017

Top 5 must-see soccer games on US TV this weekend

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One of the most fascinating parts of the 2017-18 season so far has been watching Serie A, where it feels as though a genuine title race may be on the cards.

On Friday we’ll get another indicator as to whether that’ll be the case, as the vibrant league leaders host the champions for the last five campaigns in a game that’ll dominate the weekend.

Conte charged by FA after sending-off

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been charged with misconduct by England’s governing Football Association following his dismissal against Swansea City on Wednesday.

The Italian was ordered off the touchline by referee Neil Swarbrick near the end of the first half of Chelsea’s 1-0 win in the Premier League after complaining angrily about the award of a Swansea goal-kick.

Survival specialist Allardyce confirmed as Everton manager

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London (AFP) – Everton have appointed former England boss and renowned top-flight survival specialist Sam Allardyce as their new manager on an 18-month contract, the English Premier League club announced Thursday.

Allardyce, whose previous clubs include Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Crystal Palace, will take charge of the Merseysiders for the first time when they welcome Huddersfield Town to Goodison Park for a league match on Saturday.

Morocco and USA/Canada/Mexico confirm 2026 bids

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Lausanne (AFP) – Morocco and the three-nation ticket of the United States, Mexico, and Canada formally confirmed their bids to host the 2026 World Cup on Thursday’s deadline.

That World Cup will be the first to include 48 teams, rather than the 32 who will compete in Russia next year and in Qatar in 2022.

Everton appoint Allardyce as new manager

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London (AFP) – Everton have appointed former England manager Sam Allardyce as their new manager on an 18-month contract, the English Premier League club announced Thursday.

Allardyce, previously also in charge of Bolton, Newcastle, Sunderland and Crystal Palace, will take charge of the Merseysiders for the first time when they welcome Huddersfield Town for a league match at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Telemundo Deportes reveals more World Cup TV coverage details

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Ahead of Friday’s FIFA World Cup Draw that will be televised live on Telemundo and Universo beginning at 9:30am ET, Telemundo Deportes has announced more details regarding its coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

With the network having the exclusive Spanish-language TV rights in the United States, Telemundo Deportes will televise 56 of the 64 World Cup games on Telemundo, which is available as an over-the-air channel as well as on many cable and satellite providers.

De Rossi to face Roma sanctions after slap

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Rome (AFP) – Roma captain Daniele De Rossi will be disciplined by his club after picking up a two-match ban for slapping Genoa’s Gianluca Lapadula, coach Eusebio De Francesco said Thursday.

De Rossi was sent off with his side leading 1-0 after 69 minutes for hitting Lapadula in the face and the Genoa striker scored the resulting penalty for a 1-1 Serie A draw.

Allegri confident Higuain can play with broken finger

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said he was confident Gonzalo Higuain can play Friday’s Serie A clash with Napoli despite having surgery on a broken finger this week.

“Gonzalo Higuain’s hand is still hurting, but we’re quietly confident about his chances.

David Silva extends Man City contract

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London (AFP) – Spanish midfielder David Silva has extended his contract with Manchester City by one year to 2020, the Premier League leaders announced on Thursday.

Silva, 31, has become one of City’s most decorated players since joining in 2010 and has played a pivotal role this season as Pep Guardiola’s side have surged to the top of the table.

Klopp plots pre-Christmas turnover with Liverpool

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manager Jurgen Klopp believes he has the options to nurse Liverpool’s squad through their hectic pre-Christmas period after seeing his side win 3-0 at Stoke City.

Klopp brought goalscorer Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino back into his starting line-up at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday, with Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho among those who dropped out.

Ozil’s ‘fight’ in Huddersfield hammering heartens Wenger

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger praised Mesut Ozil’s “fight” as well as his skill as a “great football player” after the German’s impressive all-round display in a 5-0 thrashing of Premier League new boys Huddersfield Town.

The Gunners’ seventh win out of seven at home in the league this season was confirmed thanks to an excellent second-half display from Ozil who contributed two assists and a goal in the space of four minutes at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Toronto FC book return to MLS Cup final

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Toronto FC get a chance at MLS Cup redemption after beating Columbus Crew 1-0 on Wednesday to reach Major League Soccer’s championship match.

US international Jozy Altidore shrugged off an ankle injury incurred in the 49th minute to score the game-winner in the 60th, departing the contest eight minutes later.

Russian team struggles to shape up ahead of finals

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Moscow (AFP) – Appointed as Russia’s new coach right after their Euro 2016 disaster, Stanislav Cherchesov knew he was facing an uphill task. Now he has seven months to turn next year’s World Cup hosts into viable opponents.

Russia will take the top slot in the first pot of teams at the finals draw on Friday as hosts, but at 65th in the world they are the lowest ranked of the 32 nations taking part in next year’s tournament.

Guardiola hails ‘fantastic’ Sterling’s self-belief

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola highlighted Raheem Sterling’s growing self-belief after his remarkable run of late goals continued with a superb stoppage-time winner in the 2-1 victory over Southampton.

City’s quest for a 12th successive league victory seemed to be over when Oriel Romeu’s 75th-minute equaliser for the Saints cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne’s goal early in the second half at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Facing hurdles, Russia gears up for World Cup draw

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Moscow (AFP) – The World Cup draw in the Kremlin on Friday launches Russia’s bid to turn a page on its history of football hooliganism and racism while warding off a terror threat linked to Moscow’s intervention in Syria.

The success of the tournament is also a matter of personal pride for Vladimir Putin after the Russian strongman helped wrest the June 14-July 15 competition from England in an ugly 2010 battle before relations with the West dramatically collapsed over Ukraine.

Brazil’s Gremio win third Copa Libertadores crown

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Brazilian side Gremio won their third Copa Libertadores crown on Wednesday with a 2-1 triumph over Argentina’s Lanus in La Fortaleza stadium.

Gremio arrived in Argentina off a 1-0 win in the first leg of the final in Porto Alegre, and bolstered their advantage with first-half goals from Fernandinho and Luan.

Germany boss Loew embraces World Cup favourites tag

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew is comfortable with Germany carrying the favourites tag for next year’s World Cup, but the head coach has a few areas to strengthen before his team’s title defence in Russia.

England or Spain are lurking in pot two as potential group-stage opponents for the world champions in Friday’s draw at Moscow.

Neymar’s Brazil confident ahead of World Cup draw

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Brazil are full of confidence ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw in Russia - and it’s not all just about Neymar.

Coming back after the mother of all humiliations in that 7-1 defeat to Germany while hosting the tournament in 2014, Brazil are once more among the top contenders.

FIFA intervention likely as FFA fail to pass reform

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Sydney (AFP) – Australian football is embroiled in a governance crisis and could face a take-over from FIFA after Football Federation Australia failed to pass a proposed reform of its congress on Thursday.

A key resolution at the FFA Annual General Meeting in Sydney to create a more democratic governance model was voted down, leaving the way for the world governing body to carry out its intention to take over the running of the game in Australia.

Wenger expects Man Utd to attack Arsenal

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London (AFP) – Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is not expecting Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho to set his team up defensively when the sides clash on Saturday despite his reputation for “parking the bus” in big matches.

United travel to the Emirates Stadium sitting second in the Premier League and on the back of a 4-2 win at Watford in midweek.

Veteran Spanish coach Manzano extends China stay

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Shanghai (AFP) – Chinese Super League side Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng, who have been linked with an audacious move for Brazilian veteran Kaka, on Thursday retained coach Gregorio Manzano for another season.

The 61-year-old Spaniard, whose long career in management has included spells at Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, led Guizhou to a mid-table finish when the Chinese season ended in early November.

Malaysia defends tourism role for ‘biting’ Suarez

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Malaysia on Thursday defended striking a deal with Barcelona footballer Luis Suarez to help boost tourism after an opposition MP criticised the move to sign up a player notorious for biting rivals.

Government agency Tourism Malaysia inked the one-year deal in early November, hoping that using the Uruguayan in its marketing campaigns would attract more visitors to the tropical country.

Gulf Cup deadline pushed back over Qatar crisis

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Doha (AFP) – A November 30 deadline to announce if the Qatar-hosted Gulf Cup will take place amid an ongoing regional political crisis has been pushed back, an official said Thursday.

The final decision will now be made early next week following a meeting on December 4 - just 18 days before the tournament is scheduled to start - Jassim al-Rumaihi, Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation (AGCFF) general secretary, told AFP.

Villas-Boas leaves Shanghai SIPG after rocky year in China

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Shanghai (AFP) – Andre Villas-Boas left Shanghai SIPG on Thursday after the Portuguese coach failed to lead the big-spending club to a trophy in his turbulent first season in China.

The 40-year-old, who will drive in the Dakar Rally in January, saw his side lose Sunday’s FA Cup final to rivals and underdogs Shanghai Shenhua.

Guardiola revels in ‘astonishing’ Manchester City win

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola praised the “heart” of his players after Raheem Sterling’s 96th-minute goal saw the Premier League leaders snatch a 2-1 win at home to Southampton on Wednesday.

It had seemed as if what became City’s 12th successive league victory would end in a draw after Oriol Romeu’s 75th-minute equaliser for the Saints cancelled out a goal from Kevin De Bruyne early in the second half.

Allardyce arrives at Everton for Rooney’s Hammer-blow hat-trick

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Liverpool (AFP) – Sam Allardyce saw Wayne Rooney cap his first Premier League hat-trick in six years with a wonder strike as Everton beat fellow strugglers West Ham United 4-0 on Wednesday after the Merseysiders announced he was finalising terms to become their new manager.

Allardyce’s imminent appointment will end Everton’s long hunt for a successor to Dutch boss Ronald Koeman, who was sacked last month.

Sterling’s latest late show sees Manchester City stun Saints

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Raheem Sterling’s latest late goal kept Manchester City well in front at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win at home to Southampton on Wednesday.

It had looked as if what became City’s 12th successive league victory would end in a draw after Southampton’s Oriol Romeu cancelled out a goal scored by Kevin De Bruyne early in the second half.

Neymar lifts PSG as Marseille go second

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar conjured up a moment of magic as French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain beat Troyes 2-0 on Wednesday to pull 10 points clear of Marseille at the summit.

PSG thrashed Troyes 9-0 the last time the sides met in March 2016, but Edinson Cavani saw his first-half penalty saved by Mamadou Samassa at the Parc des Princes.

Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla ease into Copa del Rey last 16

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Madrid (AFP) – Holders Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla eased into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, but Basque duo Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad were eliminated in stunning fashion by third-tier opposition in Formentera and Lleida respectively.

Already leading 3-0 from the first leg, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde made 10 changes from Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at Valencia with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez among those to drop out for a 5-0 rout of Real Murcia.

Sterling rescues Manchester City, Rooney lifts Everton

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London (AFP) – Raheem Sterling scored a stunning 96th-minute winner as Manchester City dramatically edged Southampton 2-1 on Wednesday to preserve their eight-point lead at the Premier League summit.

Pep Guardiola’s side looked set to drop points after Oriol Romeu cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne’s opener, only for Sterling to give City a 19th straight win in all competitions and a club-record 12th successive win in the league.

Salah at double as Liverpool claim fifth

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Substitute Mohamed Salah struck twice as Liverpool brushed off a first-half scare to win 3-0 at Stoke City on Wednesday and climb to fifth place in the Premier League.

The Egyptian forward grabbed his 16th and 17th goals in 21 games in all competitions this season in a deadly six-minute spell in the second half, 10 minutes after replacing Dominic Solanke.

Chelsea edge out Swansea as Conte sees red

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London (AFP) – Chelsea kept alive their Premier League title hopes with a 1-0 win over Swansea as Blues boss Antonio Conte was sent to the stands for a furious touchline rant.

Conte lost his cool late in the first half at Stamford Bridge, earning his marching orders after blasting fourth official Lee Mason following referee Neil Swarbrick’s failure to award Chelsea a clear corner.

Ozil stars in Arsenal rout of Huddersfield

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London (AFP) – Mesut Ozil produced a major second-half contribution as substitute Olivier Giroud scored twice in Arsenal’s 5-0 Premier League victory at home to Huddersfield Town on Wednesday.

It was the Gunners’ seventh win out of seven at the Emirates Stadium in the league this season and Ozil was influential with two assists and a goal in a four-minute period as the Gunners remained in the top four.

Barcelona, Sevilla ease into Copa del Rey last 16

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Madrid (AFP) – Holders Barcelona eased into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey by thrashing Real Murcia 5-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to complete an 8-0 aggregate victory.

Already leading 3-0 from the first leg, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde made 10 changes from Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at Valencia with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez among those to drop out.

Marseille take second, Lyon beaten by Lille

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Paris (AFP) – Florian Thauvin starred as Marseille moved second in Ligue 1 after cruising to a 3-0 victory at lowly Metz on Wednesday, while Lyon lost to managerless Lille and Monaco were beaten at Nantes.

Rudi Garcia’s Marseille are now unbeaten in 10 league games and seven points adrift of rivals and league leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who host Troyes later on Wednesday.

Greek Euro 2004 champion still going at 43

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Patras (Greece) (AFP) – Goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias, the last remaining active player from Greece’s improbable Euro 2004 championship team, returned to action on Wednesday after a five-plus year absence from the pitch.

The 43-year-old Chalkias plays for second-division club Panachaiki and started their 1-1 draw against Panathinaikos in the Greek Cup.

Everton set to appoint Allardyce as manager

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Liverpool (AFP) – Sam Allardyce arrived to watch Everton’s home game with West Ham United on Wednesday after the Premier League strugglers announced he was finalising terms to become their new manager.

The former England manager was shown arriving outside Goodison Park on Sky Sports, while social media videos showed him walking down the touchline inside the ground.

Suspended Bielsa ignores summons from Lille

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Marcelo Bielsa did not attend an “interview prior to a possible dismissal” at his club Lille on Wednesday and will instead await a hearing by the French League (LFP), his lawyer told AFP.

Lille suspended the Argentine coach, known as “El Loco”, on November 22 and announced on Tuesday that they had summoned him to an interview.

Police fear ‘return to dark days’ of football after Brighton-Crystal Palace violence

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London (AFP) – Violent scenes that took place in and around Brighton and Hove Albion’s match at home to Crystal Palace on Tuesday have been described as a “return to the dark days of football” by police.

Tuesday’s goalless draw in the Premier League was overshadowed by hooliganism in and outside south coast club Brighton’s Amex Stadium ground.

New West Brom boss Pardew targets trophies

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London (AFP) – New West Bromwich Albion boss Alan Pardew on Wednesday set his sights on winning silverware after first addressing the immediate priority of pulling the Chinese-owned club away from the Premier League danger zone.

The former West Ham United, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace manager has agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract at the Midlands club, languishing just two points above the relegation places before the latest round of fixtures.

UEFA president joins players in salary pledge charity

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Paris (AFP) – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin joined several players in pledging one percent of his salary to Juan Mata’s Common Goal project on Wednesday.

Spain and Manchester United midfielder Mata launched the programme in August alongside streetfootballworld, a group of 120 charities from 80 countries, with the donated wages helping to fund the football charities.

Football: Prolific Syrian Khrbin wins AFC Player of the Year award

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Bangkok (AFP) – Syrian striker Omar Khrbin was awarded the Asian Football Confederation’s 2017 Player of the Year Wednesday, after starring both for his club and for his war-ravaged country whose attempt to make the World Cup captured the hearts of the sporting world.

Khrbin was selected ahead of last year’s winner Omar Abdulrahman - Asia’s hottest rising star - and Wu Lei, the skilful Chinese winger.

Football: Syria’s Khrbin wins AFC Player of the Year award

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Bangkok (AFP) – Syrian striker Omar Khrbin was awarded the Asian Football Confederation’s 2017 Player of the Year Wednesday, after starring both for his club and for his war-ravaged country’s attempt to make the World Cup.

The award, at a glittering ceremony in Bangkok, goes some way to compensate for the disappointment endured by the 23-year-old over the weekend when his Al Hilal side narrowly lost 1-2 on aggregate to Japan’s Uwara Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League final.

Pochettino laments Spurs’ lack of ‘fight’ in Leicester loss

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino slammed his players lack of “fight” after their Premier League title aspirations suffered another damaging blow with a 2-1 loss away to Leicester City.

Tuesday’s defeat meant Spurs have now gone three league games without a win and they will fall 16 points behind Manchester City if the runaway leaders beat Southampton on Wednesday.

Allardyce and Pardew set for Premier League returns – reports

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London (AFP) – Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew could both return to the Premier League as managers of Everton and West Bromwich Albion respectively as soon as Wednesday, according to British media reports.

With both clubs just two points above the bottom three, the experienced English duo’s history of keeping clubs in the Premier League has led to them being linked with two sides desperately battling to beat the drop.

Where to find Barcelona vs. Real Murcia Copa del Rey on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Barcelona vs. Real Murcia in the Copa del Rey, you’ve come to the right place.

From the first leg, Barcelona has a 3-0 aggregate lead. But this time Barca will be playing away instead of at home.

For soccer fans in the United States, the game will be shown live on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Espanol, which can be streamed with a free 7-day trial to fuboTV.

Putin takes fight to hooligans ahead of World Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – Andrei and his fellow Russian football hooligans flew to France for the Euro 2016 tournament with only one goal in mind: to give England’s supporters a good kicking before the World Cup.

“It was like winning against Brazil in football,” Andrei told AFP of the orchestrated violence.

The ‘Godfather of Shanghai football’ inspired by Manchester Utd

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Shanghai (AFP) – He is known as the “Godfather of Shanghainese football”, is a former player and manager of the Chinese national team, and owns a side in the Spanish league.

Now, at the age of 73, the charismatic Xu Genbao is taking on his toughest assignment yet: forming a club from scratch to help China finally become a competitive force in world football.

Mourinho wants new shooting boots for Lukaku

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is confident Romelu Lukaku’s problems in front of goal will come to an end - just as soon as he secures a new boot deal.

Lukaku laid on a goal for Anthony Martial in United’s 4-2 win at Watford on Tuesday, but squandered three good opportunities and has now scored just once in his last 11 appearances.

Japan eye North Korean target practice before World Cup

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Tokyo (AFP) – Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic said Wednesday he would rely on local-based players at next month’s East Asian championships, where the hosts clash with North Korea in a politically charged opener.

Halilhodzic, who has one eye on next summer’s World Cup in Russia, has buried the hatchet with Kashima Antlers striker Mu Kanazaki after overlooking him since the player threw a tantrum in a J-League game more than a year ago.

West Brom appoint Alan Pardew as new boss

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London (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday appointed Alan Pardew as their new manager following the sacking of Tony Pulis as the Chinese-owned club seek to pull away from the Premier League danger zone.

The former West Ham, Newcastle and Crystal Palace boss has agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract at the club, languishing just two points above the relegation places.

Where to find Manchester City vs. Southampton on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Manchester City vs. Southampton in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

Manchester City is currently on pace to have the most successful season ever for a club in the Premier League. But there’s still a long way to go especially against a Saints side that are still buoyant after their 4-1 victory against Everton at the weekend.

Where to find Lanus vs. Gremio Copa Libertadores final on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Lanus vs. Gremio in the Copa del Rey, you’ve come to the right place.

The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final will decide who will be the champion. Currently, Gremio has a 1-0 aggregate lead but the Argentine side Lanus will want to bounce back to win the trophy.

Guardiola backs Silva to shine for years

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – David Silva has all the attributes to cement his place as one of Manchester City’s leading lights for years to come, according to his manager Pep Guardiola.

It is believed Silva, 31, is close to agreeing a new deal with the Premier League leaders as his current contract expires at the end of next season.

‘We should have been smoking cigars’: Mourinho

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said his side ought to have been “smoking cigars” after they made hard work of an eventual 4-2 win away to Watford on Tuesday.

But the Portuguese boss said his side had “lost stability” when midfielder Nemanja Matic went off early in the second half with a “muscular” injury.

Brazil footballers remembered one year after plane crash

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La Unión (Colombia) (AFP) – Two army helicopters scattered flower petals over a town square Tuesday as part of sad tributes to the upstart Brazilian football team Chapecoense, most of whose players died in a plane crash exactly a year ago.

La Union, the town closest to the site of the accident on a mountainside near Medellin, Colombia, hosted a commemorative ceremony.

Vardy stars as Spurs suffer huge title setback

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jamie Vardy’s 100th goal in English league football helped inspire Leicester City to a 2-1 win at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday that left the visitors’ title bid floundering.

Vardy struck early on before Riyad Mahrez doubled Leicester’s lead, only for Harry Kane to ensure a nervous finish for the Foxes at the King Power Stadium.

Old boy Young downs Watford to lift Manchester United

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Ashley Young scored two superb goals against his former club as Manchester United beat Watford 4-2 to trim Manchester City’s lead at the Premier League summit to five points.

England international Young netted twice in six first-half minutes at a freezing Vicarage Road on Tuesday, with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard also on target.

Berizzo’s cancer surgery ‘successful’ say Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla’s Argentinian coach Eduardo Berizzo underwent “successful” surgery for a malignant prostate cancer on Tuesday, the club said without putting a date on his return to work.

“The period of recuperation…will depend on the post-operative developments over the next few days,” the club said in a brief statement, adding that his return to the bench “would be as rapid as possible.

Contador tips Froome for Giro-Tour double in 2018

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Madrid (AFP) – Alberto Contador believes former rival Chris Froome is ready to win a maiden Giro d’Italia title next season, and then follow it up with a record-equalling fifth Tour de France crown.

Froome won the Vuelta a Espana for the first time in September to join Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978) as the only riders to win the Tour and Vuelta in the same year.

Roma skipper De Rossi gets two-match ban

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Rome (AFP) – Roma captain Daniele De Rossi was given a two-match ban on Tuesday for slapping Genoa’s Gianluca Lapadula in last weekend’s Serie A draw.

De Rossi was sent off with his side leading 1-0 after 69 minutes for hitting Lapadula in the face and the Genoa striker scored the resulting penalty for a 1-1 draw.

Former Brazil keeper Cesar leaves Benfica

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Lisbon (AFP) – Former Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar has left Portuguese champions Benfica after his contract was ended by mutual agreement on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old had served as second-choice last season to the now-Manchester City keeper Ederson Moraes, but slipped below Bruno Varela and Belgian teenager Mile Svilar in the pecking order this term.

Monaco midfielder Tielemans suffers knee injury

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Monaco (AFP) – Monaco midfielder Youri Tielemans will need surgery after suffering a knee injury in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain.

The Belgian international, 20, has not travelled with Leonardo Jardim’s squad for Wednesday’s match at Nantes and could be out until after the winter break.

Conte says players ‘must be happy’ to play for Chelsea

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has told any of his Chelsea players unhappy with a lack of game time that they should be grateful to play for the reigning Premier League champions.

Willian and David Luiz have been out of Conte’s first XI of late and the Chelsea boss is preparing to rotate his options throughout a busy December and January.

Greece coach Skibbe given contract extension

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Athens (AFP) – Greece coach Michael Skibbe has been offered a new two-year deal despite his team failing to qualify for the World Cup, the Greek football federation (HFF) announced on Tuesday.

The HFF said that German Skibbe will be in Athens on Thursday to sign his new contract.

The 52-year-old was hired by Greece in October 2015.

Lyon’s Diaz denies Real has buy-back clause

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Lyon (AFP) – Lyon forward Mariano Diaz denied on Tuesday that Real Madrid have a buy-back clause, after the European champions sold him to the Ligue 1 club in the close season.

The Spaniard has impressed in France, scoring 11 goals in all competitions this term, but Spanish media reports suggested Real had added an option to buy him back, similar to the clause that saw Alvaro Morata return to the Santiago Bernabeu from Juventus in 2016.

Real Madrid’s Marcelo admits tax fraud

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid left-back Marcelo on Tuesday admitted defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of nearly half a million euros, according to a judicial source.

Brazilian international Marcelo admitted to tax fraud in court in Alcobendas, on the outskirts of Madrid, after being accused using front companies to hide 490,917 euros ($579,348) he earned from image rights in the 2013 financial year, a sum which he will now pay back.

Coach Rohr signs new Nigeria deal

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Abuja (AFP) – Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has been given a new two-year contract after guiding the country to the World Cup finals, the country’s football association announced on Tuesday.

“He has done very well and does not need to go into the World Cup uncertain of his future,” said Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Gattuso warns AC Milan must suffer

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Milan (AFP) – New AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso warned on Tuesday that the former Italian giants must suffer if they want to return to their glory days.

Gattuso, a key figure in some of Milan’s best ever teams, took over as coach on Monday after Vincenzo Montella was sacked following a disappointing start to the season.

Buffon wins Italy’s best player award

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Milan (AFP) – Italy’s veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has eased some of his World Cup heartache by winning the Serie A Best Player of the Year award.

“I’m happy and proud. I never thought I’d get this kind of trophy, and I’ll hold on tight to it because I never won best youngster!

Italy legend Buffon wins best player award

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Milan (AFP) – Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon eased some of his World Cup heartache by winning the Serie A Best Player of the Year award at the Gran Gala del Calcio Awards in Milan.

“The failure to participate in the World is the biggest disappointment in my career together with some (lost) Champions league finals,” said the 39-year-old Juventus goalkeeper at Monday night’s ceremony.

Conte backs Hazard to take central role in Chelsea charge

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has challenged Eden Hazard to take a central role in his side’s bid to close the gap on Manchester City when the champions face Swansea City on Wednesday.

Forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Saturday, Chelsea are lagging 11 points behind runaway leaders City.

Sharpshooter Sterling sets sights on Southampton

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Raheem Sterling is looking to add to his best-ever goal-scoring tally as Manchester City attempt to improve on their own record-breaking Premier League start.

Pep Guardiola’s dazzling side host Southampton on Wednesday having already accumulated an unprecedented 37 points from their opening 13 games.

Liverpool’s Klopp pledges to keep rotating

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp has pledged to keep rotating Liverpool during the Premier League’s most hectic period after leaving out some of his biggest names against Chelsea and throwing away a 3-0 lead at Sevilla.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were among those on the substitutes’ bench for the 1-1 draw on Saturday, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner among the men to benefit, while the in-form Mohamed Salah kept his place.

Arsenal’s Cech refuses to abandon title hope

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London (AFP) – Petr Cech believes Arsenal could be in contention for the Premier League title come the end of the season despite trailing leaders Manchester City by 12 points going into Wednesday’s match with Huddersfield.

A win would probably still leave the Gunners well adrift of record-breaking City, with Pep Guardialo’s unbeaten side hosting Southampton, but Cech - a four-time Premier League champion with Chelsea - is looking long-term.

Ranieri set for Monaco reunion as PSG look to power on

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Paris (AFP) – Claudio Ranieri admits he has “fantastic memories” of coaching Monaco as his Nantes side prepare to host the faltering reigning champions in a midweek round of games in Ligue 1.

The Italian was appointed by Monaco in 2012 and lasted two seasons in the principalty, winning Ligue 2 and leading them to promotion in his first campaign before taking them to second place on their return to Ligue 1.

Russia builds inside-out arena for World Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – Football fans visiting Yekaterinburg in the Russian Urals for the 2018 World Cup are going to find out first hand what it feels to be on the outside looking.

