EPL Talk Archives for January 2017

Mourinho praises Fellaini for toughing it out

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho described Marouane Fellaini as a “strong character” for overcoming his early troubles at Manchester United to establish himself as a key player at Old Trafford.

Fellaini struggled to make a positive impression early in his United career after arriving from Everton for £27.

Man City’s show of force thrills Guardiola

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London (AFP) – For Pep Guardiola, Manchester City’s 1-0 victory at Premier League champions Chelsea was a sign that his team can now impose their style upon any of their title rivals.

Accustomed to seeing his Barcelona and Bayern Munich sides laud it over all and sundry, Guardiola had a reality check in his first season at City, who were well beaten by teams such as Leicester City and Everton.

Sublime Kane leaves Pochettino lost for words

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino admitted he is running out of ways to describe Harry Kane after the in-form Tottenham striker inspired a ruthless 4-0 rout of Huddersfield.

Kane scored a wonderful brace at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday as Pochettino’s side kept the pressure on the Premier League pace setters.

Heartbreak in France after fans hurt in Ligue 1

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Amiens (France) (AFP) – Twenty-nine fans were hurt, four of them seriously, when a barrier collapsed Saturday at a stadium in the northern French city of Amiens when away supporters celebrated a goal.

A fence separating Lille fans from the pitch gave way as they surged forward to celebrate a goal against Amiens, a regional rival which has just been promoted to the top flight in French football.

Southgate won’t accept ‘burnout’ as World Cup flop excuse

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London (AFP) – England coach Gareth Southgate insists he will not accept burnout as an excuse should the country suffer a familiar World Cup flop in Russia next year.

England are on the brink of wrapping up their place at the 2018 finals and face Slovenia on Thursday and Lithuania on October 8 in their concluding Group F qualifiers.

Football: 29 hurt in French stadium barrier collapse

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Amiens (France) (AFP) – Twenty-nine fans were hurt, four of them seriously, when a barrier collapsed Saturday at a stadium in the northern French city of Amiens when away supporters celebrated a goal.

A fence separating Lille fans from the pitch gave way as they surged forward to celebrate a goal against Amiens, a regional rival which has just been promoted to the top flight in French football.

Nacho Monreal is Arsenal’s true unsung hero

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Creators and strikers tend to receive a majority of the attention when it comes to soccer teams. After all, they are the ones making the pinpoint through balls and bending shots into the top corner of the goal. They are also the ones raking in the big bucks. The camera does not pan back to the exhausted defender that made a crucial tackle 30 seconds prior to a match-winning goal.

Lacklustre Atletico held in Leganes stalemate

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid’s poor week following Champions League defeat by Chelsea continued as they lost more ground in the La Liga title race in a 0-0 draw at modest Madrid neighbours Leganes on Saturday.

But for a brilliant second-half save from Jan Oblak to deny Nabil El Zhar, Leganes could even have registered their first ever win over Atletico in the top flight.

Chelsea manager Conte hopeful over Morata injury

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte expressed optimism about the extent of the injury that curtailed striker Alvaro Morata’s involvement in Saturday’s 1-0 loss at home to Manchester City.

Morata was substituted in the 35th minute of the game at Stamford Bridge and appeared to gesture to his left hamstring as he left the pitch.

18 hurt, three seriously in French stadium barrier collapse

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Amiens (France) (AFP) – Eighteen Lille fans were hurt, including three seriously, in Amiens on Saturday when a stadium barrier collapsed in the away section as supporters celebrated a goal in French league match.

The Ligue 1 fixture between Amiens and Lille was suspended in the 16th minute, and later abandoned, after a fence separating fans from the pitch crumbled under their weight as they celebrated a goal by Fode Ballo-Toure.

De Bruyne rocket sinks Chelsea, United rout Palace

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London (AFP) – Manchester City underlined their title credentials as Kevin De Bruyne’s thunderbolt sealed an impressive 1-0 win at Chelsea, while Manchester United remain hot on their heels after a 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Having lost the Premier League leadership to United earlier in the day, City moved back above their bitter rivals on goal difference thanks to De Bruyne’s second half blast.

Italy call up Verdi as play-offs loom

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Rome (AFP) – Italy’s under-pressure coach Giampiero Ventura on Saturday recalled Bologna midfielder Simone Verdi to his squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Albania.

After losing 3-0 to Spain in Madrid earlier this month, Ventura’s squad has given up hope of winning Group G and automatic qualification for next summer’s finals in Russia.

Chelsea old-boy De Bruyne gives Man City crucial win

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London (AFP) – Match-winner Kevin De Bruyne came back to haunt former club Chelsea as Manchester City defeated the Premier League champions 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to reclaim top spot.

De Bruyne, who left Chelsea for Wolfsburg in January 2014, struck from outside the box midway through the second half, securing a victory that cemented City’s status as the early title favourites.

Crouch nudges Stoke past struggling Saints

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London (AFP) – Stoke City held off a frantic late onslaught as Peter Crouch scored the winner to edge Southampton 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.

But Mark Hughes’s team only earnt their second win of the campaign after Saints forward Manolo Gabbiadini spurned two late chances to steal a draw.

Sevilla go second by piling misery on Malaga

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla moved up to second in La Liga as second-half goals from Ever Banega and Luis Muriel ensured a routine 2-0 Andalusian derby victory over winless Malaga on Saturday.

A sixth defeat in seven games pushes Malaga boss and legendary former Real Madrid player Michel ever closer to becoming already the fourth managerial change of the La Liga season.

Neymar sparkles as PSG thrash Bordeaux

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar scored twice, including a first-half penalty, and created another goal as Paris Saint-Germain hammered previously unbeaten Bordeaux 6-2 in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

The Brazilian curled in a brilliant 30-yard free-kick after just five minutes at the Parc des Princes before sliding in Edinson Cavani to double the lead seven minutes later.

Fellaini shines as United crush Palace

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Marouane Fellaini scored twice as Manchester United maintained their blistering start to the season with a 4-0 thrashing of lowly Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Juan Mata, making his 200th Premier League appearance, gave United the lead after just three minutes, with Fellaini’s goals followed by a late tap in for Romelu Lukaku, who scored for the 11th time in 10 games.

Football: Italy call up Verdi as play-offs loom

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Rome (AFP) – Italy’s under-pressure coach Giampiero Ventura on Saturday recalled Bologna midfielder Simone Verdi to his squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Albania.

After losing 3-0 to Spain in Madrid earlier this month, Ventura’s squad has given up hope of winning Group G and automatic qualification for next summer’s finals in Russia.

Dortmund go clear despite Aubameyang penalty howler

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Berlin (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s miserable week continued as he missed a penalty but Borussia Dortmund still ground out a 2-1 win at Augsburg on Saturday to extend their Bundesliga lead.

Star striker Aubameyang followed on his poor performance in Tuesday’s 3-1 Champions League defeat at home to Real Madrid by firing a weak penalty straight at Augsburg goalkeeper Marwin Hitz 10 minutes from time.

Valverde calls for calm amid referendum chaos

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has called for calm as his side host Las Palmas on Sunday amid heightened political tension in Catalonia as pro-secessionist groups forge ahead with a referendum on independence for the north-eastern region of Spain.

Outspoken central defender Gerard Pique joined the club this week in backing Catalonia’s right to self-determination in the midst of Spanish government crackdowns on what it sees as an illegal vote that violates Spain’s constitution.

Super sub Sakho saves West Ham and Bilic

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London (AFP) – Senegalese international Diafra Sakho came off the bench to score a last-minute winner as West Ham defeated fellow strugglers Swansea 1-0 on Saturday, a vital three points which probably saved the job of coach Slaven Bilic.

The 27-year-old Sakho, who had replaced Javier Hernandez with just 12 minutes left, scored from close range after being set-up by fellow substitute Arthur Masuaku who had darted down the left flank to create the opportunity.

Red hot United rout Palace, Kane stars for Spurs

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London (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku extended his hot streak as Manchester United powered to a 4-0 victory against Crystal Palace, while Harry Kane inspired Tottenham’s 4-0 demolition of Huddersfield on Saturday.

With Manchester City facing champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge later on Saturday, United temporarily moved to the top of the Premier League as Lukaku scored his seventh goal in his last six appearances.

Spurs stroll past Huddersfield as Kane bags brace

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A Harry Kane masterclass ensured Tottenham cruised to a 4-0 victory against Huddersfield on Saturday.

Tottenham beat Cypriot champions APOEL Nicosia 3-0 courtesy of a brilliant Kane hat-trick on Tuesday and he was just as impressive in West Yorkshire, killing off Huddersfield inside the opening 20 minutes with two superbly taken goals.

Spurs stroll as Kane bags brace

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A Harry Kane masterclass ensured Tottenham cruised to a 4-0 victory against Huddersfield on Saturday.

Tottenham beat Cypriot champions APOEL Nicosia 3-0 courtesy of a brilliant Kane hat-trick on Tuesday and he was just as impressive in West Yorkshire, killing off Huddersfield inside the opening 20 minutes with two superbly taken goals.

Guardiola reveals Spain ambition

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London (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has revealed he wants to coach Spain in the future.

Former Spain midfielder Guardiola is in his second season with City after successful spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The 46-year-old failed to win a trophy in his first year in England, but City have emerged as early pace setters in the Premier League title race this season.

New Gareth Bale injury a concern for Wales

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Madrid (AFP) – Gareth Bale looks set to miss Real Madrid’s La Liga clash with Espanyol on Sunday, sparking fears he could also miss out on two crucial World Cup qualifiers for Wales next week.

Bale limped off with a calf strain after scoring and providing an assist for Cristiano Ronaldo as Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Tuchel in talks with Bayern – reports

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Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Thomas Tuchel is the favourite to succeed Carlo Ancelotti as coach of Bayern Munich amidst media reports on Saturday that contract negotiations are taking place.

According to German daily Bild, the 44-year-old Tuchel is in Munich and negotiating to take over at the Bavarian giants having been sacked by current Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund in May.

Aguero, Mendy absences give Chelsea Premier League boost

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London (AFP) – Manchester City’s defensive resilience and offensive brilliance so far this season face arguably their sternest tests on Saturday against champions Chelsea, with the Premier League leaders without full-back Benjamin Mendy and star striker Sergio Aguero.

France full-back Mendy looks set to miss most, if not all, of the rest of the season after undergoing an operation on a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

China FA bans Villas-Boas for eight games over ref ‘insult’

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Beijing (AFP) – China’s Football Association has slapped an eight-game touchline ban on Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas for lobbing an “insult” at a referee, effectively ending his Super League season.

The association said on its website that Villas-Boas was fined 40,000 yuan ($6,000) as well as barred from the touchline for four Chinese Super League games and four other “official games” hosted by the FA.

Forgotten star Wilshere fights for Arsenal future

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London (AFP) – Jack Wilshere has vowed to force his way back into Arsene Wenger’s plans after the Arsenal midfielder stepped up his return from exile.

Wilshere has endured a miserable spell as he slipped down the pecking order with Arsenal and England before finding himself sent on loan to Bournemouth last season.

Liverpool ready for Benitez reunion

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Newcastle (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool are seeking to end a frustrating September on a positive note as they face a reunion with their former manager Rafa Benitez at Newcastle on Sunday.

Benitez remains a popular figure at Anfield, having guided Liverpool to the Champions League title with a remarkable victory over AC Milan in 2005, a night remembered fondly at a club who have won just two trophies since then.

NBC Universal and Telemundo submit joint bid for Mexico national team TV rights in US

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NBCUniversal/Telemundo and América Móvil jointly submitted on Thursday to the Mexican Football Federation bids for the Mexico National Team media rights, one for the United States, and the other for the rest of the world, for two World Cup cycles. The bids include rights to all men’s and women’s Mexico National Team divisions.

Aguero has done nothing wrong, says Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero has nothing to apologise for after going to Amsterdam for a pop concert on his day off from Manchester City, according to Pep Guardiola, even though he had no idea he was there.

The 29-year-old Argentina striker broke a rib after being involved in a car crash on his way back to the airport in the Dutch capital on Thursday night and will be sidelined for two-four weeks.

No rest for in-form Lukaku, says Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku has been warned by Jose Mourinho to forget about enjoying a rest from Manchester United’s campaign, at least until Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made a full return to match fitness.

The Belgian international striker has been an inspiration for both club and country so far this season, scoring 14 goals in 11 games for United and Belgium.

Monaco held by Montpellier, coach takes blame

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Paris (AFP) – French champions Monaco missed the chance to go top of Ligue 1 as Souleymane Camara struck an injury-time equaliser to snatch Montpellier a 1-1 draw at the Stade Louis II on Friday.

After a slow start, Monaco struck first in the 38th minute as the red-hot Radamel Falcao slid in to score, but Montpellier kept their hosts at arm’s length and Camara stunned the home crowd.

Monaco held by Montpellier

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Paris (AFP) – French champions Monaco missed the chance to go top of Ligue 1 as Souleymane Camara struck an injury-time equaliser to snatch Montpellier a 1-1 draw at the Stade Louis II on Friday.

After a slow start, Monaco struck first in the 38th minute as the red-hot Radamel Falcao slid in to score, but Montpellier kept their hosts at arm’s length and Camara stunned the home crowd.

Juventus fans in mafia grip, say Italian justice officials

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Rome (AFP) – Supporters of Italian football giants Juventus are controlled by mobsters linked to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia, justice officials said Friday as the sale of tickets to hardline ultra fans was investigated.

“The ‘Ndrangheta has imposed itself within the organised groups, exercising a real control over the groups that support Juventus,” wrote Judge Giacomo Marson in a judgment reported in the Italian press.

South Africa-Senegal World Cup qualifying replay set for November

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Dakar (AFP) – The 2018 World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Senegal will be replayed on either November 8 or November 9, the Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) said on Friday.

The FSF said FIFA had decided on the possible dates for the rearranged game, with the initial 2-1 South Africa victory on November 12, 2016 having been chalked off after the match was manipulated by referee Joseph Lamptey.

Critical US-Trinidad and Tobago World Cup qualifier to air on beIN SPORTS

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October’s critical World Cup qualifier between the US Men’s National Team and Trinidad-and-Tobago will be streamed live on beIN SPORTS and Universo on Tuesday, October 10, World Soccer Talk has learned.

In the final match of their World Cup qualification process, the game could end up being a do-or-die match that will determine whether the USA team qualifies for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Facebook is paying FOX Sports to stream UEFA Champions League games

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After streaming four English-language UEFA Champions League games on Facebook Live this month, World Soccer Talk has learned that Facebook is paying FOX Sports to stream the games.

So far this month, FOX Sports has streamed four Champions League games exclusively online and has prevented them being shown live on television.

City rocked as Aguero suffers broken rib in car crash

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London (AFP) – Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has suffered a broken rib in a car crash in the Netherlands, dealing a major blow to the Premier League leaders’ title aspirations.

Aguero had established himself as the driving force behind City’s surge to the top of the table with six Premier League goals this season, but now the Argentine ace could face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Bayern start search for Ancelotti successor

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Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Bayern Munich are putting their faith in Willy Sagnol as interim coach “for now” while seeking a replacement for the sacked Carlo Ancelotti, said the club’s sporting director Friday.

Two days before the Bundesliga champions visit Hertha Berlin, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic took Ancelotti’s place at the pre-match press conference.

Conte urges Hazard to dazzle against Manchester City

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has challenged Eden Hazard to repeat his dazzling performance against Atletico Madrid when Chelsea face title rivals Manchester City on Saturday.

Hazard was in fine form on Wednesday as Chelsea became the first English team to win at Atletico with a 2-1 success in the Champions League.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 7

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Defending champions Chelsea host Manchester City in a clash between top-three Premier League teams this Saturday, September 30, at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and Universo. Both teams come off dominant wins, with Manchester City beating Crystal Palace 5-0, and Chelsea besting Stoke City 4-0, including a hat trick from Alvaro Morata.

Klopp wants Christmas Eve Arsenal clash scrapped

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London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has called on television broadcasters to ditch their reported plan to move his club’s clash with Arsenal to Christmas Eve.

It has been suggested Sky chiefs are keen for Liverpool’s trip to the Emirates Stadium to be put back a day and have already made both clubs aware they want them to consider the prospect.

It’s a revolution: The rise of France’s Ligue 1

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Similar to the MLS struggle for international respect, France’s Ligue 1 is clawing tooth and nail, spending every ounce of gold it can get it’s hands on in order to sit on the highest throne of European soccer. A seat currently being crowded by the likes of England, Germany and Spain – no team outside of these countries has won the UEFA Champions League since 2010.

Guardiola says won’t clamp down despite Aguero crash

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted he isn’t concerned by his players’ off-field activities just hours after Sergio Aguero was involved in a car crash in the Netherlands.

City were forced to rule out Aguero for Saturday’s clash at Premier League champions Chelsea after the Argentina forward was a passenger in a taxi that crashed on its way to the airport in Amsterdam on Thursday evening.

Barca on frontline of Catalan independence debate

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Madrid (AFP) – For many a beacon of Catalan identity, Barcelona are walking a fine line in the debate over a banned independence referendum in Catalonia, backing the vote without openly calling for secession from Spain.

After police last week detained key members of the team organising Sunday’s referendum, the club issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the arrests in “the defence of the nation, to democracy, to freedom of speech, and to self-determination”.

Strikers take centre stage early in Premier League title race

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London (AFP) – From Romelu Lukaku battering defences into submission to Alvaro Morata’s dazzling array of sublime finishes, one of the central themes of the Premier League’s opening weeks has been the renaissance of the star strikers.

In recent years, coaches with an eye for the latest tactical trend ditched the traditional forward role in favour of the “false nine” - a player capable of operating in midfield and wide areas instead of solely functioning as a penalty box predator.

Pogba injury is ‘long-term’ admits Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has finally admitted Paul Pogba’s injury absence will be “long-term” amid fears the Manchester United star could be out until after the November international break.

Pogba injured his hamstring in a Champions League tie against Basel earlier this month and initial reports suggested the France midfielder could be out for 12 weeks.

Veteran David Villa left out of Spain squad

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Madrid (AFP) – Veteran forward David Villa was dropped on Friday from coach Julen Lopetegui’s Spain squad to face Albania and Israel in World Cup qualifiers next month.

However, in-form pair Jose Callejon of Napoli and Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno were both welcomed back into the 25-man squad.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for September 19-24, 2017

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Similar to last season, the FOX over-the-air network aired an NFL/MLS doubleheader for the final MLS broadcast on FOX in 2017. Last weekend, FOX drew a combined average of 1.35 million viewers for the MLS broadcasts, up 4% from 1.298 million in 2016. MLS games on the FOX broadcast network overall, however, have experienced a 5% drop in viewership when compared to 2016.