Because the area was originally too small to fit FIFA rules, officials built two temporary stands on empty plots of land nextdoor.

Where to find Leicester vs. Spurs on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Leicester vs. Spurs in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

After Tottenham’s disappointing draw against West Brom on Saturday, the Lilywhites have an opportunity to get three points away from Wembley as they travel to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester.

Football fan cop rescued rival team member in Chapecoense crash

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Medellín (Colombia) (AFP) – For Colombian policeman Marlon Lengua, Brazilian football club Chapecoense was once just a hated rival in the 2016 regional championships.

But one night last year, the police lieutenant found himself up a mountain pulling Chapeco soccer player Helio Neto out of the wreckage of a crashed plane, saving his life.

Wenger rules out Sanchez and Ozil exits in January

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has ruled out January departures for Arsenal pair Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil unless “something unbelievable” happens even as the clock ticks down on their contracts.

The players are out of contract at the end of the season as both have so far refused to sign new deals at the Emirates.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 14

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NBC Sports Group presents 20 Premier League matches in six days, beginning tomorrow with a special mid-week match slate, and highlighted by fourth-place Arsenal hosting second-place Manchester United this Saturday, December 2, at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Universo. Several stars will be in-action at Emirates Stadium, including Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette, and Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba.

TV ratings for US Women’s National Team in 2017

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Photo credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

For the US Women’s National Team, TV ratings have been better the last few years than they have been at any point in history. However, similar to the men’s national team, the viewership figures for the women’s national team are trending downward, though for vastly different reasons.

Ex-Greek FA chief accused of paying fire relief funds to Euro 2004 coach

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Athens (AFP) – The former chief of the Greek Football Association was charged Monday, accused of paying a bonus to Euro 2004-winning coach Otto Rehhagel from money provided by UEFA for the reconstruction of a stadium.

The Greek FA, then under Vassilis Gagatsis - now general manager of the Greek top flight - received a million Swiss francs ($1,018,000; 857,000 euros) from then UEFA president Michel Platini, a judicial source said.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for November 9-19, 2017

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November 18th’s late kickoff between Manchester United and Newcastle United drew 837,000 viewers to NBC, the network’s largest audience for a Premier League match since September 9 when 876,000 viewers tuned in as Manchester United and Stoke City played to a 2-2 draw. The match ranked as NBC’s fourth most-viewed of the season thus far.

PSG to return to Qatar for winter training camp

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain will head to Qatar for a short training camp during the French league winter break in December, the club confirmed on Monday.

The PSG squad will fly to Doha after their final Ligue 1 game of 2017 at home to Caen on December 20 and will stay there until December 23.

Ex-Chelsea director Emenalo joins Monaco

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Paris (AFP) – Chelsea’s former technical director Michael Emenalo has joined Monaco just three weeks after leaving the Premier League champions, the Ligue 1 side announced on Monday.

“AS Monaco is delighted to announce the appointment of Michael Emenalo as new sporting director,” Monaco said in a statement.

TV ratings for US Men’s National Team down 15% in 2017

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In addition to sponsorships and attendance, one of the major ways to gauge the popularity of any sporting event or league in this country is the TV ratings. Soccer is no different. For the US Men’s National Team, TV ratings have been good for the most part for the last several years. However, the trend this year is pointing downward.

AC Milan turn to Gattuso to bring back glory days

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Milan (AFP) – Fallen Italian giants AC Milan made combative former player Gennaro Gattuso their new boss on Monday after sacking Vincenzo Montella following a disappointing start to the season.

The seven-time European champions released Montella after a goalless draw against Torino on Sunday left them seventh in Serie A, 18 points behind leaders Napoli.

DIRECTV NOW’s Cyber Monday deal features Roku Streaming Stick

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DIRECTV NOW has launched a Cyber Monday sale where you can get a free Roku Streaming Stick when you prepay for one month.

Vice-versa, Roku is offering a deal where you can get one month free of DIRECTV NOW when you buy any Roku player or Roku TV.

Valued at $49.99, the Roku Streaming Stick features a voice-remote.

Following the ‘Moneyball’ model to unearth talent

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Paris (AFP) – In the 2011 film “Moneyball”, Brad Pitt plays Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, who, as the head of a struggling baseball team, turns to data analysis of recruitment and training methods.

Beane was a trailblazer with his unconventional data metrics that flew in the face of baseball wisdom, and sparked a trend for in-depth statistical and data analysis.

City go for the kill, United aim to keep in touch

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London (AFP) – Manchester City will bid to hammer home their advantage at the top of the Premier League against Southampton, while Manchester United head to Watford hoping to cling onto the leaders’ coat-tails in a crucial midweek programme.

City underlined their determination to win the title with a gutsy 2-1 victory at Huddersfield on Sunday as Pep Guardiola’s side reestablished an eight-point lead over second placed United.

Wenger salutes Arsenal spirit

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger heralded Arsenal’s strength of character after his side recorded a dramatic 1-0 victory at Burnley without Mesut Ozil.

After a morale-boosting local derby win over Tottenham a week earlier, Wenger was looking for Arsenal to build on that victory and improve on a record of just four points away from home this season.

Mourinho ponders right blend for wily Watford

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London (AFP) – The goals having dried up for Manchester United in their recent matches, manager Jose Mourinho will hope to find the right attacking formula at high-flying Watford on Tuesday.

It took a fortuitous Lewis Dunk own goal for United to beat Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 on Saturday and they had paid for their profligacy in a 1-0 Champions League defeat at Basel on their previous outing.

Guardiola relishes City’s steely show

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says Manchester City’s 2-1 win at Huddersfield gave him more satisfaction than other more high-profile victories because of the way they fought back in adversity.

City secured an 11th successive league win, equalling a club record, and an 18th straight victory in all competitions after coming from a goal down at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday.

World Cup stadium rises from ashes of Battle of Stalingrad

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Volgograd (Russia) (AFP) – First they dug up the bones and defused the bombs.

Then Russia erected a light-as-air stadium for the 2018 World Cup that rises from the ground around which two million people died over 200 days in the Battle of Stalingrad - the tragic turning point of World War II.

Kids the bait in football shark pool

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Paris (AFP) – The money men began sniffing around Hannibal Mejbri when he was just nine - it was “way too soon” complains his father, who was fielding dozens of phone calls and pitchside advances as word of his son’s potential spread.

The boy from the French capital rapidly attracted interest as scouts flocked to see if they had unearthed a hot prospect like Kylian Mbappe, the 18-year-old set to become the world’s most expensive teenager when his loan move to Paris Saint-Germain is finalised next year.

Villas-Boas takes blame with China future in balance

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Shanghai (AFP) – Haunted Andre Villas-Boas shouldered the blame after he failed to inspire big-spending Shanghai SIPG to silverware in his first season in China, with his future likely to be resolved this week.

The former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager refused to say if he would stay on as coach of the Chinese Super League (CSL) club following Sunday’s FA Cup final defeat to rivals Shanghai Shenhua.

China club taps Ajax to build ‘best football academy’

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Shanghai (AFP) – Dutch football giants Ajax announced a five-year partnership with Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F on Monday that will attempt to build the best youth academy in China.

The multi-million-euro deal is the latest in a series of football link-ups between Europe and China, as the Asian superpower - under football fan President Xi Jinping - throws money at developing football in the country.

Everton could be forced to spend to survive – Unsworth

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London (AFP) – Everton caretaker boss David Unsworth says the club could be forced to spend again in the January transfer window if they are to pull themselves away from the Premier League relegation zone.

The Merseyside club, who sacked manager Ronald Koeman last month, were soundly beaten 4-1 by Southampton on Sunday and are just two points clear of the bottom three.

Mourinho praises Lukaku’s work rate

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has hailed the prodigious work rate of striker Romelu Lukaku despite the striker’s struggles in front of goal following an electric start to his Manchester United career.

The 24-year-old endured another frustrating afternoon on Saturday when United’s eked out a 1-0 win against promoted Brighton as Ashley Young’s strike looped in off Lewis Dunk.

AC Milan turn to Gattuso to bring back the glory days

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Milan (AFP) – Fallen Italian giants AC Milan named combative former player Gennaro Gattuso as their new boss on Monday after sacking Vincenzo Montella, the Chinese-owned club said Monday.

The seven-time European champions released Montella after a goalless draw against Torino on Sunday left them seventh in Serie A and have turned to 39-year-old Gattuso, a member of one of their most successful sides but a man with little coaching pedigree.

FIFA boss vows racism crackdown at Russia’s World Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – FIFA President Gianni Infantino vowed on Monday to crack down hard on racist incidents when Russia hosts the World Cup next year.

“This is a very high priority and we will make sure no incidents will happen,” Infantino said in a video statement.

“It is absolutely not tolerable and we will be very, very firm on that, so we can expect fair play in Russia.

Conte fears City power as Chelsea struggle to keep up

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London (AFP) – Chelsea boss Antonio Conte fears Manchester City’s “incredible” improvement this season could turn the Premier League race into a procession as the defending champions struggle to stay in touch.

Conte’s men rescued a late point at Liverpool on Saturday, with Willian’s unexpected cross-shot finding the top corner to cancel out Mohamed Salah’s opener but they are now 11 points adrift of top spot.

Valencia hold Barca amid Messi ghost goal controversy

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Valencia (Spain) (AFP) – Jordi Alba’s late equaliser maintained Barcelona’s four-point lead over Valencia at the top of La Liga in a 1-1 draw at Mestalla on Sunday overshadowed by the league’s lack of goal line technology.

Lionel Messi’s first-half effort clearly crossed the line, but wasn’t allowed to stand as, unlike other major European leagues, La Liga has refused to introduce the technology on cost grounds.

Jorginho fires Napoli back top of Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Jorginho fired Napoli back top of Serie A on Sunday with a 1-0 win at Udinese as champions Juventus returned to winning ways 3-0 against Crotone.

Napoli move ahead of Inter Milan who had gone top on Friday with Argentina striker Mauro Icardi bagging a brace in a 3-1 win at Cagliari.

Sevilla fight back once more for coach Berizzo

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla produced their second stunning comeback in five days by overcoming a 2-0 half-time deficit to win 3-2 at Villarreal on Sunday.

In the first match since the club confirmed Sevilla boss Eduardo Berizzo had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Villarreal’s players and fans showed their support for the Argentine before kick-off.

Neymar puts PSG on cloud nine at Monaco

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Paris (AFP) – Edinson Cavani and Neymar were both on target as Paris Saint-Germain edged champions Monaco 2-1 to climb nine points clear atop France’s Ligue 1 on Sunday.

But it was a frustrating night in the principality for the world’s most expensive teenager, as Kylian Mbappe missed a raft of chances on his return to the club who will bank 180 million euros ($214.

Messi denied by La Liga’s lack of technology

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Valencia (Spain) (AFP) – La Liga’s top-of-the-table clash between Valencia and Barcelona on Sunday was overshadowed by the league’s refusal to embrace goal line technology as Barca’s Lionel Messi was denied a clear opening goal.

Valencia goalkeeper Neto let the five-time World Player of the Year’s effort slip between his legs in the 30th minute and than tried in vain to scoop the ball to safety before it crossed the line.

Hamburg down Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim

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Berlin (AFP) – Struggling Hamburg pulled themselves out of the Bundesliga relegation places with a shock 3-0 win at home against Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim on Sunday.

An own-goal after just six minutes by Hoffenheim defender Kevin Akpoguma put the hosts ahead at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion.

Pardew reveals West Brom talks

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London (AFP) – Alan Pardew has held talks with West Bromwich Albion over the struggling Premier League club’s vacant manager’s job.

After former West Ham boss Slaven Bilic rejected Albion’s interest, it is ex-Crystal Palace chief Pardew who has emerged as the leading contender to replace Tony Pulis, who was sacked earlier this week.

Sterling late strike extend City’s lead at the top

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Raheem Sterling grabbed a late winner for the second time in six days as Manchester City came from a goal down to beat Huddersfield 2-1 and secure a club-record equalling 11th straight league win.

Sterling’s dramatic intervention meant Pep Guardiola’s table-topping side were able to reestablish an eight-point lead over second placed Manchester United in the Premier League title race.

Sterling sends City eight points clear, Sanchez lifts Arsenal

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London (AFP) – Manchester City moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier League after Raheem Sterling’s late goal clinched a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town, while Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal victory over Burnley on Sunday.

City have swept aside all comers this season, but they found themselves in the unusual position of trailing at half-time after Nicolas Otamendi’s own goal at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Jorginho puts Napoli top, De Rossi sees red for Roma

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Milan (AFP) – Italy midfielder Jorginho scored the only goal to put Napoli back top of Serie A on Sunday with a 1-0 win at Udinese, as a moment of madness saw Roma’s Daniele De Rossi sent off in a 1-1 draw at Genoa.

Joringho fired in off the rebound after missing a penalty on 33 minutes as new Udinese coach Massimo Oddo’s lost his first game in charge.

End nigh for Tevez in China after jetting home again

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez’s troubled spell in China looks to be over after flying home to Argentina - just as his side Shanghai Shenhua won the FA Cup.

The 33-year-old Argentine forward has had a miserable 11 months in China despite earning some of the highest wages in world football, an estimated 730,000 euros a week.

Lyon thrash sorry Nice to go second

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Paris (AFP) – Memphis Depay starred as Lyon thumped Nice 5-0 on Sunday to move into second behind Paris Saint-Germain in the Ligue 1 table.

The Dutch winger scored twice at Nice’s Allianz Riviera home as Lyon brushed off the absence of captain Nabil Fekir through illness to leapfrog Monaco on goals scored, ahead of the clash between the principality club and PSG later on Sunday.

Sanchez lifts Arsenal, Everton thrashed again

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London (AFP) – Alexis Sanchez’s late penalty gave Arsenal a controversial 1-0 win over Burnley, while managerless Everton endured more misery in a 4-1 thrashing at Southampton on Sunday.

Arsene Wenger’s side looked set for a frustrating draw as they entered stoppage-time at Turf Moor, but they snatched the points when James Tarkowski was ruled to have pushed Aaron Ramsey.

Sanchez lifts Arsenal, Everton crash again

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London (AFP) – Alexis Sanchez’s late penalty gave Arsenal a controversial 1-0 win over Burnley, while managerless Everton endured more misery in a 4-1 thrashing at Southampton on Sunday.

Arsene Wenger’s side looked set for a frustrating draw as they entered stoppage-time at Turf Moor, but they snatched the points when James Tarkowski was ruled to have pushed Aaron Ramsey.

Obafemi Martins hits cracker as Shanghai Shenhua win China FA Cup

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Shanghai (AFP) – Veteran Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins scored a cracker as Shanghai Shenhua stunned rivals Shanghai SIPG to win the Chinese FA Cup final on away goals 3-3 on aggregate on Sunday.

They did it in thrilling fashion and without Argentine forward Carlos Tevez, whose disastrous 11-month spell in China looks to be over after he failed to appear in either leg of the final.

Bosz to remain Dortmund boss despite derby debacle

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund’s CEO says Peter Bosz remains head coach – for now – although the squad were booed at the club’s annual general meeting on Sunday after surrendering a four-goal lead against Schalke.

Bosz has been given a reprieve despite Saturday’s 4-4 draw at home to Schalke in the Ruhr derby when Dortmund’s second-half collapse saw them surrender a four-goal half-time lead to their German league rivals.

Qatar unveils World Cup’s first ‘reusable’ stadium

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Doha (AFP) – Qatar on Sunday unveiled the design for what it claims is the World Cup’s first ‘reusable’ stadium, the seventh of eight expected venues that will stage games during the 2022 tournament.

Ras Abu Aboud is a 40,000 stadium that will be built on Doha’s southern waterfront and host matches up to the quarter-final stage.

Spurs title chances fading, admits Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham Hotspur’s chances of making a realistic challenge for the Premier League title are fading as once again they struggled to break down a defence-minded team at Wembley.

Prior to Saturday’s 1-1 draw with managerless West Bromwich Albion, Pochettino’s men had just one Premier League goal in three matches and have drawn with Burnley, Swansea City and now West Brom this season.

Klopp looks on bright side after Chelsea draw

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he would take the positives from his side’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea despite the disappointment of conceding a freak 85th-minute equaliser.

Mohamed Salah’s goal against his former club looked set to restore Liverpool to winning ways after their calamitous 3-3 draw against Sevilla, only for Willian’s mishit cross to earn Chelsea a point.

Facing hurdles, Russia gears up to host World Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – Russia is gearing up to host the World Cup for the first time while facing the herculean task of eradicating racism and hooliganism and warding off the threat of a terror attack.

Organisers also face the tricky task of appeasing beleaguered fans and President Vladimir Putin, who helped wrest the June 14-July 15 tournament from England in a controversial FIFA vote in 2010 and then gave many of the 11 host cities their first post-Soviet facelift.

Guardiola backs City to avoid winter blues

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City are better equipped to cope with the gruelling winter schedule this season than they were 12 months ago.

The Premier League leaders face a hectic December in which they must play nine games in the Premier League, League Cup and Champions League.

Icardi brace sends Inter Milan top

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Milan (AFP) – Argentina striker Mauro Icardi bagged another brace to send Inter Milan top of Serie A on Saturday with a 3-1 win at Cagliari.

In-form skipper Icardi opened Inter’s account after 29 minutes in Sardinia, before adding a second late on to bring his tally to 15 goals this season.

Where to find River Plate vs. Newell’s Old Boys on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch River Plate vs. Newell’s Old Boys in the Superliga Argentina, you’ve come to the right place.

Despite neither club having a very successful season so far, River Plate and Newell’s Old Boys - two famous clubs from Argentina - clash against each other on Sunday night.

Ronaldo nets winner for Real, Atletico hit five

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s first La Liga goal for over a month ensured Real Madrid closed the gap on leaders Barcelona to seven points by squeezing past struggling Malaga 3-2 on Saturday.

Ronaldo’s relief was clear to see when he fired home the rebound after seeing his penalty saved by Roberto 15 minutes from time.

Willian denies Liverpool morale-boosting win

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Liverpool (AFP) – A fluke 85th-minute goal by substitute Willian denied Liverpool a morale-boosting Premier League victory as Chelsea rescued a 1-1 draw at a chilly Anfield on Saturday.

Looking to bounce back from the trauma of letting a 3-0 lead slip in their 3-3 draw at Sevilla in the Champions League, Liverpool went ahead in the 65th minute through former Chelsea man Mohamed Salah.

Mazembe defend heroically to retain CAF Cup

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Pretoria (AFP) – TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo defended superbly to force a 0-0 draw at SuperSport United of South Africa Saturday and retain the CAF Confederation Cup.

The Congolese club restricted the home team to just one shot on target in the second leg of the final in Pretoria, which saw each team have a player sent off late on, and won the secondary African club competition 2-1 on aggregate.

Where to find Valencia vs. Barcelona on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Valencia vs. Barcelona, you’ve come to the right place.

The top two teams in LaLiga clash on Sunday at Mestalla Stadium in what should be a highly entertaining game, which will be shown live on US television and streaming.

Game: Valencia vs.

Willian rides to Chelsea’s rescue, United close gap on City

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London (AFP) – Chelsea rode their luck to salvage a 1-1 draw at Liverpool thanks to Willian’s late leveller, while Manchester United cut Manchester City’s Premier League lead to five points with a 1-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea were five minutes away from suffering a major blow to their hopes of defending the title after falling behind to Mohamed Salah’s opener at Anfield.

Bayern suffer first defeat under Heynckes

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Berlin (AFP) – Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich suffered their first defeat since Jupp Heynckes returned as head coach when they fell to a 2-1 loss at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday, while Borussia Dortmund blew a four-goal lead to draw the Ruhr derby with Schalke.

Before losing at Gladbach, Bayern had won all nine games since Heynckes, 72, took over for his fourth stint at the club in October in the wake of Carlo Ancelotti’s dismissal.

Ronaldo relieved as Madrid edge five-goal thriller

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s first La Liga goal for over a month ensured Real Madrid closed the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to seven points by squeezing past struggling Malaga 3-2 on Saturday.

Ronaldo’s relief was clear to see when he fired home the rebound after seeing his penalty saved by Roberto 15 minutes from time.

Where to find Burnley vs. Arsenal on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Burnley vs. Arsenal in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

Incredibly, both Burnley and Arsenal are tied on 22 points in the Premier League table, while both clubs are feeling buoyed after winning their last matches versus Swansea and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.

Dortmund throw away four-goal lead to draw derby

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Berlin (AFP) – Centre-back Naldo completed Schalke’s thrilling four-goal fightback at rivals Borussia Dortmund with a 94th-minute header on Saturday as the Ruhr derby finished in a frantic 4-4 draw.

Having been four down after just 25 minutes, Brazilian Naldo’s last-gasp header brought Schalke back from the dead against troubled, 10-man local rivals Dortmund, to snatch a dramatic Bundesliga point.

Spurs held by lowly West Brom

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London (AFP) – Tottenham’s troubles against defensive teams resurfaced as they were held to a damaging 1-1 draw against managerless West Bromwich Albion at Wembley on Saturday.

After complaining this week that his team had struggled to break down teams that defend deep, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was frustrated again as lowly West Brom held on.

Naldo saves Schalke in eight-goal derby thriller

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Berlin (AFP) – Former Borussia Dortmund player Naldo sealed Schalke’s thrilling four-goal fightback against his old club with a 94th-minute header that saw the Ruhr derby finish in a frantic 4-4 draw.

Brazilian defender Naldo’s last gasp header brought Schalke back from the dead against troubled, 10-man local rivals Dortmund after going four down after just 25 minutes to snatch a dramatic Bundesliga point.

United close gap on City, Spurs held

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London (AFP) – Manchester United closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to five points with a 1-0 win over Brighton, while Tottenham’s title hopes suffered another blow in a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho’s United bounced back from their surprise Champions League defeat at Basel in midweek thanks to Lewis Dunk’s second half own goal at Old Trafford.

Ibrahimovic inspires United to narrow win

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s introduction as a second-half substitute proved crucial as Manchester United finally discovered a way to beat newly-promoted Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The goal came from a 67th-minute corner, conceded by Solomon March but hotly disputed by the visitors, and their anger increased when Marcus Rashford’s cross was headed out to Ashley Young whose shot took a cruel deflection off defender Lewis Dunk on its way into the net.

Juve to buy Costa in record Bayern deal

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus have activated the buy-out clause for Douglas Costa in a club record 46 million euro (54.8 million) deal for his German club Bayern Munich.

The 27-year-old Brazilian winger has been on loan at the Serie A champions since the beginning of the season.

Bayern boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed late Friday Costa’s departure in a sale that eclipses the Bundesliga champion’s previous record of 25 million euros for both Germany’s Toni Kroos to Real Madrid in 2014 and England’s Owen Hargreaves to Manchester United in 2007.

Japan’s Reds crowned Asian kings after Al Hilal win

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Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Brazilian sharp-shooter Rafael Silva smashed a late winner as Japan’s Urawa Reds beat 10-man Al Hilal 1-0 on Saturday to win a second Asian Champions League title.

The forward, who also scored in last weekend’s 1-1 first-leg draw in Riyadh, blasted a superb winner two minutes from time for Urawa, last crowned continental champions in 2007.

Messi to end career at Barca after extending deal to 2021

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Barcelona (AFP) – Lionel Messi hopes to end his career at Barcelona after ending months of speculation on Saturday by signing a contract extension to 2021, sealing an agreement reached in July, the club announced.

Barca had said in the summer that Messi, 30, had committed his future to the club but the Argentine had not signed the new deal.

Messi finally signs Barca extension to 2021

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Barcelona (AFP) – Lionel Messi ended months of speculation when finally putting pen to paper on Saturday to extend his contract with Barcelona until 2021, the club announced, making official an agreement reached in July.

Barca had announced in the summer that Messi, 30, had committed his future to the club but the Argentine had not signed the new deal.

Guardiola wants no more Manchester misery in Huddersfield

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City will avoid the complacency that cost Manchester United dear when he takes his Premier League leaders to visit David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town on Sunday.

City head to the John Smith’s Stadium looking to avoid the same fate that befell Jose Mourinho when his United team suffered a shock 2-1 defeat there last month.

Celtic thrive on trophy expectations

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong said the Scottish champions’ hectic schedule means they have little time to reflect upon past failures and successes as they prepare for Sunday’s League Cup final with Motherwell.

The Glasgow giants will have had just three days preparation for Sunday’s show-down with the Steelmen at Hampden following their 7-1 Champions League capitulation to Paris Saint-Germain.

Ozil fitness heartens Wenger ahead of Burnley clash

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger believes Mesut Ozil’s recent resurgence is down to the Arsenal playmaker’s improved fitness levels.

Ozil was outstanding in last weekend’s north London derby victory over Tottenham Hotspur and will again play a key role as Wenger’s side attempt to build on that win when they travel to face Burnley on Sunday.

Where to find Manchester United vs. Brighton on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Manchester United vs. Brighton in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

With Manchester City not playing until Sunday, Manchester United has a chance to close the gap with their cross-town rivals to five points if they can defeat Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford.

Where to find Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke in the Revier Derby, you’ve come to the right place.

Americans Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic could both star in Saturday morning’s Revier Derby between Dortmund and Schalke in the Bundesliga.

Here’s how you can watch the match on US television and streaming:

Match: Borussia Dortmund vs.

Where to find Liverpool vs. Chelsea on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Liverpool vs. Chelsea in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

During midweek, it was a tale of two stories for Liverpool and Chelsea. The Blues qualified for the Round of 16 after defeating Qarabag, but Liverpool suffered the embarrassment of letting a 3-0 lead descend into a 3-3 draw.

Messi extends Barcelona contract until 2021

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Barcelona (AFP) – Lionel Messi ended months of speculation when finally putting pen to paper on Saturday to extend his contract with Barcelona until 2021, the club announced, making official an agreement reached in July.

The Spanish giants had announced in the summer that Messi, 30, had committed his future to the club but the Argentine had not signed the new deal.

Mourinho has harsh words for underperforming Mkhitaryan

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has offered a scathing analysis of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s drop in form as the Manchester United manager explained why the midfielder has been exiled from his squad recently.

The Armenian is expected to be recalled to the matchday squad for Saturday’s Premier League game with Brighton after being out of contention altogether for the past two games.

Moyes off the mark as West Ham draw with Leicester

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London (AFP) – David Moyes saw West Ham secure a first point of his reign as the Premier League strugglers’ manager in a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester City on Friday.

The hosts fell behind early on at the London Stadium to a goal from Marc Albrighton before Cheikhou Kouyate equalised on the stroke of half time.

AEK Athens coach banned and fined for obscene gesture

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Athens (AFP) – AEK Athens’ Spanish coach Manolo Jimenez was banned for 15 days and fined 10,000 euros by the Greek Super League on Friday for an obscene gesture towards fans of local rival Panathinaikos.

The league also fined AEK 10,000 euros after Jimenez flipped the bird at opposing fans as AEK drew 1-1, a result that left the club tied in first place with PAOK Thessaloniki on 21 points.