Man City striker Aguero suffers broken rib in Dutch car crash

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London (AFP) – Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero suffered a broken rib in a car crash in the Netherlands, the club’s manager Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday.

Aguero sustained the injury after a taxi taking him to an Amsterdam airport following a music concert was involved in an accident on Thursday night.

Man City’s Aguero suffers broken rib in Netherlands car crash

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London (AFP) – Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero suffered a broken rib in a car crash in the Netherlands, the club’s manager Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday.

Aguero sustained the injury after a taxi taking him to an Amsterdam airport following a music concert was involved in an accident on Thursday night.

Manchester United’s in-form Martial set to terrorise Crystal Palace

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Anthony Martial is likely to be fit for Manchester United’s Premier League home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday despite appearing to pick up a minor injury in midweek.

Martial was outstanding as United won 4-1 away to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday, scoring a penalty and creating two goals for Romelu Lukaku.

After Atletico ambush, Chelsea’s Hazard sets sights on Manchester City

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London (AFP) – Eden Hazard says Chelsea will carry the momentum from their superb Champions League win over Atletico Madrid into Saturday’s Stamford Bridge showdown with free-scoring Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Having fallen behind to Atletico in Madrid on Wednesday, Chelsea levelled when Hazard teed up Alvaro Morata and snatched a 2-1 victory with the last kick of the game when substitute Michy Batshuayi stabbed home.

Tottenham’s Pochettino says no rest for hotshot Kane

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has no plans to rest Harry Kane as the striker seeks to plunder more goals to put pressure on the Manchester clubs at the top of the Premier League.

The England forward, in a rich vein of form in domestic and European competition, has scored nine goals in five games, including a hat-trick at APOEL Nicosia in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Pique issues rallying cry for Catalan vote

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona’s Camp Nou will attract worldwide attention for politics rather than football on a day of huge significance for Catalonia’s future on Sunday.

Las Palmas are the visitors as Barca seek to stretch their perfect record in La Liga and Champions League this season to nine games.

Bayern to start post-Ancelotti era at Hertha

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich will begin life after Carlo Ancelotti this weekend, as interim coach Willy Sagnol takes the reins ahead of Sunday’s visit to Hertha Berlin.

The Bundesliga champions were humiliated in a 3-0 defeat by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday, and the club reacted immediately by sacking Ancelotti on Thursday.

Unbeaten Bordeaux next test for swaggering PSG

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Paris (AFP) – After ruthlessly disposing of German heavyweights Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain will look to shatter Bordeaux’s unbeaten start to the French season on Saturday.

PSG responded to dropping their first points in Ligue 1 at Montpellier last weekend by sweeping aside Bayern 3-0 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday, with Neymar scoring on his return from a toe injury.

Mancini warns undefeated Zenit over great expectations

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Moscow (AFP) – Roberto Mancini warned his undefeated Zenit St Petersburg side that they still have a lot to learn as they seek to consolidate their Russian Premier League lead at rock-bottom Anzhi Makhachkala on Sunday.

Zenit have eight wins and three draws from their 11 matches this season, conceding just three goals.

Celtic chief hails ‘outstanding coach’ Rodgers

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Glasgow (AFP) – Brendan Rodgers’s remarkable spell as Celtic manager has earned him rave notices from a whole range of people but perhaps most reassuringly his boss, chief executive Peter Lawwell.

Lawwell hailed him as an ‘outstanding manager’ after Rodgers had guided Celtic to a 3-0 win over Belgian side Anderlecht in Brussels on Wednesday - only their second ever away victory in the Champions League - to end a run of 16 games in the competition without a win, just four days after seeing off Old Firm rivals Rangers with a 2-0 victory at Ibrox.

Man City striker Aguero injured in Dutch car crash: club

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London (AFP) – Manchester City’s Argentine striker Sergio Aguero “sustained injuries” in a car crash in the Netherlands and is returning to Britain to be checked ahead of the weekend’s Premier League fixtures, the club said Friday.

“Sergio Aguero will be assessed by club doctors today after being involved in a road accident on Thursday.

Bonucci told to improve as Milan face Roma

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Milan (AFP) – Coach Vincenzo Montella wants captain Leonardo Bonucci to improve his leadership skills as AC Milan host Roma in a crucial Serie A clash this weekend.

Montella’s side fell to their second defeat of the Serie A campaign against Sampdoria last weekend with fitness coach Emanuele Mara getting the boot in the fallout.

England star Dele Alli banned over crude finger gesture

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London (AFP) – Dele Alli has been given a one-game England ban after making an offensive gesture during his country’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

Alli was hit with the punishment and fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,800) by world governing body FIFA following the incident in England’s win at Wembley last month.

Manchester City make do without Mendy at champions Chelsea

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London (AFP) – Manchester City’s defensive resilience in the absence of the injured Benjamin Mendy faces its first and arguably toughest test when the Premier League leaders travel to champions Chelsea on Saturday.

The 23-year-old France full-back has been in fine form for City since his £50 million ($67 million, 57 million euros) pre-season move from Monaco.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on TV this weekend

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Soak it up. Soak it all up. It’s that time again, the weekend before an international break. Soak up the domestic soccer from around the world.

It’s a weekend that’ll inevitably lead us to wanting more too. In the Premier League the defending champions host the favorites for glory this term in what will potentially be one of the most important and entertaining matches of the season.

Giroud reaches century, Everton held at home in Europa League

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Paris (AFP) – Olivier Giroud scored his 100th Arsenal goal as a youthful Gunners side beat BATE Borisov 4-2 in Belarus in the Europa League on Thursday, as Everton were held to a shock 2-2 draw by 10-man Apollon Limassol at Goodison Park.

Theo Walcott netted twice for the Gunners and Rob Holding was also on target as they eased to a second victory in as many matches in Group H.

Bony returns to Ivory Coast squad

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Abidjan (AFP) – Wilfried Bony has been recalled to the Ivory Coast squad for next week’s crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier away to Mali.

Bony, who returned to Swansea City last month after a disappointing two years at Manchester City, had not featured for his country since the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon at the start of the year.

Giroud reaches century as Arsenal win in Belarus

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Paris (AFP) – Olivier Giroud got his 100th Arsenal goal as a youthful Gunners side beat BATE Borisov 4-2 in Belarus in the Europa League on Thursday.

Theo Walcott netted twice for the Premier League side and Rob Holding was also on target as they eased to a second victory in as many matches in Group H.

Irish international Doyle retires over concussion fears

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Paris (AFP) – Former Ireland international striker Kevin Doyle announced his immediate retirement from football on Thursday after suffering two concussions and a series of debilitating headaches this season.

Doyle, 34, who had been playing for Colorado Rapids in the MLS in the United States, enjoyed a 16-year career which also included spells at Reading, Wolves, Crystal Palace and QPR in England.

West Ham, Tottenham fined by FA over melee

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London (AFP) – The Football Association fined West Ham and Tottenham £20,000 ($27,000, 23,000 euros) each on Thursday after both Premier League clubs admitted failing to control their players during last Saturday’s derby at London Stadium.

Spurs won 3-2 but the Hammers were pressing for an equaliser in stoppage time when tempers frayed.

Mendy ruptures knee ligament, set for surgery

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London (AFP) – Manchester City full-back Benjamin Mendy faces a long injury lay-off after the Premier League leaders confirmed Thursday he has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

The 23-year-old French international - signed for £50 million ($67 million) from Monaco in the summer - will undergo surgery in Barcelona on Friday on the injury he suffered in last weekend’s victory over Crystal Palace.

The verdict so far on Facebook Live’s soccer streams: 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 44, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• FOX’s coverage plans for World Cup 2018,

• Whether NBC Sports Gold can bounce back after last weekend’s major outage,

• Our verdicts about Facebook Live’s soccer coverage,

• How the major soccer networks came together for Unidos Por Los Nuestros,

• Feedback and questions from you in the Listener Mailbag section.

Asensio extends Real Madrid contract to 2023

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Madrid (AFP) – Marco Asensio has extended his contract with Real Madrid by one year, tying him to the Santiago Bernabeu until 2023, the club announced on Thursday.

“Real Madrid C.F. and Asensio have agreed an extension to the player’s contract, binding him to the club until the 30th of June 2023,” read a statement on the club’s website.

Alli in England squad despite risk of FIFA ban

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London (AFP) – Dele Alli was named in England’s squad on Thursday for their concluding World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania despite the threat of a ban by FIFA.

Football’s global governing body could rule the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder out of both matches as a result of a middle-finger gesture he gave in a qualifier against Slovakia.

Kolasinac and Lacazette proving to be star signings at Arsenal

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Arsenal weren’t exactly feverishly busy buying players during the summer transfer market ahead of the current campaign. In fact, the Gunners actually managed to receive more money in player sales, thanks in large part to offloading Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool, than they spent on new arrivals.

Ancelotti sacked by Bayern Munich

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich have sacked coach Carlo Ancelotti in the wake of their Champions League defeat at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain, the club announced on Thursday.

“Following an internal analysis in Munich on Thursday 28 September 2017… the club is to part company with head coach Carlo Ancelotti with immediate effect,” Bayern said in a statement on their website.

PSG’s Kurzawa keeps France place as Payet recalled

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain defender Layvin Kurzawa retained his place in the France squad on Thursday for next month’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers despite a video of him criticising national coach Didier Deschamps.

Kurzawa was the recent victim of a blackmail plot involving a video of the 25-year-old mocking Deschamps, although the footage has not been made public.

Rummenigge urges Bayern to learn from ‘painful’ PSG defeat

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Berlin (AFP) – Five-time European champions Bayern Munich must draw the consequences from their “very painful” 3-0 Champions league defeat by Paris Saint-Germain, according to the German club’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti could even find himself out of a job, according to German press, after Bayern bosses were summoned to a crisis meeting Thursday.

‘Amazing’ Lukaku won’t lose focus – Mourinho

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Moscow (AFP) – Jose Mourinho backed Romelu Lukaku to ignore the hype about his superb start at Manchester United after the Belgian’s brace set up a 4-1 victory over CSKA Moscow.

Lukaku, 24, scored twice at the VEB Arena on Wednesday to take his tally to 10 goals in his first nine United games and send Mourinho’s men three points clear at the top of Champions League Group A.

Conte lashes tight turnaround for Man City clash

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Madrid (AFP) – Chelsea boss Antonio Conte blasted Premier League schedulers over his side’s short turnaround from Champions League action before facing high-flying Manchester City in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.

Conte’s men put in a brilliant performance to inflict only Atletico Madrid’s second Champions League defeat on home soil in 24 games on Wednesday, when Michy Batshuayi’s 93rd-minute winner sealed a 2-1 victory.

‘Complete’ Mbappe praised after PSG beat Bayern

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe was singled out for praise despite being the only member of Paris Saint-Germain’s superstar attack who didn’t score in Wednesday’s big Champions League win over German giants Bayern Munich.

Dani Alves, Edinson Cavani and Neymar netted as PSG eased to a 3-0 victory at Parc des Princes to make it two wins from two games in Group B and take a huge step towards progressing to the last 16.

Brazil’s Leonardo named new Antalyaspor manager

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Istanbul (AFP) – Ambitious Turkish top flight side Antalyaspor, which boasts a star-studded line up including Samuel Eto’o and Samir Nasri, on Thursday named Brazilian Leonardo as its new manager.

“Following talks, our club has signed a two-year agreement with Leonardo,” Antalyaspor said in a statement without giving financial details.

North Korea, Malaysia clash postponed after travel ban

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – North Korea’s Asian Cup football qualifier with Malaysia was postponed for a third time on Thursday after Malaysia imposed a ban on travel to the country, citing rising nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Next week’s game in Pyongyang had already twice been delayed following a row over the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam, half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, at a Kuala Lumpur airport.

Juve’s Higuain relishes proving doubters wrong

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuain said he was relishing proving the doubters wrong after coming off the bench to inspire Juventus to a 2-0 Champions League win over Olympiakos in Turin.

The 29-year-old roared towards the jubilant home fans in delight, pumped his chest triumphantly and threw his jersey into the crowd in the Allianz Stadium after Wednesday night’s win.

Cavani, Neymar on target as PSG outclass Bayern

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Paris (AFP) – Edinson Cavani and Neymar both scored as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a convincing 3-0 victory over a disappointing Bayern Munich in their heavyweight Champions League clash in the French capital on Wednesday.

PSG got off to a dream start as their other Brazilian summer signing Dani Alves gave them the lead inside 90 seconds at the Parc des Princes and they never looked back.

Neymar leads PSG past Bayern, Batshuayi stuns Atletico

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar starred as Paris Saint-Germain sent out a statement of intent with an impressive 3-0 Champions League victory over Bayern Munich on Wednesday, while Michy Batshuayi grabbed an injury-time winner as Chelsea won 2-1 at Atletico Madrid.

It took PSG less than two minutes to break the deadlock in the Group B clash against Bayern, as world-record signing Neymar teed up fellow Brazilian Dani Alves to hammer home.

Unlucky Coates gifts Barca win at Sporting

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Lisbon (AFP) – Sebastian Coates scored an unfortunate second-half own goal to gift Barcelona a 1-0 victory away to Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Uruguayan centre-back unwittingly deflected a Lionel Messi free-kick into his own net on 49 minutes to hand the Spaniards a second successive win to start Group D.

Batshuayi hands Chelsea deserved win at Atletico

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Madrid (AFP) – Michy Batshuayi struck a dramatic winner with the last kick of the game as Chelsea inflicted Atletico Madrid’s first defeat at their new Wanda Metropolitano home on Wednesday with a hugely impressive 2-1 Champions League victory.

Substitute Batshuayi’s late intervention was just rewards for a dominant Chelsea display despite falling behind to Antoine Griezmann’s penalty five minutes before half-time.

Higuain lifts Juventus to win over Olympiakos

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuain got Juventus’s Champions League campaign off the mark coming on a substitute to lift last year’s finalists to a 2-0 Group D win over Olympiakos on Wednesday.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side needed to reignite their European campaign after falling 3-0 to Barcelona in Spain two weeks ago.

Lukaku and Martial lead Man Utd in CSKA rout

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Moscow (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial put CSKA Moscow to the sword as Manchester United took control of Champions League Group A with a ruthless 4-1 win on Wednesday.

Lukaku scored twice at Moscow’s VEB Arena, taking his United tally to 10 goals in nine games, with Martial setting him up twice and netting a penalty before Henrikh Mkhitaryan completed victory.

Ali breaks Windies hearts in rain-hit triumph

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London (AFP) – Moeen Ali again proved England’s hero with the bat as they beat West Indies by six runs in a rain-marred fourth one-day international at The Oval to go an unbeatable 3-0 up with one to play in the series.

England, without Ben Stokes after he was dropped following his arrest, were on course for defeat at 181 for five chasing 357 to win.

Qatar urged to protect 800,000 labourers from deadly heat

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Dubai (AFP) – World Cup 2022 host Qatar must urgently introduce laws to protect up to 800,000 migrant construction labourers at risk working in scorching temperatures, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The New York-based organisation also called on the Gulf state to investigate workers’ deaths, their cause, and make those findings public.

Schedule of Europa League games on US TV and streaming for September 28

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This week’s Europa League matches feature several big games scheduled to air on US TV and streaming.

They include matches involving Arsenal, AC Milan, AEK Athens, Villarreal, Everton, Lyon, Zenit Saint Petersburg and others.

Here’s the TV/streaming schedule for this week’s matches (all times Eastern):

Thursday, September 28

Astana vs.

Soccer is still a niche sport in this country but these 4 factors can contribute to its growth

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Photo credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Soccer has gone from being a completely underground sport ten years ago to a niche sport today. That’s progress but if the sport is ever to be mainstream in the United States, certain things must happen.

In the last ten years, we’ve seen the Premier League move from the virtually anonymous FOX Soccer Channel to NBC Sports.

Varane extends Real Madrid deal to 2022

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Madrid (AFP) – Raphael Varane joined a host of his Real Madrid teammates in recent weeks by signing a five-year contract extension to 2022 on Wednesday.

“Real Madrid C. F. and Varane have agreed to extend the player’s contract, which will see him remain at the club until 30 June 2022,” the Spanish giants said in a statement.

Hulk hits cracker in AFC semi-final stalemate

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Shanghai (AFP) – Brazilian striker Hulk hit his ninth goal in the Asian Champions League this season but Shanghai SIPG failed to take their chances in a 1-1 semi-final stalemate with Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday.

Andre Villas-Boas’ side will travel to Japan for the second leg on October 18 still very much in the tie, but they could easily have been out of sight.

Totti thanks fans for support in new life

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Rome (AFP) – AS Roma legend Francesco Totti on Wednesday thanked his fans for their support in his post-playing career as he celebrated his 41st birthday four months after retiring.

Totti retired after 24 years with Roma at the end of last season, swapping his jersey for a director’s suit, and has also started a coaching diploma.

Wenger’s Arsenal facing 2000km trip to Belarus

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Paris (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he will field a strong side for Thursday’s Europa League visit to BATE Borisov, despite a 4000km round trip in the middle of a spell of three games in seven days.

The second round of group-stage matches also sees AC Milan visit Croatia’s Rijeka, Everton host Cypriots Apollon Limassol and Nice face Vitesse Arnhem, with 24 games in total.

Klopp says Liverpool on Champions League track despite stalemate

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Moscow (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his team remain on track to qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League despite drawing both of their opening games.

After a 2-2 draw with Sevilla in their Group E opener, Liverpool drew 1-1 away to Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, with Fernando’s free-kick for the hosts cancelled out by a brilliantly constructed Philippe Coutinho equaliser.

Juventus coach Allegri has ‘no problem’ with Higuain

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri insists he has “no problem” with Gonzalo Higuain despite uncertainty over whether the Argentina striker will play in Wednesday’s Champions League match against Greek side Olympiakos.

Higuain was dropped for Juventus’s 4-0 Serie A win over Torino last weekend after scoring just twice in the first five games of the season.

Australia lose Jedinak for FIFA World Cup play-offs

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Sydney (AFP) – Injured captain Mile Jedinak was Wednesday ruled out of Australia’s crunch World Cup play-offs against Syria, as coach Ange Postecoglou included a host of fresh faces in the push to make Russia.

The Aston Villa star missed the Socceroos’ final qualifiers with a groin problem and was not used by club manager Steve Bruce for the Championship side’s three recent wins.

Qatar, FIFA urged to protect 800,000 workers from desert heat

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Dubai (AFP) – World Cup 2022 host Qatar must urgently introduce laws to protect the lives of up to 800,000 migrant construction labourers working in scorching temperatures, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The New York-based organisation also called on the Gulf state to investigate workers’ deaths and make those findings public.