Referee Mark Clattenburg joins NBC Sports to boost its Premier League coverage

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Referee Mark Clattenburg has joined NBC Sports as a new studio analyst in the network’s coverage of the Premier League, World Soccer Talk has learned.

According to a NBC Sports spokesman, “[Clattenburg] will join us periodically throughout the season.”

Clattenburg made his NBC Sports debut appearance on Friday’s pre-match coverage of the West Ham United versus Leicester City game.

PSG coach Emery happy with Mbappe ahead of Monaco reunion

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery is satisfied with Kylian Mbappe’s performances in the French capital as the teenage forward prepares for a “special” meeting with his old club Monaco on Sunday.

“It will be good for him to go back to Monaco. He is happy with the work he did with them and Monaco are happy for him for his performances and for the money they earned from his transfer,” said Emery ahead of Sunday’s top-of-the-table Ligue 1 clash.

Guardiola surprised by Sterling’s Man City form

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits he has been surprised by Raheem Sterling’s prolific start to the campaign with the Premier League leaders.

The England forward scored the winning goal in the midweek Champions League victory over Feyenoord, taking his season’s tally to 11 goals, equal with the most he has ever scored in an entire campaign.

Chelsea ‘old boy’ Salah concerns Conte

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is wary of former Blues forward Mohamed Salah as he insisted a heavy travel schedule could be no excuse for a sub-standard performance against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

The Egyptian has made a big splash since returning to the Premier League from Serie A club Roma in the summer, scoring nine goals to lead the scoring charts.

Pochettino unsure about Wembley effect on players

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says he is not sure how playing at Wembley will affect Tottenham’s energy levels over the chaotic Christmas period as they try to stay in touch at the top of the Premier League.

Pochettino said on Thursday that the club’s physical data is showing his players are running further at the national stadium because of the larger pitch.

Moreno errors fail to dent Klopp’s trust

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London (AFP) – Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he still trusts Alberto Moreno “100 per cent” despite the left-back’s costly mistakes in Sevilla’s stunning three-goal comeback against the Reds on Tuesday.

“It is not the player to blame,” Klopp said at Friday’s press conference ahead of their big Premier League clash with champions Chelsea at Anfield on Saturday.

Messi maturing with age as he picks up fourth Golden Shoe

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Barcelona (AFP) – Lionel Messi insisted he was getting better with age after receiving the European Golden Shoe award for the fourth time on Friday.

The 30-year-old Argentine won the prize for being the top scorer in Europe’s leading leagues last season after netting 37 times for Barcelona.

Inter target Serie A top spot at Cagliari

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan travel to Cagliari on Saturday looking to take advantage of a tough week of European action for their rivals to move top of Serie A.

Luciano Spalletti’s side - who missed out on European qualification last season - are still unbeaten 13 games into the season.

Bale finally back in training for Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Gareth Bale finally returned to training with his Real Madrid team-mates on Friday and will be eased back in after two months on the sidelines, according to coach Zinedine Zidane.

“The important thing is that he is with us, that he trains, plays, because that will stop all the negative things happening around him,” Zidane said at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Malaga.

Man Utd’s Fellaini sues New Balance over ‘defective boots’

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London (AFP) – Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini is suing sportswear giant New Balance for around £2 million ($2.6 million) over “defective boots” that he says have had a negative impact on his performances.

Rosalina Investments, which represents the Belgian international, said the boots had to be “steamed and stretched” by a United kit man before he could wear them.

NBC network scores best Premier League viewing figure since September

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NBC Sports netted its greatest viewing number since September for a Premier League broadcast on the over-the-air NBC network.

The November 18 broadcast of the Manchester United versus Newcastle United match averaged 837,000 viewers on the NBC network. Plus, 45,000 tuned in to watch the game on the Spanish-language Universo broadcast to generate a combined total of 882,000 viewers.

Mourinho fears Fellaini could quit Manchester United

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho admitted Friday he is growing ever more anxious about the prospect of losing Belgian international Marouane Fellaini as the midfielder’s contract talks with Manchester United drag on.

The Old Trafford manager, speaking ahead of his side’s Premier League match against Brighton on Saturday, has revealed that he is not involved in the discussions designed to tie the 30-year-old Belgian international to a new, extended deal.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 13

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Liverpool host Chelsea in a top-five Premier League clash this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Universo highlighting NBC Sports Group’s presentation of 20 matches in a six-day span. Third-place Chelsea come off a dominant 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, featuring two goals from Eden Hazard, and one each from their top scorer Álvaro Morata (eight PL goals) and Marcos Alonso.

Liverpool face Chelsea crunch, Manchester City aim to stay hot

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London (AFP) – Georginio Wijnaldum has challenged Liverpool to take out their European frustrations on Chelsea in Saturday’s crucial Premier League clash, while Yaya Toure vows runaway leaders Manchester City will stay humble after seizing control of the title race.

The weekend’s most eye-catching match-up comes at Anfield, where fifth-placed Liverpool and third-placed Chelsea square off in a bid to hang onto City’s coat-tails.

Zlatan pushes for Manchester United starting spot against Brighton

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in contention to make his first Manchester United start in seven months this Saturday after completing his comeback from a career-threatening knee injury.

The striker enjoyed an impressive first season at Old Trafford following his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in July 2016, only for it to be cut short by cruciate knee ligament damage sustained in a Europa League quarter-final victory over Anderlecht in April.

Klopp must clear heads for Chelsea challenge

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London (AFP) – Shellshocked after their capitulation against Sevilla a

And having been thrashed in two big Premier League clashes this season, Liverpool have their backs to the wall ahead of Chelsea’s visit on Saturday.

Liverpool’s horizons were clear in the 30th minute of Tuesday’s game at Sevilla in the Champions League, with Jurgen Klopp’s side 3-0 up and cruising towards the last 16.

Revitalised Valencia face La Liga title test in Barcelona visit

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Madrid (AFP) – Both unbeaten and off to club record starts in La Liga, Valencia host Barcelona in the game of the La Liga season so far on Sunday (1945GMT) aiming to prove their title credentials are for real.

After two seasons in the doldrums riddled by coaching changes and questions over Singaporean owner Peter Lim’s running of the club, Valencia have been revitalised by a combination of new boss Marcelino Garcia Toral and sporting director Mateu Alemany to post a record run of eight straight La Liga wins.

Pochettino expects Tottenham to show killer instinct

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has called on Tottenham Hotspur to show a more ruthless touch as they look to keep their Premier League title hopes alive with a win against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Pochettino admitted Tottenham, who lost to Arsenal last weekend and then won at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, have found it difficult to see off supposedly inferior opposition at Wembley this season.

PSG set for crunch Monaco clash in Ligue 1

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain will bid to open up a nine-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 when they face reigning French champions Monaco on Sunday, brimming with confidence after their Neymar-inspired thrashing of Celtic.

Unai Emery’s men head to the principality looking for a fourth straight win over their nearest title rivals, who will be smarting from being dumped out of Europe by a 4-1 home loss to RB Leipzig.

Struggling Dortmund face must-win Ruhr derby in Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – Crisis-hit Borussia Dortmund will look to get their crumbling season back on the rails when they face arch rivals Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga on Saturday, as coach Peter Bosz fights to keep his job.

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich hope to consolidate their grip on top spot with a win at Borussia Moenchengladbach, while RB Leipzig host Werder Bremen.

Brazil striker Robinho given nine-year term in Italy for rape

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Rome (AFP) – Former AC Milan and Real Madrid striker Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison in Italy after he was convicted of gang rape, according to local media reports Thursday.

The alleged incident occurred in January 2013, when the Brazilian was playing for Milan in Serie A.

Japan’s Reds target Asian glory after race row

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Tokyo (AFP) – Urawa Reds will be favourites to exorcise Japan’s Asian Champions League demons when they host Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the second leg of the final on Saturday.

With the Reds hoping to end a decade of hurt in Asia’s premier club competition, Brazilian forward Rafael Silva became embroiled in a race row following last weekend’s 1-1 draw in Riyadh, adding to the tension.

Villas-Boas future in doubt ahead of China FA Cup final

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG need to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the Chinese FA Cup final second leg on Sunday, in what could be coach Andre Villas-Boas’ last game in charge.

The former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager has refused to say if he will continue at big-spending SIPG next season and said after last weekend’s first-leg defeat at rivals Shanghai Shenhua that he would make an announcement after the FA Cup final.

PSG hit with partial stadium closure

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Paris (AFP) – French Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain will have to play one home match in front of a partially-closed stadium after fans let off flares in the game against Nice last month, the French league (LFP) announced on Thursday.

The Auteuil stand at the Parc des Princes, which houses PSG’s ultras, will be closed for one league match.

Arsenal lose at Cologne, Milan make last 32

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Paris (AFP) – Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal secured top spot in Europa League Group H on Thursday despite slumping to a 1-0 defeat at Cologne, while AC Milan reached the last 32 by thrashing Austria Vienna.

Frenchman Wenger made 11 changes to the team that beat Tottenham Hotspur in last weekend’s north London derby, with starts handed to Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck.

Arsenal lose at Cologne, Balotelli propels Nice

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Paris (AFP) – Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal secured top spot in Europa League Group H on Thursday despite slumping to a 1-0 defeat at struggling German side Cologne.

The Frenchman made 11 changes to the team that beat Tottenham Hotspur in last weekend’s north London derby, with starts handed to Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck.

Brazil striker Robinho handed nine-year term for rape

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Rome (AFP) – Former AC Milan and Real Madrid striker Robinho was sentenced to nine years in prison in Italy on Thursday after he was convicted of gang rape, according to local media reports.

The alleged incident occurred in January 2013, when Robinho was playing for Milan in Serie A.

Liverpool star Salah backs Egypt women’s rights campaign

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Cairo (AFP) – Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has thrown his support behind a UN-sponsored campaign to end violence against women in his homeland Egypt where sexual harassment is rampant.

Hundreds of thousands of people viewed an animated video teaching men to respect women and their rights after national team icon Salah shared it online.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on US TV this weekend

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Although it’s still relatively early in the campaign across the major European leagues, already some title races appear on the cusp of being called off.

Some of the clashes across the continent this weekend may leave some teams with margins that appear insurmountable at the summit of their respective divisions.

Bayern star Robben drops retirement hint

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Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben suggested on Thursday he could retire at the end of the season when his contract with the Bundesliga champions expires.

The Dutchman called time on his international career last month after the Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but the 33-year-old remains a key player for Bayern.

Hierro named Spanish FA sporting director

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Madrid (AFP) – Fernando Hierro returned as the Spanish football federation’s sporting director on Thursday six years after leaving the role to pursue a coaching career.

The Real Madrid great, who ended his playing career with Bolton Wanderers, played his part in Spain’s most successful ever era as sporting director between 2007 and 2011 as La Roja won Euro 2008 and their only World Cup in 2010.

West Ham need to get winning feeling at stadium – Moyes

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London (AFP) – New West Ham manager David Moyes said Thursday the club need to make a habit of winning at the former Olympic Stadium to ease fan discontent over the move from Upton Park.

Supporters of the club, rooted in the Premier League relegation zone, vented their anger at the West Ham hierarchy during their 2-0 defeat at Watford at the weekend.

Palestine overtakes Israel in FIFA football rankings

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Jerusalem (AFP) – Palestine’s football team achieved its highest ranking in history Thursday, rising above Israel in the FIFA world rankings for the first time.

The head of the Palestinian football association labelled it an “historic achievement” as the team rose two spots to 82nd in FIFA’s latest rankings.

Hodgson hopes Niasse diving ban a deterrent

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said Thursday he feels vindicated by the two-match ban handed to Everton striker Oumar Niasse for diving and hopes that it deters others.

The Senegalese striker became the first Premier League player to be punished under new Football Association rules that allow retrospective action for diving.

Allegri pleased with Juventus attitude despite stalement

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri praised his side’s attitude against Barcelona despite a 0-0 draw in Turin stalling last year’s finalists’ path to the Champions League last 16.

Five-time European champions Barcelona advanced to the knockout rounds and clinched top spot in Group D after the Turin stalemate.

Mata wants to match Giggs, play into 40s

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London (AFP) – Juan Mata wants to follow in the footsteps of Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and play into his forties at Old Trafford.

Manager Jose Mourinho’s arrival in 2016 sparked talk that the 29-year-old could be surplus to requirements because the Portuguese had let him leave Chelsea in January 2014.

I’m the boss! Pochettino warns ‘fuming’ Rose

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London (AFP) – Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino insists he has no problem with Danny Rose’s angry response to being dropped for the north London derby, but he warned the England left-back he isn’t afraid to make more big selection decisions.

Rose admitted he was “fuming” at being left out of the squad for Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday before returning to the starting line-up for Tuesday’s Champions League victory at Borussia Dortmund.

Resurgent Willian gives Conte food for thought

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London (AFP) – In danger of losing Antonio Conte’s trust after a disappointing start to the season, Willian may have forced his way back into his manager’s plans with a dynamic display in Chelsea’s Champions League rout of Qarabag.

When Willian boarded the Chelsea plane for their flight to Azerbaijan this week, the Brazil winger travelled with more baggage than most.

Barcelona, Chelsea reach last 16 as Manchester United lose

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Paris (AFP) – Barcelona and Chelsea progressed to the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, but Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United must wait to seal their spot after a last-gasp 1-0 defeat in Basel.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde rested Argentina star Lionel Messi in Turin, later introducing him as a second-half substitute as a 0-0 draw against Juventus sent the five-time European champions through as winners of Group D.

New Zealand football coach quits after missing World Cup spot

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Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson announced his resignation Thursday in the wake of the All Whites’ failure to reach next year’s World Cup.

Hudson’s men fell at the last qualification hurdle when Peru beat them 2-0 in Lima last week to seal victory in a two-legged intercontinental play-off for a spot at next year’s tournament in Russia.

Emery focused on Bayern as Neymar’s PSG pile up records

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery urged his team to stay focused on completing an impressive Champions League group campaign after an “extraordinary” Neymar led a record-breaking win over Celtic on Wednesday.

PSG came from behind to slaughter the Scottish side 7-1 at a Parc des Princes in thrall to the Brazilian, who scored twice after Moussa Dembele had put Celtic ahead.

Gremio edge clear in Copa Libertadores final

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Porto Alegre (Brazil) (AFP) – Substitute Cicero scored the only goal as Brazilian side Gremio defeated Argentina’s Lanus 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores final on Wednesday.

A stormy encounter in Porto Alegre was settled seven minutes from time when Cicero pounced on a headed knockdown by Jael.

Griezmann gives Atletico power of positive thinking

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Simeone refused to be downhearted by Atletico Madrid’s slim chances of making the Champions League last 16 after Antoine Griezmann returned to form with a stunning overhead kick and assist for Kevin Gameiro to beat Roma 2-0 on Wednesday.

Twice finalists in the past four seasons, Simeone’s men still need a minor miracle in the final two games in Group C on December 5 to progress as Atletico need to win away to Chelsea and hope Roma drop points at home to Qarabag.

Barcelona, Chelsea reach Champions League last 16 as Manchester United lose

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Paris (AFP) – Barcelona and Chelsea progressed to the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, but Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United must wait to seal their spot after a last-gasp 1-0 defeat in Basel.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde rested Argentina star Lionel Messi in Turin, later introducing him as a second-half substitute as a 0-0 draw against Juventus sent the five-time European champions through as winners of Group D.

Messi on bench but Barcelona advance to last 16

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Lionel Messi started on the bench but Barcelona advanced to the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday and clinched top spot in Group D after drawing 0-0 with Juventus in Turin.

Last season’s finalists Juventus remain second in the group following the stalemate, a point ahead of third-place Sporting Lisbon, and can secure their qualification with victory at Olympiakos on December 5.

Manchester United rocked by Basel late show

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Basel (Switzerland) (AFP) – Manchester United were forced to wait to book a place in the Champions League last 16 as Michael Lang’s last-gasp strike gave Basel a shock 1-0 win St Jakob-Park on Wednesday.

Jose Mourinho’s side were moments away from securing top spot in Group A when Lang pounced on sloppy defending to steal the points for second-placed Basel a minute before the end.

Bielsa suspended by struggling Lille

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa was suspended by Lille on Wednesday after a dreadful start to the French season, the struggling Ligue 1 club announced.

Ligue are second from bottom after just three wins in 13 matches under Bielsa, with the 62-year-old “suspended momentarily as coach” pending further announcement, according to a statement on the Lille website.

Barcelona into Championes League last 16 after Juventus stalemate

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Barcelona advanced to the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday and clinched top spot in Group D after drawing 0-0 with Juventus in Turin.

Last season’s finalists Juventus remain second in the group following the stalemate, a point ahead of third-place Sporting Lisbon, and can secure their qualification with victory at Olympiakos on December 5.

Griezmann stunner keeps Atletico Madrid alive

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid kept their slim chances of Champions League progress alive as Antoine Griezmann snapped an eight-game goal drought in spectacular fashion with an overhead kick to help see off Roma 2-0 on Wednesday.

Kevin Gameiro added a second five minutes from time for Atletico, who still need Roma to drop points at home to Azerbaijani champions Qarabag and beat the already-qualified Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on December 5 to reach the last 16.

Neymar turns it on as seven-up PSG destroy Celtic

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar was back in the mood with the Brazilian scoring twice to set up Paris Saint-Germain’s comeback from behind as they hammered a shellshocked Celtic 7-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Moussa Dembele had put the visitors ahead inside a minute at the Parc des Princes, but Neymar’s brace soon turned the game around and both Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe added goals of their own before the interval.

Hazard, Willian shine as Chelsea cruise into last 16

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Baku (AFP) – Chelsea powered into the Champions League last 16 as Eden Hazard and Willian inspired a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Qarabag on Wednesday.

Antonio Conte’s side reached the knockout stages with a game to spare thanks to influential displays from Hazard and Willian at the Olympic Stadium that knocked Azerbaijanis Qarabag out of the competition.

Hazard, Willian shine as Chelsea cruise into Champions League last 16

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Baku (AFP) – Chelsea powered into the Champions League last 16 as Eden Hazard and Willian inspired a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Qarabag on Wednesday.

Antonio Conte’s side reached the knockout stages with a game to spare thanks to influential displays from Hazard and Willian at the Olympic Stadium that knocked Azerbaijanis Qarabag out of the competition.

Berizzo to continue at Sevilla despite cancer shock

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Seville (Spain) (AFP) – Spanish football rallied round Sevilla’s Argentine coach Eduardo Berizzo on Wednesday after the club confirmed he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer a day after his side staged a dramatic Champions League comeback against Liverpool.

“The medical services of Sevilla FC can inform that the coach of the first team, Eduardo Berizzo, has been diagnosed with an adenocarcinoma of the prostate,” Sevilla said in a statement.

Arsenal Twitter account did nothing wrong with Ozil GIF

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Following Arsenal’s convincing 2-0 victory against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur over the weekend, the club’s Twitter account came under fire for a tweet directed at a Daily Mail journalist. The playful tweet was of Mesut Özil, the Man of the Match on Saturday, sipping a cup of tea la Kermit the Frog.

Carvajal faces ban for ‘deliberate’ yellow card

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Madrid (AFP) – Dani Carvajal could be banned for the Real Madrid’s Champions League last 16 first leg after UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the right-back for “receiving a yellow card on purpose” during Tuesday’s 6-0 rout of APOEL Nicosia.

The Spanish international picked up his third booking of the group stage, to trigger an automatic one-match ban, for time wasting in the 90th minute in Cyprus.

Smalling ‘nothing to prove’ as he bids to regain England place

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London (AFP) – Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says he has nothing to prove despite the shock of losing his England place and seeing his ability publicly questioned by manager Gareth Southgate.

The 27-year-old, capped 31 times for England, was overlooked for recent friendlies against Germany and Brazil because of concerns over his passing despite impressing for United this season.

Rose ‘angry but understanding’ after Spurs snub

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London (AFP) – Tottenham’s Danny Rose said he was left “fuming” by his north London derby snub but insists he understood the decision and has not fallen out with manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Rose was not even named on the bench for Saturday’s defeat to Arsenal as Pochettino felt he would be better off doing a fitness session at the club’s training ground.

Sterling strikes late to earn Man City top spot

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City secured top spot in Champions League Group F after Raheem Sterling’s late strike snatched a 1-0 win over Feyenoord on Tuesday.

With City having already booked a place in the last 16, Guardiola made seven changes to his starting XI and he had to wait until the 88th minute for his side to make the breakthrough.

Ronaldo hits brace as Real surge into last 16

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Nicosia (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both scored twice as holders Real Madrid crushed APOEL 6-0 in Nicosia on Tuesday to seal a place in the Champions League last 16.

Luka Modric volleyed Zinedine Zidane’s team into the lead on 23 minutes before Real floored Cypriot champions APOEL with five goals in a 15-minute blitz either side of half-time.

Guardiola targets Champions League milestone

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola set Manchester City the target of becoming the first English club to win all six of their Champions League group matches after they secured top spot in Group F.

Raheem Sterling struck in the 88th minute to give City a 1-0 win over Feyenoord on Tuesday, which - allied to Shakhtar Donetsk’s 3-0 loss at Napoli - guaranteed Guardiola’s side first place in the group.

Sevilla coach Berizzo has prostate cancer: reports

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Seville (Spain) (AFP) – Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Spanish radio station Cadena SER reported on Wednesday, just hours after his side staged a remarkable comeback against Liverpool in the Champions League.

Berizzo, 48, made no statement on his health when speaking to media after the Spanish side came from 3-0 down at half-time to draw 3-3 against the five-time European champions.

Seattle on brink of MLS final as Houston crash

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Defending champions Seattle Sounders put one foot in the final of the MLS Cup on Tuesday after outclassing Houston Dynamo 2-0 in the first leg of their Western Conference Championship game.

First half goals from Gustav Svensson and Will Bruin sealed a clinical win for the Sounders as Houston’s raucous home crowd was silenced.

Liverpool not mentally weak despite Sevilla surrender: Klopp

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Seville (Spain) (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp defended his side’s mental strength despite crumbling under the pressure of an inspired second-half Sevilla comeback to throw away a three-goal lead in Spain on Tuesday.

A thrilling 3-3 draw leaves Liverpool still on top of Champions League Group E, but means they still require a point when the English side host Spartak Moscow on December 6 to book their place in the last 16 for the first time in nine seasons.

Sevilla coach Berizzo in prostate cancer shock

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Seville (Spain) (AFP) – Sevilla’s Argentine coach Eduardo Berizzo has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the club confirmed on Wednesday, just hours after his side staged a remarkable comeback against Liverpool in the Champions League.

“The medical services of Sevilla FC can inform that the coach of the first team, Eduardo Berizzo, has been diagnosed with an adenocarcinoma of the prostate,” the club said in a statement.

Insigne spark keeps Napoli hopes alive

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Italy reject Lorenzo Insigne’s second-half wonder strike opened the floodgates as Napoli kept their Champions League hopes alive with a 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

Napoli forward Insigne had also scored against AC Milan on Saturday, fresh from being left on the bench as Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Socceroos coach Postecoglou quits ahead of football World Cup

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Sydney (AFP) – Coach Ange Postecoglou announced Wednesday that he will not take Australia to the World Cup next year, ending weeks of speculation about his future after a lengthy qualification campaign.

“After a great deal of thought and soul-searching, I’ve decided that the journey for me ends as Socceroo coach,” an emotional Postecoglou told a press conference in Sydney.

Spurs down Dortmund to win Group H

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur won Champions League Group H after goals from Son Heung-min and Harry Kane brought Spurs back from a goal down to win 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

Kane and Son struck in 49th and the 76th minutes to take already-qualified Tottenham to 13 points and the Group H summit, after Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had broken his five-game goal drought to give Dortmund the lead in the 31st minute.

Valverde revisits defeat to prepare for Juve clash

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admitted on Tuesday that he watched last season’s 3-0 defeat by Juventus “over and over” to prepare for their Champions League return to Turin on Wednesday.

Juventus beat Barcelona in the last eight thanks to a three-goal hammering at the Allianz Stadium and a goalless draw at the Camp Nou on their way to the final in Cardiff, where the Italians were beaten by Real Madrid.

RB Leipzig destroy Monaco to aid last 16 hopes

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Monaco (AFP) – Devastating RB Leipzig boosted their chances of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday by taking Monaco apart 4-1 with a four-goal first-half demolition that saw them draw level on points with second-place Porto in Group G.

Leipzig took full advantage of slack Monaco defending and Porto drawing 1-1 at Besiktas earlier on with a free-flowing attacking display that saw the Bundesliga side reignite their knockout hopes.

Sterling strikes late to earn Manchester City top spot

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City secured top spot in Champions League Group F after Raheem Sterling’s late strike snatched a 1-0 win over Feyenoord on Tuesday.

With City having already booked a place in the last 16, Guardiola shuffled his pack, making seven changes to his starting XI, and he had to wait until the 88th minute for his side to make the breakthrough.

Real Madrid cruise into last 16, Liverpool blow three-goal lead

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Paris (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as holders Real Madrid thrashed APOEL 6-0 in Cyprus to reach the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, while Liverpool blew a three-goal lead in a thriller at Sevilla.

Zinedine Zidane’s Real bounced back from their 3-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur last time out by crushing APOEL, with four of the goals coming before half-time.

Sevilla fightback halts Liverpool’s path to last 16

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Seville (Spain) (AFP) – Sevilla produced a stunning fightback from a three-goal half-time deficit to earn a well-earned point with a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday thanks to Guido Pizarro’s stoppage-time equaliser.

Roberto Firmino scored twice as Jurgen Klopp’s side looked set to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time in nine years and seal top spot in Group E with a three-goal blitz in the first half-hour, with Sadio Mane also netting.

HBO special on Tom Byer’s plan to rescue American men’s soccer is a must-watch

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HBO’s special begins with footage of the United States Men’s National Team being defeated by Trinidad and Tobago in the final World Cup qualifier from the CONCACAF Hex. Seconds later, USSF presidential candidate Kyle Martino utters the words, “US Soccer thinks they have all the answers.

I’m sure Messi will stay: Barcelona’s Rakitic

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic expressed his confidence on Tuesday that Lionel Messi would sign a new contract to stay at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona announced last summer a three-year extension of the Argentinian’s contract until 2021 - agreed with his father and agent - but the 30-year-old has still not made the agreement official.

Rakitic would give World Cup spot to Buffon

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Barcelona’s Croatian international Ivan Rakitic said Tuesday he would love to tell Italian goalkeeping great Gianlugi Buffon to take his place in the 2018 World Cup.

Rakitic will meet Buffon in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Juventus in Turin, just a week after Buffon tearfully retired from international duty as Italy crashed out of the World Cup.

Valverde revisits defeat to prepare for Juventus clash

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admitted on Tuesday that he watched last season’s 3-0 defeat by Juventus “over and over” to prepare for their Champions League return to Turin on Wednesday.

Juventus beat Barcelona in the last eight thanks to a three-goal hammering at the Allianz Stadium and a goalless draw at the Camp Nou on their way to the final in Cardiff, where the Italians were beaten by Real Madrid.

Late Maribor goal hits Spartak knockout hopes

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Moscow (AFP) – Spartak Moscow’s hopes of earning a place in the Champions League last 16 suffered a damaging blow on Tuesday as they conceded a stoppage-time equaliser in a 1-1 home draw with Maribor.

The result kept Russian champions Spartak third in Group E ahead of their final match, one point behind second-placed Sevilla, who take on group leaders Liverpool later on Tuesday.

Neymar nocturnal antics no worry to PSG coach as Celtic arrive

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery insists he is not concerned about Neymar’s lifestyle after the Brazilian superstar was photographed at a Paris nightclub in the early hours of Sunday.

“Outside of his work, his football, he can enjoy himself with his friends,” Emery said on Tuesday at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Celtic at the Parc des Princes.

Griezmann crisis of confidence affecting Atletico Madrid – Simeone

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone admitted star forward Antoine Griezmann’s lean spell in front of goal has had a profound effect on the Spanish giants’ stuttering start to the season.

Twice finalists in the past four seasons, Atletico need to beat Roma on Wednesday and Chelsea away in two weeks’ time to stand any chance of progressing to the Champions League last 16.

Paris return set to inspire Celtic’s Dembele – Rodgers

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Paris (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers thinks Moussa Dembele will go on to become one of the best strikers in the world and he is hoping the Frenchman will thrive against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

Dembele, 21, was born in the Paris suburbs and was on PSG’s books as a youngster before opting to move to England to turn professional with Fulham.

Besiktas draw with Porto to reach Champions League last 16

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Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish champions Besiktas reached the Champions League last 16 for the first time in 31 years on Tuesday, as a 1-1 draw with Porto in Istanbul wrapped up top spot in Group G.

Porto silenced the vociferous home crowd with the opening goal through defender Felipe, but Besiktas equalised before half-time as Talisca scored his third goal in the competition this season.

Former Italian football head denies harassment

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Rome (AFP) – Former Italian football chief Carlo Tavecchio has denied claims of sexual harassment made by a former executive of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) that were published in Italian media on Tuesday.

“In relations to what has been reported in some press articles, I maintain that I behave in a correct manner and in order to protect my image and honour I have asked my lawyers to act in the appropriate forums,” Tavecchio told ANSA news agency.

German FA told to compromise or scrap China U20 friendlies

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Berlin (AFP) – German football authorities have been told to find a compromise with the visiting China Under-20 team over the issue of pro-Tibet protests, or scrap their remaining friendlies.

The Chinese junior team is touring southwest Germany as part of an initiative aimed at advancing China’s chances at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Burnley install anti-terror barriers

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London (AFP) – Burnley became the first Premier League club to install security barriers to protect fans from Nice-style terrorist attacks at the weekend.

The barriers, which were used outside Turf Moor for Burnley’s 2-0 win over Swansea on Saturday, were installed in order to prevent terrorists from ramming vehicles into supporters making their way to the stadium.

FIFA bans three disgraced officials for life

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Geneva (AFP) – FIFA’s ethics committee on Tuesday slapped lifetime bans on three former world football executives who have all pleaded guilty to corruption charges in US courts.

Rafael Esquivel, a former head of the Venezuelan Football Association, Nicaragua’s Julio Rocha, a former FIFA development officer, and Richard Lai of Guam, who served on FIFA’s auditing body, have all been barred from any further involvement in the sport.

Toronto football ready to learn from past, says Bradley

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley believes his team have absorbed the lessons of past disappointments as they prepare for their playoff showdown with Columbus Crew on Tuesday.

The Canadian side finished with the best record in Major League Soccer this season and are favourites to advance to the championship game from their two-leg Eastern Conference final with Crew.

Everton’s Niasse charged over diving

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London (AFP) – Everton striker Oumar Niasse was Tuesday charged with simulation after he won a controversial penalty and could become the first Premier League player to be hit with a retrospective ban.

Niasse went down inside the Crystal Palace box on Saturday, with referee Anthony Taylor deeming the Senegal international had been fouled by Eagles defender Scott Dann.

World Rugby hits back at ‘inaccurate’ Samoa PM claims

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Wellington (AFP) – World Rugby on Tuesday dismissed as “inaccurate” claims from Samoa’s prime minister that the sport is bankrupt in the Pacific nation and the governing body interfered in coach selection.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU), outlined the sport’s financial woes earlier this month, laying the blame on World Rugby.

Home attendances for US Women’s National Team games up 13% compared to 2016

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Photo credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The US Women’s National Team have completed their final game of the 2017 calendar year. The performances leave plenty for fans to be worried about (the women’s national team finished last at the She Believes Cup and only managed second at the Tournament of Nations).

Izquierdo earns Brighton point in Stoke duel

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Izquierdo earned Brighton and Hove Albion a point as Chris Hughton’s side twice came from behind to record a 2-2 draw against visitors Stoke City on Monday.

Stoke twice went ahead at the Amex Stadium, first through Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and then Kurt Zouma, but Brighton hit back on each occasion via goals from Pascal Gross and Izquierdo.

FAI reports racist abuse of Ireland’s Christie

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Dublin (AFP) – The Football Association of Ireland has referred racist abuse sent to Republic of Ireland defender Cyrus Christie on social media to the country’s Gardai police.

After scoring an own goal in Ireland’s 5-1 loss to Denmark in their World Cup qualifying play-off, Middlesbrough right-back Christie received tweets telling him to “play for Jamaica” and talking about lynching.

Zidane staying upbeat amid Real Madrid troubles

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Nicosia (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists he is still “optimistic” as the Spanish giants look to shrug off a poor run of form in La Liga by securing their place in the Champions League last 16.

European champions in each of the last two seasons, Madrid will be guaranteed a place in the last 16 with a game to spare in Group H by beating APOEL in Cyprus on Tuesday.

£300m bid tabled for Newcastle: reports

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London (AFP) – A British businesswoman has made a formal offer of around £300 million ($397 million, 338 million euros) for Premier League club Newcastle United, according to British media reports on Monday.

Several media outlets, including the BBC, said Amanda Staveley’s financial firm PCP Capital Partners had made a bid to Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.

Guardiola plays down Manchester City favourites tag

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are still not among the favourites to win the Champions League despite their eye-catching form in domestic and European competition.

The Premier League leaders face Feyenoord on Tuesday unbeaten in 18 games in all competitions and with an increasing number of observers tipping them to challenge for Europe’s biggest prize, which they have never won.

Schedule of Europa League games on US TV and streaming for Thursday, November 23

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There’s still a lot to play for in gameweek 5 of the Europa League. And for soccer fans in the United States, all of the games will be played on Thanksgiving Day.

The list of teams that could qualify for the next round of the Europa League on Thursday is enormous. It includes Villarreal, Astana, Partizan, Ludogorets, Braga, AC Milan, AEK Athens, Atalanta, Lyon, København, Sheriff, Viktoria Plzeň, Crvena Zvezda, Salzburg, Marseille, Östersund, Zorya Luhansk, Nice and Real Sociedad.

Pressure back on Bielsa as Lille lose again

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Paris (AFP) – Marcelo Bielsa’s Lille slipped back into the automatic relegation places in Ligue 1 on Monday after crashing to a 3-0 defeat away at Amiens in a rearranged game.

The match had initially been abandoned in late September after a pitch-side barrier collapsed under the weight of Lille fans celebrating their team taking an early lead, leaving 29 supporters injured.

Aubameyang to face Spurs as Dortmund lift suspension

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund have lifted the suspension on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to allow their star striker to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Dortmund’s under-fire coach Peter Bosz confirmed Aubameyang is back in the squad after he was suspended for being late to training and for an unauthorised video shoot at the club’s training ground.

Liverpool’s Klopp not concerned of Barcelona audition for Coutinho

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Seville (Spain) (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp insisted Philippe Coutinho’s mind is only on Liverpool ahead of the Brazilian’s first appearance on Spanish soil since a prolonged transfer pursuit by Barcelona failed to prise the playmaker away from Anfield.

Liverpool face Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Tuesday knowing a win will secure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Arsenal name Mislintat head of recruitment

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London (AFP) – Arsenal have appointed Borussia Dortmund’s chief scout Sven Mislintat as their new head of recruitment, the Premier League club announced on Monday.

Mislintat has spent 10 years at Dortmund and is credited with helping to recruit players such as Shinji Kagawa, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembele and Christian Pulisic.

‘Spurs have big-game mentality’ insists Eriksen

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Christian Eriksen insists Tottenham Hotspur can bounce back from defeat at Arsenal with a key Champions League victory at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

“We have shown in the big games that we can compete,” said the 25-year-old Denmark attacking midfielder when asked if Spurs lack the right mentality for big-games.

US suffers back-to-back average annual attendance under 30k for first time in decade

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Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For the average US Men’s National Team home attendance during 2017, it was a case of good news and bad news. The good news is that it only fell 1% when compared to the average attendance in 2016. The bad news is that it’s the first time in more than 10 years that the national men’s team suffered average attendances of less than 30,000 in back-to-back years.

Italy football federation chief Tavecchio resigns amid World Cup chaos

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Rome (AFP) – Italian football federation chief Carlo Tavecchio became the latest victim of the Azzurri’s World Cup qualifying disaster falling on his sword Monday, days after the sacking of coach Gian Piero Ventura.

A week after missing out on qualifying for the World Cup final for the first time since 1958, former World Cup superstars Italy find themselves in a power vacuum.

No regrets over hosting World Cup, says Qatar 2022 chief

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Doha (AFP) – Qatar’s most senior World Cup official said Monday there were no regrets in bidding for the 2022 tournament, despite the “abuse” it claims it has received since being chosen as host.

Speaking at a press conference to mark the eve of the five-year anniversary before the tournament starts, Hassan Al Thawadi said Qatar was right to bid for football’s premier tournament.

Italian FA chief resigns after World Cup fiasco

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Rome (AFP) – Italian FA president Carlo Tavecchio has resigned after Italy’s World Cup qualifying fiasco saw the four-time champions miss the finals for the first time in 60 years, an FIGC official confirmed on Monday.

The 74-year-old handed in his resignation during a crisis meeting of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in Rome.

Focused Coutinho heals Liverpool rifts

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London (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho’s long-term future might lie away from Liverpool, but the Brazil star’s ability to focus on the present has helped heal the wounds from his flirtation with Barcelona.

When Jurgen Klopp’s side travel to Sevilla for a crucial Champions League clash on Tuesday, they will rely on Coutinho to lead their bid to get the win that would book their place in the last 16.

Benzema the fall guy as Real Madrid flounder

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Madrid (AFP) – In a recurring theme of Real Madrid’s stuttering season, Zinedine Zidane protested all his side lacked was a goal as they fell 10 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona after firing more blanks in a bad-tempered Madrid derby.

Yet, in attempting to defend a lacklustre performance from Saturday’s stalemate at Atletico Madrid, Zidane turned the spotlight once more on the misfiring Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Mourinho welcomes end of Lukaku goal drought

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho said he was delighted to see Romelu Lukaku back on the scoresheet after a barren spell as Manchester United try to keep runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City in their sights.

Paul Pogba, returning after two months on the sidelines, was the driving force as United returned to form with a 4-1 Premier League thrashing of Newcastle at Old Trafford.

West Brom sack manager Tony Pulis

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London (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion sacked manager Tony Pulis on Monday after a miserable run of form that has seen the Chinese-owned club slump to 17th in the Premier League table.

Pulis has had just two wins in his past 21 Premier League games following Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Chelsea and the club sit just one place above the relegation zone after an 11-game winless run in all competitions.

China slams Tibet flag flap at Germany football match

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Beijing (AFP) – China called for “mutual respect” on Monday as it lashed out at the appearance of Tibetan flags during the Chinese Under-20 team’s friendly football game in Germany.

The Chinese players stormed off the pitch in Mainz on Saturday after a group of six spectators displayed the flags during the first in a series of friendlies against German fourth-division clubs.

Spurs boss Pochettino says no problem with Rose

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says he has no issue with England defender Danny Rose despite leaving him out of Tottenham’s squad for the north London derby at the weekend.

Rose was not even named on the bench for the 2-0 defeat against Arsenal on Saturday, with Spurs boss Pochettino explaining the full-back still needs to regain fitness after nine months out through injury.

Last-gasp Marseille snatch draw at Bordeaux

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Paris (AFP) – Midfielder Morgan Sanson grabbed Marseille a 1-1 draw at Bordeaux with the last kick of the game on Sunday, while Lyon were held by Montpellier in the absence of the suspended Nabil Fekir.

Nicolas de Preville put Bordeaux ahead in only the third minute with an excellent individual goal, but after a largely lifeless display, Marseille snatched a point at the death through Sanson’s low finish.

Manchester United ready to reel in City: Ibrahimovic

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Manchester United can catch runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City after he and Paul Pogba made a triumphant return from long-term injuries.

The Swedish striker came on as a late substitute in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle on Saturday, his first action since suffering a career-threatening knee ligament injury in April.

Juventus crash as Buffon, Barzagli rested

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Milan (AFP) – Captain Gianluigi Buffon and defender Andrea Barzagli were rested by Juventus in the wake of Italy’s World Cup exit as the Serie A champions lost 3-2 at Sampdoria on Sunday.

Juventus were three goals down heading into injury time after Colombian Duvan Zapata, Uruguayan Lucas Torreira and Italian defender Gian Marco Ferrari scored in the second half for the Genoa side.

Record-breaking Valencia maintain Barca chase

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia maintained their pursuit of Barcelona to remain four points off the La Liga leaders thanks to second-half goals from Geoffrey Kondogbia and Santi Mina to beat a luckless Espanyol 2-0 on Sunday.

A club record eighth straight La Liga win for Valencia moves Marcelino Garcia Toral’s men six points clear of Real Madrid in third and sets up a mouthwatering top of the table showdown at home to Barcelona next Sunday.

Scouting, the quest for football’s next wonderkid

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Paris (AFP) – Hundreds of banal matches, thousands of miles on the road, gatecrashing training sessions and cultivating relationships with teachers and parents, such is the life of the football talent scouts scouring playing fields for the next wonderkid.

Much of their method is kept secret and Romain Poirot, former Manchester City scout now working for Watford and Udinese, told AFP “it would be indelicate, revealing too much” to spill the beans.

Moyes makes losing start as Watford sink Hammers

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – David Moyes suffered a miserable start to his West Ham United reign as Watford eased to a 2-0 win over the Premier League strugglers on Sunday.

Moyes was in charge of West Ham for the first time following his appointment as replacement for the sacked Slaven Bilic.

Moyes makes losing start as Watford sink West Ham

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – David Moyes suffered a miserable start to his West Ham United reign as Watford eased to a 2-0 win over the Premier League strugglers on Sunday.

Moyes was in charge of West Ham for the first time following his appointment as replacement for the sacked Slaven Bilic.

Barcelona appeal Pique ban, Suarez yellow

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona announced on Sunday they will appeal yellow cards shown to Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Leganes.

Unless his appeal is successful, Pique will miss next Sunday’s top of the table clash at Valencia.

“FC Barcelona informs that it has decided to appeal to the competition committee for the yellow cards shown to Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez during the course of Leganes-FC Barcelona,” Barca said in a statement.

Lyon held to draw by Montpellier

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Paris (AFP) – Lyon’s four-match winning streak in Ligue 1 came to an end in the absence of captain Nabil Fekir as they were held to a 0-0 home draw by Montpellier on Sunday.

Bruno Genesio’s men slipped to nine points adrift of league leaders Paris Saint-Germain after a disappointing performance, while they could lose third place to Marseille, who play Bordeaux later on Sunday.

Sampdoria stun Juventus

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Milan (AFP) – Sampdoria ran riot as Serie A champions Juventus lost their both their cool and ground on leaders Napoli in the Italian title race on Sunday suffering a 3-2 setback in Genoa.

Colombian striker Duvan Zapata, Uruguayan Lucas Torreira and Italian defender Gian Marco Ferrari all found the net in the second half as Sampdoria maintained their perfect home record in Genoa this season.

Schalke soar to second in Germany

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Berlin (AFP) – Goals by strikers Franco di Santo and Guido Burgstaller sealed Schalke 04’s 2-0 win over Hamburg on Sunday as the Royal Blues climbed to second place in the Bundesliga.

Under 32-year-old head coach Domenico Tedesco, Schalke are unbeaten in seven games dating back to September, and the home win in Gelsenkirchen moved them second behind leaders Bayern Munich.

Tibet flag scandal mars China’s U20 debut in Germany

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Berlin (AFP) – China’s Under-20 team stormed off the pitch in the first in a series of friendlies against German fourth-division clubs as pro-Tibet activists demonstrated in Mainz.

The Under-20 side is in Germany to play 16 friendlies against lower league clubs in an experiment, which runs until May, aimed at advancing the Asian superpower’s chances at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but which has courted controversy.

Record-breaking Valencia maintain Barcelona chase

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia maintained their pursuit of Barcelona to remain four points off the La Liga leaders thanks to second-half goals from Geoffrey Kondogbia and Santi Mina to beat a luckless Espanyol 2-0 on Sunday.

A club record eighth straight La Liga win for Valencia moves Marcelino Garcia Toral’s men six points clear of Real Madrid in third and sets up a mouthwatering top of the table showdown at home to Barcelona next Sunday.

We shut some mouths, roars Bellerin after derby win

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London (AFP) – Hector Bellerin says Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the north London derby has silenced the doubters.

Arsene Wenger’s side secured their first Premier League success against their hated rivals since March 2014 thanks to goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Don’t miss the UEFA Champions League TV and streaming schedule for this week’s games

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This week in the UEFA Champions League, several clubs have the chance to qualify for the Round of 16 if results go their way. Those teams are Manchester United, Basel, Roma, Chelsea, Barcelona, Juventus, Sevilla, Liverpool, Shakhtar Donetsk, Beşiktaş, Porto and Real Madrid.

They have the opportunity to join the clubs that have already reached the next round, which are Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern München, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Coleman confirmed as Sunderland boss

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London (AFP) – Former Wales coach Chris Coleman was confirmed as manager of Championship strugglers Snderland on Sunday.

Coleman’s move to the Stadium of Light was widely expected after he resigned from the Wales job earlier this week.

The former Fulham boss has agreed a two-and-half year contract with Sunderland.

Real Madrid confirm Ramos nose break

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos had his nose broken in a bad-tempered Madrid derby at Atletico Madrid, tests confirmed on Sunday.

Ramos had to be replaced at half-time of Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano which left both sides 10 points behind runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Klopp hails in-form Salah

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Mohamed Salah’s superb form after his two goals inspired the Reds to a comfortable 3-0 home win over Southampton on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Egyptian international took his tally to 14 goals in all competitions with a brace in the first half of the Premier League clash, before Philippe Coutinho added a third just after the hour.

Wenger’s faith rewarded as Arsenal silence critics

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger insisted he never doubted Arsenal would prove the critics wrong as his side’s controversial 2-0 win over Tottenham slowed their rivls’ bid for north London supremacy.

When Arsenal finished below Tottenham in the Premier League for the first time in 22 years last season, frustrated Gunners fans stepped up their calls for Wenger to quit.

No blame for Stones blow, says Guardiola

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola refused to blame England manager Gareth Southgate for John Stones’ injury absence from Manchester City’s Premier League title charge until the New Year.

Stones is expected to be out of action for up to six weeks after damaging a hamstring in City’s 2-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday, leaving Guardiola with some defensive concerns.

Mourinho delighted by “emotional” Ibrahimovic return

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho admitted he felt emotional to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic return from his career-threatening knee ligament operation in Manchester United’s impressive 4-1 victory over Newcastle United.

Paul Pogba, coming back from a 12-match lay-off of his own with a hamstring problem, started the game and played a pivotal role, laying on an equaliser for Anthony Martial and scoring United’s third.

Chelsea’s Conte takes aim at fixture organisers

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Antonio Conte criticised football’s fixture planners as he prepares his side for a manic month in the wake of their 4-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Conte’s side eased to victory at The Hawthorns but Conte is already warning his players they face their biggest game of the season at Azerbaijan side FK Qarabag in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Simeone defends off-form Griezmann “to the death”

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone insisted he will defend off-colour star forward Antoine Griezmann “to the death”, as long as he remains an Atletico player, after Saturday’s 0-0 draw against local rivals Real Madrid.

Griezmann turned his back on interest from Manchester United to sign a new contract after Atletico lost an appeal against a transfer ban in June.

Socceroos coach Postecoglou to meet with FFA on World Cup future

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Sydney (AFP) – Coach Ange Postecoglou said Sunday he will meet with Football Federation Australia officials this week to decide whether he will take the Socceroos to next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Postecoglou has kept everyone guessing about his much-rumoured departure after Australia overcame Honduras 3-1 to reach their fourth consecutive World Cup in Sydney last week.

Derby stalemate leaves Real 10 points behind Barcelona

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid slipped 10 points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga as a Madrid derby short on chances finished 0-0 at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Earlier, Barca also weren’t at their best but Luis Suarez’s double ended a five-game goal drought for the Uruguayan and Paulinho’s late strike helped see off a determined Leganes 3-0.

Insigne blows away World Cup blues in Milan win

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Lorenzo Insigne washed away his World Cup woes by starring in Napoli’s 2-1 victory over struggling but spirited AC Milan on Saturday that saw the Serie A leaders go four points clear.

Maurizio Sarri’s team are also five ahead of third-placed Roma, who are level on 30 with Inter Milan after beating Lazio 2-1 in a spectacular Rome derby earlier thanks to goals from Diego Perotti and Radja Nainggolan.

Derby stalemate leaves Real 10 points behind Barca

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid slipped 10 points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga as a Madrid derby short on chances finished 0-0 at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Earlier, Barca also weren’t at their best but Luis Suarez’s double ended a five-game goal drought for the Uruguayan and Paulinho’s late strike helped see off a determined Leganes 3-0.

Returning Pogba inspires Man Utd comeback win

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Paul Pogba crowned his return from injury by scoring and laying on an equaliser for Anthony Martial as Manchester United hit back to beat Newcastle United 4-1 on Saturday.

Chris Smalling was also on the mark in the first half, while Romelu Lukaku ended a drought of seven games without a goal.

Pogba drives Man Utd fightback, Arsenal win derby

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London (AFP) – Paul Pogba marked his comeback with a goal and an assist as Manchester United fought back to beat Newcastle United 4-1 on Saturday and stay on Manchester City’s tail.

Sidelined since mid-September by a hamstring injury, France midfielder Pogba made a decisive return as Jose Mourinho’s side restored the eight-point gap that separates them from Premier League leaders City.

Roma close gap on Napoli after derby win

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Milan (AFP) – Roma moved to within two points of Serie A leaders Napoli after squeezing past local rivals Lazio 2-1 on Sunday as Italy resumed domestic action in the wake of the World Cup disaster for the national team.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side moved to third in Serie A level on 30 points with Inter Milan ahead of Napoli’s clash later with AC Milan.

Cavani kills Ranieri’s Canaries

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Paris (AFP) – Edinson Cavani fired two goals past Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes as Paris Saint-Germain went six points clear in Ligue 1 on Saturday with an eye-catching 4-1 win.

With the Champions League visit of Celtic looming in midweek, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe was rested but his replacement Javier Pastore scored one and made one, while Angel Di Maria fired home the other goal from a corner he had taken himself.

Suarez double stretches Barcelona’s La Liga lead

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Madrid (AFP) – Luis Suarez ended a five-game goal drought with a double as Barcelona extended their lead at the top of La Liga with a flattering 3-0 win at Leganes on Saturday.

Barca now lead second-placed Valencia by seven points ahead of their trip to the Mestalla next weekend, with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid 11 points adrift before they face off in the Madrid derby later on Saturday (1945 GMT).

Coleman faces daunting task as Sunderland break record

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London (AFP) – Sunderland earned the unwanted record of becoming the first English club to go 20 home games without a win on Saturday, illustrating the size of the task facing new manager Chris Coleman.

The Black Cats - whose last win at the Stadium of Light came on December 17 last year - managed at least to secure a point against Millwall with a 2-2 draw in their Championship clash.

Suarez doubles stretches Barcelona’s La Liga lead

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Madrid (AFP) – Luis Suarez ended a five-game goal drought with a double as Barcelona extend their lead at the top of La Liga with a flattering 3-0 win at Leganes on Saturday.

Barca now lead second-placed Valencia by seven points ahead of their trip to Mestalla next weekend, with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid 11 points adrift before they face off in the Madrid derby later on Saturday (1945 GMT).

Hazard inspires Chelsea in Hawthorns stroll

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday with two-goal Eden Hazard leading the way.

The Belgian played a key role in Alvaro Morata’s 17th-minute opener before scoring the champions’ second and fourth goals as they won without needing to reach top gear at The Hawthorns.

Daly leads try-rush as England beat Australia

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Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Elliot Daly scored the decisive try of the match as England beat Australia 30-6 at Twickenham on Saturday.

The hosts ran in four tries to none from Australia, who had two potential scores disallowed on replay.

Victory gave England a fifth straight win over the Wallabies under Australia coach Eddie Jones.

Bayern eye Germany’s Wagner as Lewandowski back-up

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Berlin (AFP) – Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann has confirmed Bayern Munich’s interest in signing Sandro Wagner by telling the Bundesliga leaders to name their price for the Germany striker.

Bayern, who beat Augsburg 3-0 on Saturday to take a six-point lead at the top, are eager to sign a back-up striker for Robert Lewandowski, the Bundesliga’s top scorer, and Wagner fits the bill.

De Bruyne dazzles as Man City sink Leicester

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City overcame defensive problems to reach another landmark with a 2-0 victory at Leicester City on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side made it 11 wins from 12 matches to equal the record start to their 2011-12 title triumph under Roberto Mancini.

Lewandowski double puts Bayern six points clear

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski reached 17 goals for Bayern Munich this season after a brace that left the Bundesliga leaders six points clear with a 3-0 thumping of Augsburg on Saturday.

Lewandowski underlined his status as the league’s top scorer by netting either side of the break in Munich to leave him with 13 goals in 12 league games this season.

Manchester City’s Stones facing up to six weeks out

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City centre-back John Stones could be out for up to six weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury during his side’s 2-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday.

Stones, who has been in excellent form for City and England, pulled up while chasing the ball in the 28th minute and gave way to Eliaquim Mangala shortly after.

Allegri and Spalletti not interested in Italy job

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Rome (AFP) – Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti both distanced themselves from taking up the vacant Italian national team post on Saturday.

“Coaching the national team is one of my ambitions, but not right now,” the 50-year-old told a press conference ahead of Juventus’s game at Sampdoria Sunday.

Lewandowski double puts Bayern six-points clear

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski has now netted 17 goals for Bayern Munich this season after his double left the Bundesliga leaders six points clear with a 3-0 thumping of Augsburg on Saturday.

Lewandowski, who has dyed his hair silver, underlined his status as the Bundesliga’s top scorer by netting either side of the break in Munich to leave him with 13 goals in 12 league games this season.

De Bruyne keeps Man City flying, Arsenal win derby

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London (AFP) – Manchester City retained control of the Premier League title race after fine goals by Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne secured a 2-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday.

Jesus and De Bruyne struck either side of half-time at the King Power Stadium as Pep Guardiola’s ruthless side registered a 16th successive victory in all competitions.