FA charge West Ham, Spurs after ugly melee

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London (AFP) – The Football Association charged West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday for failing to control their players during their Premier League clash at the weekend.

Spurs won Saturday’s derby at the London Stadium 3-2 but almost squandered a three-goal lead.

The Hammers were pressing for an equaliser in stoppage time when tempers frayed.

FOX Sports to air more than 32 World Cup games on FOX network

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FOX Sports revealed today that it will air more than half of the 2018 World Cup games on the over-the-air FOX network.

During an invitation-only presentation to media in New York City Tuesday night, FOX Sports announced that more than 32 of the 64 World Cup matches will be on the FOX over-the-air network, which will make the 2018 FIFA World Cup the most accessible ever to viewers in the United States.

Mendy set for long injury absence – Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola fears French full-back Benjamin Mendy faces months on the sidelines with injury and compared his situation to Ilkay Gundogan’s nine-month lay-off.

Mendy, signed for £50 million ($67 million) from Monaco in the summer, injured his knee during City’s weekend win over Crystal Palace and will fly to Barcelona to see Guardiola’s personal medical team for tests on Thursday.

De Bruyne rocket fires Manchester City

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Kevin De Bruyne’s superb strike and a late Raheem Sterling goal maintained Manchester City’s impressive form in a 2-0 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

De Bruyne struck in the 49th minute with a magnificent 20-yard strike into the top right-hand corner of the Shakhtar goal after David Silva’s run had ended with the Spaniard teeing up the opening.

Ronaldo nets twice as Real Madrid win in Dortmund

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 150th European game with two goals as Real Madrid sealed a 3-1 victory at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday to top their Champions League group.

Ronaldo claimed two second-half goals after Gareth Bale’s stunning early volley gave Real the lead at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park

The Germans fought back when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finally netted with just over half an hour left, but there was to be no repeat of last year’s 2-2 draw in Dortmund between the teams.

Ronaldo marks milestone, in-form Kane fires Spurs

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Paris (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice on his 400th Real Madrid appearance as the Champions League holders defeated Borussia Dortmund 3-1, while Harry Kane grabbed a hat-trick in Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-0 win at APOEL Nicosia on Tuesday.

Gareth Bale struck an exquisite volley as the record 12-time European champions secured an 18th-minute lead at Signal Iduna Park, with the Welshman supplying Ronaldo for Real’s second just after half-time.

Ronaldo nets twice as Real win in Dortmund

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 150th European game with two goals as Real Madrid sealed a 3-1 victory at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday to top their Champions League group.

Ronaldo claimed two second-half goals after Gareth Bale’s stunning early volley gave Real the lead at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park

The Germans fought back when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finally netted with just over half an hour left, but there was to be no repeat of last year’s 2-2 draw in Dortmund between the teams.

Coutinho scores as Liverpool held in Moscow

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Moscow (AFP) – A sparkling Philippe Coutinho goal was not enough to earn Liverpool victory as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Coutinho cancelled out Fernando’s free-kick in the 31st minute, but Liverpool’s quest for a winner came to nothing, leaving them still without a win after two games in Group E.

Ben Yedder hat-trick eases Sevilla past Maribor

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Seville (Spain) (AFP) – French forward Wissam Ben Yedder hit a hat-trick as Sevilla soared to the top of Champions League Group E by cruising to a 3-0 win over Slovenian champions Maribor on Tuesday.

Ben Yedder produced clinical finishes from close range twice in 11 first-half minutes to put the hosts well on course for victory before completing his hat-trick with a penalty seven minutes from time.

Download free viewing guides for Premier League, LaLiga, Sling TV and fuboTV

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World Soccer Talk has published four separate downloadable viewing guides that you can get when you subscribe to our daily e-mail newsletter.

The guides are for:

• Premier League viewing guide,

• LaLiga viewing guide,

• fubo Premier viewing guide,

• Sling World Sports viewing guide.

Conte challenges Chelsea to make Champions League step up

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Madrid (AFP) – Antonio Conte called on Premier League champions Chelsea to take the step up and prove they can be contenders in the Champions League when they face a daunting trip to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Chelsea made a perfect start on their return to European football’s premier club competition after a year’s absence, with a 6-0 thrashing of Azerbaijani newcomers Qarabag two weeks ago.

Lemonis awaits baptism of fire against Juventus

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – New Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis conceded he faces a baptism of fire against last year’s finalists Juventus in Wednesday’s Champions League Group D clash in Turin just two days after his appointment.

Lemonis has returned to coach Olympiakos for the fourth time, replacing Albanian Besnik Hasi who was sacked Monday after the weekend’s dramatic derby collapse to AEK.

PSG look to measure progress in heavyweight Bayern clash

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar is set to return after a minor injury as Paris Saint-Germain aim to lay down a marker in Europe by getting the better of Bayern Munich in their heavyweight Champions League encounter on Wednesday.

The world’s most expensive player trained on Tuesday after missing the French giants’ weekend draw with Montpellier due to a toe problem, and he should start alongside Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani in attack at the Parc des Princes.

Watford’s Chalobah hit by knee injury blow

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London (AFP) – Watford midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah is set to have surgery on a knee injury he suffered in training last week.

Chalobah had impressed for the Premier League club since his close-season move from Chelsea.

However, Watford performance director Gavin Benjafield confirmed the 22-year-old, who was called into the England squad for their previous World Cup qualifiers, is now set for an extended spell on the sidelines.

‘We have more enemies now’ admits PSG coach Emery

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery believes it reflects well on his team that Europe’s traditional powerhouses now see the French club as “enemies” after their unprecedented close-season spending spree.

PSG spent a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million) to sign Neymar from Barcelona and also welcomed Kylian Mbappe from Monaco on an initial loan deal that is set to become a permanent move for 180 million euros next year.

Bayern criticise PSG wealth despite Qatari backing

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich take great pride in their conservative spending policy and have vocally criticised Wednesday’s big-spending Champions League opponents Paris Saint-Germain, yet both clubs profit from Qatari investors.

On the eve of the key European game at Paris’ Parc de Princes, Bayern president Uli Hoenesss said the Germans would never follow the example of PSG, who paid a world record 222 million euros ($264 million) for Neymar in August.

US sports networks to broadcast soccer fundraiser for communities impacted by natural disasters

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All of the major soccer-related sports networks in the United States will combine their efforts today and tomorrow to help raise money for the communities impacted by the recent natural disasters.

The networks are joining forces for the first time ever in support of the victims of the recent natural disasters in Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas.

Former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd dies aged 76

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London (AFP) – Former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd, a pivotal figure in the club’s 1990s success, has died aged 76, his family announced on Tuesday.

Shepherd was Newcastle chairman for 10 years from 1997 and eventually sold his share of the club to current owner Mike Ashley.

Mourinho wants Man Utd to stay ‘humble’ in Moscow

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Moscow (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has encouraged his players to remain “humble” as they look to take control of Champions League Group A by beating CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

United are level on points with leaders Manchester City in the Premier League after winning five and drawing one of their first six games and some of their football has been dazzling.

Mourinho rues absence of injured Fellaini in Moscow

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Moscow (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he hopes Marouane Fellaini is not missed after the Belgian midfielder was ruled out of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow through injury.

Fellaini did not travel for the Group A game in Moscow after being caught on the back of his ankle by Shane Long during United’s 1-0 win at Southampton on Saturday.

Hogan, O’Brien win first Ireland call-ups for qualifiers

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Dublin (AFP) – Aston Villa’s Scott Hogan and Millwall’s Aiden O’Brien received their first call-ups by the Republic of Ireland ahead of their decisive World Cup qualifiers.

Martin O’Neill’s side face Moldova and Wales in their last two Group D games next month as they look to keep their hopes of reaching Russia next year alive.

PSG’s Verratti set for reunion with old mentor Ancelotti

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar’s arrival may have taken some of the focus away from the role played by Marco Verratti at Paris Saint-Germain, but Carlo Ancelotti is fully aware of the midfielder’s importance in the French capital.

Ancelotti takes his Bayern Munich side to the Parc des Princes for one of the heavyweight encounters of the Champions League group stage on Wednesday.

‘FC Hollywood’ nickname back to haunt Bayern Munich

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich play Paris Saint-Germain away in a blockbuster Champions League clash on Wednesday with the old ‘FC Hollywood’ nickname having returned to haunt the Bavarian giants.

In the 1990s, Bayern earned the ‘FC Hollywood’ tag when the off-field antics of stars like Lothar Matthaeus and Jurgen Klinsmann made the headlines as much as the team’s success on the pitch.

To Russia with love for Manchester United’s Mkhitaryan

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Moscow (AFP) – Trips to Russia have traditionally been seen as complicated assignments for English clubs, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan will have little trouble acclimatising when Manchester United visit CSKA Moscow this week.

The speedy attacking midfielder was born in Yerevan in January 1989 when the Armenian capital was still part of the Soviet Union.

Verratti set for reunion with old mentor Ancelotti

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar’s arrival may have taken some of the focus away from the role played by Marco Verratti at Paris Saint-Germain, but Carlo Ancelotti is fully aware of the midfielder’s importance in the French capital.

Ancelotti takes his Bayern Munich side to the Parc des Princes for one of the heavyweight encounters of the Champions League group stage on Wednesday, and a match that could prove decisive in determining who tops Group B.

West Brom manager Pulis brands Alexis Sanchez a ‘cheat’

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London (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis branded Alexis Sanchez a cheat after accusing the Arsenal star of diving to win a free kick in Monday’s Premier League clash.

Pulis was furious that Sanchez went unpunished after winning a first-half free kick on the edge of the Albion penalty area with a theatrical fall after a challenge from Craig Dawson.

Atletico’s ‘Circus Maximus’ Metropolitano awaits Chelsea

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Madrid (AFP) – It may lack a final lick of paint but “it appears like the Circus Maximus,” crowed proud Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone at the special atmosphere already produced by his club’s new Wanda Metropolitano home.

The opening of the 68,000 capacity stadium marks heady days for a club that has traditionally lived in the shadow of neighbours Real Madrid, none more so in the Champions League in recent years.

Chinese football club told to focus on goals, not gods

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Shanghai (AFP) – The Chinese FA have told Super League side Henan Jianye to seek salvation from goals rather than the gods after Taoist priests performed an on-pitch ritual - and the team duly won at home for the first time in over three months.

The CFA are investigating after fans of the club invited 15 Taoist priests on to the pitch to pray for a good result in Sunday’s match with Shandong Luneng, which Henan went on to win 2-1.

Villas-Boas fined $14,000 for Guangzhou complaints

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas has been fined $14,000 over his “offensive” comments during the AFC Champions League quarter-finals, the Asian Football Confederation said on Tuesday.

The Portuguese coach, who will be on the bench for Wednesday’s semi-final first leg at home against Urawa Red Diamonds, brought the game into disrepute, the AFC ruled.

Juve’s Dybala turns deadly focus to Europe

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Juventus’s deadliest weapon Paulo Dybala warned “everything is going my way” as the rising Argentine star turns his focus to Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Greek champions Olympiakos.

Long hailed as the heir to national teammate Lionel Messi, the 23-year-old is one of the leading strikers in domestic league action across Europe bagging ten goals - including two hat-tricks - in six Serie A games.

Where to find Spartak Moscow vs. Liverpool on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Spartak Moscow vs. Liverpool, you’ve come to the right place.

In Group E, Liverpool will be hoping for a better defensive display than the one that resulted in a draw against Sevilla. The Reds face an opposition that drew 1-1 with Maribor in gameweek 1.

‘Offensive’ Villas-Boas fined for Champions League blast

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas escaped a touchline ban and was instead fined $14,000 on Tuesday over his “offensive” comments during the AFC Champions League quarter-finals, the Asian Football Confederation said.

The Portuguese brought the game into disrepute, the AFC ruled, but stopped short of banning him for Wednesday’s semi-final first leg at home against Urawa Red Diamonds.

‘Money doesn’t score goals’ – Robben mocks PSG

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Berlin (AFP) – Arjen Robben has poked fun at big-spending Paris Saint-Germain on the eve of Bayern Munich’s key Champions League away match in the French capital.

With Anderlecht and Celtic also in the pool, the PSG-Bayern clash at Paris’ Parc de Princes on Wednesday could well decide the winner of Group B.

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

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

In Group H, Tottenham Hotspur has the opportunity to get two wins out of two when they face APOEL at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, Cyprus. With a capacity of 22,859, Spurs will face an APOEL side that lost 3-0 to Real Madrid on matchday one.

Wenger fumes over gruelling schedule

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has criticised the gruelling schedule that forces Arsenal to play three games in the space of just seven days.

Wenger’s side eased to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Monday thanks to Alexandre Lacazette’s brace at the Emirates Stadium in London.

Napoli’s resilience impressing Sarri ahead of Feyenoord

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Coach Maurizio Sarri believes Napoli have the resilience to bounce back from their damaging Champions League opening defeat on Tuesday against Dutch champions Feyenoord.

The Italians fell 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine in their Group F opener as Feyenoord suffered a 4-0 home defeat to Manchester City.

Lacazette double takes spotlight from Barry milestone

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London (AFP) – Alexandre Lacazette stole the spotlight from record breaker Gareth Barry as the Arsenal striker’s double clinched a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Monday.

Albion midfielder Barry broke Ryan Giggs’ Premier League appearance record by playing in his 633rd game, but it was Lacazette who ended the night as the centre of attention at the Emirates Stadium.

Barry breaks record for Premier League appearances

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London (AFP) – Gareth Barry broke Ryan Giggs’ Premier League appearance record as the West Bromwich Albion midfielder played his 633rd game in Monday’s clash against Arsenal.

Barry was named Albion captain at the Emirates Stadium in honour of his milestone moment and received a warm reception from both Arsenal and West Brom fans before kick-off.

Suso extends AC Milan contract until 2022

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Milan (AFP) – Spanish international Suso has extended his contract with AC Milan until June 30, 2022, the Serie A club confirmed on Monday.

“We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time, all agreeing on the outcome. Now the contract has been signed, it’s official,” the team said in a statement.

Albion’s Barry breaks record for Premier League appearances

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London (AFP) – Gareth Barry broke Ryan Giggs’ Premier League appearance record as the West Bromwich Albion midfielder played his 633rd game in Monday’s clash against Arsenal.

Barry was named Albion captain at the Emirates Stadium in honour of his milestone moment and received a warm reception from both Arsenal and West Brom fans before kick-off.

Dortmund out to ruin Ronaldo milestone

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund will aim to maintain their unbeaten record at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday and spoil Cristiano Ronaldo’s 150th European appearance.

Dortmund and title holders Real meet in the group stage for the second year running.

The teams drew both games 2-2 last season as the Germans topped the section before bowing out in the last eight while Real went on to win a record 12th title.

Klopp grouchy ahead of Liverpool’s Spartak test

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Moscow (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp cut a tetchy figure during a slightly shambolic press conference in Moscow on Monday to preview his side’s Champions League game against Spartak Moscow.

Sound issues, some peculiar questions from local reporters and a confused interpreter made for a surreal atmosphere, but Klopp was also irritated by the questions he received from the British journalists present.

FA backs chief executive over Sampson sacking

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London (AFP) – The English Football Association on Monday gave chief executive Martin Glenn a vote of confidence over his handling of Mark Sampson’s dismissal as England women’s team manager.

Sampson was sacked last week, a day after leading his team to a 6-0 win over Russia, for “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” in his previous role as manager of Bristol Academy.

Ex-football star Weah hopes to lead change in Liberia

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Paris (AFP) – Former football star and presidential hopeful George Weah on Monday called for change in Liberia and said he was confident ahead of next month’s election in the west African nation.

The first African player to win both FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or, Weah unsuccessfully ran as a presidential candidate in 2005, when he was defeated by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Pep warns City players against complacency

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola on Monday warned his on-fire Manchester City team they must guard against complacency or risk seeing a great start to the season disintegrate once again.

City are top of the Premier League after winning five and drawing the other of their opening six matches, while also enjoying victories over Feyenoord in the Champions League and West Brom in the League Cup.

Oumar Niasse goes from outcast to savior at Everton’s Goodison Park

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“We made a fast decision about [Oumar] Niasse and others who will find it difficult to be part of the team. If Niasse likes to play football, he needs to leave Everton.”

Those were new Everton manager Ronald Koeman’s scything remarks in August 2016, delivered before a ball had even been kicked in the English Premier League.

Juventus president banned for year over ticket sales – federation

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has been banned for a year for his role in the sale of tickets to fan groups, the Italian Football Federation said Monday.

Agnelli was also fined 20,000 euros ($23,770) while champions Juventus copped a fine of 300,000 euros ($356,000).

Juventus president banned for year over illegal ticket sales

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has been banned for a year for his role in the sale of tickets to fan groups, the Italian Football Federation said Monday.

Agnelli was also fined 20,000 euros ($23,770) while champions Juventus copped a fine of 300,000 euros ($356,000).

Bayern’s Hoeness slams ‘unacceptable’ transfers before PSG clash

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has launched a thinly-veiled attack on Wednesday’s Champions League opponents Paris Saint-Germain by slamming the “unacceptable” nature of recent inflated transfer fees.

Qatar-owned PSG signed Neymar from Barcelona for a world record 222 million euros ($264m) and recruited Kylian Mbappe from Monaco just before the transfer deadline last month on an initial loan deal which is set to be made into a permanent move for 180 million euros next year.

Homesick Conte ready to return to Italy

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Milan (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has revealed he misses his native Italy and plans to return home soon.

“Yes, I miss Italy. And in my mind, there’s no doubt I will be home before long,” Conte said in an interview Monday with Italian radio station Anch’io Sport.

“Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, important and life-changing experiences, I’ll be back.

Doubts over Qatar-hosted Gulf Cup as draw takes place

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Doha (AFP) – The draw for the Gulf Cup of Nations went ahead Monday despite serious doubts that the Qatar-hosted competition will take place largely due to ongoing regional political tensions.

In bizarre circumstances an elaborate ceremony saw Qatar drawn with Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen in Group A, while Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and possibly Kuwait will make up Group B.

Sacked Escriba replaced by Calleja at Villarreal

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Madrid (AFP) – Villarreal promoted B team coach Javi Calleja to first-team boss on Monday following the sacking of Fran Escriba and his backroom staff.

A 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Getafe on Sunday left Villarreal just three points above the relegation zone in 14th with seven points from their first six games.

Mourinho escapes further action after sending-off

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London (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will face no further action from the English Football Association following his dismissal in the Premier League clash at Southampton at the weekend.

The 54-year-old was sent to the stands by referee Craig Pawson for encroaching on the pitch during stoppage time of his side’s 1-0 win at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Klopp makes weak case for Liverpool defence

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London (AFP) – Liverpool approach the second game of their Champions League campaign away to Spartak Moscow on Tuesday with manager Jurgen Klopp under pressure to resolve their chronic defensive problems.

Liverpool ended a four-game winless run by prevailing 3-2 at Leicester City on Saturday, but they have conceded 10 goals in three consecutive Premier League away games for the first time in the competition’s 25-year history.

Dortmund out to ruin Ronaldo Champions League milestone

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund will aim to maintain their unbeaten record at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday and spoil Cristiano Ronaldo’s 150th European appearance.

Dortmund and title holders Real meet in the group stage for the second year running.

The teams drew both games 2-2 last season as the Germans topped the section before bowing out in the last eight while Real went on to win a record 12th title.

Shanghai SIPG coach Villas-Boas faces make-or-break moment in China

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas faces a critical four weeks that will define his time in China, starting with the AFC Champions League semi-final first leg home to Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday.

Villas-Boas’s team, boasting the likes of the Brazilian internationals Hulk and Oscar, are in the hunt for the treble in the former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager’s first season in China.

Tevez must earn right to play – Shenhua

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Shanghai (AFP) – Handsomely paid Carlos Tevez cannot expect to play every game for the Shanghai Shenhua side just because of his famous name, the Chinese team warned on Monday, the latest twist in his turbulent spell with the club.

The Argentine, among the highest earners in football on a reported $850,000 a week, has endured a miserable nine months in China and did not feature again at the weekend.

Guardiola urges City forwards to be ruthless

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City’s free-scoring forwards to stay hungry for goals and says there are many ways in which the Premier League leaders can improve despite their ominous early-season form.

City, who lead Manchester United on goal difference, have been in impressive form in recent weeks, thumping Liverpool, Watford and Crystal Palace in their past three Premier League games by an aggregate score of 16-0.

FIFA scraps football shirt poppy ban

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London (AFP) – FIFA has backed down in its row with British football authorities over the wearing of poppies by players in international matches as a tribute to those killed in war.

Football associations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales were fined by FIFA for ignoring warnings not to commemorate Armistice Day during their World Cup qualifiers last November.

Liverpool, Man Utd fans trigger Moscow security jitters

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Moscow (AFP) – As thousands of British fans head to Moscow for Champions League matches involving Manchester United and Liverpool, Russia faces a crucial test of its security measures just months ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Some 2,000 British fans are expected to arrive for matches on Tuesday and Wednesday against Moscow teams known for problems with hooliganism and racism in the stands.

Where to find Arsenal vs. West Brom on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Arsenal vs. West Brom, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s early in the season, but West Brom is currently above the Gunners in the Premier League table but that could change on Monday evening. Arsenal could move into seventh place with a win while the Baggies could end up as high as fourth depending on their goal difference.

10 things we learned from MLS gameweek 29 of the 2017 season

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Photo credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the ten things we learned from Week 29 of the 2017 MLS season.

1. Dallas’ Nosedive Continues

FC Dallas entered this weekend without a win in their last nine games dating back to July 22 – having fallen from first place in the Western Conference to below the playoff red line.

MLS attendances through gameweek 29 of the 2017 season

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MLS reported attendances had another good week courtesy of Atlanta playing two more home matches at the Mercedes Benz Stadium.

The only downer was New York City FC’s match that was played in Hartford’s Pratt and Whitney Stadium due to a scheduling conflict at Yankee Stadium. The 10,165 was the lowest reported attendance of the season.

Ronaldo’s slow start sparks Ballon d’Or race

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Madrid (AFP) – Two games without a goal is run of the mill for most footballers, but for Cristiano Ronaldo it constitutes a drought.

Ronaldo will be looking to forget his early season struggles as Real Madrid aim to lay down a marker in their quest for a third consecutive Champions League at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

NBC Sports Gold subscribers receive apology after Premier League Pass outages

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NBC Sports has issued an apology to subscribers of their NBC Sports Gold service after the debacle that occurred Saturday, which resulted in a major online outage at the same time that Manchester United played away against Southampton.

“We apologize for the disruptions and inconvenience, and appreciate your understanding as we continue to look for new ways to bring you the best sports content in the world,” NBC Sports wrote in an e-mail to NBC Sports Gold subscribers.

Ghana turn tables on arch-foes Nigeria in West African Football Union Cup of Nations

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Hosts Ghana decisively turned the tables on arch-foes Nigeria Sunday by romping to a 4-1 victory in the West African Football Union Cup of Nations final.

Nigeria won a group game between the regional football powerhouses 2-0 and did not concede a goal in five outings leading to the title decider.

Manager pulls hamstring in celebrating Valencia triumph

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia moved ahead of Real Madrid into fourth in La Liga as Simone Zaza’s winner five minutes from time edged a thrilling 3-2 win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

However, it was all too much for Valencia manager Marcelino who pulled his hamstring in celebrating the winner.

Marseille honour cancer-stricken Tapie with win win

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Paris (AFP) – Florian Thauvin sparked Marseille to a 2-0 victory over Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Sunday as home fans voiced their support for stricken former club president Bernard Tapie.

French winger Thauvin forced in the opening goal on 32 minutes at the Stade Velodrome before Lucas Ocampos bundled in a second just past the hour to lift Marseille up to fifth place.

Alario nets on long-awaited Leverkusen debut

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Berlin (AFP) – Lucas Alario scored on his German league debut in Bayer Leverkusen’s 3-0 win at home to Hamburg on Sunday - nearly a month after the Argentina striker first signed.

The 24-year-old hit the net in the 23rd minute as his side went 2-0 up after Kevin Volland had opened the scoring for the hosts at the BayArena with Jamaica winger Leon Bailey setting up both goals.

Neymar earns 3m euros per month at PSG: report

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Berlin (AFP) – Brazil superstar Neymar earns just over three million euros a month at Paris Saint-Germain, according to German magazine Der Spiegel.

The magazine, using Football Leaks as a source, claims the 25-year-old Neymar, who cost PSG 222 million euros ($265m) from Barcelona, earns 36.

Injury blow delays Hoewedes debut for Juventus

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Benedikt Hoewedes’s debut for Serie A champions Juventus has been put on hold as the World Cup winner was ruled out for four weeks on Sunday after aggravating a muscular injury.

The 29-year-old moved to Turin in August on a loan deal from German outfit Schalke 04 where he had spent his entire club career.

Struggling Cologne secure first point of season

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Berlin (AFP) – Hanover 96 were held to a goalless draw at home by Bundesliga bottom side Cologne on Sunday to leave defending champions Bayern Munich third after their shock draw with Wolfsburg.

Cologne picked up their first point in six games by containing hosts Hanover, who dominated possession but could not break the deadlock.

Hemed gives Brighton revenge over Newcastle

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Israeli striker Tomer Hemed’s 51st-minute goal earned Brighton and Hove Albion a 1-0 victory over last season’s Championship sparring partners Newcastle United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Hemed struck early in the second half at the Amex Stadium to give Brighton manager Chris Hughton a first victory over the club he previously managed at the seventh attempt.

D’Ambrosio saves Inter, AC Milan crash in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Danilo D’Ambrosio scored the only goal as Inter Milan left it late to squeeze past Genoa 1-0 in Serie A action Sunday and keep in touch with the leaders, as AC Milan fell 2-0 at Sampdoria.

D’Ambrosio headed in off a corner with two minutes to go at the San Siro to earn three points for Luciano Spalletti’s side, who saw their winning run ended on Tuesday with a 1-1 draw at Bologna.

Egypt jails 14 over deadly 2015 stadium stampede

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Cairo (AFP) – An Egyptian court jailed two people for life on Sunday and 12 to between two and 10 years over violence that led to a deadly football stadium stampede in Cairo.

At least 19 people died in the disaster after police fired tear gas at fans who tried to push their way into the stadium in February 2015.

AC Milan crash to second Serie A defeat at Sampdoria

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Milan (AFP) – Duvan Zapata and Ricky Alvarez scored as Sampdoria condemned big-spending AC Milan to their second defeat of the Serie A campaign 2-0 in Genoa on Sunday.

Zapata broke through after a terrible clearance by his cousin and fellow Colombia international Cristian Zapata after 72 minutes with substitute Alvarez getting the second just before the whistle.

Guardiola urges City to maintain goal blitz

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola challenged his Manchester City stars to keep firing on all cylinders as they look to maintain their position on top of the Premier League.

Guardiola’s side moved ahead of Manchester United on goal difference with a 5-0 demolition of lowly Crystal Palace at Eastlands on Saturday.

Mourinho cautious despite fast Manchester United start

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says it is too early to talk about a challenge for the Premier League title despite watching his side win their fifth match out of six.

United, who have not won the title since Alex Ferguson was at the helm in 2013, are second in the table, level with Manchester City on 16 points, but with an inferior goal difference.

Spurs boss Pochettino ‘in love’ with hotshot Kane

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino says he is “in love” with Harry Kane after the red-hot forward took his tally to six goals in four games.

Kane’s brace helped Spurs secure a 3-2 win at West Ham United that helped ensure they did not risk losing further ground on early Premier League pacesetters Manchester City and Manchester United.

Wenger urges Sanchez to prove his worth

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has warned Alexis Sanchez he will have earn his place back in Arsenal’s starting line-up after his failed attempt to force a move to Manchester City.

Sanchez was close to joining City before last month’s transfer deadline after his refusal to sign a new contract convinced Wenger to sell him.

On-song Morata gives Conte Chelsea cheer

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Alvaro Morata will approach Chelsea’s Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid next week in top form after his hat-trick inspired his side to a 4-0 win at Stoke City.

Morata struck three times at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday to take his Chelsea tally to seven goals in six games since his close-season move from Atletico’s local rivals Real Madrid.

Klopp insists Liverpool on right track

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted his side are thriving, despite the pressure they faced during a recent four-game winless streak that was ended with a 3-2 victory at Leicester City on Saturday.

Klopp’s side have come in for criticism at both ends of the pitch as a misfiring attack has failed to take its chances while a leaky defence has struggled to keep a clean sheet.

Istanbul derby delivers three goals, five red cards

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Istanbul (AFP) – Five players were given their marching orders in a fiery Super Lig clash between Istanbul giants Fenerbahce and Besiktas on Saturday with two of the red cards dished out in the final minutes.

Fenerbahce beat Besiktas 2-1 at home in the season’s first derby at the Ulker stadium on the Asian side of Istanbul.

Dybala double as Juventus whip Torino

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Milan (AFP) – Paulo Dybala scored a double as Juventus outclassed 10-man Torino 4-0 in Saturday’s Turin derby to stay top of Serie A alongside Napoli who battled past SPAL 3-2.

The Argentine striker has now scored an impressive ten goals - including two hat-tricks - in six Serie A games with Miralem Pjanic and Alex Sandro also on target at the Allianz Stadium.

Barcelona remain perfect in Girona, Real bounce back

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona maintained their perfect start to La Liga with a sixth straight win as Luis Suarez and two own goals secured a 3-0 win at Girona in a match laced with political tension on Saturday.

Real Madrid remain seven points behind Barca thanks to Dani Ceballos’s double on his full debut to bounce back from a shock midweek defeat by Real Betis with a 2-1 win at Alaves on Saturday to move up to fourth.

Barca remain perfect in Girona, Real bounce back

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona maintained their perfect start to La Liga with a sixth straight win as Luis Suarez and two own goals secured a 3-0 win at Girona in a match laced with political tension on Saturday.

Real Madrid remain seven points behind Barca thanks to Dani Ceballos’s double on his full debut to bounce back from a shock midweek defeat by Real Betis with a 2-1 win at Alaves on Saturday to move up to fourth.

Aubameyang hits hat-trick for leaders Dortmund

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Berlin (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed a hat-trick as Borussia Dortmund romped to a 6-1 home thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach to regain top spot in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Gladbach had no answer to Peter Bosz’s fleet-footed Dortmund, who opened a two-point lead over Hoffenheim at the top in a perfect confidence boost before Tuesday’s Champions League clash with holders Real Madrid.

NBC Sports Gold crashes, causing havoc for Premier League coverage

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NBC Sports Gold suffered its worst outage of the season today when the Premier League Pass paid-subscription service crashed, causing soccer fans across the United States to miss valuable minutes of seeing their team in action. As a result, soccer fans stormed to social media to vent their anger at NBC Sports.

Napoli survive SPAL scare, El Shaarawy lifts Roma

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Milan (AFP) – Napoli battled past newcomers SPAL 3-2 on Saturday for a sixth straight win to remain top of Serie A as AS Roma cruised past Udinese 3-1.

Maurizio Sarri’s side have a maximum 18 points from six games to sit top with Juventus looking to join them later Saturday when they clash against city rivals Torino.

Aubameyang hits hat-trick for leaders Dormund

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Berlin (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed a hat-trick as Borussia Dortmund romped to a 6-1 home thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach to regain top spot in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Gladbach had no answer to Peter Bosz’s fleet-footed Dortmund, who opened a two-point lead over Hoffenheim at the top of the table before Tuesday’s Champions League clash with holders Real Madrid.

Coutinho scorcher gets Liverpool back on track

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho marked his first Premier League start of the season with a superb goal as Liverpool returned to winning ways by edging Leicester City 3-2 on Saturday.

Coutinho submitted a transfer request on the eve of the season, only for Liverpool to block his move to Barcelona, and he began the atonement process with a glorious 23rd-minute free-kick.

Kenya stripped of 2018 CHAN hosting rights

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Kenya were stripped Saturday of the right to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after a CAF executive committee meeting in Accra.

The decision was announced at a media conference after a one-day gathering of the African football “cabinet” headed by president Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar.

Emery expects swift Neymar return after stalemate

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery said he expects Neymar to return from injury for Tuesday’s Champions League match against Bayern Munich, after his side struggled to a 0-0 draw at Montpellier on Saturday in the Brazilian’s absence.

Neymar missed the game after suffering a right foot injury, and PSG duly saw their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season come to an end in their first match without the 25-year-old since his world record move from Barcelona.

Kenya stripped of 2018 CHAN hosting rights: CAF

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Kenya were stripped Saturday of the right to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after a CAF executive committee meeting in Accra.

The decision was announced at a media conference after a one-day meeting of the African football “cabinet” headed by president Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar.

Manchester United seek to identify Lukaku chant culprits

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United reiterated their condemnation of a crude chant about Romelu Lukaku after it was aired again during Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League win at Southampton.

Both United and Belgian striker Lukaku had previously implored supporters to stop singing the song, which draws on racial stereotypes about the size of black men’s penises.

Guardiola crosses fingers over Mendy injury

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says French left-back Benjamin Mendy will be assessed on Sunday after he suffered a knock against Crystal Palace, hailing him a vital cog in Manchester City’s attacking machine.

The home side lost Mendy to injury midway through the first half on Saturday after a clash of knees with Andros Townsend before finding their scoring touch and pummelling Roy Hodgson’s side 5-0.

Neymar-less PSG held by Montpellier

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain lost their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season as they struggled to a 0-0 draw at Montpellier on Saturday without the injured Neymar.

With the world’s most expensive player on the sidelines to ensure his fitness for Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Bayern Munich, PSG were uninspiring in attack against a stubborn Montpellier side playing in a 5-4-1 formation.

Ceballos ensures Real Madrid bounce back, Atletico Madrid beat Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) – Dani Ceballos scored twice on his full debut as Real Madrid bounced back from a shock midweek defeat by Real Betis to close to within four points of La Liga leaders Barcelona with a 2-1 win at Alaves on Saturday.

Earlier, Diego Costa was an interested spectator as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Conte wants more from hat-trick hero Morata

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Antonio Conte warned Alvaro Morata not to rest on his laurels after the Spain striker hit his first Premier League hat-trick in Chelsea’s 4-0 demolition of Stoke City.

Morata has made a strong start to his first season with Chelsea and the former Real Madrid star was too hot for Stoke to handle at the bet365 Stadium.

Lukaku, Sterling keep Manchester clubs on top

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London (AFP) – Raheem Sterling shone for Manchester City and Romelu Lukaku delivered for Manchester United as the Manchester clubs maintained a tight grip on the Premier League title race with Saturday victories.

Sterling scored a brace as City crushed bottom club Crystal Palace 5-0 and are top on goal difference above United, who won 1-0 at Southampton courtesy of Lukaku’s first-half goal.

El Shaarawy brace as Roma down Udinese

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Milan (AFP) – Stephan El Shaarawy bagged a first-half brace as AS Roma overwhelmed Udinese 3-1 to secure a third straight Serie A win on Saturday.

Italian forward El Shaarawy scored twice after Edin Dzeko’s 12th-minute opener, as Roma move up to fourth in Serie A with 12 points from five games, and with a game in hand just three points behind leaders Napoli and Juventus who play later.

Ceballos helps Real Madrid bounce back, Atletico Madrid down Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) – Dani Ceballos scored twice on his full debut as Real Madrid bounced back from a shock midweek defeat to Real Betis to close to within four points of La Liga leaders Barcelona with a 2-1 win at Alaves.

Earlier, Diego Costa was an interested spectator as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Teenager Geiger helps Hoffenheim go top

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Berlin (AFP) – Teenage midfielder Dennis Geiger scored his first league goal to help fire Hoffenheim top of the Bundesliga table on Saturday as they beat Schalke 2-0 at home.

After defending champions Bayern Munich threw away a two-goal lead in Friday’s 2-2 draw at home to Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim picked up the three points to go top ahead of Borussia Dortmund, who host Borussia Moenchengladbach later on Saturday.

Morata hits hat-trick as Chelsea sink Stoke

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London (AFP) – Alvaro Morata bagged a classy hat-trick as Chelsea made short work of beating Stoke 4-0 to keep up the pressure on the Premier League leaders on Saturday.

Pedro also scored for Antonio Conte’s side, who remained just three points off the top of the table with their title defence gathering steam.

Sparkling Sane inspires Manchester City in Palace rout

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Leroy Sane was the difference as Premier League leaders Manchester City claimed a comprehensive 5-0 win over bottom club Crystal Palace on Saturday to extend their unbeaten start.

“Shall we score a goal for you?” the home fans chanted, and well they might, with Pep Guardiola’s side having now scored 16 goals in three Premier League games.

Mourinho sent off as Lukaku fires Manchester United

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku fired Manchester United to a 1-0 win over Southampton as Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Lukaku scored the only goal of the game in the first half, but United had to survive a late barrage of Southampton pressure that played a role in Mourinho’s dismissal.

El Shaarawy brace as Roma crush Udinese

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Milan (AFP) – Stephan El Shaarawy bagged a first-half brace as AS Roma overwhelmed Udinese 3-0 to secure a third straight Serie A win on Saturday.