Sparkling Salah destroys Southampton

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Liverpool (AFP) – Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool clinched a comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton to remain in the pack chasing Premier League leaders Manchester City on Saturday.

The Egyptian international moved to the top of the league’s scoring charts on nine goals with a brace before half-time and Philippe Coutinho added a third for Jurgen Klopp’s side after the interval.

Dire Dortmund results pain boss Bosz

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz admitted their third straight defeat in the Bundesliga “hurts” as the club’s dire form continued ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Tottenham Hotspur.

Dortmund are winless in their last five league games, collecting just one point from a possible 15, after losing 2-1 at VfB Stuttgart on Friday.

Arsenal seize derby spoils to leave Spurs fuming

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London (AFP) – Controversial goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal their first Premier League success against Tottenham for over three years as the Gunners won 2-0 in a heated north London derby on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger’s side ended a six-match winless run against their hated rivals thanks to a pair of fiercely debated first-half goals at the Emirates Stadium.

Champions Monaco slip up

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Paris (AFP) – French champions Monaco were held to a 1-1 draw at newly-promoted Amiens on Friday despite an equaliser from Stevan Jovetic to drop two points in the Ligue 1 title race.

Christophe Pelissier’s home side took a shock 31st-minute lead through Serge Gakpe, but Jovetic came off the bench in the second half to equalise.

Nigeria to face former CHAN champions Libya

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Nigeria were grouped with former title-holders Libya, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea when the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) draw was made in Rabat Friday.

The Nigerians are making a third consecutive appearance in the biennial tournament for home-based footballers, which Morocco will stage between January 12 and February 4.

Coleman set to quit Wales for Sunderland: reports

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London (AFP) – Chris Coleman is set to quit Wales and become the new manager of Championship club Sunderland this weekend after his country failed to qualify for the World Cup, reports said Friday.

Coleman, who led a Gareth Bale-inspired Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, will be given the job of trying to guide Sunderland off the bottom of the table and ultimately back to the Premier League.

Pernickety Pep tells Man City to keep striving

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has called on his players to not let their record-breaking start to the Premier League season stop them from aiming for even higher heights.

City have won 10 and drawn one of their 11 matches to date - matching Chelsea’s 2005-06 record - and scored 38 goals, 15 more than any other team.

Mourinho blasts England over Jones injections

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has strongly rebuked England manager Gareth Southgate and his medical staff for playing Manchester United defender Phil Jones in a recent friendly after he received six pain-killing injections.

Jones, whose six-year United career has been plagued by injuries, was forced off in the first half of England’s 0-0 draw with Germany last week after aggravating a thigh injury.

Dortmund sink at Stuttgart

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund suffered another setback in their bid to challenge for the Bundesliga title as they lost 2-1 at VfB Stuttgart on Friday.

Dortmund, without striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who was suspended for arriving late to training, had the worst possible preparation for Tuesday’s must-win Champions League match at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

Champions Monaco slip up with Amiens draw

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Paris (AFP) – French champions Monaco were held to a 1-1 draw at newly-promoted Amiens on Friday despite an equaliser from Stevan Jovetic to drop two points in the Ligue 1 title race.

Christophe Pelissier’s home side took a shock 31st-minute lead through Serge Gakpe, but Jovetic came off the bench in the second half to equalise.

Lille win over Saint-Etienne to ease pressure on Bielsa

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Paris (AFP) – Lille beat Saint-Etienne 3-1 on Friday to ease the pressure on under-fire Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa and move out of the Ligue 1 relegation zone.

The second straight win dragged Lille out of the bottom two, having ended a nine-match winless streak with a 3-0 victory over Metz before the international break.

Aubameyang baffled by his Dortmund punishment

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Berlin (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said that he did not understand why his club, Borussia Dortmund, had suspended him for turning up late for training.

Dortmund dropped their star striker from the squad for Friday’s Bundesliga match against Stuttgart. Last year, the club suspended Aubameyang for a Champions League match against Sporting Lisbon after he flew to a party in Milan without permission.

Ronaldo ‘confident’ of winning Ballon D’Or

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Paris (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo said on Friday that he was “confident as always” of winning the upcoming Ballon D’Or for best player in the world.

Ronaldo is the overwhelming favourite to collect the award on December 7, after a year in which he led Real Madrid to titles in Spain and Europe.

Garcia hopes Evra’s career won’t end with kick

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Marseille (AFP) – Marseille coach Rudi Garcia said on Friday that he hopes Patrice Evra will not finish his “fantastic career” on “this note”, referring to the left-back’s attack on a fan.

Evra is without a club after kicking a supporter in the head before Marseille’s Europa League game with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal on November 2.

Barcelona braced for week of reckoning – Valverde

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde warned against complacency when the La Liga leaders travel to Leganes on Saturday ahead of a testing week with trips to Juventus and Valencia also to come.

Barca could move seven points clear of Valencia at the top of the table and open up an 11-point lead over Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, who face each other later on Saturday, with an 11th win in 12 La Liga matches since Valverde took charge.

Conte targets 100% wins in Man City hunt

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes his side must win every game they play if they are to stand any chance of reeling in runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Champions Chelsea are nine points behind Pep Guardiola’s City ahead of Saturday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion, where Conte’s men secured the title in May.

Guardiola mulls Kompany return for Man City

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is considering calling on captain Vincent Kompany to solve his centre-back problems at Leicester City on Saturday.

The Belgium international, 31, has not played since picking up a calf injury during his country’s 9-0 win over Gibraltar in August.

Madrid giants face similar issues ahead of derby

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Madrid (AFP) – Accustomed to a place at the top table in recent seasons, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid resume an old rivalry at a new home on Saturday with little room for error.

Early season struggles have left both sides eight points adrift of La Liga leaders Barcelona and four points below revitalised Valencia.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 12

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NBC Sports Group’s Premier League coverage this weekend is highlighted by one of the fiercest rivalries in English football, as Arsenal host Tottenham in the 181st North London Derby this Saturday, November 18, at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and Universo. In their last meeting (4/30/17), Spurs came out on top with a 2-0 win, which confirmed they would finish above their archrivals for the first time since 1994-95.

Klopp fighting fit after health checks

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London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp feels “really good” despite having been admitted to hospital after feeling unwell earlier this week, he said on Friday.

Klopp underwent checks before being discharged on Wednesday and returning to work on Thursday. He is set to be in the dug-out when Liverpool host Southampton on Saturday

It was the German’s second visit to a British hospital following an operation to have his appendix removed in February last year.

Klopp fighting fit after health checks

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London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp feels “really good” despite having been admitted to hospital after feeling unwell earlier this week, he said on Friday.

Klopp underwent checks before being discharged on Wednesday and returning to work on Thursday. He is set to be in the dug-out when Liverpool host Southampton on Saturday

It was the German’s second visit to a British hospital following an operation to have his appendix removed in February last year.

DIRECTV NOW announces 4K Apple TV offer to mark 1-year anniversary

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To celebrate its one year anniversary, DIRECTV NOW has announced a 4K Apple TV special offer for new customers interested in cutting the cord.

The Apple TV 4K features faster performance than ever with the A10X Fusion chip for all your games and apps. Plus it plays your favorite TV shows, movies and videos in stunning detail with picture quality that’s more true to life.

No Ramos-Ronaldo rift at Real, insists Zidane

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane shrugged off reports of a dressing room rift between captain Sergio Ramos and World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of vital derby clash at Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

Both sides from the capital already trail La Liga leaders Barcelona by eight points with Ronaldo complaining earlier this month that the departures of Alvaro Morata, Pepe and James Rodriguez had left Real’s squad lacking experience compared to the one that claimed a La Liga and Champions League double last season.

Ibrahimovic, Pogba back for Man Utd – Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Paul Pogba and long-term injury victim Zlatan Ibrahimovic will make their Manchester United returns against Newcastle United on Saturday, manager Jose Mourinho announced on Friday.

France midfielder Pogba has been out since September with a hamstring injury, while former Sweden striker Ibrahimovic has not played since damaging knee ligaments against Anderlecht in April.

United may unleash Pogba and Ibrahimovic

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United supporters could be treated to the long-awaited returns of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba when their team resume their Premier League campaign against Newcastle United on Saturday.

The pair, so instrumental in United’s success last season, are back in full training and may be named on the bench as manager Jose Mourinho attempts to integrate them back into his first-team plans.

Aguero fit for Man City after health scare

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero is in contention to feature for Manchester City at Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday despite suffering a health scare while on international duty.

The striker was taken to hospital as a precaution after complaining of dizziness as Argentina lost 4-2 to Nigeria in the Russian city of Krasnodar on Tuesday.

Klopp’s Liverpool afflicted as Southampton loom

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool have been besieged by fitness dramas as they prepare to face Southampton in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday, with even Jurgen Klopp not immune.

The manager was forced to miss training on Wednesday, having had a series of checks at a local hospital after complaining of feeling unwell.

Chelsea relish trip to hapless West Brom

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London (AFP) – Chelsea can put an indifferent start to their Premier League title defence further behind them by extending a winning streak at troubled West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Antonio Conte’s side are nine points adrift of leaders Manchester City after just 11 games.

Yet the champions have won their last four domestic fixtures and can move from fourth to second should Manchester United and Tottenham, the clubs directly above them fail to win their fixtures.

Wenger vows to fix power shift in Spurs showdown

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has warned Tottenham that Arsenal will use Saturday’s derby showdown to prove the balance of power in north London hasn’t shifted permanently.

After decades of lording it over their neighbours from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road, Wenger’s side have found themselves in the unpleasant position of playing second fiddle to Tottenham over the last year.

Ascending Tierney revels in Celtic milestone

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic’s Kieran Tierney says he’s enjoyed a crazy couple of years at the Glasgow giants as he stands on the verge of making a century of appearances for the Scottish champions.

Since making his debut for the Hoops back in April 2015 the defender has firmly established himself as a first-team regular and has enjoyed a trophy-laden start to his Celtic career.

Madrid giants face similar struggles ahead of La Liga derby

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Madrid (AFP) – Accustomed to unrelenting success in recent seasons, both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid enter Saturday’s first ever Spanish capital derby at Atletico’s new Wanda Metropolitano stadium with little room for error.

Early season struggles have left both sides eight points adrift of La Liga leaders Barcelona and four points back on a revitalised Valencia.

Five things to look out for in the Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – Thomas Mueller should return to action for Bayern Munich against Augsburg this weekend after three weeks on the treatment table.

Bayern will look to extend their perfect run under Jupp Heynckes on Saturday. The champions have won seven games out of seven since Heynckes took the reins last month.

Ranieri plots downfall of unbeaten PSG

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Paris (AFP) – Claudio Ranieri, the wily Italian who masterminded Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League triumph, hopes to spring another surprise when his Nantes side visit French leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.

Since his arrival at Nantes in June, Ranieri has built on the club’s strong second half of last season under then-coach Sergio Conceicao to guide them to within two points of the Champions League spots.

Italy’s stars fall back to earth in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Italy’s stunned internationals return to the mundane setting of Serie A this weekend days after their star status in world football imploded with a shocking World Cup exit.

Goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon was back training with Juventus after his emotional retirement from international duty after two decades, preparing for Sunday’s game at Sampdoria, along with fellow 2006 World Cup winner Andrea Barzagli, and Giorgio Chiellini.

Brazil’s scouts search for future Neymars

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – At a trial for youngsters at Rio de Janeiro’s Vasco de Gama football club, Vanessa Dias pushed through the bushes to glimpse her 12-year-old son Caua, nervously hoping that he’d just taken his first step to the big time.

About 200 other children aged nine to 17 were taking part in the trial on a basic football pitch in northern Rio under the watch of scouts from the club, one of Brazil’s biggest.

One-legged football ‘king’ melts Chinese hearts

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Shanghai (AFP) – A one-legged footballer has captured the hearts of millions of Chinese fans after a widely circulated video showed him holding his own against able-bodied opponents and scoring a rasping right-footed drive.

The exploits of 21-year-old He Yiyi, who lost his leg to childhood cancer and uses crutches to support himself when playing, have earned him several endearing nicknames including “Angel with Broken Wings”, “Ball King with One Leg” and “Magic Boy”.

Saudi giants seek ‘power shift’ in AFC Champions League final

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Riyadh (AFP) – Saudi giants Al Hilal will attempt to end years of dominance by East Asian clubs when they take on Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the two-legged AFC Champions League final from Saturday.

Al Hilal missed out on the trophy in an ill-tempered final in 2014, but they are hopeful of redressing the balance of power when they host Urawa in the first leg in Riyadh.

CONCACAF announces ‘League of Nations’ shake-up

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Miami (AFP) – The governing body for football in North, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) confirmed a radical overhaul of international soccer in the region on Thursday, announcing plans for a competitive “League of Nations” tournament aimed at replacing friendlies.

The new competition would see 41 CONCACAF members split into three divisions, playing each other on a home-and-away basis, with promotion and relegation between the three leagues.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on US TV this weekend

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With all 32 places for next summer’s World Cup dished out, domestic soccer will be the focus again until preparations begin for the Russia showpiece.

And for a lot of teams, this weekend is the trigger for a congested spell of fixtures, with matches coming thick and fast in a variety of different competitions.

Aubameyang punished by Dortmund over behaviour

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund have dropped star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from their squad to play Stuttgart on Friday for “disciplinary reasons”, the club announced.

The Gabonese forward is the club’s top marksman with ten Bundesliga goals so far, but he has failed to score in the past three games with Dortmund in a slump.

Alexi Lalas discusses the state of US Soccer: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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World Soccer Talk is the weekly soccer podcast on the topic of watching soccer on TV, online and apps.

In the NEW episode, number 51, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• An exclusive and frank interview with Alexi Lalas where he discusses the state of US Soccer as well as FOX Sports’ soccer coverage and how he views his role as an analyst,

• Our analysis of the Bruce Arena appearance on FOX Sports,

• Details about the FIFA Club World Cup coming to US airwaves,

• What we know so far about ESPN’s exclusive streaming service for sports,

• Plus feedback and questions from you in the Listener Mailbag section.

CAS rejects Silva’s appeal to play for Leicester now

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Lausanne (AFP) – The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) on Thursday rejected an application for urgent provisional measures by Portuguese midfielder Adrien Silva to allow him to play for Leicester City.

The court could still rule in the player’s favour, but did not agree to allow the English Football Association to register him while it contemplates FIFA’s refusal to approve Silva’s transfer from Portugal.

FIFA World Cup Draw to air live on Telemundo Deportes and Universo on December 1

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The official draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be televised live in the United States on Telemundo Deportes and Universo on Friday, December 1. With the coverage beginning at 9:30am ET, soccer fans in the United States will finally learn which nations will be matched with other countries and what the schedule will look like for the first two weeks of the competition.

Man City’s Aguero good to go after dizzy spell

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London (AFP) – Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has declared himself fit for Saturday’s trip to Leicester City after suffering a dizzy spell while on international duty with Argentina.

Aguero was substituted at half-time of Argentina’s 4-2 friendly defeat against Nigeria in the Russian city of Krasnodar on Tuesday.

Israeli group takes 15% stake in Atletico Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid announced that it issued new shares on Thursday to allow an Israeli to invest 50 million euros ($59 million) in the club in exchange for a 15 per cent stake.

In radio interviews late on Wednesday and early on Thursday, Enrique Cerezo, the Atletico chairman, refused to name the group involved and refered to the new investor as a “multinational” specialising in oil.

Paraguay judge rules ex-soccer boss Leoz can be extradited

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Asuncion (AFP) – A court in Paraguay ruled Thursday that ex-South American soccer chief Nicolas Leoz could be extradited to face trial in the United States over alleged bribery and money laundering.

However the judge, Humberto Otazu, said his ruling was conditional on a medical board being set up to evaluate the health of 89-year-old Leoz.

Syrian coach Hakim resigns after World Cup defeat

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Damascus (AFP) – Syria coach Ayman al-Hakim on Thursday resigned after the head of the federation criticised his performance, after the team failed to qualify for its first ever World Cup.

Syria’s hopes to qualify in the Asian playoffs in October for a spot in the 2018 World Cup were dashed during extra time against Australia.

Former heads of FIFA ethics committee launch consultancy

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Lausanne (AFP) – The two judges who formerly ran the FIFA Ethics Committee announced on Thursday that they have started a company to advise on good governance in sports.

Cornel Borbely, who is Swiss, was chairman of the FIFA committee’s investigatory arm, while Hans-Joachim Eckert, a German, presided over the adjudicatory chamber which banned former president of the governing body of world football Sepp Blatter and UEFA head Michel Platini, among others.

Knee surgery for PSG’s Thiago Motta

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Thiago Motta looks set to go under the knife for a knee complaint which will sideline him until after the winter break, the club said on Thursday.

Motta is now 35 and has been playing less as midfield starlet Adrien Rabiot, 22, gradually starts to fullfil his potential in the ambitious side.

Injury setback for Tottenham’s Alderweireld

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur central defender Toby Alderweireld could be on the sidelines until next year due to a hamstring injury, manager Mauricio Pochettino revealed on Thursday.

Alderweireld, 28, sustained the injury in a Champions League game against Real Madrid on November 1 and had been expected to return to action sooner.

Mourinho hits out at England over Jones injury

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London (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has criticised the England set-up after Phil Jones aggravated a thigh injury in his country’s friendly draw with Germany.

Players including Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson withdrew from Gareth Southgate’s England squad for friendlies against Germany and Brazil due to injury.

Cazorla injury the worst I’ve seen – Wenger

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has described Santi Cazorla’s ankle injury as the worst he has seen, but remains hopeful the Spanish midfielder will return to action in January.

Cazorla, 32, has not played for Arsenal since October 2016 and has undergone eight operations to address a longstanding Achilles problem.

Australia reach fourth-straight World Cup after defeating Honduras

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Sydney (AFP) – Tim Cahill’s call for more playing time surprised his club coach Thursday and raised the prospect of a move for the veteran after Australia qualified for the World Cup following a stellar showing by captain Mile Jedinak.

Australia reached their fourth-straight World Cup Wednesday in Sydney after defeating Honduras in a 3-1 aggregate playoff victory in the qualifiers, with Jedinak scoring a hat-trick.

Football: Lippi sees improvement in goal-shy China

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Shanghai (AFP) – Two games, two defeats and no goals scored in the past week, but coach Marcello Lippi says his China side “have made gains”.

The Italian World Cup winner suffered his heaviest loss since taking charge of China in the 4-0 home drubbing to Colombia on Tuesday, four days after falling 2-0 to Serbia.

Kurds find joy in a Swedish football team’s success

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Stockholm (AFP) – Weary of war, persecution, and statelessness, Kurds rejoiced as a Swedish football club founded just 13 years ago by Kurdish immigrants won promotion to the top division.

Scores of cheering fans ran onto the pitch, dancing and waving Kurdish flags last week when Dalkurd FF beat Gothenburg’s GAIS 1-0 to earn a seat in next season’s Allsvenskan.

Peru beat New Zealand 2-0 to capture last World Cup berth

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Lima (AFP) – Emotional Peru advanced to the World Cup for the first time since 1982 by defeating New Zealand 2-0 on Wednesday, goals by Jefferson Farfan and Christian Ramos sealing the last ticket to Russia.

Farfan struck in the 27th minute and Ramos scored in the 65th to give “Los Incas” their fifth overall World Cup finals appearance and the first in 35 years.

Kiwis ‘gutted’ as Peru end World Cup dream

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Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand football fans lamented the end of their World Cup dream Thursday after a 2-0 defeat to Peru, but said the unfancied All Whites’ gritty display had done the nation proud.

New Zealand, rated 122 in the world, went into the two-legged qualifier as rank outsiders against 10th-placed Peru.

No 2030 football World Cup bid yet – Chinese FA

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Shanghai (AFP) – The Chinese Football Association (CFA) moved swiftly on Thursday to dampen talk of a 2030 World Cup bid, after China coach Marcello Lippi was quoted as saying plans were being made.

Football fan President Xi Jinping has stated his aim for China to stage the showpiece one day and wants the country, who have only qualified once for the World Cup in 2002, to become a major force in the sport.

Talk of mega bribes and throat-slashing gestures at FIFA trial

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New York (AFP) – A trial exposing rampant corruption in the business of world football ended a day of testimony Wednesday with a defendant accused of making throat-slashing gestures to intimidate a key witness.

The witness, Alejandro Buzarco, was weeping and appeared visibly distraught as he began his second day of testimony in the FIFA corruption trial in the Brooklyn federal court, prompting the judge to pause the proceedings.

Italy sack Ventura, target Ancelotti

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Milan (AFP) – Gian Piero Ventura’s reign as Italy coach ended on Wednesday after a World Cup qualifying fiasco during which the four-time champions failed to reach next year’s finals in Russia.

The 69-year-old’s fate was sealed after a crisis meeting of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in Rome, with former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti among the favourites to take over and rebuild the Azzurri.

NBC Sports to broadcast Premier League Live from Manhattan in special fan festival

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NBC Sports will be televising a special Premier League Live on Saturday, November 25 live from Manhattan as part of a soccer fan festival for supporters in the United States.

The live telecast will feature Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle broadcasting live from a “Premier League Mornings Fan Festival” in the South Street Seaport on Saturday, November 25, beginning at 9:30 a.

Griezmann unconcerned by goal drought

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Madrid (AFP) – Despite a seven match scoring drought, Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann insisted on Wednesday he is unconcerned ahead of Saturday’s big derby against Real Madrid.

The France international had averaged more than a goal every two games in his previous three seasons for Atletico but has managed just three in 13 matches in all competitions this season.

Spain to introduce video technology next season

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Madrid (AFP) – Spain’s La Liga will use the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system next season, the country’s football federation (RFEF) confirmed on Wednesday.

“The president of the referee’s technical commission, Victoriano Sanchez Arminio, has informed all first division referees and assistant referees that video refereeing will be introduced to next season’s championship,” the RFEF said.

Italy coach Ventura axed after World Cup disaster

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Milan (AFP) – Gian Piero Ventura was sacked as Italy coach on Wednesday after the four-time champions failed to reach the World Cup finals.

The veteran coach’s fate was sealed after a crisis meeting of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in Rome.

The 69-year-old had refused to resign despite a 1-0 aggregate play-off defeat to Sweden on Monday saw Italy miss the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Liverpool manager Klopp hospitalised

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London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was admitted to hospital on Wednesday following a health scare.

Media reports said Klopp had told Liverpool’s medical staff that he was feeling ill, and the 50-year-old German was urged to go to a hospital for further tests.

“He is being assessed by doctors and will be absent from training on Wednesday as a result,” the club said in a statement.

Lewandowski says finding back-up a ‘difficult’ task

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Berlin (AFP) – Poland hotshot Robert Lewandowski believes Bayern Munich will have their work cut out finding an adequate back-up striker to fill his boots when he is resting.

Last month the 29-year-old said he wanted the German champions to find someone who can carry the striking load on occasions so last season’s Bundesliga player of the year can take a break.

Barcelona lose Mascherano for a month

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano will be sidelined for a month with a thigh injury he suffered in Argentina’s friendly international against Nigeria, the club said on Wednesday.

Mascherano played the full 90 minutes in his country’s surprise 4-2 loss to the Nigerians in the Russian city of Krasnodar on Tuesday.

Ventura axed as Italy coach

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Rome (AFP) – Gian Piero Ventura was sacked as Italy coach on Wednesday after the four-time champions failed to reach the World Cup finals.

The veteran coach’s fate was sealed after a crisis meeting of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in Rome.

The 69-year-old had refused to resign despite a 1-0 aggregate play-off defeat to Sweden on Monday saw Italy miss the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Where to find Corinthians vs. Fluminense on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Corinthians vs. Fluminense in the Brasileiro, you’ve come to the right place.

Brazilian giants Corinthians face Fluminense in a game that will be televised live across United States television and streaming (see below for more details).

Universo to broadcast Peru-New Zealand World Cup playoff in Spanish on US TV

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Tonight’s second leg of the World Cup Qualifier Play Off between Perú and New Zealand will be shown live in Spanish-language via Universo and Telemundo Deportes en Vivo.

Telemundo Deportes, the Spanish-language home of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, secured the exclusive, Spanish-language media rights of the deciding leg of the playoffs between Peru and New Zealand as the Latin American team seeks a historic win to return to the World Cup after 36 years.

Argentina football official commits suicide over FIFA trial claims

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New York (AFP) – A former Argentine football official has reportedly committed suicide after he was accused of bribe-taking in testimony to a trial of top former FIFA figures in New York.

Jorge Delhon threw himself under a train in a Buenos Aires suburb on Tuesday, Argentine newspapers Clarin and La Nacion reported on their websites.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for October 31-November 5, 2017

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The 2017 MLS Conference Semi-Final second leg’s averaged 262,500 viewers, up 10% from an average of 238,750 viewers for the first leg matches and up 20% from 219,250 for the 2016’s Conference semi-final second legs. Overall MLS Cup Playoff viewership is up around 13% from 2016 and up just 584 viewers from an average of 266,833 in 2015.

Future of US soccer at stake in election – Gans

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Los Angeles (AFP) – The United States’ humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup may have left millions of fans across the country in shock, but for Steve Gans, the debacle had been a long time coming.

The 57-year-old Boston attorney’s worst fears came to fruition last month when the USA were eliminated after a 2-1 loss at Trinidad & Tobago in their final qualifying game.

Taxing times loom for China’s wantaway foreign football stars

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Shanghai (AFP) – Expensive flop Carlos Tevez could leave China soon, but other foreigners pining for a move in World Cup year may be disappointed by clubs desperate to retain their pricey stars.

The unsettled Argentine, branded “very homesick boy” by fed-up Chinese fans, has endured a miserable 11 months in the Chinese Super League (CSL) and hinted that he is eager to return to Argentina.

Football: ISL, seeking Indian ‘magic’, sheds foreign stars

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New Delhi (AFP) – The Indian Super League has slashed the number of high-earning foreign stars for its new season starting Friday but foreign coaches, including ex-England heroes Teddy Sheringham and Steve Coppell, will be in charge of every team.

Indian fans have been used to seeing the likes of Italy’s Alessandro Del Piero, French striker Nicolas Anelka, and Argentine Diego Forlan during the ISL’s first three seasons.

Former Argentine football official commits suicide: reports

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – A former Argentine football official committed suicide Tuesday, the same day he was accused of bribe-taking in the FIFA corruption trial that opened in New York this week, Argentine media reported.

Jorge Delhon threw himself under a train in a Buenos Aires suburb on Tuesday, the newspapers Clarin and La Nacion reported on their websites.

Saint-Etienne coach Garcia quits

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Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – Oscar Garcia has quit as coach of French first division side Saint-Etienne after five months at the helm, the club said Wednesday.

The Spanish coach led Saint-Etienne to a strong start to the season but they have won just one of their last seven games and were thrashed 5-0 in the local derby against Lyon on November 5.