Italian forward El Shaarawy scored twice after Edin Dzeko’s 12th-minute opener, as Roma move up to fifth in Serie A with 12 points from five games, and with a game in hand just three points behind leaders Napoli and Juventus who play later.

Enzo misses out on Zidane family reunion

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Madrid (AFP) – Enzo Zidane was denied the chance to face his father Zinedine and former club Real Madrid as the midfielder was left out of the Alaves squad to face the European champions on Saturday.

The 22-year-old has made just two appearances since leaving Real’s reserve team Castilla to join the Basque side in June.

Diego Costa watches Griezmann fire Atletico into second

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Costa watched on from the directors’ box as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second in La Liga thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Costa’s drawn out move back to Atletico from Chelsea was finally agreed on Thursday, but the striker isn’t allowed to feature until the January transfer window opens.

Draw dampens Bayern’s Oktoberfest visit

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich were in dampened spirits during their visit to the Munich ‘Oktoberfest’ beer festival on Saturday, after a shock Bundesliga home draw to mid-table Wolfsburg.

Bayern threw away a two-goal lead on Friday at the Allianz Arena which cost them the chance to top the Bundesliga table.

Roma skipper De Rossi was tempted by European or MLS move

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Rome (AFP) – Roma captain Daniele De Rossi has revealed that he would have left the Serie A club last summer if he had received a suitable offer.

De Rossi has spent his entire footballing career at Stadio Olimpico and the 34-year-old is their longest-serving player following the departure of club legend Francesco Totti.

Harry Kane brace keeps West Ham in the mire

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane struck twice as 10-man Tottenham Hotspur survived a late scare to maintain their perfect away record with a 3-2 victory at West Ham United on Saturday.

Kane’s double, taking his tally to six in four games, and a third from Christian Eriksen gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side a three-goal lead on the hour before Javier Hernandez started the Hammers fightback.

Rogic stars as Celtic sink Rangers

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Glasgow (AFP) – Tom Rogic put Scottish champions Celtic on course for a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Rangers in the Old Firm derby at Ibrox on Saturday.

An open first half saw both sides spurn chances before the Hoops took a 50th minute lead thanks to a fierce strike from Socceroos star Rogic.

Costa watches Griezmann fire Atletico into second

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Costa watched on from the directors’ box as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second in La Liga thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Costa’s drawn out move back to Atletico from Chelsea was finally agreed on Thursday, but the striker isn’t allowed to feature until the January transfer window opens.

Neymar-Cavani rivalry ‘healthy’ for PSG – Okocha

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London (AFP) – The tension between Paris Saint-Germain forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani is “healthy” and they should be left to sort things out themselves, according to the club’s former star Jay-Jay Okocha.

Cavani and world-record signing Neymar squabbled over a penalty during PSG’s 2-0 win over Lyon last weekend, which Cavani took and missed, and Neymar is since reported to have apologised for his behaviour.

Where to find Southampton vs. Man United on US TV and streaming

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

The most important news is that the game isn’t being shown live on television in the United States. Instead, the game will be shown live via NBC Sports Gold’s Premier League Pass, the new streaming service for soccer fans in the States.

That’s my boy – Real Madrid boss Zidane faces son Enzo

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane will go up against his son Enzo Fernandez for the first time when he takes his struggling Spanish champions to Alaves on Saturday.

Midfielder Enzo, 22, left Real’s reserve team in the close season in search of first-team football at Alaves, where he has made two La Liga appearances so far.

Where to find Everton vs. Bournemouth on US TV and streaming

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

The most important news is that the game isn’t being shown live on television in the United States. Instead, the game will be shown live via NBC Sports Gold’s Premier League Pass, the new streaming service for soccer fans in the States.

Where to find Juventus vs. Torino on US streaming

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

The Turin derby may have been dominated by Juventus for a long time, though Torino will feel they can do something special when they head to the home of their biggest rivals this weekend.

That’s my boy — Real boss Zidane faces son Enzo

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane will go up against his son Enzo for the first time when he takes his struggling Spanish champions to Alaves on Saturday.

Midfielder Enzo, 22, left Real’s reserve team in the close season in search of first-team football at Alaves, where he has made two La Liga appearances so far.

Wenger foresees radical transfer market shake-up

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes there will be a radical overhaul of the transfer market within the next year following the stratospheric spending of the close-season trading period.

Paris Saint-Germain smashed the world transfer record to sign Neymar from Barcelona for 222 million euros ($266 million), while Premier League clubs spent £1.

Where to find Atletico Madrid vs. Sevilla on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Atletico Madrid vs. Sevilla, you’ve come to the right place.

With Real Madrid losing midweek, both Atleti and Sevilla have an excellent opportunity to increase to close the gap with Barcelona near the top of the table. Sevilla, in second place, are just two points behind league leaders Barcelona.

Where to find West Ham vs. Spurs on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch West Ham vs. Spurs, you’ve come to the right place.

In the London derby between West Ham and Tottenham, the Hammers will be looking for their second home win in a row against a Spurs team that drew 0-0 against Swansea at Wembley Stadium last week.

Aguero deserves more acclaim, says Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says Sergio Aguero is worthy of his place in Manchester City history, even if he continues to be ignored when it comes to individual honours.

Aguero is on the verge of becoming City’s all-time record scorer as he looks to break the record of 177 set by Eric Brook in 1939.

Mourinho juggles United’s attacking riches

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho is considering unleashing Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford together as he wrestles with how to keep his hungry young forward line content.

The Manchester United manager has identified six in-form, big-name players whom he currently has to fit into four starting berths - a centre-forward, with three attacking midfielders behind.

Red-hot Falcao stars as Monaco thrash Lille

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Paris (AFP) – Radamel Falcao scored a brace as French champions Monaco romped to a 4-0 thumping of Lille at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Friday to pile the pressure on home coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Stevan Jovetic and Rachid Ghezzal put Monaco in control at half-time with their first goals for the club since joining from Inter Milan and Lyon respectively.

Ulreich blunder costs sloppy Bayern in Wolfsburg draw

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Berlin (AFP) – A blunder by stand-in goalkeeper Sven Ulreich contributed to Bayern Munich squandering the chance to go top of the Bundesliga on Friday as they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Wolfsburg.

Goals from Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben had given Bayern a commanding lead at half-time, but Ulreich’s error and a late equaliser from Daniel Didavi saw Wolfsburg rescue an unlikely point in Munich.

Injured Neymar to miss first PSG game

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar will miss Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 game at Montpellier on Saturday after the world’s most expensive player injured his right foot, the French champions confirmed.

The Brazilian striker has made an immediate impact at his new club with four goals and four assists from his first five outings since moving to the French capital from Barcelona.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 6

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NBC Sports Group’s live Premier League coverage continues this week, highlighted by Liverpool visiting Jamie Vardy and Leicester City this Saturday, September 23, at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Universo. Vardy has scored four goals for the Foxes so far this season, tied for third-most in the league, while Liverpool come off a 1-1 draw with Burnley.

Costa delighted to finally seal Atletico return

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Madrid (AFP) – Spanish striker Diego Costa said he was relieved the saga surrounding his return to Atletico Madrid from Chelsea was over, after arriving in Spain on Friday.

The two clubs agreed a transfer fee on Thursday that could reach a reported 65 million euros ($77.7 million), with Costa set to officially rejoin Atletico at the start of January.

Kenya court rules against new regulations, league expansion

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Nairobi (AFP) – Kenya’s high court on Friday ruled against the country’s football federation (FKF) in a case challenging new licensing regulations and an increase in the number of premier league teams.

Judge John Mativo said the introduction of new club licensing regulations without the participation of members and stakeholders was illegal and in violation of FIFA and CAF guidelines.

League Cup is a waste of energy – Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has called the League Cup “a waste of energy” as the Manchester City manager joined old rival Jose Mourinho in questioning the worth of the competition.

The League Cup was created in 1960 to take advantage of the fact that floodlights had increased the possibility for midweek football.

Mourinho showers praise on ‘happy’ Martial

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho praised French winger Anthony Martial on Friday for his improved attitude and on-field performances in Manchester United’s strong start to the season.

The 21-year-old struggled to convince Mourinho during his first season in charge at Old Trafford but he has convincingly played his way back into the manager’s plans this term.

Klopp vows to keep attacking

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp insists he won’t ditch his attacking principles despite Liverpool’s recent struggles.

Klopp’s side have gone four games without a win and crashed out of the League Cup at Leicester this week.

The Reds have conceded 10 goals in that spell, sparking criticism of Klopp’s defenders and claims his commitment to all-out attack has left them too exposed.

Injured Neymar to miss first PSG game – reports

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar will miss Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 game at Montpellier on Saturday after the world’s most expensive player injured his right foot, French media report.

The Brazilian striker has made an immediate impact at his new club with four goals and four assists from his first five outings since moving to the French capital from Barcelona.

Chelsea boss Conte takes high road over Costa rift

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte refused to take a parting shot at Diego Costa on Friday after the exiled Chelsea striker got his wish to rejoin Atletico Madrid.

Blues boss Conte fell out with Costa following the Spain star’s attempts to engineer a move away from Stamford Bridge last season.

Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi on FIFA best player shortlist

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London (AFP) – Neymar was named alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the three-man shortlist for the Best FIFA Men’s Player Award, which was announced in London on Friday.

Brazil superstar Neymar, 25, won the Copa del Rey with Barcelona last season before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a blockbuster 222 million euros ($266 million) move that smashed the world transfer record.

‘Now I’m jinxed?’ jokes Zidane

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane joked Friday that he was “jinxed” as his team comes under attack for their misfiring start to this season’s la Liga campaign.

“So now I’m jinxed, am I?” the Frenchman said two days after Real suffered a shock 1-0 defeat by Real Betis.

Kenya court rules against new regulations and league expansion

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Nairobi (AFP) – Kenya’s high court on Friday ruled against the country’s football federation (FKF) in a case challenging new licensing regulations and an increase in the number of premier league teams proposed by the governing body.

Ruling on a petition brought by former FKF boss Sam Nyamweya, high court judge John Mativo said the introduction of new club licensing regulations without the participation of members and stakeholders was illegal and in violation of FIFA and CAF guidelines.

United front sparked fast start says Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says Manchester United’s dynamic start to their Premier League title challenge has been fuelled by the feel-good factor among his forwards.

Mourinho’s side head to Southampton on Saturday in confident mood after reeling off four wins from their first five league games.

Zidane pleads for calm amid Real slump

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Madrid (AFP) – In the space of just five games Real Madrid have gone from red hot La Liga title favourites to trailing rivals Barcelona by seven points ahead of Saturday’s trip to Alaves.

When Madrid swept a crisis-ridden Barca aside 5-1 in the Spanish Super Cup last month, Zinedine Zidane’s men were expected to romp to the title.

Boca Juniors and River Plate matches now available in US via new streaming service

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For the first time in a long time, Argentina Superliga matches featuring Boca Juniors and River Plate will be available legally for viewing in the United States.

A new streaming service called Fanatiz is now offering soccer fans around the world matches from Argentina, Chile, Peru and Mexico.

Juventus, Napoli seek home boost before European battle

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus and Napoli will be looking to make it six wins out of six in Serie A Saturday before must-win Champions League games next week.

Juventus lost their European curtain raiser 3-0 to Barcelona and sparks should fly in the highly-anticipated Turin derby against an improving Torino before meeting Greek club Olympiakos on Wednesday.

Penaltygate’ threatens to halt PSG’s lightning start

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery refused to name his first-choice penalty taker on Thursday, after Neymar and Edinson Cavani’s apparent falling out against Lyon last week.

The Ligue 1 leaders travel to Montpellier on Saturday looking to make it seven straights wins to kick off the season, after smashing spending records in the close season to compile the fearsome ‘MCN’ front line of Neymar, Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.

UEFA Champions League TV schedule for September 26-27

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We can now reveal the UEFA Champions League TV schedule for matchweek 2 of the Group Stage of the competition.

The two flagship matches that will be televised on FS1 are Borussia Dortmund versus Real Madrid on the Tuesday, and CSKA Moscow against Manchester United on the Wednesday. With Liverpool, Barcelona, Spurs, Chelsea, Atleti, Juventus and other well-supported teams playing, the games will be shown across a variety of networks and streaming services.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for September 11-17, 2017

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Univision drew its smallest audience for a MLS game on the network Saturday when Atlanta United and Orlando City SC played to a stunning 3-3 draw. The match was only watched by 256,000, down over 100% from Univision’s 2017 average through the first four broadcasts.

English-language Premier League viewership is up 14% through the first five weeks of the 2017-2018 season.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on TV this weekend

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Sometimes the soccer calendar opts not to churn out a string of heavyweight fixtures over the course of a weekend. This is one of them.

Yet while there aren’t glamour ties across the globe to include in our selections, often that’s not a bad thing. With the pressure somewhat off, class outfits can relax into a wonderful style of football, or occasionally fall prey to complacency, and shocks can occur.

Lukaku wants Manchester United fans to drop offensive chant

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London (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku has asked Manchester United fans to “move on” from their controversial chant about the Belgium striker.

Lukaku has quickly become a favourite of United supporters since his close-season move from Everton, but their vocal praise of the star has angered anti-racism groups.

Debating whether soccer is a niche sport 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 43, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• A debate on whether soccer is a niche sport or not in the United States,

• The end of an era at FOX Soccer after their top two executives leave the company,

• We discuss which European league wants to play regular season games in the United States,

• News about how the Championship secured a big TV deal in the UK, plus

• Feedback and questions from you in the Listener Mailbag section.

Manchester City’s Gundogan gets injury boost

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London (AFP) – Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan received an injury boost on Thursday as tests showed he hasn’t suffered serious damage to his left knee.

Gundogan limped off after an hour of City’s League Cup win at West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday following a strong challenge from Claudio Yacob.

Kurzawa video footage ‘taken out of context’ – agent

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Paris (AFP) – Footage of Paris Saint-Germain and France defender Layvin Kurzawa criticising national coach Didier Deschamps - and which led to a blackmail plot against him - was “taken completely out of context”, according to his agent.

“Layvin was the victim a few weeks ago of an extortion attempt based on an extract from a video filmed with a mobile phone at his home and containing elements that were taken completely out of context,” he said in a statement to AFP.

Manchester United post record profits

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London (AFP) – Manchester United announced record revenues and operating profits on Thursday despite missing out on the riches of the Champions League last season.

The Old Trafford club earned revenues of £581.2 million ($783 million, 659 million euros) in the 12 months to the end of June and made an operating profit of £80.

Costa to return to Atletico from Chelsea

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Madrid (AFP) – Chelsea and Atletico Madrid announced Thursday that they had reached an initial agreement that would see Diego Costa return to the La Liga club.

“Atletico de Madrid and Chelsea have reached an initial agreement for the transfer of Diego Costa,” the Spanish side said in a statement.

Crisis, what crisis? says Reds boss Klopp

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp claims criticism of Liverpool’s recent struggles is unjustified because their poor run is just a temporary blip.

Klopp’s side crashed out of the League Cup at Leicester on Tuesday to extend their winless run to four matches in all competitions.

Liverpool have conceded the first goal in their last four games, resulting in two draws and two defeats, and that defensive vulnerability has been compounded by an inability to convert a significant number of chances.

Neuer injury thrusts Ulreich into Bayern limelight

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Berlin (AFP) – Sven Ulreich considered quitting Bayern Munich over the close season due to a lack of chances, but Manuel Neuer’s latest injury has propelled his understudy into the spotlight.

Germany standout and Bayern captain Neuer is out until January after undergoing surgery on Tuesday - his third operation in six months for a fractured foot.

Chelsea’s Luiz ‘must’ play despite broken wrist – Conte

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is pinning his hopes on David Luiz playing against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League next week even though the defender has a broken wrist.

Luiz sustained the injury in Sunday’s goalless draw with Arsenal when he clattered into the advertising hoardings at the end of the first half.

MP accuses FA over Sampson scandal

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London (AFP) – A lawmaker on Thursday accused the Football Association of an “inexcusable” lack of leadership following the sacking of England Women’s manager Mark Sampson for “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” during his time at a previous club.

Sampson had been the subject of accusations of racism, harassment and bullying made by former England player Eni Aluko.

Manchester United announce record profits

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London (AFP) – Manchester United announced record revenue on Thursday after a successful season in which they won the Europa League and the League Cup and qualified for the Champions League.

The Old Trafford club earned revenues of £581.2 million ($783 million, 659 million euros) in the 12 months to the end of June and made an operating profit of £80.

fuboTV upgrades DVR functionality for cord cutters; Keep shows for unlimited time

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On the heels of fuboTV adding 49 new FOX markets to its legal streaming service, fuboTV has also recently launched a new cloud DVR service as well as improved player controls.

fuboTV subscribers now have the ability to record up to 30 hours of programming and save it for an unlimited amount of time – upgraded from the previous “10 slots” that expire after 10 days – as long as you remain an active subscriber.

Real Madrid beaten by Betis on Ronaldo return

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Madrid (AFP) – Antonio Sanabria struck deep into stoppage time to hand Real Betis a shock 1-0 win away to Real Madrid on Wednesday as the European champions failed to score for the first time in 74 matches.

Defeat leaves Real already seven points adrift of leaders Barcelona just five games into their defence of La Liga having failed to win in all three home games so far this season.

Manchester United, Manchester City into League Cup fourth round

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London (AFP) – Marcus Rashford fired Manchester United into the League Cup fourth round as the holders crushed Burton 4-1, while Manchester City eased through with a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday.

City and United, currently first and second in the Premier League, took contrasting routes to the last 16, where they were joined by Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton as the big guns advanced despite fielding weakened teams.

Guardiola hopeful over Gundogan injury scare

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola is hopeful Ilkay Gundogan won’t be sidelined for long after the Manchester City star was injured on his return from a serious knee problem.

Leroy Sane’s double earned City a 2-1 League Cup third round win at West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday, but the victory was tarnished when Gundogan limped off in the second half.

Juventus, Napoli pull clear in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Champions Juventus and Napoli pulled clear at the summit of Serie A as they continued their faultless campaigns on Wednesday as Inter Milan fell behind.

Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic scored for Juventus in a 1-0 win over old foes Fiorentina in Turin as Napoli rallied from a goal down to beat Lazio 4-1 in Rome.

Kagawa leads Dortmund ‘fire engine’ back to Bundesliga top spot

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund returned to the top of the Bundesliga on Wednesday after easing to a 3-0 victory over Hamburg with Japanese star Shinji Kagawa getting the scoring underway.

Kagawa gave Dortmund the lead from close range on 25 minutes, and both Christian Pulisic and Andriy Yarmolenko had chances to double the advantage before half-time.

United, City into League Cup fourth round

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Londres (AFP) – Marcus Rashford fired Manchester United into the League Cup fourth round as the holders crushed Burton 4-1, while Manchester City eased through with a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday.

City and United, currently first and second in the Premier League, took contrasting routes to the last 16, where they were joined by Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton as the big guns advanced despite fielding weakened teams.

Griezmann, Oblak star as Atletico beat Athletic Bilbao

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid celebrated being awarded the honour of hosting the Champions League final in 2019 with an impressive 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday to move up to second in La Liga.

Angel Correa opened the scoring 10 minutes into the second-half by finishing off a flowing move involving Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez.

Wales bid to stage Euro 2020 matches

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Londres (AFP) – The Football Association of Wales has been invited to bid again to stage matches at the 2020 European Championships.

The Welsh FA lost out in the original bidding process in 2014 when UEFA chose 13 cities across Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of the first European Championship.

FIFA investigate Chelsea over youth recruitment

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Zurich (AFP) – Premier League champions Chelsea are the subject of a FIFA investigation, reportedly for possible breaches over the signing of foreign youth players, world football’s governing said on Wednesday.

“We can confirm that an investigation is ongoing,” a FIFA spokesperson told AFP.

‘Unacceptable’ Sampson sacked as England Women’s manager

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London (AFP) – England Women’s manager Mark Sampson was sacked on Wednesday after evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” during his time at a previous club.

Sampson had been the subject of accusations of racism, harassment and bullying made by former England player Eni Aluko.

Atletico Madrid stadium to host 2019 Champions League final

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid’s new 68,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitano stadium will host the 2019 Champions League final, European football’s governing body UEFA announced on Wednesday.

As the only other candidate for the final, Azerbaijani capital Baku receives the 2019 Europa League final as a consolation for missing out on the main event.

England women’s football coach Sampson to quit – reports

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London (AFP) – Mark Sampson is set to step down as coach of the England women’s football team after almost a year of controversy over allegations of racism and harassment, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old - whose side whipped Russia 6-0 in their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday - has twice been cleared over the claims made last year by former star Eniola Aluko concerning racial discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Dutch international Krul makes Brighton move permanent

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London (AFP) – Brighton and Hove Albion’s Dutch international goalkeeper Tim Krul is eligible to face former club Newcastle United at the weekend after making his loan move permanent on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old, whose finest moment came in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final penalty shootout when he was sent on as a substitute and saved two Costa Rican spot-kicks, has signed a one-year permanent deal with Brighton.

UEFA call on European leaders to help regulate transfer market

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Geneva (AFP) – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has called for greater support from Europe’s political leaders to help introduce measures to regulate the transfer market on the continent.

“I have heard some very prominent politicians, such as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel just a few days ago, condemning financial developments in football and calling for greater sporting balance,” Ceferin said in a speech to open the UEFA Congress in Geneva on Wednesday.

Antitrust lawsuit: NASL dug its own grave despite USSF-MLS collusion

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What do investors in soccer do when they’ve made one bad business decision after another? And to make matters worse, when they’ve shifted from one rhetorical strategy to another? Sue their governing body, of course!

This is the path the North American Soccer League (NASL) has chosen to justify the league’s complete failure to create a stable and successful second division that works within the confines of US Soccer.

Football: Women’s football friendly result – USA 5 New Zealand 0

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Chicago (AFP) – Result of women’s international football friendly between United States and New Zealand at Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati on Tuesday:

United States 5 (Horan 36, Pugh 44, Morgan 46, 69, Williams 55) New Zealand 0

afp

Morgan at the double as USA women thrash New Zealand

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Chicago (AFP) – Alex Morgan scored twice as the United States thrashed New Zealand 5-0 in a women’s international football friendly on Tuesday.

US star Morgan came on as a second-half substitute to take her international goals tally to 77 as the 2015 Women’s World Cup champions swept aside their Kiwi opponents at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.

Giggs and Scholes no-show angers India fans

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New Delhi (AFP) – Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have angered Indian fans by failing to turn out for a futsal tournament in which they billed as the star attractions.

The Hindu newspaper said the pair were “understood to be ‘tired’ ” on their arrival in Bangalore for the event on Tuesday.

Football: Malaysia, N. Korea to play in Pyongyang

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – An Asian Cup qualifying match between Malaysia and North Korea that was delayed by a row over the murder of Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother will be played in Pyongyang, officials said Wednesday.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had already confirmed that the match, originally scheduled for March, would finally go ahead on October 5 after twice being postponed.

Roy Hodgson urges caution despite Palace win

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London (AFP) – Roy Hodgson says it will take time for Crystal Palace to get back on track despite securing a much-needed win in the League Cup to end a dismal run of form.

The south London club, rooted to the bottom of the Premier League with five defeats out of five - and no goals scored - beat Huddersfield 1-0 in the third round on Tuesday.

Mourinho similar to ‘no-nonsense’ Clough, says Burton boss

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London (AFP) – Burton Albion boss Nigel Clough says there are similarities between his father Brian and Jose Mourinho as he prepares for a daunting trip on Wednesday to face Manchester United in the League Cup.

United are the defending champions after Mourinho equalled Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough’s record by winning a fourth League Cup against Southampton in February.

Where to find Arsenal vs. Doncaster League Cup on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Arsenal vs. Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup third round, you’ve come to the right place.

On paper, the Carabao Cup match between Arsenal and Doncaster should be an easy victory for the Gunners. The Rovers have lost four of their last five games, and sit 19th in League One.

Where to find Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest League Cup on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest in the League Cup third round, you’ve come to the right place.

With Nottingham Forest sitting in tenth place in the Championship, a strong performance against a talented Chelsea side can give them a confidence boost in their hopes of returning to the Premier League.

Where to find Man United vs. Burton Albion League Cup on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Man United vs. Burton Albion in the League Cup third round, you’ve come to the right place.

Will Manchester United’s match against Burton Albion be a banana skin or a one-sided match where the Red Devils will coast into the Fourth Round?

Football: Close shave as Icardi rescues Inter

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Milan (AFP) – Shaven-headed skipper Mauro Icardi rescued a 1-1 draw for Inter Milan at Bologna on Tuesday that ended his side’s perfect start to the Serie A season.

Luciano Spalletti had been looking to make it five wins from five but had to settle for just one point in Bologna.

Football: NASL sues US soccer over division status switch

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New York (AFP) – The North American Soccer League filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation on Tuesday, accusing the body of unfairly revoking the league’s Division 2 status.

The NASL, which was reborn as a professional league in 2010, lodged its lawsuit in Brooklyn just weeks after the league was stripped of Division 2 status by the USSF.

Liverpool rocked, Alli lifts Spurs

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London (AFP) – Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki sent Liverpool crashing out of the League Cup, while Tottenham edged past Barnsley to reach the fourth round on Tuesday.

Okazaki came off the bench to fire Leicester ahead in the second half of their 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

The Japan forward, on as a second-half replacement for Leonardo Ulloa, broke the deadlock in the 65th minute of the third-round tie.

Messi hits four as Barca maintain perfect start

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi added four more goals to his soaring early season tally as a much-changed Barcelona maintained their 100 percent start to La Liga by routing Eibar 6-1 on Tuesday.

Paulinho and Denis Suarez also netted for the second consecutive game as Barca stretched their lead at the top of La Liga to seven points over Real Madrid, who host Real Betis on Wednesday.

Aluko slams ‘selfish’ England over Sampson celebrations

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London (AFP) – Eni Aluko has slammed her “selfish” former England team-mates following their touchline celebration with manager Mark Sampson during a women’s World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Aluko’s allegations of racism, harassment and bullying against Sampson caused controversy recently.

Verdi ends Inter’s perfect run

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Milan (AFP) – A frenetic first-half display by Simone Verdi ended Inter Milan’s perfect start to the Serie A season as skipper Mauro Icardi snatched a 1-1 draw at Bologna.

Luciano Spalletti had been looking to make it five wins from five but had to settle for just one point in Bologna.

Football: Liverpool rocked, Alli lifts Spurs

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London (AFP) – Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki sent Liverpool crashing out of the League Cup, while Tottenham edged past Barnsley to reach the fourth round on Tuesday.

Okazaki came off the bench to fire Leicester ahead in the second half of their 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

The Japan forward, on as a second-half replacement for Leonardo Ulloa, broke the deadlock in the 65th minute of the third-round tie.

James hits first Bundesliga goal as Bayern go top

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Berlin (AFP) – James Rodriguez scored his first Bundesliga goal on Tuesday to help Bayern Munich top the table for the first time this season following a 3-0 win at Schalke 04.

The Colombian was involved in all three goals after winning the penalty which Robert Lewandowski converted for the opening goal before his deft chip saw Arturo Vidal fire home.

Football: James hits first Bundesliga goal as Bayern go top

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Berlin (AFP) – James Rodriguez scored his first Bundesliga goal on Tuesday to help Bayern Munich top the table for the first time this season following a 3-0 win at Schalke 04.

The Colombian was involved in all three goals after winning the penalty which Robert Lewandowski converted for the opening goal before his deft chip saw Arturo Vidal fire home.

Zaza hat-trick fires five-star Valencia into third

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Madrid (AFP) – Italian triker Simone Zaza bagged a seven-minute hat-trick early in the second half as Valencia’s impressive start under new coach Marcelino Garcia Toral continued with a 5-0 thrashing of Malaga on Tuesday.

Valencia remain unbeaten since Marcelino took charge, including impressive draws against Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, and victory lifts Los Che up to third in La Liga.

Raffael double seals Gladbach’s home win

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Berlin (AFP) – Brazil striker Raffael scored two second-half goals as Borussia Moechengladbach climbed the German league table on Tuesday after their 2-0 home win at home to Stuttgart.

It was Stuttgart’s first game since captain Christian Gentner suffered multiple facial fractures and concussion in a collision during Saturday’s win over Wolfsburg.

Neuer out until January after foot operation

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich predict their Germany goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer will be out until January after he underwent another operation on Tuesday after again fracturing his left foot.

The 31-year-old had only returned at the end of August after fracturing the same foot in April.

Sakari Orava, the ‘Miracle Doctor’ to sports stars

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Helsinki (AFP) – Injured athletes from David Beckham to Ousmane Dembele have over the years put their careers, and bodies, under the trusted knife of Finnish surgeon Sakari Orava, known in sporting circles as the “Miracle Doctor”.

Spanish runner Marta Dominguez, who was treated by Orava in 2004 after an injury, compared him to “God”.

FIFA bans Caribbean FA chief for six years

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Zurich (AFP) – FIFA suspended Caribbean Football Union president Gordon Derrick from the sport for six years on Tuesday after he was found guilty of several ethics violations.

Derrick becomes the latest in a long line of football executives sanctioned by FIFA’s ethics committee, which has thrown dozens of people out of the sport over graft.

Szczesny replaces Buffon as Juventus look for perfect five in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will replace skipper Gianluigi Buffon as champions Juventus look to make it five Serie A wins out of five against Fiorentina on Wednesday.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri wants to rotate with an eye on Saturday’s Turin derby and Szczesny, who signed from Arsenal in the summer after two years on loan at Roma, will come in for Buffon a week after Juventus’ 3-0 Champions League flop in Barcelona.

Koeman banks on Everton home comforts

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London (AFP) – Everton manager Ronald Koeman is hoping a run of four home games starting with Wednesday’s League Cup tie against Sunderland will help his side arrest an alarming run of defeats.

The Toffees have played five of their past six matches away from home - including fixtures at both table-topping Manchester clubs and defending champions Chelsea - and have not won since August 17.

Rio Ferdinand launches boxing career

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London (AFP) – Former England captain Rio Ferdinand said Tuesday he is launching a new career as a professional boxer two years after retiring from football as a way of channelling his anger.

The 38-year-old former Manchester United star, who quit football in May 2015, is taking part in online betting firm Betfair’s “Defender to Contender” project.

fuboTV expands FOX over-the-air access to cover 59% of households nationwide

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fuboTV has expanded the number of over-the-air FOX channels it can stream to cover 59% of households across the United States including 17 of the top 20 areas.

That means that if your city is listed below, you’ll be able to watch all of the national programming offered by the over-the-air FOX channel, which includes the UEFA Champions League final, World Cup 2018, select MLS games, World Cup 2022 and World Cup 2026.

Bernabeu boos can make Bale better – Zidane

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane believes the harsh treatment meted out to Gareth Bale by his own fans at the Santiago Bernabeu can push the Welshman to greater heights.

Bale bounced back from jeers as Real opened their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia last week by scoring just his second goal of the season in spectacular fashion in a 3-1 victory at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Neuer out until January after foot op – Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich have confirmed their Germany goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer will be out until January having undergone another operation on Tuesday after again fracturing his left foot.

The 31-year-old had only returned at the end of August after fracturing the same foot in April.

Cologne change mind over controversial Dortmund goal protest

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Berlin (AFP) – Cologne have made a U-turn on plans to lodge an official protest to the German Football Association (DFB) about a controversial goal in their 5-0 drubbing at Borussia Dortmund, the club said on Tuesday.

The Bundesliga strugglers said they will not contest the final result of the game and will now simply ask the DFB’s refereeing department for clarification of the rules.

Barca shorten Dembele recovery time after operation

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona hope record signing Ousmane Dembele could be back in action in three and a half months after successful surgery on a torn hamstring in Helsinki on Tuesday.

“Dembele was successfully operated on Tuesday to repair a ruptured biceps femoris in his left leg,” Barca said in a statement.

Ronaldo back for Real Madrid, Deulofeu in for Dembele

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona begin a four-month stretch without injured club record signing Ousmane Dembele, but will be expected to sweep aside Eibar to continue their 100 percent start to La Liga on Tuesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo returns from a five-match ban for Real Madrid 24 hours later at home to Real Betis, whilst Atletico Madrid face a daunting trip to Athletic Bilbao.

Jedinak back for Australia’s World Cup play-off

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Sydney (AFP) – Australia received a boost on Tuesday with captain Mile Jedinak named in an extended squad for their crunch World Cup play-off against Syria after he missed their final qualifiers through injury.

A groin problem forced the Aston Villa star out of the Socceroos clashes against Japan and Thailand, in which they failed to qualify automatically for Russia, missing out to Saudi Arabia on goal difference.

Retired star footballer Rio Ferdinand to turn to boxing: report

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London (AFP) – Former England footballer Rio Ferdinand is due to announce on Tuesday he is going to try and become a professional boxer just two months away from his 39th birthday, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Ferdinand, who won 81 caps and made over 300 appearances for Manchester United, is an avid boxing fan and has said spending time boxing in the gym has helped clear his head after losing his wife and the mother of his three children Rebecca Ellison to breast cancer in 2015.

Retired footballer Rio Ferdinand to turn to boxing: report

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London (AFP) – Former England footballer Rio Ferdinand is due to announce on Tuesday he is going to try and become a professional boxer just two months away from his 39th birthday, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Ferdinand, who won 81 caps and made over 300 appearances for Manchester United, is an avid boxing fan and has said spending time boxing in the gym has helped clear his head after losing his wife and the mother of his three children Rebecca Ellison to breast cancer in 2015.

Ex-England footballer Ferdinand launches bid to become pro boxer

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London (AFP) – Former England football captain Rio Ferdinand confirmed Tuesday he will train to become a professional boxer with the ultimate aim of challenging for a title belt.

The 38-year-old former Manchester United star, who retired from football in May 2015, is taking part in online betting firm Betfair’s “Defender to Contender” project and will be training with former WBC super-middleweight champion Richie Woodhall.

Golbang — the Twitter generation’s ‘beautiful game’

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London (AFP) – Golbang, a new three-a-side format of the beautiful game, hopes to fill the same role as Twenty20 and sevens in cricket and rugby, its creator Bruno Schwobthaler told AFP.

The Frenchman’s brainchild can be played by mixed sex teams with a single goal and one team defending and one attacking with the sides swopping over after 15 minutes.

Man Utd’s Herrera says pressure on big-spending City

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London (AFP) – Manchester United’s Ander Herrera says “favourites” Manchester City face intense pressure to win the Premier League after their summer spending spree and trophyless campaign last season.

The Manchester clubs are joint top of the table with exactly the same record - 13 points from five games and a plus-14 goal difference.

Ox was right to pick Liverpool, says Klopp

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London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reassured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that he has not made a mistake in swapping the Emirates for Anfield despite a lack of game time.

The 24-year-old left Arsenal in a £35 million ($47 million, 39 million euros) deal on transfer deadline day but has so far been restricted to just 57 minutes in three substitute appearances, having previously started all four matches for the Gunners and also two for the national team.

Man Utd fans urged to drop ‘racist’ Lukaku chant

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London (AFP) – British anti-discrimination group Kick It Out on Tuesday called on Manchester United fans to stop a “racist” chant about striker Romelu Lukaku.

The 24-year-old arrived from Everton in the summer for a fee that could reach £90 million ($121 million, 101 million euros) and has quickly become a popular figure among supporters, netting seven goals in as many games.

Bayern’s Neuer out until January after foot operation

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich have confirmed their Germany goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer will be out until January having undergone another operation on Tuesday after again fracturing his left foot.

The 31-year-old had only returned at the end of August after fracturing the same foot in April.

Where to find Leicester vs. Liverpool League Cup on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Leicester vs. Liverpool in the League Cup third round, you’ve come to the right place.

Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will make his first start for the club in the Carabao Cup tie at Leicester today in a match that will be shown live in the United States.

Retired star footballer Ferdinand to turn to boxing: report

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London (AFP) – Former England star Rio Ferdinand is due to announce on Tuesday he is going to try and become a professional boxer just two months away from his 39th birthday, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Ferdinand, who won 81 caps and made over 300 appearances for Manchester United, is an avid boxing fan and has admitted spending time boxing in the gym has helped clear his head a bit after losing his wife and the mother of his three children Rebecca Ellison to breast cancer in 2015.

Inter look to Icardi, Perisic to stay perfect at Bologna

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan boss Luciano Spalletti is counting on Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic to add to their goal scoring tallies and make it five Serie A wins out of five at Bologna.

Inter travel the short journey south to the Emilia-Romagna region for Tuesday’s only Serie A fixture with the remainder of the Italian league matches being played on Wednesday.

Schedule of League Cup games featuring Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and others

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The third round of the League Cup kicks off this week with all of the Premier League clubs participating in the cup competition.

Now known as the Carabao Cup, seven of the matches will be shown live to soccer fans in the United States. The matches will stream live on ESPN3 and Sling Orange.

Everton and Sunderland to raise money for Lowery Foundation

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London (AFP) – Everton and Sunderland, the two football clubs most associated with the late Bradley Lowery who became one of the iconic faces of last season’s Premier League campaign, are to raise money for the foundation named after him on Wednesday.