Where to find Peru vs. New Zealand World Cup playoff 2nd leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Peru vs. New Zealand in the World Cup playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

The final game of the World Cup playoffs features Peru against New Zealand to determine who will be the last team to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Hat-trick hero Jedinak fires Australia into World Cup

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Sydney (AFP) – Captain Mile Jedinak’s second-half hat-trick fired Australia into next year’s World Cup in Russia on Wednesday as they swept past Honduras 3-1 in the second leg of their playoff in Sydney.

The Aston Villa midfielder’s free kick went in off Henry Figueroa on 54 minutes, and he then buried two penalties in the space of 13 minutes before Honduras scrambled a late consolation through Alberth Elis.

Global media paid bribes, FIFA trial hears

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New York (AFP) – A former executive who cut a plea deal with US prosecutors told the FIFA trial in New York Tuesday that media companies including Fox Sports paid bribes to secure television rights to soccer matches.

Alejandro Burzaco, the former chairman of an Argentine sports marking company, pleaded guilty in November 2015 to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies and agreed to pay $21.

Italy didn’t deserve to qualify for World Cup after poor performances in qualification

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Welcome to the apocalypse. For the first time since 1958, Italy has failed to qualify for the World Cup.

It’s a shock to the system. No team apart from Germany had qualified more World Cups consecutively, and only one, Brazil, has won the tournament more times. Italy is a giant of world soccer in a way that only a handful of other countries are.

Stindl denies France, Spain held by Russia

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Paris (AFP) – Lars Stindl scored a last-gasp equaliser as world champions Germany played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with France in Cologne on Tuesday, while Spain were held by Russia in a 3-3 friendly thriller.

France and Germany are among the favourites for next year’s World Cup in Russia, and Stindl’s injury-time effort extended Joachim Loew’s side’s unbeaten run to 21 matches.

Young England stifle Neymar’s Brazil

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London (AFP) – Neymar and his Brazil colleagues were held to a frustrating goalless draw after a spirited display by a callow England team in Tuesday’s friendly match at Wembley Stadium.

Brazil coach Tite was able to name a first-choice starting XI, but despite the presence of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho in the visitors’ line-up, they tested England goalkeeper Joe Hart only three times.

Sublime Eriksen propels Denmark to World Cup

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Dublin (AFP) – Christian Eriksen’s magnificent hat-trick inspired Denmark to a 5-1 demolition of the Republic of Ireland in Tuesday’s second leg of their play-off in Dublin to clinch a spot at next year’s World Cup.

Following Saturday’s stalemate in Copenhagen, Ireland got their home leg off to the perfect start when Shane Duffy headed them into the lead after only six minutes, but Denmark struck twice before the break and three more in the second half to seal their place in Russia.

M’bodji grabs dramatic win for Senegal

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Kara M’bodji scored in stoppage time to give already-qualified Senegal a flattering 2-1 win over South Africa in Dakar on Tuesday in a 2018 World Cup Group D eliminator.

Former France U-20 international Opa Nguette put the hosts ahead on 55 minutes and Themba Zwane missed a penalty for South Africa before Percy Tau levelled after 65 minutes.

New Zealand brace for Peru onslaught

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Lima (AFP) – New Zealand manager Anthony Hudson said his team are preparing for an early onslaught as they face Peru here on Wednesday with a World Cup place on the line.

The New Zealanders take on Peru in their Oceania-South America playoff with the odds against them after a 0-0 draw in the first leg at Wellington on Saturday.

Stindl equaliser saves Germany’s 21-match unbeaten run

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Cologne (Germany) (AFP) – Substitute Lars Stindl extended world champions Germany’s unbeaten run to 21 matches with a 93rd-minute equaliser in a 2-2 friendly draw against France in Cologne on Tuesday.

A first international double by Alexandre Lacazette put France on the verge of a deserved victory in a clash of two of the favourites for next year’s World Cup.

Russia snatch thrilling friendly draw with Spain

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Moscow (AFP) – Spain were held to a thrilling 3-3 friendly draw by World Cup hosts Russia in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, despite a brace of penalties from centre-back Sergio Ramos.

Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba’s strike and Ramos’ first spot-kick put the visitors in control, but goals either side of half-time from Fedor Smolov and Alexei Miranchuk pulled Russia level.

Aguero taken to hospital after fainting

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Moscow (AFP) – Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero was rushed to a local hospital in Krasnodar after he fainted in Argentina’s dressing room during half-time of Tuesday’s friendly with Nigeria, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed.

“Aguero suffered a lypothymia (fainting without loss of consciousness), which is why he was transferred to hospital for routine tests as a precaution,” the AFA said in a statement.

Iwobi inspires Nigeria fightback to stun Argentina

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Moscow (AFP) – Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi scored twice as Nigeria stunned Argentina 4-2 in Krasnodar on Tuesday, while Sergio Aguero was reportedly taken to hospital after fainting in the dressing room.

Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and Manchester City striker Aguero fired Argentina, playing without the rested Lionel Messi, into a 2-0 lead after 36 minutes.

Maradona rues Italy’s World Cup absence

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Rome (AFP) – Argentine legend Diego Maradona lamented Italy’s failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup, regretting the absence of “one of the greats” of international football.

Four-time world champions Italy missed out on a place in the finals after Monday’s 0-0 draw in Milan in the second leg of their European play-off sent Sweden through 1-0 on aggregate.

Aguero hospitalised after fainting – report

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Moscow (AFP) – Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero was rushed to a local hospital in Krasnodar after he fainted in Argentina’s dressing room during half-time of Tuesday’s friendly with Nigeria, local media reported.

Aguero, who scored the winner in Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Russia on Saturday, netted his team’s second goal against Nigeria in the 36th minute in Krasnodar before he was replaced at the break.

Iwobi inspires Nigeria fightback to stun Argentina

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Moscow (AFP) – Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi scored twice as Nigeria stunned two-time former World Cup winners Argentina by recovering from two goals down to win 4-2 in Krasnodar on Tuesday.

Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero fired Argentina, playing without the rested Lionel Messi, into a 2-0 lead after 36 minutes.

Iceland held by last-gasp Qatar

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Doha (AFP) – A last-minute equaliser from Qatar’s Mohammed Muntari meant Iceland warmed up for their World Cup finals debut in Russia next year without a win in two friendly matches in Doha.

The 1-1 draw on Tuesday followed up their 2-1 defeat against the Czech Republic in Qatar last week.

After ‘Miracle of Milan’, could Zlatan return?

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Stockholm (AFP) – After Sweden’s “Miracle of Milan” booked them a berth at the World Cup finals and sent Italy crashing out, could Zlatan Ibrahimovic be set for a return from international retirement?

In the minutes after the Swedes hung on for a goalless draw on Monday that secured one of the big World Cup upsets, Ibrahimovic wrote “We are Zweden” on Instagram next to a photo of the delighted team, deliberately adding the ‘Z’ of his name to his country’s.

Ex-South American soccer boss watches FIFA trial from afar

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Asuncion (AFP) – When the FIFA corruption trial kicked off in New York this week, ex-South American soccer boss Nicolas Leoz was a significant absentee, watching from the comfort of his home in Paraguay.

Leoz, one of the main suspects in the huge bribery and money laundering scandal being investigated by the US Justice Department, is where any 89-year old is content to be, albeit under house arrest.

Heartbroken Italians demand answers after World Cup ‘apocalypse’

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Milan (AFP) – After the initial shock and disbelief, heartbroken Italians on Tuesday demanded answers as to why the one-time stars of the global game had missed the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.

The Italian press called it an “apocalypse” for the four-time world champions, who failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup but have played every other edition apart from the inaugural tournament in 1930.

Italian despair at World Cup ‘apocalypse’

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Milan (AFP) – Stunned Italians awoke Tuesday to the nightmarish realisation they will miss out on the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.

Distraught fans of the one-time top dogs of the global game reacted with shock and disbelief.

The Italian press called it an “apocalypse” for the team, who last failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup and have played every other edition apart from the inaugural tournament in 1930.

Former England star Sinclair arrested

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London (AFP) – Former England and Manchester City winger Trevor Sinclair has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer after being held for allegedly drink driving.

Sinclair was arrested on suspicion of drink driving, common assault and criminal damage on Sunday after a woman suffered minor injuries when she was hit by a car.

Portugal vs. US Men’s National Team preview: US aims to restore faith after World Cup disaster

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The US is not going to the 2018 World Cup. It’s been over a month since that dismal night in Trinidad but it’s still a sore spot and it’s still shocking to hear and say. It’s also quite depressing. But it’s time to turn the page on that dark chapter in US Soccer history and to make sure that it never, ever happens again.

Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir would fit in perfectly at Arsenal

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With two of their superstars currently in the last year of their contracts, Arsenal are heading into an intensely important period. Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez have both been smash hits since their arrivals to north London in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Nevertheless, the dynamic duo are most likely in the midst of their final season with the Gunners.

Where to find England vs. Brazil friendly on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch England vs. Brazil in the international friendly, you’ve come to the right place.

England and Brazil have already qualified for the World Cup next summer, so Tuesday’s sold-out match at Wembley Stadium in London will be a perfect opportunity for both teams to build their confidence ahead of Russia 2018.

‘It’s over’ – dismay, disbelief as Italy miss World Cup

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Rome (AFP) – Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years was greeted by a mixture of disbelief, dismay and resigned disappointment by fans across the country.

In Rome’s trendy San Lorenzo district, the Le Mura bar, which showed Monday night’s playoff crunch with Sweden on a big screen, emptied at the final whistle after a goalless stalemate which condemned the Azzurri to a 1-0 aggregate defeat.

Where to find Ireland vs. Denmark 2nd Leg World Cup playoff on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Ireland vs. Denmark in the World Cup playoff second leg, you’ve come to the right place.

In the first leg, Denmark and Ireland battled to a nil-nil draw, so it’s all left to play for in the second leg. The winner will advance to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Where to find Germany vs. France friendly on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Germany vs. France friendly, you’ve come to the right place.

Two of the best soccer national teams in the world compete on Tuesday in a friendly live from the Rhein Energie Stadion in Cologne, Germany. And the good news is that the match will be televised live to viewers in the United States.

Sad farewell for Italian football legend Buffon

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Milan (AFP) – It was a tearful farewell for Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon, who had dreamed of bowing out with another record in a stellar career - a sixth World Cup finals appearance.

Instead, his career finished not in Russia but with a humiliating World Cup playoff exit against Sweden at Milan’s San Siro stadium, as Italy missed out on the finals for the first time in 60 years.

Buffon quits as Italy suffer World Cup ‘apocalypse’

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Milan (AFP) – A tearful Gianluigi Buffon quit international football as four-time champions Italy sensationally missed out on their first World Cup finals in 60 years after a playoff defeat to Sweden on Monday.

Coach Gian Piero Ventura also said he would consider his future after the Azzuri drew 0-0 in the second leg of their tie with Sweden, who qualified 1-0 on aggregate.

Toni Kroos, a vital cog in Germany’s engine

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany host France on Tuesday in a key friendly to prepare for next year’s World Cup with Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos poised to return to the world champions’ engine room.

The 27-year-old missed Friday’s goalless draw against England at Wembley with illness, but is back fit and ready to partner Juventus star Sami Khedira in the heart of Germany’s midfield.

Football: Honduras accuse Aussies of drone ‘espionage’

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Sydney (AFP) – Honduras accused Australia of using a drone for “espionage” on Tuesday, giving an extra edge to their winner-takes-all playoff to reach next year’s World Cup.

Coach Jorge Luis Pinto called it “embarrassing” after a drone was spotted hovering near an official training session - even though Australian reports said it was being flown by children.

Where to find Australia vs. Honduras World Cup playoff 2nd leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Australia vs. Honduras in the World Cup playoff 2nd leg, you’ve come to the right place.

It all comes down to this. After a 0-0 match in Honduras last week, with Australia looking very comfortable in the game, the Socceroos host Honduras on Wednesday morning in a match that’ll determine which country advances to next summer’s World Cup.

Honduras accuse Aussies of drone ‘espionage’

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Sydney (AFP) – Honduras accused Australia of using a drone for “espionage” on Tuesday, giving an extra edge to their winner-takes-all playoff to reach next year’s World Cup.

Coach Jorge Luis Pinto called it “embarrassing” after a drone was spotted hovering near an official training session - even though Australian reports said it was being flown by children.

Italy keeper Buffon ends international career

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Milan (AFP) – Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon confirmed Monday he was ending his international career after the four-time champions failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Buffon, 39, played his 175th and final game for Italy as they were beaten 1-0 on aggregate in a play-off by Sweden after a 0-0 second-leg draw at the San Siro, bringing an end to a 20-year international career that included winning the 2006 World Cup.

Italy miss out on World Cup as Sweden qualify

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Milan (AFP) – Italy failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 on Monday as they were held to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their play-off at the San Siro by Sweden, who qualified with a 1-0 aggregate victory.

The four-time champions dominated possession but struggled to create enough clear-cut chances, as Sweden secured a first appearance at the finals since 2006 courtesy of Jakob Johansson’s first-leg strike in Stockholm.

England among World Cup favourites, says Brazil’s Tite

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London (AFP) – Brazil coach Tite views England as one of the favourites to win next year’s World Cup and believes the cosmopolitan nature of the Premier League has benefited their national team.

England manager Gareth Southgate successfully blooded several new players in Friday’s 0-0 friendly draw with Germany and will again be obliged to field an inexperienced team against Brazil on Tuesday due to injuries.

Paris attack memories haunt Loew, Deschamps

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany head coach Joachim Loew and his French counterpart Didier Deschamps admit still being haunted by memories of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, ahead of Tuesday’s friendly international.

World champions Germany host France in Cologne with the events of two years ago still casting a shadow.

Football: FIFA defendants ‘blinded by greed,’ US prosecutors say

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New York (AFP) – Blinded by greed into accepting millions of dollars in bribes, or innocent bystanders?

Prosecution and defense lawyers opened the FIFA corruption trial on Monday, two and a half years after the United States unveiled the largest graft scandal in the history of world soccer.

Prove yourselves, Loew tells Germany

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew has told his Germany side to prove themselves in Tuesday’s friendly against France as the defending champions sharpen their preparations for next year’s World Cup.

Security will be tight in Cologne as the friendly takes place almost two years to the day since the Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015, when 130 people were killed and over 400 injured.

Football: FIFA bribery trial kicks off in New York

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New York (AFP) – Three South American former soccer officials were blinded by greed and accepted millions of dollars in bribes, US prosecutors told the FIFA corruption trial Monday as defense lawyers insisted their wealthy clients were innocent.

Forty-two officials and marketing executives, and three companies were indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes to the tune of $200 million.

Evra vows to return ‘stronger than ever’

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Paris (AFP) – Patrice Evra has vowed to come back “stronger than ever” in his first public message since leaving Marseille and being hit with a season-long European football ban for kung-fu kicking a supporter.

Evra, who was sent off after attacking the Marseille fan ahead of the Ligue 1 side’s 1-0 Europa League defeat to Vitoria Guimaraes on November 2, made the promise while pulling a Jeep in a light-hearted Instagram post filmed in Dubai by former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka, who Evra nicknamed “Spielberg” in the post.

Prove yourselves, German stars told for French test

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew has told his Germany side to prove themselves in Tuesday’s friendly against France as the defending champions’ sharpen their preparations for next year’s World Cup.

Security will be tight in Cologne as the friendly takes place almost two years to the day since the Paris terror attacks of November 13 2015, when 130 people were killed and over 400 were injured.

Neymar neurosis clouds Brazil’s Wembley trip

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London (AFP) – It is with a raincloud hovering above the head of their talisman Neymar that Brazil are gearing up for their final assignment of 2017 against England at Wembley on Tuesday.

Though Neymar has scored 11 goals in 12 games since his world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona, recent weeks have yielded stories of rifts with his team-mates and disagreements with coach Unai Emery.

‘Apocalypse’ now as Italy face World Cup humiliation

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Milan (AFP) – Four-time champions Italy face missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958, a potential national humiliation likened to the “apocalypse” by the team’s fanatical supporters.

Italy need to overturn a 1-0 play-off first-leg defeat against Sweden at the San Siro on Monday.

Australian Socceroos’ Tim Cahill fit for Honduras showdown

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Sydney (AFP) – Veteran talisman Tim Cahill said Monday he had recovered from an ankle injury and was fit to play for Australia in this week’s World Cup play-off with Honduras in Sydney.

The country’s all-time leading scorer remained on the bench during the goalless first leg in San Pedro Sula on Friday but said he was expecting to make an appearance in Wednesday’s do-or-die match to qualify for Russia 2018.

Thai court accepts $420 mn lawsuit against Leicester City owner

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Bangkok (AFP) – A Thai anti-corruption court on Monday accepted a lawsuit accusing duty-free giant King Power, the company that owns Leicester City Football Club, of owing the state $420 million in unpaid taxes.

The case is a rare attack on an ultra-rich firm run by one of the kingdom’s best-connected billionaires.

Where to find Italy vs. Sweden World Cup playoff 2nd leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Italy vs. Sweden in the World Cup playoff second leg, you’ve come to the right place.

Italy is on the verge of missing out on next summer’s World Cup. After losing 0-1 in the first leg in Sweden, the Italians have to make sure that they prevent Sweden from scoring because away goals count for double in the European playoffs for the World Cup qualification.

Football: FIFA bribery trial to kick off in New York

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New York (AFP) – The FIFA corruption trial is to get underway with opening statements in New York on Monday, two and a half years after US prosecutors unveiled the largest graft scandal in the history of world soccer.

Forty-two officials and marketing executives, and three companies were indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes to the tune of $200 million.

Vardy defends Drinkwater over England call-up row

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London (AFP) – Jamie Vardy insists Danny Drinkwater didn’t snub England after his former Leicester team-mate rejected the chance of a call-up for the national team’s current friendlies.

Drinkwater was accused of letting down England boss Gareth Southgate last week when he pulled out of the squad for the fixtures against Germany and Brazil.

O’Neill bemoans penalty call after World Cup heartbreak

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Paris (AFP) – Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill bemoaned the controversial first-leg penalty that saw his side’s World Cup dream end with a 1-0 aggregate defeat by Switzerland in their play-off on Sunday.

Ricardo Rodriguez’s spot-kick in Belfast on Thursday proved the difference between the two sides, as the Swiss held off some late pressure from the unfancied Northern Irish in the second leg at Basel in difficult conditions after heavy rain.

Croatia qualify for World Cup with Greece draw

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Croatia qualified for the 2018 World Cup on Sunday by holding Greece to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their play-off in Piraeus for a 4-1 win on aggregate.

Zlatko Dalic’s men will be playing in their fifth World Cup in Russia next year, having only once failed to qualify in 2010.

Cristiano Ronaldo becomes father for fourth time

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo announced on Sunday that he had become a father for the fourth time after girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez gave birth to a baby girl, Alana Martina.

“Alana Martina has just been born! Both Geo and Alana are doing great. We are all very happy,” the beaming 32-year-old footballer wrote on Twitter, posting a photo of himself, Rodriguez, his seven-year-old son Cristiano Junior and the new arrival.

Deschamps in charge means no World Cup for me, says Benzema

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Paris (AFP) – Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema admitted Sunday that he had no hope of playing at the World Cup next year as long as Didier Deschamps remains as France coach.

“Of course I believe it (playing for France again), I still believe in it,” the 29-year-old Benzema told Canal+.

Switzerland edge out Northern Ireland to qualify for World Cup

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Basel (Switzerland) (AFP) – Switzerland held off Northern Ireland to seal a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 0-0 second-leg draw on Sunday that secured a 1-0 aggregate play-off victory.

Vladimir Petkovic’s side wasted numerous first-half chances as the Northern Irish stayed in the tie, but Ricardo Rodriguez’s controversial first-leg penalty in Belfast proved enough for the Swiss to reach their fourth consecutive World Cup.

Southgate ponders captaincy change against Brazil

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate is considering changing captain for Tuesday’s friendly international against Brazil as he looks to increase his side’s stock of leaders ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Southgate has been happy to rotate the leadership during his time in charge of the national side, with Eric Dier becoming the sixth England captain of his tenure during an encouraging goalless draw in a friendly with world champions Germany at Wembley on Friday.

‘We’re Italy, we’ll qualify’, insists Ventura

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Milan (AFP) – “We’re Italy and if we qualify it will be by playing football,” coach Gian Piero Ventura insisted on Sunday on the eve of their crunch World Cup play-off against Sweden.

Four-time world champions Italy need to overturn a 1-0 first-leg defeat to avoid missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958 when Sweden hosted the tournament.

Ousted Evra backed by Mandanda

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Paris (AFP) – After being hit with a season-long ban and losing his job at Marseille for a karate kick on a supporter, Patrice Evra was backed by former team-mate Steve Mandanda on Sunday.

“He’s a really good guy,” the Marseille goalkeeper said of the 36-year-old Evra, who parted ways with the club after being banned from European football until June 30, 2018.

Neymar not immune to criticism, says Mbappe

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe insisted his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar is “human like everyone else” after the Brazilian was reduced to tears on Friday by the controversy that has followed him since his arrival from Barcelona.

A tearful Neymar pleaded with the media to stop the “false stories” about his alleged frosty relations with PSG coach Unai Emery and fellow striker Edinson Cavani following Brazil’s 3-1 international friendly win over Japan in Lille.

New Zealand riding high after Peru first-leg draw

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Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand declared themselves “definitely confident” on Sunday of upsetting Peru in their World Cup qualifying showdown, heartened by a 0-0 draw in the first leg.

As the country toasted keeping Peru scoreless in Wellington on Saturday, coach Anthony Hudson confirmed he expected the side to be at full strength for the return clash in Lima on Wednesday.

Socceroos’ Sainsbury says it’s advantage Australia

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Sydney (AFP) – Australia will have a recovery advantage over Honduras in this week’s return World Cup qualifier after taking a chartered flight home, Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury said on Sunday.

The Australian contingent arrived home Sunday from Honduras, where they fought out a scoreless draw in San Pedro Sula on Friday, giving them an extra day to recover before Wednesday’s second leg in Sydney.

France lose Giroud for Germany clash

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Paris (AFP) – Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud will miss Tuesday’s friendly against world champions Germany in Cologne due to injury, the French football federation said on Sunday.

The 31-year-old suffered a right thigh strain during Friday’s 2-0 victory over Wales at the Stade de France, where he scored his 29th international goal.

Five-star Spain thrash Costa Rica

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Málaga (Spain) (AFP) – Spain’s stunning form under coach Julen Lopetegui continued as David Silva scored twice in a 5-0 friendly thrashing of Costa Rica in Malaga on Saturday.

Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Alvaro Morata also netted in a one-sided display from the 2010 world champions.

Moroccan World Cup celebrations turn violent in Brussels

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Brussels (AFP) – Celebrations turned violent in central Brussels on Saturday, minutes after the qualification of the Moroccan national football team for the next World Cup in Russia, police told Belga news agency.

Riot police were sent out to control a crowd of about 300 people, at one point firing water canon at revelers.

Ireland hold Denmark to first-leg stalemate

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Copenhagen (AFP) – The Republic of Ireland and Denmark played out a drab 0-0 draw in the first leg of their World Cup play-off in Copenhagen on Saturday.

The closest either side came to a goal was when Pione Sisto fired wide in the first half for the hosts, while Yussuf Poulsen saw a 90th-minute header saved by Darren Randolph.

Bosnian trailblazer Ibisevic quits national team

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Sarajevo (AFP) – Veteran striker Vedad Ibisevic, who scored the goal that took Bosnia to their first World Cup finals and then found the net again when they got there, quit the national team on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Ibisevic decided to call time on his 10-year international career after Bosnia failed to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Morocco, Tunisia take different paths to World Cup

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Johannesburg (AFP) – North African nations Morocco and Tunisia took contrasting routes Saturday as they qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Morocco scored twice within five minutes through Nabil Dirar and Medhi Benatia during the opening half to triumph 2-0 in the Ivory Coast and win Group C.

Mane, Salah among BBC’s African Player of the Year nominees

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London (AFP) – Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were among five nominees named for the BBC’s African Footballer of the Year award on Saturday.

Mane’s fine form for Liverpool has carried over to the international stage as the winger helped Senegal qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002.

Aguero seals Argentina win in Moscow

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Moscow (AFP) – A late goal from Sergio Aguero unlocked a stubborn Russian defence on Saturday as Argentina won 1-0 in the ground that will stage the World Cup final next year.

The goal by the Manchester City forward gave the South Americans a deserved win at Moscow’s renovated 81,000-capacity Luzhniki stadium.

Loew to test German World Cup hopefuls

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s friendly against France on Tuesday offers Joachim Loew a chance of revenge, but the coach appears to be looking forward to the 2018 World Cup rather than back at Euro 2016.

“There are certain players that I want to see tested against the best,” Loew said ahead of the meeting in Cologne with Les Bleus, whose 2-0 victory in the Euro semifinals was Germany’s last defeat.

Australia frustrated in Honduras draw

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San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – Australia edged closer to a place in the 2018 World Cup finals on Friday after grinding out a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Honduras in their Asia-CONCACAF playoff.

Socceroos striker Tomi Juric missed golden chances in each half as the Australians dominated a physical Honduras side without managing to find a precious away goal at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.

Japan coach laments ‘naivety’ in Brazil loss

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic rued his team’s “naivety” after losing to Brazil but insisted there were plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next year’s World Cup.

First-half goals from Neymar, Marcelo and Gabriel Jesus condemned Japan to a 3-1 defeat - their 10th in 12 meetings with Brazil - in Lille despite a much-improved display after the interval.

Loftus-Cheek showed he can cut it – Southgate

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate felt Ruben Loftus-Cheek had shown the level required for international football after he produced a promising debut performance in a 0-0 draw with Germany.

Faced with a raft of injuries, Southgate gave debuts to five players in Friday’s friendly at Wembley, with Jordan Pickford, Joe Gomez, Jack Cork and Tammy Abraham also getting their first tastes of senior international football.

Where to find Denmark vs. Ireland World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Denmark vs. Ireland in the World Cup playoff first leg, you’ve come to the right place.

Both the Danish and Irish fans must be dreaming about the possibility of playing in the World Cup next summer, but the two-leg playoff series is in front of them first.

Australia’s coach Postecoglou happy after Honduras stalemate

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San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – Australia coach Ange Postecoglou praised the way his side dealt with hostile conditions on Friday after the Socceroos held Honduras to a 0-0 draw in their World Cup playoff clash.

Postecoglou said Australia would return to Sydney for Wednesday’s second leg in good heart following a controlled display that puts them in the box seat to qualify for next year’s finals in Russia.

Footballer Cardona caught in racism row in S. Korea

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Seoul (AFP) – Colombian footballer Edwin Cardona has apologised after he was accused of making a racist gesture during a friendly international against South Korea.

Cardona was caught on camera appearing to make a slant-eyes gesture during a minor scuffle between the two sides in the second half of Friday’s match at Suwon World Cup Stadium, south of Seoul.

Toothless Peru held in New Zealand

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Wellington (AFP) – Peru failed to break down a resolute New Zealand defence in a 0-0 draw in Wellington on Saturday to leave their dream of ending a 36-year absence from the World Cup finals hanging by a thread.