The two clubs meet in the League Cup and will sport shirts with the logo of the Lowery Foundation - set up by Bradley’s parents to advise and help other parents who have young children with serious illnesses - before the players sign them after the match and they are auctioned.

Liverpool’s Ox set for first start in League Cup

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London (AFP) – Liverpool take on Leicester City in the pick of the English League Cup ties this week as manager Jurgen Klopp seeks to eradicate the frustrating defensive blunders dogging his team.

Other all-Premier League ties pit struggling Crystal Palace against Huddersfield, West Brom against Manchester City, Bournemouth against Brighton, while Manchester United face Burton Albion in a low-key start to their title defence.

MLS attendances through gameweek 28 of the 2017 season

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Photo credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United broke the MLS attendance record with a massive crowd of 70,425 this past Saturday in the draw against Orlando City SC.

Aided by Atlanta’s large attendances for their two recent home matches, MLS had a strong week of reported attendances for most teams across the league.

PSG win again but tensions simmer between Neymar, Cavani

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain kept their perfect start to the season going on Sunday, but the 2-0 win over Lyon also laid bare certain tensions in their all-star front line.

PSG were leading 1-0 at the Parc des Princes when they won a penalty with 10 minutes remaining for a foul on Kylian Mbappe, making his home debut.

Barcelona’s Dembele to undergo surgery on Tuesday

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona’s record 105 million-euro ($125 million) signing Ousmane Dembele will undergo surgery on the torn hamstring that has ruled him out of action for up to four months in Helsinki on Tuesday.

“Dembele travelled on Monday morning to Helsinki, Finland, where he will undergo surgery to repair a rupture of the biceps femoris tendon in his left thigh,” Barcelona said in a statement on Monday.

Bayern sweat over new Neuer injury

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich face an anxious wait to discover the extent of the recurrence of a foot injury suffered by club captain and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Bayern said Neuer will undergo a scan on Tuesday which will reveal the full nature of the new injury to the same foot he fractured last April.

10 things we learned from MLS gameweek 28 of the 2017 season

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Photo credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the ten things we learned from Week 28 of the 2017 MLS season.

1. Toronto’s March Continues

Toronto FC’s season for the ages continues to pick up steam.

TFC have now won their last six games by a combined score of 21-3.

Resurgent Schalke pose threat to Ancelotti’s Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) – Following their best start to a Bundesliga season in six years, resurgent Schalke are relishing Tuesday’s home clash with Bayern Munich, whose coach Carlo Ancelotti has faced criticism from one of his former mentors.

Schalke have won three of their first four league games, including beating Champions League contenders RB Leipzig, under new coach Domenico Tedesco, who is only 32.

Barca’s Dembele to undergo surgery on Tuesday

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona’s record 105 million-euro ($125 million) signing Ousmane Dembele will undergo surgery on the torn hamstring that has ruled him out of action for up to four months in Helsinki on Tuesday.

“Dembele travelled on Monday morning to Helsinki, Finland, where he will undergo surgery to repair a rupture of the biceps femoris tendon in his left thigh,” Barcelona said in a statement on Monday.

Wolfsburg fire Jonker, hire Schmidt

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Berlin (AFP) – Andries Jonker became the first Bundesliga head coach to be sacked this season when Wolfsburg replaced him with ex-Mainz boss Martin Schmidt on Monday.

The 50-year-old Schmidt will be thrown straight into action as Wolfsburg host Werder Bremen on Tuesday, then face defending champions Bayern Munich away on Friday in key Bundesliga matches.

Stuttgart’s Gentner ‘on way to recovery’ after horror injury

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Berlin (AFP) – Stuttgart’s badly injured captain Christian Gentner is “on his way to recovery” after a horror collision saw him swallow his tongue and left him with multiple facial fractures, his club said.

“Given the circumstances, he is well and on his way to recovery”, Stuttgart’s director Michael Reschke told broadcaster SWR on Monday.

Wolfsburg fire Andries Jonker, hire Martin Schmidt

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Berlin (AFP) – Andries Jonker became the first Bundesliga head coach to be sacked this season when Wolfsburg replaced him with ex-Mainz boss Martin Schmidt on Monday.

“I am grateful that Martin Schmidt accepted at such short notice,” said Wolfsburg’s director of sport Olaf Rebbe.

Wenger hails gritty Arsenal

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger claimed Arsenal’s battling 0-0 draw at Chelsea proved his players have the courage and commitment required to match the champions.

Wenger’s side had endured a miserable run at Stamford Bridge in recent years, but they finally emerged unscathed from west London thanks to an unusually feisty display.

Football: ‘Overweight’ Tevez symbol of Chinese largesse

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Shanghai (AFP) – When Carlos Tevez emerged in airport arrivals in Shanghai he had a bunch of flowers thrust into his hands and his signing was heralded as a coup for Chinese football.

A blue Shanghai Shenhua scarf was thrown around his neck and hundreds of fans mobbed the Argentine forward, who had just sealed a transfer deal making him at that moment the best-paid footballer on the planet.

Rooney arrives at court to face drink-driving charge

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London (AFP) – Former England captain Wayne Rooney arrived at court on Monday to face a drink-driving charge.

The Everton striker, 31, made no comment as he was confronted by a media scrum outside Stockport Magistrates’ Court in the northwest of England.

Wearing a blue suit with his hands in his pockets, he walked into the court building accompanied by a small entourage.

Wolfsburg fire head coach Andries Jonker

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Berlin (AFP) – Andries Jonker became the first Bundesliga head coach to be sacked this season when Wolfsburg relieved him of his duties on Monday after taking four points from as many games.

The 54-year-old Dutchman only took charge in February, when he quit as boss of Arsenal’s youth academy, and managed to keep Wolfsburg up last season, but Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at VfB Stuttgart proved to be the last straw.

Goal-hungry Man City can still improve, warns Pep

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says his free-scoring Manchester City side can still improve - in a chilling message to Premier League rivals - but is refusing to get carried away by their electrifying early-season form.

City hammered Watford 6-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday to complete three wins in seven days, scoring 15 goals without reply.

Wayne Rooney gets two-year ban after drink-drive guilty plea

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Stockport (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Former England captain Wayne Rooney was Monday banned from driving for two years and ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to drink-driving.

The Everton forward was stopped by police when driving a woman’s black Volkswagen Beetle at 2:00 am (0100 GMT) on September 1, while his pregnant wife and their three sons were on holiday.

PSG’s Kurzawa victim of video blackmail plot

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa was the victim of a 200,000 euro (239,000) blackmail plot involving a video of the France international criticising national coach Didier Deschamps, judicial sources revealed on Monday.

Four men were arrested and charged with the foiled blackmail attempt during the summer.

Stuttgart’s Gentner ‘on way to recover’ after horror injury

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Berlin (AFP) – Stuttgart’s badly injured captain Christian Gentner is “on his way to recovery” after a horror collision saw him swallow his tongue and left him with multiple facial fractures, his club said.

“Given the circumstances, he is well and on his way to recovery”, Stuttgart’s director Michael Reschke told broadcaster SWR on Monday.

Wayne Rooney hit by two-year driving ban after guilty plea

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Stockport (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Former England captain Wayne Rooney was Monday banned from driving for two years and ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid community work after pleading guilty to drink-driving.

The Everton striker apologised for an “unforgivable lack of judgement” following his sentencing by a court in northern England for being nearly three times over the drink-drive limit while his pregnant wife and their three sons were on holiday.

Cologne set to protest over controversial VAR goal

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Berlin (AFP) – Cologne say they plan to protest to the German Football Association (DFB) on Monday over a controversial goal which has raised debate over the video assistant referee (VAR) in Germany’s top flight.

Cologne were crushed 5-0 at Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund on Sunday which left them bottom of the German league after four straight defeats.

Mourinho shrugs off Manchester City rivalry in title race

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho claimed drawing level with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table did not enter his mind following their 4-0 win over Everton.

United have the same points and goal difference as Pep Guardiola’s side after goals from Antonio Valencia, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial secured an emphatic victory over the Toffees.

Mbappe makes winning Parc des Princes debut

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe played a decisive role on his Parc des Princes debut for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday in a thrilling 2-0 win over Lyon with both goals accreditated to the visitors.

Lyon’s youngsters proved more than a match for PSG’s multi-millionaires who had to wait until the last quarter of an hour before Lyon defender Marcelo deflected the ball into his own goal.

Contra named as new Romania coach: Romanian Football Federation

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Bucharest (AFP) – Cosmin Contra on Sunday was named as the new coach of Romania to replace Christoph Daum who was sacked following the country’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, officials said.

“The Romanian Football Federation has agreed a two-year contract with Cosmin Contra,” the FRF said in a statement.

Dybala, Mertens hat-tricks as Juventus, Napoli stay perfect

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus and Napoli bounced back from Champions League disappointment to keep their Serie A perfect records and join Inter Milan at the top of the table on Sunday.

A Paulo Dybala hat-trick lifted Juventus to a 3-1 victory at Sassuolo making it four wins out of four for the champions, while Dries Mertens also scored three goals as Napoli demolished Benevento 6-0.

Bale strikes in vital Madrid win at Sociedad

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Madrid (AFP) – Gareth Bale responded in style to his critics with a fine finish as Real Madrid got back to winning ways with a 3-1 win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Borja Mayoral rewarded a bright start by Real with his first Madrid goal before Sociedad’s Kevin Rodrigues scored at both ends to give the visitors a 2-1 half-time lead.

Dortmund crush Cologne amidst controversy

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Berlin (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice in a minute as Borussia Dortmund went back atop of the Bundesliga on Sunday after a 5-0 hammering of Cologne, who fumed over a controversial goal.

After losing at Tottenham Hotspur in midweek in the Champions League, Dortmund needed just 111 seconds to take the lead at home.

Balotelli screamer fires Nice past Rennes

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Paris (AFP) – A sizzling Mario Balotelli strike ten minutes from time gave Nice a 1-0 win at Rennes on Sunday as last season’s Ligue 1 pace-setters appear to be overcoming a poor start this term.

Balotelli hammered a supreme shot into the top corner for his fourth goal in three games since missing the start of the season as Lucien Favre’s side continue their climb up the table into eighth place.

Five things we learned in Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich silenced their critics with a 4-0 hammering of Mainz and goal-scorer Arjen Robben had a clear message for Carlo Ancelotti.

Only quick-thinking from VfB Stuttgart’s team doctor saved the life of captain Christian Genter in their 1-0 win over Wolfsburg.

Aubameyang in a hurry as Dortmund crush Cologne

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund were back atop of the Bundesliga on Sunday thanks to a 5-0 hammering of Cologne as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice in a minute.

After losing at Tottenham Hotspur in midweek in the Champions League, Dortmund needed just three minutes to take the lead at home.

Former Everton star Lukaku ruins Rooney’s Manchester United return

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku showed little room for sentiment on Sunday scoring one and creating another as Manchester United ran out ultimately comfortable 4-0 winners over his former club Everton to ruin Wayne Rooney’s Old Trafford return.

Right-back Antonio Valencia gave United an early lead with a spectacular half-volley before late goals from midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan - set up by Lukaku just before he got on the scoresheet himself - and an Anthony Martial penalty sealed the win.

Alaves sack Zubeldia after just four games

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Madrid (AFP) – Alaves sacked Argentine coach Luis Zubeldia after just four games in charge as they slipped to the bottom of La Liga with a 3-0 defeat at home to Villarreal on Sunday.

“Deportivo Alaves has decided to sack the coach after the results obtained at the beginning of the 2017/18 season,” Alaves said in a statement.

Juventus, Napoli maintain perfect Serie A records

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus and Napoli bounced back from European disappointment to keep their Serie A perfect records and join Inter Milan at the top of the table on Sunday.

A Paulo Dybala hat-trick lifted Juventus to a 3-1 victory at Sassuolo making it four wins out of four for the champions, as Dries Mertens also scored three goals as Napoli demolished Benevento 6-0 to remain unblemished.

Team-mates hail ‘goal machine’ Aguero

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London (AFP) – Sergio Aguero’s sixth Premier League hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of Watford drew unstinting praise from his Manchester City team-mates on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Argentinian - who needs just three goals to become Manchester City’s all-time leading scorer and replace Eric Brook who has held the record of 177 since 1939 - is a ‘goal machine’ according to Ilkay Gundogan.

Lucky break sees Marseille bounce back

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Paris (AFP) – Marseille pulled out of an early season slump on Sunday when a Clinton Njie brace gave the ambitious southerners a 2-0 win at Amiens in Ligue 1.

Under new ownership with a bevvy of new signings Rudi Garcia’s side were thrashed 6-1 at Monaco two weeks ago followed by an embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to Rennes.

Chelsea’s David Luiz sent off in Arsenal stalemate

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London (AFP) – Chelsea defender David Luiz was sent off for an ugly foul on Sead Kolasinac as Arsenal finally emerged unscathed from a trip to Chelsea with a 0-0 draw against the champions on Sunday.

The Brazilian saw red in the closing minutes at Stamford Bridge and he could have no complaints about his dismissal after lunging into a crude two-footed challenge on Arsenal defender Kolasinac.

Carvajal extends Madrid deal to 2022

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Madrid (AFP) – Spanish international right-back Dani Carvajal tied his future to Real Madrid by extending his contract until 2022, the club confirmed on Sunday.

Carvajal, 25, becomes the third Madrid player to sign on until 2022 this week after vice-captain Marcelo and Isco also penned contract extensions.

Hoffenheim draw keeps Hanover top of Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – Hanover 96 remain top of the Bundesliga after Hoffenheim were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Hertha Berlin on Sunday after Sandro Wagner’s early header was cancelled out.

In the first ever Bundesliga match to kick off at 1:30pm local time (1130 GMT), Germany striker Wagner powered home a header after just six minutes to give Hoffenheim the lead in Sinsheim.

Dybala hat-trick helps Juventus maintain perfect record

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Milan (AFP) – A Paulo Dybala hat-trick lifted Juventus back to the summit of Serie A alongside Inter Milan with a 3-1 victory at Sassuolo on Sunday making it four wins out of four for the champions.

The Argentina forward left the pitch ten minutes from the end to a standing ovation from the crowd at the Mapei Stadium following a masterclass performance by the 23-year-old who has now scored eight goals in four games.

Barcelona’s Dembele out for up to four months

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona’s record 105 million-euro ($125 million) signing Ousmane Dembele is set to be sidelined for up to four months as the club confirmed the extent of the hamstring injury he suffered at Getafe on Saturday.

“The tests performed on first team player Ousmane Dembele have determined he has ruptured the tendon of the hamstring in his left leg,” Barcelona said in a statement on Sunday.

Revitalised Falcao hoping for World Cup ‘dream’

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Monaco (AFP) – Colombian striker Radamel Falcao is aiming to realise his “dream” of playing in a World Cup next year, after continuing his red-hot start to the Ligue 1 season for Monaco on Saturday.

The 31-year-old scored a brace in the French champions’ 3-0 win over Strasbourg to make it nine goals in just six league games so far this term.

Record MLS crowd sees Atlanta-Orlando draw

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Josef Martinez posted his second straight hat trick, but hosts Atlanta settled for a 3-3 draw with Orlando on Saturday that drew a Major League Soccer record crowd of 70,425.

Atlanta, which made their debut in the league this season, were playing their third match in their new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which they share with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

Tevez’s battered Shanghai Shenhua ‘just like Manchester United’

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai Shenhua’s new coach compared his demoralised club to Manchester United after they were thrashed 6-1 at rivals Shanghai SIPG in China’s biggest derby.

Carlos Tevez climbed off the bench for the second half to score just his third Chinese Super League (CSL) goal, days after coach Wu Jingui said the forward was too overweight to play.

Pogba could be out for three months – report

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London (AFP) – French international Paul Pogba could be out of action for three months, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday, dealing a huge blow to Manchester United.

The hamstring injury suffered by the 24-year-old - an £89.3 million ($121 million, 105 million euros) signing from Juventus last year - after just 18 minutes in Tuesday’s Champions League match with Basel is worse than was thought originally according to a club source.

Redknapp accepts managerial career all but over

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London (AFP) – Harry Redknapp believes his sacking as manager of second-tier Birmingham City will finally bring the curtain down on his long career.

The 70-year-old Englishman - who numbers Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth among the clubs he has managed - left his post after just 13 games in charge following Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat by Preston North End.

Guardiola calls on Manchester City to celebrate ‘legend’ Aguero

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola wants Manchester City to pay tribute to Sergio Aguero when the Argentine “legend” becomes their record goalscorer.

Aguero grabbed a hat-trick in City’s 6-0 rout of Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday and stands just two goals behind Eric Brook’s all-time mark of 177 in the 1920s and 1930s.

Pochettino ignores talk of Wembley hoodoo

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says he is not worried that Tottenham’s Wembley woes will derail their Premier League title bid.

Tottenham have now failed to win any of their three league games at their new home following Saturday’s goalless draw with Swansea.

That followed on from a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea before being held by Burnley.

Defence still Liverpool’s Achilles heel, admits Klopp

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp admitted his Liverpool side must improve defensively after more problems at the back cost them two home points in a 1-1 Premier League draw with Burnley.

Liverpool dominated against Sean Dyche’s team but had to come from behind with Mohamed Salah rescuing a point for Klopp after mistakes had gifted Scott Arfield the opening goal for the visitors.

Inter Milan stay top, Roma on the move in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan sealed a fourth consecutive win in as many games to sit top of Serie A with a 2-0 victory at Crotone on Saturday as AS Roma eased past Verona 3-0.

The win in Calabria allowed Luciano Spalletti’s Inter to position themselves among the title challengers alongside champions Juventus and Napoli, who will also bid to make it four out of four on Sunday.

Griezmann saves Atletico Madrid blushes, Barcelona 7 clear of Real Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Antoine Griezmann ensured Malaga didn’t spoil Atletico Madrid’s moving in party at their new 68,000 Wanda Metropolitano stadium with the only goal in a 1-0 win on Saturday.

The French international, restored to the side after a two-game La Liga ban, swept home Angel Correa’s cross on the hour mark to move Atletico up to third in the table.

Griezmann saves Atletico blushes, Barcelona 7 clear of Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Antoine Griezmann ensured Malaga didn’t spoil Atletico Madrid’s moving in party at their new 68,000 Wanda Metropolitano stadium with the only goal in a 1-0 win on Saturday.

The French international, restored to the side after a two-game La Liga ban, swept home Angel Correa’s cross on the hour mark to move Atletico up to third in the table.