“Los Incas” failed to score a coveted away goal despite outplaying New Zealand in the opening match of their two-legged World Cup qualifier, with the winner claiming a spot at next year’s finals in Russia.

Blatter says Hope Solo’s ‘grabbed ass’ claim is ‘absurd’

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Lausanne (AFP) – The former head of world football Sepp Blatter said Saturday that claims by US women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo that he had grabbed her backside were “absurd”.

Solo told Portuguese newspaper Expresso that then-FIFA president Blatter had sexually harassed her at the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony.

We’ll make World Cup despite setback, says Italy coach

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Stockholm (AFP) – Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura insisted Saturday that the four-time champions will still make the 2018 World Cup finals despite a 1-0 loss to Sweden in the first leg of their play-off.

Substitute Jakob Johansson grabbed the only goal of a scrappy game in the 61st minute with a low strike that found the corner with the aid of a big deflection to leave Italy in danger of missing the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

US star Solo accuses Blatter of sexual assault

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Lisbon (AFP) – US women’s football star Hope Solo accused Sepp Blatter of sexual assault on Friday, claiming the disgraced former FIFA president groped her backside at the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony.

The 36-year-old Solo, her country’s standout goalkeeper, claimed the 81-year-old Blatter pounced as she was about to present an award to her teammate Abby Wambach.

Brazil, France impress, England in Germany stalemate

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar starred as Brazil ramped up their World Cup preparations with a 3-1 win over Japan on Friday, while France saw off Wales 2-0 in Paris and a new-look England held Germany 0-0 at Wembley.

Elsewhere, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku became his country’s equal all-time record goalscorer as Belgium played out a thrilling 3-3 draw against Mexico in Brussels.

Five things learned from England v Germany

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London (AFP) – England kicked off their build-up for next year’s World Cup with a 0-0 draw against Germany on Friday.

Here AFP Sport looks at five things we learned from the Wembley friendly:

Southgate’s kids are alright

With England boss Gareth Southgate giving debuts to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 21, Tammy Abraham, 20, and Jordan Pickford, 23, there were only 101 caps combined among the starting line-up, making it the least experienced in 37 years.

New boys impress as England hold Germany

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London (AFP) – England debutants Jordan Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek caught the eye as Gareth Southgate’s injured-ravaged side played out a 0-0 draw with world champions Germany in Friday’s Wembley friendly.

Everton goalkeeper Pickford, 23, made a number of smart saves, while 21-year-old Chelsea midfielder Loftus-Cheek, who is on loan at Crystal Palace, produced an assured display in the number 10 shirt.

Algeria convert soft penalty to hold Nigeria

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Constantine (Algeria) (AFP) – Yacine Brahimi won and converted a harshly-awarded late penalty to rescue a 1-1 draw for Algeria against already-qualified Nigeria Friday in a World Cup Africa zone Group B dead-rubber.

The Gabonese referee ruled that Abdullahi Shehu fouled Brahimi as he moved into the box in Constantine, but big-screen replays suggested otherwise.

Italy lose to Sweden in World Cup play-off first leg

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Solna (Sweden) (AFP) – Sweden claimed a precious 1-0 first-leg victory over Italy in their World Cup play-off at Stockholm on Friday, leaving the four-time champions in danger of missing the tournament for the first time in 60 years.

Substitute Jakob Johansson grabbed the only goal of a scrappy game in the 61st minute with a low strike that found the corner with the aid of a big deflection.

Sampaoli calls on Messi’s team-mates to prove Argentina worth

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Moscow (AFP) – Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli called on his side to show they can cope without Lionel Messi, ahead of the friendly with 2018 World Cup hosts Russia in Moscow on Saturday.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi scored a hat-trick as Argentina clinched a place for next year’s finals with a 3-1 win at Ecuador in their final qualifier last month.

Northern Ireland’s Evans apologises for wife’s ref rant

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Belfast (AFP) – Corry Evans has apologised for his wife’s foul-mouthed tweet towards the referee who awarded a penalty against him in Northern Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat by Switzerland in Belfast on Thursday.

The key moment came with just over 30 minutes to go when Xherdan Shaqiri’s volley from range was blocked by Evans just a few yards away in the box and Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan pointed to the spot, even though the ball struck him on his shoulder as he took evasive action.

Sakho, Mane star as Senegal book World Cup slot

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Polokwane (South Africa) (AFP) – English Premier League pair Diafra Sakho and Sadio Mane played key roles as Senegal defeated South Africa 2-0 in Polokwane Friday to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

West Ham striker Sakho opened the scoring off a pass from Liverpool attacker Mane and both were involved in the move that led to a Thamsanqa Mkhize own-goal before half-time.

Injury-cursed Bale suffers new setback

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid’s injury-prone star Gareth Bale suffered a new leg injury on Friday, adding to the frustrations of the Welsh winger who has already been sidelined with a calf strain for five weeks.

“Gareth Bale, who felt some discomfort in his left leg at the end of training, today underwent various tests carried out by the Real Madrid medical team,” said a club statement.

‘Karate kick’ Evra leaves Marseille, banned until June 30

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Marseille (AFP) – Patrice Evra parted ways with Marseille on Friday after his infamous karate kick on one of his own fans, just moments after being banned from European tournaments until June 30, 2018.

Marseille said they and the 36-year-old defender had both agreed the former Manchester United and French international would leave by “mutual consent”.

South Africa still leads 2023 Rugby World Cup race after ‘clarifications’

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London (AFP) – South Africa is still the preferred bidder to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup after officials said they had “addressed in full “clarification requests” from rivals Ireland and France.

Last week, the Rugby World Cup board said South Africa should be chosen after they gave it an overall rating of 78.

Russia cuts university year for World Cup security

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Moscow (AFP) – The Russian government said Friday it was shortening the academic year at universities in some cities hosting the 2018 World Cup to make room in dormitories for police.

The decision drew protests from the country’s largest student union and underscored the concern Russia devotes to security at the marquee June 14-July 15 competition.

Boateng lifts lid on Ancelotti’s Bayern exit

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich star Jerome Boateng has lifted the lid on Carlo Ancelotti’s team selection for what turned out to be the manager’s last match in charge, a Champions League thrashing in Paris.

Bayern were hammered 3-0 at the end of September as Dani Alves, Edinson Cavani and Neymar netted for Paris Saint-Germain after Ancelotti dropped five stars from his starting line-up, including Boateng.

Mitrovic on target as Serbia win 2-0 in China

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Guangzhou (AFP) – Newcastle United forward Aleksandar Mitrovic was on target as clinical Serbia stepped up their preparations for the World Cup with a hard-earned 2-0 friendly win in China on Friday.

Serbia, under caretaker coach Mladen Krstajic after they parted company with Slavoljub Muslin last month even though he had just guided them into the World Cup finals, will need to play better if they are to make an impression next summer.

Neymar, Brazil roll aside Japan with video help

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Neymar scored a penalty and missed another as Brazil signalled their intent ahead of next year’s World Cup by outclassing Japan 3-1 in Friday’s international friendly in Lille.

The Paris Saint-Germain star rolled in a 10th-minute spot-kick following consultation with the video assistant referee, although Neymar saw a second penalty saved shortly after by Eiji Kawashima.

Telemundo to broadcast extensive coverage of Honduras-Australia on Spanish-language TV

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Today’s World Cup playoff match between Honduras and Australia will be televised live on Spanish-language television in the United States.

The hugely important first leg from the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras will be shown on Telemundo and Universo, as well as streamed live on TelemundoDeportes.

Dortmund bus attack suspect faces trial in December

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Berlin (AFP) – A German-Russian man, accused of carrying out a bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund’s team bus, will go on trial on December 21, a German court said Friday.

Sergej W., 28, has been charged with 28 counts of attempted murder, setting off explosions and causing serious physical injury in the assault on April 11.

‘Kevin’ was a birth certificate mistake – Boateng

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Berlin (AFP) – Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has revealed that he dislikes his colourful first name because of a small mistake on the birth certificate which stopped him being called Kelvin-Prince.

“I don’t like my first name,” the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder told local station HIT Radio FFH while explaining why he only has the name ‘Prince’ on his shirt.

Scotland FA thinking of Hampden Park exit

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Glasgow (AFP) – The Scottish Football Association is considering leaving the historic Glasgow ground Hampden Park, chief executive Stewart Regan has said.

Glasgow is also home to Celtic’s Parkhead and Rangers’ Ibrox but the sectarian feeling surrounding the Old Firm duo that Hampden means has been the preferred “neutral” venue for cup finals and Scotland international matches.

Cahill poised for Australia World Cup boost

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San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – Tim Cahill is poised to give Australia a massive World Cup boost after being declared available for the Socceroos crucial 2018 World Cup playoff with Honduras here Friday.

Record scorer Cahill has been touch-and-go for the Asia-CONCACAF first leg tie after twisting an ankle a week ago in Melbourne City’s A-League game with Sydney FC.

Jury chosen in FIFA corruption trial in New York

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New York (AFP) – Twelve jurors and six alternates were selected at the FIFA corruption trial in New York on Thursday, tasked with deciding the guilt or innocence of three fabulously wealthy and once powerful South American soccer officials.

The impanelling of the jury clears the way for prosecutors to begin opening statements next Monday, two and a half years after they unveiled what is the largest bribery scandal in the history of the world’s most popular sport.

Where to find New Zealand vs. Peru World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch New Zealand vs. Peru in the World Cup playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

The World Cup playoff between New Zealand and Peru will be televised for soccer fans in the United States. The game can be found on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Espanol.

Where to find Honduras vs. Australia World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Honduras vs. Australia in the World Cup playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

The match between Honduras and Australia will be shown live in the United States on both English-language and Spanish-language television. Here’s all of the information about how you can watch the game live.

Karate kick Evra faces day of double jeopardy

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Marseille (AFP) – Patrice Evra faces his disciplinary destiny on Friday when he could be sacked by Marseille and heavily sanctioned by UEFA for aiming a karate kick at one of his own supporters.

The fiery 36-year-old former Manchester United and Juventus defender was red-carded for his violent reaction to being taunted by Marseille fans during the pre-match warm-up at last week’s Europa League game against Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.

Kiwis eye Peru upset in World Cup qualifiers

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Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand believe they can spring a massive upset and down Peru to reach the 2018 World Cup finals, even if no one else shares their faith, coach Anthony Hudson said Friday.

The New Zealanders host “Los Incas” in Wellington Saturday for the opening leg of a two-match qualification tie with a berth at the finals in Russia next year up for grabs.

Where to find Sweden vs. Italy World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Sweden vs. Italy in the World Cup playoff first leg, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s incredible to consider that a World Cup powerhouse such as Italy faces the threat of being eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, but here we are.

Northern Ireland fume, Croatia cruise

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Belfast (AFP) – Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill said he was “staggered and bewildered” by a controversial penalty decision which gave Switzerland a 1-0 win in their World Cup play-off first leg on Thursday.

Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland team dominated the match at a rain-swept Belfast but squandered a succession of chances.

Croatia see off Greece to close on World Cup

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Zagreb (AFP) – Croatia cruised to a 4-1 victory over Greece in their World Cup play-off first leg on Thursday to move to the brink of a spot at next year’s finals in Russia.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric opened the scoring in Zagreb from the penalty spot in the 13th minute, after Greek goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis brought down striker Nikola Kalinic.

Wilshere ‘wrong fit’ for depleted England

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Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate has muddied the waters regarding Jack Wilshere’s international status by saying the Arsenal midfielder is not playing in the right position to be selected.

Southgate had previously justified his decision not to pick Wilshere by citing the 25-year-old’s problematic injury record.

Switzerland on top after narrow win over Northern Ireland

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Belfast (AFP) – Switzerland took a giant step towards qualifying for Russia 2018 on Thursday but needed a controversial penalty to earn a 1-0 win against Northern Ireland in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.

Vladimir Petkovic’s team dominated the match at Windsor Park in Belfast but squandered a succession of chances as Michael O’Neill’s team held them at bay.

Friedel appointed Revolution coach

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Former United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel was named as head coach of the New England Revolution on Thursday, the Major League Soccer club confirmed.

Friedel, 46, replaces Jay Heaps, who was fired in September after six seasons in charge. Friedel’s appointment comes after the Revs failed to reach the MLS postseason for a second straight year.

Ex-St Petersburg official admits to stadium embezzlement

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Saint Petersburg (AFP) – Former Saint Petersburg deputy governor Marat Oganesyan admitted that he embezzled 50.4 million rubles ($848,526) during the construction of the city’s new stadium for the World Cup, the Investigative Committee of Russia said on Thursday.

Oganesyan was arrested in November 2016 over a fraud scheme with a firm that was supposed to provide the stadium with a video scoreboard.

Deschamps backs Griezmann to find form

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Paris (AFP) – France head coach Didier Deschamps backed forward Antoine Griezmann to rediscover his best form after a difficult start to the season, ahead of a friendly against Wales at the Stade de France on Friday.

Griezmann has scored only three times in 13 appearances for Atletico Madrid this term and is without a goal for his club since netting a penalty against Chelsea in the Champions League on September 27.

Say hello to Telstar 18, the 2018 World Cup ball

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Moscow (AFP) – What on Earth is Telstar 18?

Several heads were left being scratched on Thursday after Russia used some hardcore techno beats in a dark auditorium decked out to look like an underground dance club to present the official 2018 World Cup ball.

The orb in the spotlight followed the edgy motif of the presentation by being adorned with black-and-grey checkered rectangles that could have featured in one of Hollywood’s latest sci-fi thrillers.

Stars on show for Brazil in Japan test

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian stars, including the world’s most expensive player, Neymar, face Japan in Lille on Friday as both nations ramp up their preparations for the 2018 World Cup.

Brazil were the first team - aside from hosts Russia - to clinch their place at next year’s finals after romping through South American qualifying, while Japan will make a sixth straight appearance at the global showpiece.

Coleman hints he could stay on as Wales manager

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Paris (AFP) – Chris Coleman indicated on Thursday that he could stay on as Wales manager, saying he doesn’t see upcoming friendlies against France and Panama as “the end of anything”.

Wales failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup after a 1-0 home loss to the Republic of Ireland last month, leading to speculation that former Fulham coach Coleman would resign despite taking the team to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

FIFA human rights panel warns over migrant workers

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Geneva (AFP) – FIFA’s human rights advisors on Thursday criticised a lack of transparency over the condition of workers on World Cup projects in Russia, highlighting the plight of North Koreans reportedly building facilities.

In its first report, FIFA’s newly-branded Human Rights Advisory Board issued a warning over “significant risks to workers’ rights in the final phases of the construction in Russia”.

Rating how European soccer clubs market themselves in the US: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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World Soccer Talk is the weekly soccer podcast on the topic of watching soccer on TV, online and apps.

In the NEW episode, number 50, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• Which foreign clubs are the ones that market themselves the best in the US

• News about the latest version of the famed Football Manager computer game

• Kyle Martino steps down from NBC to run in the USSF Presidency election,

• Which Premier League club Amazon will be filming a behind-the-scenes documentary about,

• Plus feedback and questions from you in the Listener Mailbag section.

Khedira, Wagner slam VAR tests in Italy, Germany

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Berlin (AFP) – German internationals Sandro Wagner and Sami Khedira on Thursday heavily criticised the “disastrous” testing of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in both Italy and Germany.

The technology is being trialled in Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga this season with FIFA yet to announce whether it will be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Italy face World Cup nightmare against Sweden

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Milan (AFP) – For football giants Italy the next few days could be a nightmare as they face a double-headed playoff against Sweden to avoid the humiliation of missing the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

“A World Cup without Italy isn’t a World Cup” has become the catchphrase of many Italians - four-time world champions - who are perplexed at how the once-mighty Azzurri have fallen so low.

Germany’s Loew ‘not losing sleep’ over Neuer injury

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany coach Joachim Loew insisted Thursday he is not losing sleep as goalkeeper Manuel Neuer struggles to recover from a fractured foot, with just seven months to go before the World Cup.

“I haven’t been in contact with him for the last two weeks, but from what I do know, it doesn’t worry me and it doesn’t disturb my sleep,” Loew said at a press conference in Berlin.

Germany to test World Cup options at Wembley: Loew

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew says he will look at his World Cup options by “experimenting” with his line-up at Wembley on Friday when Germany take on England in a friendly.

With seven months to go before the World Cup kicks-off in Russia, Loew wants to ensure he has cover for each position.

Football Manager 2018 review: New features add more complexity but enhance game

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Football Manager 2018 will be released on November 10, and while the gameplay is hardly different from FM 2017, the game remains a must-purchase for any addicted Football Manager player or general fans of the sport.

I’ve been playing Football Manager and its predecessor Championship Manager for almost two decades going back to when I had to purchase copies abroad and bring them to the United States to get the full game.

Russian PM vows World Cup crackdown on ticket touts

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Moscow (AFP) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev vowed on Thursday to crack down harshly on people who intended to profit from reselling their tickets to the 2018 World Cup.

The price of admission for the June 14-July 15 event ranges from 1,200 rubles ($22, 19 euros) for the nosebleed seats at the opening matches to 66,000 rubles for the best ones available for the grand finale.

Where to find Northern Ireland vs. Switzerland World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Northern Ireland vs. Switzerland in their World Cup qualification playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

Northern Ireland and Switzerland are both two games away from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup but only one of the teams will advance.

Club v country talk ‘nonsense’, says Southgate

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Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate has dismissed talk of a club-versus-country row following Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane’s withdrawal from his squad.

Kane, the Premier League’s joint-top scorer, pulled out of England’s squad to face Germany and Brazil in friendlies after sustaining a knock in Spurs’ 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend.

Where to find Croatia vs. Greece World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Croatia vs. Greece in their World Cup qualification playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

In the first leg of the World Cup qualifier between Croatia and Greece, the match will be shown live on US television and streaming. It’s available on ESPN Deportes (in Spanish) as well as ESPN3 and Sling Orange (in English).

Opportunity knocks for England, Germany hopefuls

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London (AFP) – With both squads beset by injuries, Friday’s Wembley friendly between England and Germany represents an opportunity for fringe players and untested youngsters to stake claims to World Cup places.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling are among the players to have withdrawn from England’s squad, while world champions Germany are without Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Mueller.

Naby Keita – Leipzig’s Liverpool-bound midfield engine

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Berlin (AFP) – Liverpool-bound Naby Keita has hit the headlines for allegedly using a forged driving licence in Germany, but he is RB Leipzig’s midfield engine who one day hopes to play for Barcelona.

The 22-year-old box-to-box midfielder was a key component in Leipzig’s stunning first season in the Bundesliga when they briefly kept Bayern Munich off top spot before finishing second in the 2016/17 campaign.

Football: Cahill, injured and 37, still vital for Socceroos

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Sydney (AFP) – Veteran goalscorer Tim Cahill remains indispensable as Australia head into their World Cup playoff with Honduras - even when he’s injured and rapidly approaching his 38th birthday.

Cahill’s enduring value was in evidence this week when he flew out to Honduras, wearing an ice pack and accompanied by a medic, despite badly twisting an ankle in the A-League days earlier.

Elder statesman Young relishes England return

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London (AFP) – After reaching a low point in his Manchester United career last season, Ashley Young is savouring the turnaround that has seen him end a four-year exile from the England squad.

Young was scarcely seen at United during Jose Mourinho’s first season as manager, making only eight Premier League starts and missing out on the club’s Europa League triumph against Ajax.

Univision Deportes sublicenses Bundesliga TV rights from FOX Deportes for 3 years

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Univision Deportes today announced that it has sublicensed the Spanish-language TV rights in the United States from FOX Deportes for the next three years.

Under the terms of the agreement, FOX Deportes will still broadcast Bundesliga matches in Spanish, but Univision Deportes will air three matches per week across Univision Deportes Network and UniMas as it has been doing for several weeks for this season after getting the broadcasts that GolTV used to air.

World Cup qualifying play-offs: Eight European teams desperate for a place in Russia

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International football is back in focus over the next fortnight, with an array of friendlies to be played across the globe.

However, competitive action is also on the menu, as World Cup qualifying playoffs will take place to determine which teams will complete the line-up in Russia next summer.

West Ham players need to “step it up”, warns Moyes

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London (AFP) – New West Ham boss David Moyes warned his under-performing players to “step it up” or face the axe as he appeared before the press for the first time on Wednesday.

The former Everton and Manchester United boss replaced Slaven Bilic on Tuesday and faces a tough task to turn around the fortunes of the London club, mired in the Premier League relegation zone.

Olympiakos owner steps down for “few months” to fight corruption charges

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Athens (AFP) – Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis said Wednesday that he will step down from his job as club president “for a few months” to fight charges of match fixing.

Greek media reported Tuesday that Marinakis is among 28 people who are to be brought to trial for corruption in Greek football.

AFP

Sweden less scary minus Ibrahimovic – De Rossi

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Florence (Italy) (AFP) – Daniele De Rossi expressed relief on Tuesday that Sweden no longer have Zlatan Ibrahimovic among their ammunition as Italy prepares for the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off.

The 34-year-old De Rossi is one of Italy’s three 2006 World Cup-winning veterans - alongside goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, 39, and 36-year-old defender Andrea Barzagli - taking part in the last-gasp quest to grab a ticket to the World Cup finals.

Italy’s proud World Cup record in danger

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Paris (AFP) – The last burst of qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup allows some nations a chance to dream, but for football aristocrats Italy, the next few days are a potential nightmare.

The last nine places in Russia will be settled in seven frantic days starting on Thursday.

Man City announce record £473.4m revenues

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London (AFP) – Premier League leaders Manchester City announced record revenues of £473.4 million ($619.9 million, 534.5 million euros) for the past financial year on Wednesday.

The figures published in City’s annual report for 2016-17 mark an increase of 21 percent on the previous year’s revenues and represent the third successive year the club’s revenues have grown.

Kane fit to face Arsenal, says Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur hotshot Harry Kane will be fit to face arch rivals Arsenal on November 18, manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Wednesday.

Kane sustained a knock during Spurs’ 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend and withdrew from the England squad for their friendlies against Germany and Brazil.

Goetze hopes to reboot Germany career at Wembley

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s World Cup-winner Mario Goetze hopes to use Friday’s friendly against England at Wembley to kick-start his international career after a year on the sidelines.

The 25-year-old wrote himself into German footballing folklore by volleying home the winning goal in extra time for a 1-0 victory over Argentina in the 2014 final.

Marseille boss blames Evra and fans for attack

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Paris (AFP) – Marseille’s American owner Frank McCourt said Wednesday that Patrice Evra’s kung-fu kick on a supporter was “unacceptable” but he also pointed the finger at the fans involved.

Evra’s future at the French club hangs in the balance after the attack on a fan who he said was abusing him before Marseille’s Europa League game against Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal last week.

Germany’s Boateng out of England clash, Kroos doubtful

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany will be without World Cup-winning defender Jerome Boateng for Friday’s friendly against England at Wembley.

The German camp confirmed on Wednesday that the Bayern Munich star is struggling with a muscular injury and will sit out the international in London.

Mexican girls fight violence with boys’ own game: football

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San Felipe del Progreso (México) (AFP) – Guadalupe Garcia, an indigenous Mexican woman, was working as a maid when she fell in love - not with her boss, like a hackneyed telenovela plot, but with football.

Garcia, a petite but powerful athlete with a sharp mind and wide smile, was not allowed to play football growing up as a poor Mazahua indigenous girl in the small village of San Juan Coajomulco.

World Cup qualifiers: Preview of final games to determine who will be in World Cup

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In a week’s time, the field for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be set. All that’s left to settle are four playoff ties in Europe, two pitting teams from across continental divides, and three groups in Africa.

Drama is guaranteed. The tournament, as we approach the new year, lies just around the corner.

UN clears Qatar in migrant worker abuse probe

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Geneva (AFP) – The UN’s labour agency on Wednesday closed a probe into the alleged mistreatment of foreign workers in World Cup 2022 host Qatar, praising a reform plan agreed by the emirate.

Activists and leading international labour unions had accused Qatar of subjecting migrant workers to slave-like conditions on jobs that included infrastructure projects for FIFA’s top tournament.

Tarnished Modric key to Croatia World Cup hopes

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Zagreb (AFP) – Croatia will hope Real Madrid star Luka Modric can carry the nation to the World Cup finals as they go into the first leg of a tricky play-off with Greece on Thursday.

The 32-year-old captain has faced a tumultuous year, with his shining reputation tarnished by a scandal in June over allegedly false testimony he gave at a major corruption trial.

Olympiakos owner to stand trial for corruption: reports

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Athens (AFP) – Greek media reported Tuesday that Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis is among 28 people who are to be brought to trial for corruption in Greek football.

The Athens News Agency, quoting reliable sources, said the Athens Court of Appeals will officially announce a referral order on Wednesday, ending an ongoing investigation into match-fixing in top Greek leagues.

Robbie Rogers retires from football

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Los Angeles Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers, the first openly gay male athlete to play in a major North American sports league, announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Rogers, 30, confirmed his retirement in a statement released through the Galaxy, ending a professional career that spanned 11 seasons and included stints in England, the Netherlands and Major League Soccer.

Burnley’s Cork gets first England call

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London (AFP) – Burnley midfielder Jack Cork was called up to the England squad for the first time on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming friendlies with Germany and Brazil after yet more withdrawals from Gareth Southgate’s squad.

Cork, formerly of Swansea and Southampton, was summoned by England manager Southgate after Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph and Jordan Henderson became the latest withdrawals from the squad for the back-to-back Wembley matches.

Ferencvaros sanctioned over Hungary’s first fan stabbing

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Budapest (AFP) – Hungary’s most popular club Ferencvaros was hit Tuesday with a fine and an order to close part of its stadium after a fan was stabbed in the country’s first ever incident of football-related knife violence.

Budapest-based Ferencvaros must pay a 3 million forints fine (9,600 euros, $11,000) and close four stadium sectors occupied by “ultra” fans for the next three home games, said the Hungarian Football Association in a statement.

6 transfer targets for Arsenal if Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leave the Gunners

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Much has been said about the futures of Arsenal superstars Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Both players are out of contract at the end of the season and talks have not progressed as well as some have hoped. Sanchez is already thought to have his sights set on a switch to Manchester City, with a January move possible.

Brazil’s Marquinhos at home ahead of Japan clash

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Paris (AFP) – Brazil’s Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos admitted he felt “very emotional” after training with his international teammates at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday ahead of their friendly against Japan.

The Brazil squad are using the Paris club as their headquarters on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading off for Friday’s international friendly at Lille, in northern France.

World Cup report ‘leaves door open to drug abuse’ – Laporte

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London (AFP) – French rugby chief Bernard Laporte raised the stakes in a bitter war of words over the destiny of the 2023 World Cup on Tuesday by saying the sport risks being seen as weak over doping.

Last week, the Rugby World Cup Board recommended the World Rugby Council award the tournament to South Africa after a technical report placed it ahead of rival bidders France and Ireland on an overall score across a range of criteria.

World Cup will be Koscielny swansong

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Paris (AFP) – Laurent Koscielny will retire from the France team after the 2018 World Cup, making way for a new generation of players, the Arsenal centre-back said on Tuesday.

“I’m starting to get a bit old at 32. With Sam (Umtiti of Barcelona) and the others in their twenties and on the lookout, the time has come,” Koscielny told a press conference at the French team headquarters.

World Cup report leaves ‘door open to drug abuse’: Laporte

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London (AFP) – French rugby chief Bernard Laporte has raised the stakes in a bitter war of words over the destiny of the 2023 World Cup on Tuesday by saying the sport risks being seen as weak over doping.

Last week, the Rugby World Cup Board recommended the World Rugby Council award the tournament to South Africa after a technical report placed it ahead of rival bidders France and Ireland on an overall score across a range of criteria.

Video ref reform calls in Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – German football chiefs want to reorganise refereeing in the Bundesliga after the head of their fledgeling video refereeing (VAR) system was sacked amidst accusations of bias.

The VAR system is being trialled this season in Italy and Germany, generating much debate in both countries with fans complaining it slows games down.

Sling Blue cheatsheet now available for download, answers questions about streaming service

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Out of all of the legal streaming services available in the United States, Sling Blue is one of the most appealing to sports fans because it offers NBC Sports and FOX Sports in one package for $25/month.

Of course, the streaming package from Sling TV offers much more than just those two networks.

New West Ham boss Moyes has ‘point to prove’

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London (AFP) – West Ham named former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes as their new manager on Tuesday after sacking Slaven Bilic following a string of poor results that left the club mired in the Premier League relegation zone.

The Hammers parted company with Bilic on Monday, two days after a chastening 4-1 loss at home to Liverpool convinced co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold that the club needed a change of direction to stop the rot.

Turner Sports delivers uninspiring segment to promote Champions League coverage

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This past weekend, Turner Sports had a short segment on their NBA show to promote the network’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League, which begins next summer.

In short, the attempt by Turner Sports was awkward, underwhelming and didn’t help fill the viewer with any confidence that the network knows soccer.

Seeing double as identical twins play football for Russia

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Moscow (AFP) – Opponents of Russia’s national side can be forgiven for confusion as they face two identical players: twin brothers Anton and Alexei Miranchuk.

The 22-year-old Miranchuk siblings appeared together in the national squad for the first time last month after manager Stanislav Cherchesov rewarded their solid performances for Russian league leaders Lokomotiv Moscow.

West Ham appoint David Moyes as new manager

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London (AFP) – West Ham have appointed former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes as their new manager, the struggling Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

“We believe David is the right man to turn things around and get the best out of the players at the club,” joint chairman David Sullivan said.

Struggling West Ham appoint Moyes as manager

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London (AFP) – West Ham have appointed former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes as their new manager, the struggling Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

“We believe David is the right man to turn things around and get the best out of the players at the club,” joint chairman David Sullivan said.

Spurs star Kane out of Germany, Brazil games

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur’s prolific striker Harry Kane withdrew from the England squad for prestigious friendlies with World Cup holders Germany and five-time winners Brazil on Monday due to a knee injury.

His Spurs team-mate, midfielder Harry Winks, also limped out with an ankle problem, bringing the absentees from the club to three as Dele Alli had already pulled out.

Abraham has no regrets about Nigeria snub

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Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – New England call-up Tammy Abraham says he never considered playing for Nigeria at international level despite repeated overtures from the Nigerian Football Federation.

Abraham’s father is Nigerian and a childhood friend of Nigerian federation president Amaju Pinnick, who claimed in September that Abraham had decided to play for the west African country.

Martino joins race for US soccer top job

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Kyle Martino on Monday joined the crowded field vying for the presidency of the United States Soccer Federation in the wake of the country’s 2018 World Cup debacle.

Martino, best known in the US as an analyst for NBC television, said he had decided to challenge for the USSF presidency after the result of “many conversations” in recent weeks.

Greece football coach angered by Manolas play-off ban

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Athens (AFP) – Greece coach Michael Skibbe blasted FIFA’s decision to ban Roma defender Kostas Manolas from Thursday’s World Cup play-off first leg away to Croatia for “intentionally seeking a yellow card”.

“What FIFA did was not right. FIFA sometimes takes some ‘special’ decisions.

Kung fu kick Evra ‘should have known better’, says Deschamps

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Paris (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps predicted Patrice Evra would pay a heavy price for kicking a Marseille fan last week and says the former national captain should have known better.

“I’m neither condemning him nor judging him,” said Deschamps, for whom Evra played at Monaco and with France.

TV schedule for World Cup qualifiers and international friendlies: November 9-15

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The final World Cup qualifiers take place during the current international break, which will determine the final countries that will make up the 32 teams competing in next summer’s World Cup.

Plus there are several enticing friendlies that’ll be played around the world.

So far, here are the countries who have qualified for World Cup 2018: Russia, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, England, Spain, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Poland, Egypt, Iceland, Serbia, Portugal, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and Panama.

10 things we learned from the 2017 MLS Conference Semifinals

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Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the ten things we learned from the 2017 MLS Conference Semifinals.

1. Toronto Loses Its Cool

Jozy Altidore is great player, but his conduct in the first half of Toronto’s game on Sunday against the Red Bulls was phenomenally stupid.

Pochettino confident Kane will be fit for England

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino insists Harry Kane will be available for England’s upcoming friendly internationals despite an injury scare in a 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace.

The Spurs striker went off 14 minutes from the end of Sunday’s success at Wembley after receiving treatment in the first half.

Conte warns axed Luiz to fight for Chelsea future

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has warned David Luiz he faces a fight to win back his Chelsea place after the Brazil defender was dropped for the 1-0 win over Manchester United.

Luiz paid the price for some sloppy performances as Blues boss Conte left him out of the squad at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Manchester City will be ‘hard to stop’, warns angry Wenger

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger accepted leaders Manchester City would be “hard to stop” in their quest for the Premier League title especially if they continued to get the rub of the green from referees.

The Gunners manager accused City forward Raheem Sterling of diving after he won a penalty in his team’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Etihad on Sunday.

Russia faces ‘very real’ threat of attack at World Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – Russia says it will take extraordinary measures to combat any terrorist threat when it hosts the World Cup next year, as its military campaign in Syria makes the country a prime target for jihadists.

A bombing on the metro in Saint Petersburg in April that left 15 people dead was among the recent high-profile terror attacks on Russian soil.

Toronto, Columbus to meet in MLS East showdown

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New York (AFP) – Toronto FC advanced to Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference finals despite a 1-0 home loss Sunday to the New York Red Bulls in a playoff matchup marred by a half-time scuffle.

The heated encounter saw Toronto’s Jozy Altidore and New York’s Sacha Kljestan given red cards as tempers boiled over into shoving between the US national team members as players departed the field at half-time.

Cannavaro quits Tianjin as Evergrande rumours swirl

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Shanghai (AFP) – Fabio Cannavaro has resigned as coach of Tianjin Quanjian, the club announced Monday, just days after steering them to an AFC Champions League berth and with rumours swirling he will return to seven-time Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande.

The Italian World Cup winner, who engineered the club’s promotion to the Chinese Super League (CSL) last year and a third-place finish this year, will be succeeded by former Portuguese international Paulo Sousa, the club said.

Injured Tim Cahill travels with ice machine to Honduras

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Melbourne (AFP) – Goal-scoring talisman Tim Cahill took an ice machine on board the long flight to Honduras on Monday to treat his injured ankle as he races to be fit for this week’s vital World Cup playoff.

The veteran Cahill, 37, said he would receive treatment from a member of Australia’s medical staff during the 15-hour journey, adding that he hoped to speed up his recovery with “round the clock work”.

Everton defender Michael Keane called up by England

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London (AFP) – Everton defender Michael Keane was on Monday called into the England squad for high-profile friendlies against Germany and Brazil, with manager Gareth Southgate forced to juggle his resources due to injury concerns.

Keane, 24, played in the Toffees’ 3-2 victory against Watford in the Premier League on Sunday after returning from a recent leg injury.

West Ham sack manager Slaven Bilic

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London (AFP) – West Ham sacked manager Slaven Bilic on Monday after a poor run of results that have left the club in the Premier League relegation zone.

“West Ham United can confirm that Slaven Bilic has today left his position with the club,” the Hammers said in a statement on their website.

West Ham sack Bilic, Moyes favourite for job

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London (AFP) – West Ham sacked manager Slaven Bilic on Monday after a poor run of results that have left the club languishing in the Premier League’s relegation zone, with David Moyes the favourite replace him.

The club announced the departure of the Croatian, appointed in June 2015, following a chastening 4-1 loss to Liverpool at the London Stadium on Saturday that leaves them 18th in the table and facing a fight for Premier League survival.

Real Madrid roll over Las Palmas to calm crisis talk

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid quietened crisis talk after back-to-back defeats as Marco Asensio added to his collection of wonder strikes in a 3-0 victory over Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Victory cuts third-placed Real’s deficit on Barcelona at the top of La Liga back to eight points.

Marseille tune out Evra drama, Lyon win heated derby

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Paris (AFP) – Marseille fans made their feelings clear to Patrice Evra as the Mediterranean side put their European troubles behind them by romping to a 5-0 win over Caen in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Evra, 36, was not involved in the game at the Velodrome having been suspended by his club for aiming a karate kick at the head of one of his team’s own supporters prior to Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Vitoria Guimaraes.

Juventus close gap as Napoli, Inter Milan held

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus closed the gap at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win over bottom club Benevento on Sunday as leaders Napoli were held by Chievo and Inter Milan drew 1-1 against Torino.

Amato Ciciretti’s first-half opener for Benevento stunned Juventus before Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado scored after the break to seal three points for the six-time defending champions.

Evra thanks ‘real fans’ after karate kick attack

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Paris (AFP) – Patrice Evra praised the support he has received from “real Marseille” fans on Sunday, just three days after launching a karate kick at one of his team’s own supporters ahead of a Europa League match.

The 36-year-old was suspended by Marseille on Friday after he was red-carded for the assault which occurred in the pre-match warm-up before Thursday’s game against Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.

Real roll over Las Palmas to calm crisis talk

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid quietened crisis talk after back-to-back defeats as Marco Asensio added to his collection of wonder strikes in a 3-0 victory over Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Victory cuts third-placed Real’s deficit on Barcelona at the top of La Liga back to eight points.

Morata strikes as Chelsea derail Manchester United title bid

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London (AFP) – Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata condemned Jose Mourinho to another damaging defeat against his former club as the champions clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Morata rewarded an enterprising display from Antonio Conte’s side when the Spain striker headed home early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester City well ahead as Chelsea beat Manchester United

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City were left with a healthy eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League after second-placed Manchester United suffered a 1-0 loss away to champions Chelsea hours after the leaders saw off Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday.

United manager Jose Mourinho, a former title-winning boss with Chelsea, saw his latest visit to Stamford Bridge end in defeat courtesy of Alvaro Morata’s 55th-minute header that ended a run of six game without a goal for the Spain striker.

Marseille hit five, Balotelli sent off in Nice win

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Paris (AFP) – Marseille fans made their feelings clear to Patrice Evra as the Mediterranean side put their European troubles behind them by romping to a 5-0 win over Caen in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Evra, 36, was not involved in the game at the Velodrome having been suspended by his club for aiming a karate kick at the head of one of his team’s own supporters prior to Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Vitoria Guimaraes.

Genoa sack Juric after derby defeat

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Genoa (Italy) (AFP) – Genoa announced on Sunday they have sacked coach Ivan Juric after this weekend’s Serie A derby defeat against local rivals Sampdoria.

The club made the announcement in a brief statement a day after a 2-0 defeat at home left them third from bottom with just six points from 12 games.

Wagner stakes Germany claim to face England

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Cologne (Germany) (AFP) – Sandro Wagner made a case to face England in Germany’s forthcoming friendly international by netting twice in Hoffenheim’s 3-0 win at the Bundesliga’s bottom side Cologne on Sunday.

The Germans face Gareth Southgate’s England at Wembley on Friday before hosting France four days later in Cologne in friendlies designed to test the defending champions before next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Juventus close gap as Napoli, Inter held

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus closed the gap at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win over bottom club Benevento on Sunday as leaders Napoli were held by Chievo and Inter Milan drew 1-1 against Torino.

Amato Ciciretti’s first-half opener for Benevento stunned Juventus before Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado scored after the break to seal three points for the six-time defending champions.

Aguero on target as Man City sink Arsenal

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City’s newly-crowned record goalscorer Sergio Aguero was on the mark again, as his second-half penalty helped the Premier League leaders beat Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Aguero scored via the post after Nacho Monreal was judged to have brought down Raheem Sterling with a clumsy challenge in the 49th minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Qatar to use foreign police officers at 2022 World Cup

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Doha (AFP) – Police officers from different countries will be on Qatar’s streets during the 2022 World Cup in an effort to prevent hooliganism, a senior security officer for the tournament has said.

Major Ali Mohammed Al-Ali, deputy executive director for security with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the body overseeing the tournament, also predicted that Qatar would deliver “the safest World Cup in the world”.

Inter held by Torino as rain wipes out Lazio game

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan maintained their unbeaten record in Serie A on Sunday but a 1-1 home draw against Torino could allow Napoli to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Inter fought back after Iago Falque put Torino ahead on 59 minutes, with Eder coming off the bench to snatch a point 11 minutes from time after a neat touch from captain Mauro Icardi.

Balotelli scores, is sent off in Nice win

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli scored the only goal of the game as Nice beat Dijon 1-0 in Ligue 1 on Sunday but his afternoon was marred when he was sent off late on.

The Italian striker converted a penalty five minutes from half-time after a foul on Alassane Plea in the area for his sixth league goal of the campaign.

Inter Milan held back by Torino

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan maintained their unbeaten record in Serie A on Sunday but their 1-1 draw at home against Torino could allow Napoli to extend their lead at the top of the Italian championship.

Inter fought back after Iago Falque opened for Torino on 59 minutes with Eder coming off the bench to snatch a point on 79 minutes after a neat cross from captain Mauro Icardi.

Son and Gazzaniga star as injury-hit Spurs beat Palace

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London (AFP) – Son Heung-Min’s second-half goal and a fine debut from goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga helped Tottenham Hotspur to a nervy 1-0 Premier League victory over bottom club Crystal Palace in a London derby at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s injury-ravaged side failed to hit the heights of Wednesday’s memorable 3-1 Champions League victory over Real Madrid and the title-chasers were fortunate to claim all three points.

Son goal enough for injury-hit Spurs against Palace

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London (AFP) – Son Heung-Min’s second-half goal gave Tottenham Hotspur a nervy 1-0 Premier League victory over bottom club Crystal Palace in a London derby at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s injury-ravaged side failed to hit the heights of Wednesday’s memorable 3-1 Champions League victory over Real Madrid and the title-chasers were fortunate to claim all three points.

Where to find Manchester City vs. Arsenal on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Manchester City vs. Arsenal in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

Manchester City has an opportunity to increase their lead atop the Premier League, but Pep Guardiola’s high-flying City will face a stern test against an Arsenal team that are playing well in the league.

Where to find Chelsea vs. Manchester United on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Chelsea vs. Manchester United in the Premier League, you’ve come to the right place.

Managers Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte will clash again at Stamford Bridge when their teams face off against each other in a battle of the top four.

Football: FIFA corruption trial opens in New York

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New York (AFP) – It was the raid that changed the face of the world’s most popular sport. Swiss police swooped in on a five-star Zurich hotel at dawn, arresting seven soccer officials at US request.

Two and a half years later, the only defendants detained in the United States who continue to profess their innocence will go on trial.

Germany’s coach Loew wary of ‘strongest England in years’

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany head coach Joachim Loew launched a charm offensive ahead of Friday’s international friendly at Wembley by insisting this is the strongest England side in recent years.

The Germans have won all of their last six matches against old rivals England at the iconic Wembley, a run stretching back to 1982.

Celtic manager Rodgers proud of his record-breaking ‘Bhoys’

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said he was proud of his players for overcoming every challenge they have had to face on their way to breaking their own 100-year-old British record unbeaten domestic run.

The Scottish champions extended their domestic unbeaten streak to 63 games with a 4-0 thrashing of St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Dele Alli limps out of England friendlies squad

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur’s in-form midfielder Dele Alli has had to pull out of the England squad for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Brazil.

Alli’s two goals fired Spurs to a famous 3-1 Champions League success over titleholders Real Madrid at Wembley last Wednesday.

Bilic on brink after Liverpool debacle

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London (AFP) – West Ham manager Slaven Bilic admits his side’s “naive” 4-1 thrashing by Liverpool could be fatal to his hopes of avoiding the sack.

Bilic’s side are just one point above the Premier League relegation zone after slumping to a dismal defeat at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Where to find River Plate vs. Boca Juniors on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch River Plate vs. Boca Juniors in the Superclásico, you’ve come to the right place.

One of the most eagerly-anticipated games of the soccer calendar pits River Plate against Boca Juniors. In previous years, it’s been difficult to find the game on US airwaves, but here’s all of the info you need below.

Wydad are African champions again after 25 years

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Wydad Casablanca of Morocco became African champions for a second time when they defeated Al Ahly of Egypt 1-0 Saturday in the second leg of the CAF Champions League final.

Walid El Karty nodded the lone goal on 69 minutes to give the home team a 2-1 aggregate triumph after they forced a 1-1 draw in Egyptian coastal city Alexandria last weekend.

Injured Socceroo Cahill to travel to Honduras – FFA

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Sydney (AFP) – Key attacker Tim Cahill will join the Australian squad in Honduras as he recovers from an ankle injury for this week’s FIFA World Cup intercontinental play-off, the FFA said on Sunday.

The squad leaves on Sunday but Football Federation Australia said the country’s all-time leading goalscorer will delay his departure and join his team-mates in Honduras a day later than originally scheduled.

Cries of ‘freedom’ as record-breaking Barcelona march on

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona continued their record-breaking start to a La Liga season by beating Sevilla 2-1 thanks to Paco Alcacer’s double on Saturday in an atmosphere at the Camp Nou marked by the political upheaval in Catalonia.

A huge Catalan flag and banners reading “justice” in Catalan and English were displayed before kick-off after eight ministers of the Catalan government deposed by Madrid were detained pending a possible trial for their roles in the drive for Catalan independence.

Alcacer double edges Barca past Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona continued their record-breaking start to a La Liga season by beating Sevilla 2-1 thanks to Paco Alcacer’s double on Saturday in an atmosphere at the Camp Nou marked by the political upheaval in Catalonia.

A huge Catalan flag and banners reading “justice” in Catalan and English were displayed before kick-off after eight ministers of the Catalan government deposed by Madrid were detained pending a possible trial for their roles in the drive for Catalan independence.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for October 25-31, 2017

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Viewership for the MLS Knockout Round was up slightly from 2016 with an average of 301,000 viewers for the four matches across UniMás, UDN, ESPN2 and FS1. Viewership peaked for October 26th’s early match between expansion side Atlanta United and MLS original Columbus Crew, averaging a combined 577,000 on ESPN2 and UniMás and beating out last season’s top match of the knockout round by 114,000 viewers.

All Blacks coach Hansen questions referee’s ‘focus’ after Barbarians win

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Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – New Zealand coach Steve Hansen suggested referee Nigel Owens had not been as “focused” as he would have been for a Test match after the world champions launched their tour of Europe with a 31-22 win over the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.

Hansen deliberately fielded an unfamiliar-looking All Blacks team, with fly-half Beauden Barrett captaining the side in place of the rested Kieran Read.

Bilic says ‘difficult situation’ after Liverpool defeat

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London (AFP) – West Ham boss Slaven Bilic admitted he was in a “difficult situation” after a damaging 4-1 defeat to Liverpool left his side in deep trouble just above the Premier League relegation zone.

Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead and Joel Matip doubled the visitors’ lead before half-time at the London Stadium.

Liverpool pile pressure on West Ham, Leicester extend run

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London (AFP) – Rampant Liverpool turned up the heat on beleaguered West Ham boss Slaven Bilic with a 4-1 win on Saturday as former champions Leicester City extended their unbeaten run with a draw at Stoke.

Elsewhere, struggling West Brom’s winless run stretched to nine league matches in a 1-0 loss against 10-man Huddersfield, cranking up the pressure on manager Tony Pulis, while Burnley’s 1-0 victory at Southampton lifted them briefly to sixth in the table.

Bayern down Dortmund to open four-point lead

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich stamped their authority on the Bundesliga on Saturday by opening a four-point lead as Robert Lewandowski netted an audacious goal in their commanding 3-1 win at Borussia Dortmund.

Defending champions Bayern stay on course to win the German League for a sixth straight season after dominating the high-tempo showdown at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.

Salah fires Liverpool to pile pressure on Bilic

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London (AFP) – Mohamed Salah’s brace left West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic in grave danger of the sack as Liverpool thrashed the Premier League strugglers 4-1 on Saturday.

Salah put Liverpool ahead at the London Stadium and Joel Matip doubled the visitors’ lead before half-time to leave Bilic facing a toxic atmosphere.

Where to find Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland in the Championship, you’ve come to the right place.

The north east derby features a clash between bottom of the table Sunderland against tenth-place Middlesbrough. The bragging rights in that part of England are on the line.

100 up for insatiable Cavani as PSG win without Neymar

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Paris (AFP) – The injured Neymar was left at home as Edinson Cavani reached a century of goals in Ligue 1 with a brace in Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-0 romp away to Angers on Saturday.

The world’s most expensive player sat out the game at the Stade Raymond Kopa with a minor thigh problem picked up in the midweek Champions League win over Anderlecht but he was not missed as PSG went provisionally seven points clear at the top of the table from Monaco.

Werner fires warning shots to England, France

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Berlin (AFP) – Timo Werner proved his form ahead of Germany’s forthcoming internationals as his late goal sealed RB Leipzig’s 2-1 comeback win against Hanover 96 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, who has just recovered from a neck injury, is set to feature for the world champions in high-profile friendly matches against England and France in the next 10 days after missing his country’s matches last month.

Leicester stretch unbeaten run, Pulis under pressure

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London (AFP) – Leicester City extended their unbeaten run on Saturday with a draw at Stoke while struggling West Brom’s winless run stretched to nine league matches against 10-man Huddersfield, cranking up the pressure on manager Tony Pulis.

With five of the top six sides not in action until Sunday, the focus was on the battle lower down the Premier League table before Liverpool were due to kick off in the late match against struggling West Ham.

Werner fires Leipzig back to winning ways

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Berlin (AFP) – Timo Werner proved his readiness to return to the Germany team as his late goal sealed RB Leipzig’s 2-1 come-from-behind win at home to Hanover 96 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, who has just recovered from a neck injury, is set to feature for the world champions in high-profile friendly matches against England and France in the next 10 days after missing his country’s matches last month.

Valencia put pressure on Barca, Atletico bounce back

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia swept aside Leganes 3-0 on Saturday as they continued their stunning form with an eighth straight win to close to within a point of La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side also moved ahead of Barca as the league’s top scorers with 30 goals in their first 11 games as Dani Parejo, Rodrigo and Santi Mina found the net.

Peerless Celtic break British domestic unbeaten record

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Glasgow (AFP) – French striker Moussa Dembele scored one and created another two as Celtic thrashed St Johnstone 4-0 to break their own 100-year British record of unbeaten domestic matches.

The Scottish champions extended their domestic unbeaten record to 63 to eclipse the Celtic team of Willie Maley who went 62 league games unbeaten - pre-League Cup whilst the Scottish Cup was not played during World War I - between 1915 and 1917.

Peerless Celtic break 100-year British unbeaten record

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Glasgow (AFP) – French striker Moussa Dembele scored one and created another two as Celtic thrashed St Johnstone 4-0 to break their own 100-year British record of unbeaten domestic matches

The Scottish champions extended their domestic unbeaten record to 63 to eclipse the Celtic team of Willie Maley who went 62 league games unbeaten - pre-League Cup whilst the Scottish Cup was not played during World War I - between 1915 and 1917.

Liverpool-bound Keita accused of using forged driving licences

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Berlin (AFP) – Liverpool-bound midfielder Naby Keita could face a six-figure fine after allegedly twice using forged licences to try to obtain a German driving permit, a report claimed on Saturday.

The RB Leipzig defensive midfielder and Guinea international, who is joining Liverpool for 2018/19, is accused of two counts of forgery which carries a minimum penalty of 100,000 euros ($115,195), according to Bild.

Stoke’s Crouch earns share of spoils against Leicester

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Former England striker Peter Crouch came off the bench to rescue a point for Stoke City in a 2-2 draw on Saturday, denying new Leicester manager Claude Puel a second consecutive win of his young managerial reign.

The 2015-16 Premier League champions parted company with Craig Shakespeare last month after slipping into the relegation zone but have recovered strongly under caretaker boss Michael Appleton and ex-Southampton boss Puel.

Crouch earns Stoke share of spoils against Leicester

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Former England striker Peter Crouch came off the bench to rescue a point for Stoke City in a 2-2 draw on Saturday, denying new Leicester manager Claude Puel a second consecutive win of his young managerial reign.

The 2015-16 Premier League champions are now unbeaten in six games in all competitions after early season struggles but will be disappointed they twice let their lead slip and in the end were indebted to goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who made a fantastic flying stop in the dying seconds.

Bothroyd suffers training ground blackout in Japan

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Tokyo (AFP) – Former Cardiff City striker Jay Bothroyd is recovering at home after collapsing during training with his Japanese side Consadole Sapporo, the J-League club said on Saturday.

The 35-year-old, who joined Sapporo in July, underwent emergency medical treatment and was rushed to hospital after suffering convulsions in training.

Cerezo Osaka lift J-League Cup

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Tokyo (AFP) – Japan’s Cerezo Osaka celebrated their first-ever domestic title after a 2-0 victory over Kawasaki Frontale in the J-League Cup final on Saturday.

Japan striker Kenyu Sugimoto stunned Kawasaki with a clinical finish after just 47 seconds before Brazilian midfielder Souza put the result beyond doubt deep into injury time in Saitama.

Free-scoring Valencia put pressure on Barcelona

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia swept aside Leganes 3-0 on Saturday to continue their stunning form with an eighth straight win to close to within a point of La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side also moved ahead of Barca as the league’s top scorers with 30 goals in their first 11 games as Dani Parejo, Rodrigo and Santi Mina found the net.

Bale to sit out Wales friendlies with France, Panama

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Madrid (AFP) – Gareth Bale will be kept in Madrid to work on his fitness rather than meeting up with the Wales squad for friendlies against France and Panama next week, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed on Saturday.

Bale returned to training with the European champions this week after five weeks on the sidelines with a calf injury.

Morata, Lukaku seek return to form as Chelsea face Manchester United

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London (AFP) – Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku will be under pressure to fire their teams back into the Premier League title race when the misfiring strikers clash in Chelsea’s showdown with Manchester United on Sunday.

Chelsea forward Morata and United front man Lukaku were the toast of their clubs after celebrating their close-season transfers with a barrage of goals.

Pochettino keeps Spurs grounded for Palace visit

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has vowed his Tottenham Hotspur players will remain grounded when they face Crystal Palace, the Premier League’s bottom side, at Wembley on Sunday.

Tottenham are still basking in the adulation that has come their way since they beat Champions League holders Real Madrid 3-1 beneath the Wembley arch on Wednesday.