Hotspur stalemate adds to Wembley woes

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London (AFP) – Tottenham were held to a goalless draw by Swansea as Mauricio Pochettino saw his side’s Wembley woes continue on Saturday.

Pochettino’s team have now gone three Premier League games without a win at their temporary home after losing to Chelsea and drawing against Burnley and Swansea.

Stuttgart’s Gentner swallows tongue, saved by doctor

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Berlin (AFP) – Only the quick thinking of VfB Stuttgart’s team doctor rescued captain Christian Gentner, who swallowed his tongue in a horror clash in Saturday’s Bundesliga game against Wolfsburg.

Genter was left bloodied after Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels’ knee caught the midfielder on the head late in the 1-0 home victory.

Paulinho moves Barcelona seven points clear of Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Paulinho scored his first Barcelona goal as the visitors came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Getafe on Saturday and open up a seven-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Barca were dealt a double blow before half-time as record signing Ousmane Dembele limped off with a hamstring injury, before Gaku Shibasaki’s sensational volley put Getafe in front.

England bowl against Windies, Brathwaite in 8,000 mile trip to play

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Chester-le-Street (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bowl against West Indies in the lone Twenty20 international at Chester-le-Street on Saturday as visiting skipper Carlos Brathwaite made an 8,000-mile round trip to play in his only match of the tour.

Honours even as Leicester’s Vardy strikes

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jamie Vardy gave 2016 champions Leicester a much-needed point on Saturday as his penalty secured a 1-1 draw at newboys Huddersfield in their Premier League clash.

Vardy scored from the spot - as he had done in the 2-1 loss to Chelsea last weekend - just minutes after Belgian international Laurent Depoitre marked his full Premier League debut by giving the hosts a deserved lead in the opening minute of the second-half.

Liverpool held by stubborn Burnley

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp’s frustrating start to the season continued as Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley at Anfield on Saturday, despite Mohamed Salah’s fifth goal of the season.

The German made seven changes, including a first start of the campaign for Philippe Coutinho, to the side that was held at home 2-2 by Sevilla in the Champions League in midweek, but yet another defensive error cost Liverpool dearly against a Burnley team that has not won at Anfield in 43 years.

Falcao double gets Monaco back on track

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Paris (AFP) – Radamel Falcao grabbed a brace as French champions Monaco bounced back from last week’s thrashing by Nice with a 3-0 win over Strasbourg at the Stade Louis II on Saturday.

The hosts started slowly, but took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Rony Lopes’ first goal for the club.

Six-goal Manchester City go top, Liverpool held by Burnley

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London (AFP) – Manchester City stormed to the top of the Premier League as Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick inspired a 6-0 demolition of Watford, while Philippe Coutinho’s return couldn’t lift Liverpool in a 1-1 draw against Burnley on Saturday.

With previous leaders Manchester United not in action until Sunday’s clash with Everton, City had a chance to move three points clear of their title rivals.

Manchester City hit Watford for six as Aguero bags treble

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A Sergio Aguero hat-trick helped Manchester City to record their highest victory under Pep Guardiola as they crushed Watford 6-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Aguero was in sublime form to help City move to the top of the Premier League and avoid a hangover from European success at Feyenoord in midweek.

Paulinho rescues Barcelona at Getafe

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Madrid (AFP) – Paulinho scored his first Barcelona goal six minutes from time as the Catalan giants came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Getafe on Saturday and open up a seven-point lead over Real Madrid.

Barca were dealt a double blow before half-time as record signing Ousmane Dembele limped off with a hamstring injury before Gaku Shibasaki’s sensational volley put Getafe in front.

Inter leave it late to stay top in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan left it late before sealing a fourth consecutive win in as many games to sit top of Serie A with a 2-0 victory at Crotone on Saturday.

Luciano Spalletti’s side suffered in the heat of Calabria but late strikes from Milan Skriniar and Ivan Perisic put them top ahead of champions Juventus and Napoli - also looking for their fourth wins - who play on Sunday.

Lewandowski scores twice in Bayern romp

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski netted twice on his 100th Bundesliga appearance for Bayern Munich who brushed off their internal strife with a 4-0 hammering of Mainz on Saturday.

Lewandowski has now netted 82 goals for Munich amidst reports he wants to join Real Madrid next season, but Bayern chairman Uli Hoeness laughed off the claim by Spanish newspaper AS.

Palace make unwanted history as Davis ruins Hodgson’s debut

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London (AFP) – Roy Hodgson was unable to stop Crystal Palace hitting an historic low as Steven Davis sealed Southampton’s 1-0 win at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Former England boss Hodgson was taking charge of Palace for the first time following his appointment on Tuesday as successor to the sacked Frank De Boer.

Tevez scores but Shenhua thrashed in Shanghai derby

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Shanghai (AFP) – “Overweight” Carlos Tevez climbed off the bench and scored but could not prevent Shanghai Shenhua getting hammered 6-1 at rivals Shanghai SIPG on Saturday in China’s biggest derby.

The 33-year-old Argentine, among the best-paid players in the world on a reported $850,000 a week, was not expected to feature at all after new Shenhua boss Wu Jingui said in the week Tevez was overweight.

Arsenal’s Europa League run is all about confidence

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After a shaky start to their Europa League campaign, which included an hour long delay to the start of the match, the Gunners comfortably pushed aside FC Köln 3-1. The setback to the starting time of the game was due to crowd issues outside of the Emirates Stadium. While conflicting reports surfaced on just how much of the blame should be shouldered by traveling Köln fans, Arsenal did release a statement on the issue the subsequent day.

Ibrahimovic vows to return better than ever

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London (AFP) – Swedish football great Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he will surprise many by performing better for Manchester United than he did before suffering a serious knee injury earlier this year.

The 35-year-old veteran striker - who defied the critics in scoring 28 goals for United last season, including crucial goals in their Community Shield and League Cup victories - told ‘Inside United’ he had not let the ligament injury get him down.

The time is right for Lukaku, says Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho backed Romelu Lukaku to shine against his former club as early Premier League pace-setters Manchester United host Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday.

United’s league record had been perfect until they were held to a 2-2 draw at Stoke last Saturday, although the disappointment of conceding twice was mitigated by the impressive scoring form of Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

Chelsea manager Conte eyes revenge over Arsenal

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has challenged Chelsea to avenge last season’s FA Cup final heartache when they face title rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Conte’s team were denied a memorable Premier League and FA Cup double after the champions crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Arsenal at Wembley in May.

Cisse 100% confident of Valbuena sex tape exoneration

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Paris (AFP) – France international Djibril Cisse insisted he’s done nothing wrong over the Mathieu Valbuena sex tape scandal in an interview published on Saturday.

The former Liverpool and Marseille striker told l’Equipe he was “one million percent” confident he will be exonerated of any wrongdoing.

Morata tells Chelsea fans to stop anti-Semitic chant

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London (AFP) – Alvaro Morata wants Chelsea fans to call a halt to chanting a song in his honour which includes anti-Semitic language.

The 24-year-old Spanish international striker - hoping to add to his three goals against Arsenal on Sunday - told the Daily Mail it did not set a good example to young children attending matches.

Lukaku set Rooney target by Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has suggested that Romelu Lukaku will struggle to match Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United achievements, because the Premier League has become a much more demanding competition.

Lukaku has made an impressive start to his United career since arriving from Everton for £75million in July, a day after Rooney made the move in the opposite direction.

Promoted Hanover top Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – Promoted Hanover 96 went provisionally top of the German Bundesliga on Friday when a 2-0 win over Hamburg saw them climb above Dortmund and Hoffenheim.

Those three teams had been level on seven points going into the weekend where Dortmund play Cologne and Hoffenheim take on Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

Star striker Defoe fires Bournemouth to first win

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London (AFP) – Veteran striker Jermain Defoe scored the winner as Bournemouth came back from a goal down to defeat promoted Brighton 2-1 and claim their first Premier League victory of the season on Friday.

Solly March’s header gave Brighton a 55th-minute lead but Andrew Surman levelled 12 minutes later.

Mbappe not on Messi’s level yet, says Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says new Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe has plenty to prove before he can be considered on the same level as the all-time greats after Arsene Wenger said he could be the next Pele.

The Arsenal manager heaped praise on the French teenager, who joined the Paris giants from Monaco in the transfer window, linking up with Brazilian superstar Neymar to form a frightening forward line.

Cologne criticise security at Arsenal over chaos

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London (AFP) – Cologne criticised security arrangements at Arsenal on Friday after both clubs were charged by UEFA following chaotic scenes that marred their Europa League clash at the Emirates Stadium.

Visiting supporters were issued with around 3,000 tickets for Thursday’s Group H match but about 20,000 fans of the German club are believed to have made the journey to the British capital.

UEFA charges Arsenal, Cologne after fan chaos

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London (AFP) – European football chiefs charged Arsenal and Cologne on Friday after vast numbers of away fans gained access to the home sections of Emirates Stadium, sparking chaotic scenes that marred the Europa League clash.

Visiting supporters were issued with 3,000 tickets but around 20,000 fans of the German club are believed to have made the journey to the British capital.

Juventus president risks suspension over ‘illegal’ ticket sales

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus president Andrea Agnelli could be banned for two and a half years after disciplinary proceedings began Friday into alleged ticket sales to ultras fan groups, some with links to organised crime.

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) prosecutor Giuseppe Pecoraro has requested a 30-month suspension and 50,000 euro ($59,000) fine against Agnelli, according to reports in the Italian media.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for September 5-10, 2017

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Mexico’s September 5th draw away to Costa Rica drew 2.7 million viewers on Telemundo’s networks, beating out Mexico’s Confederations Cup Group Stage match against Portugal to become the most-watched soccer game on Telemundo in 2017. The United States’ match against Honduras drew a combined 531,000 viewers on beIN Sports and NBC Universo.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 5

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Everton forward Wayne Rooney returns to Old Trafford, home of his former club Manchester United, when the Toffees visit the Red Devils this Sunday, September 17, at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and Telemundo. Rooney, who spent 13 years at United, is the club’s all-time top scorer with 253 goals. He has scored both of Everton’s Premier League goals this season.

Coutinho ready for Liverpool start – Klopp

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London (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho is set to start his first Liverpool game since trying to engineer a move to Barcelona when the Reds take on Burnley on Saturday, according to his coach Jurgen Klopp.

The playmaker should be unleashed into the spot vacated by striker Sadio Mane, suspended after his sending off in their 5-0 drubbing by Man City last weekend, manager Klopp suggested on Friday.

Pep challenges Yaya to win back City place

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has challenged Yaya Toure to win back his place in the Manchester City team after the veteran midfielder’s recent absence from the squad.

The Ivorian has not featured this season and was left out of the party that travelled to Rotterdam for the club’s impressive 4-0 win over Feyenoord in their opening Champions League group game on Wednesday.

Hodgson sets sights on Palace survival

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London (AFP) – New Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said on Friday he is convinced the struggling club can survive in the Premier League despite a woeful start to the season that has left them rock-bottom.

The former England manager this week signed a two-year contract to succeed Frank de Boer after the Dutchman was sacked following defeats in all four league fixtures without a single goal.

Wenger still right man says ex-star Petit

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Paris (AFP) – Former Arsenal star Emmanuel Petit insists Arsene Wenger is still the right man to lead the Gunners but believes this season could be make or break for his old boss, he told AFP on Friday.

“Arsene is in the most difficult year of his career because of the lack of trophies,” said Petit of 67-year-old Wenger.

‘Different Tevez’ in extra training to shed weight: Shanghai coach

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez has shown a better attitude and is doing extra training of his own will, the coach of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua said Friday, days after he called the Argentine overweight.

Wu Jingui, who took over this week after Gus Poyet quit on Monday, vowed that Chinese football would see “a different Tevez” from now on.

Man Utd can cope without Pogba, says Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says he has ample options in his Manchester United squad to cope without injured midfielder Paul Pogba as Wayne Rooney prepares to return to Old Trafford.

Pogba is widely expected to be out of action for between a month and six weeks after damaging his hamstring just 18 minutes into Tuesday’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Basel.

Kane ‘one of world’s best’ strikers, says Spurs boss

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane is already one of the world’s best strikers and does not need to win heaps of trophies to prove it, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said Friday.

Kane continued his rich vein of form on Wednesday by scoring twice against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, taking his tally to six goals in four matches for both club and country.

Conte warns Chelsea to avoid ref rage in Arsenal clash

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has warned his Chelsea stars to keep their cool as they bid to avoid more red card misery against Arsenal on Sunday.

Conte’s side have lost their past two meetings with Arsenal in the FA Cup final and the Community Shield after having a player sent off in each encounter.

Conte wants Chelsea to play on after London Underground attack

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte says Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Arsenal should go ahead on Sunday despite an explosive device being detonated on a tube train near the club’s west London stadium.

At least 22 people were injured after a bomb exploded on a packed London Underground train during the morning rush hour on Friday in what police are treating as a “terrorist incident”.

Real Madrid post higher revenues but profits drop

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid’s revenue grew by almost nine percent last season to 674.6 million euros ($897.2 million), the European champions said on Friday.

The results for the 2016/17 financial year, which Real said were without taking into account capital gains from player transfers, were up 8.

Karius relishing Liverpool goalkeeper battle

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius has said he has no qualms battling for his place with Simon Mignolet as part of Reds manager Jurgen Klopp’s rotation policy.

Karius started Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday ahead of Belgium international Mignolet.

PSG’s ‘MCN’ turn focus back to domestic action

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain and their fearsome attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani host Lyon on Sunday looking to make it six successive wins to kick off the Ligue 1 season.

The expensively-assembled frontline, dubbed ‘MCN’, starred in PSG’s 5-0 humbling of Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday, in a match where they were irresistible for long periods.

Bayern out to silence critics as Bundesliga returns

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Berlin (AFP) – Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich will be looking to silence their critics with victory over Mainz in the Bundesliga this Saturday.

A 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in the Champions League on Tuesday was overshadowed by reports of internal disharmony in Munich. The German media have reported growing discord between coach Ancelotti and leading players such as Thomas Mueller, Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski.

Arsenal’s Wenger pondered new date prior to stormy Cologne win

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed he was contemplating a re-arranged fixture after the Gunners beat Cologne 3-1 in a Europa League opener marred by crowd trouble at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

The Group H fixture kicked off an hour late following chaotic scenes inside and outside north London club Arsenal’s home ground.

Atletico seek home comforts in new stadium debut

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid begin a fresh era on Saturday when their new 310 million-euro ($370 million) home opens with the visit of Malaga to the Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Simeone’s side have been forced to play their first four games of the season away as the finishing touches were made to the 68,000-capacity venue, nearly 20 kilometres north-east from their old Vicente Calderon stadium.

Bruised Juventus, Napoli seek Serie A lift

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Milan (AFP) – Battered Italian heavyweights Juventus and Napoli turn their focus back to the home comforts of Serie A this weekend after opening-round flops in the Champions League.

Juventus fell 3-0 in Barcelona with Napoli suffering a 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. Roma’s goalless draw to Atletico Madrid left Serie A sides with just one point between them from the first round of games in the elite European competition.

Arsenal investigating how away fans got into home section

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London (AFP) – Arsenal said Friday they were investigating how vast numbers of away fans gained access to the home sections of Emirates Stadium for their clash with Cologne, sparking ugly scenes that marred the Europa League clash.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he had been preparing for a postponement at the north London ground, describing the decision to play the game as a “gamble”.

Giggs tips Barry to reach 700 Premier League appearances

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London (AFP) – Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has tipped Gareth Barry to reach 700 Premier League appearances, with the former England midfielder on the brink of matching the Welshman’s all-time record.

Barry is set to equal Giggs’s record of 632 games when West Brom host West Ham on Saturday.

UEFA charges Arsenal, Cologne after fan chaos at Europa League match

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London (AFP) – European football chiefs charged Arsenal and Cologne on Friday after vast numbers of away fans gained access to the home sections of Emirates Stadium, sparking chaotic scenes that marred the Europa League clash.

Visiting fans were issued with 3,000 tickets but around 20,000 fans of the German club are believed to have made the journey to the British capital.

Arsenal win delayed Europa League clash as Everton humbled

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Paris (AFP) – Alexis Sanchez scored a stunning goal as Arsenal came from behind to beat Cologne 3-1 in a Europa League clash on Thursday that was delayed for an hour due to crowd trouble.

Kick-off in the Group H opener at the Emirates Stadium was put back until 9:05pm local time (2005 GMT) in the interests of “crowd safety” after problems caused by thousands of ticketless Cologne supporters arriving at the ground.

Arrests made as Arsenal-Cologne kicks off despite crowd trouble

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London (AFP) – Arsenal’s Europa League encounter with Cologne finally got underway an hour late on Thursday despite police making arrests after dealing with “disorder” at the Emirates Stadium as German fans occupied home sections of the ground.

Thousands of ticketless supporters of German club Cologne arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground for the Group H opener, with kick-off delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”.

Arsenal-Cologne clash kicks off despite crowd trouble

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London (AFP) – Arsenal’s Europa League encounter with Cologne finally got underway an hour late on Thursday despite police dealing with “disorder” at the Emirates Stadium as German fans occupied home sections of the ground.

Thousands of ticketless supporters of German club Cologne arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground for the Group H opener, with kick-off delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”.

Crowd ‘disorder’ as Arsenal-Cologne kick-off delayed

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London (AFP) – Police said they were dealing with “disorder” at the Emirates Stadium after kick-off in the Europa League match between Arsenal and Cologne in London had been delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”.

Thousands of ticketless fans of the German club arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground as police and stewards tried to ease the congestion in the surrounding streets.

Everton humbled in Europa League, AC Milan win big

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Paris (AFP) – Everton’s Europa League group-stage campaign got off to a disastrous start on Thursday as Ronald Koeman’s side were taken apart in Italy, losing 3-0 to Atalanta.

The Serie A club - back in Europe after a 26-year absence - were forced to entertain their English visitors in Reggio Emilia, a two-hour drive south of their base in Bergamo, because their own stadium does not have a licence for European games.

‘Crowd safety’ delays Arsenal-Cologne kick-off

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London (AFP) – Kick-off in the Europa League match between Arsenal and Cologne at the Emirates Stadium in London on Thursday has been delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”, the Premier League club announced.

Thousands of ticketless fans of German club Cologne arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground as police and stewards tried to ease the congestion in the surrounding streets.

Monaco suffer Lemar, Subasic injury blows

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Monaco (AFP) – French champions Monaco will be without winger Thomas Lemar and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic for their next two Ligue 1 matches, coach Leonardo Jardim confirmed on Thursday.

Subasic suffered an ankle injury in training for Wednesday’s Champions League 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig with close-season signing Diego Benaglio taking his place, while Lemar hobbled off at half-time of last weekend’s 4-0 league thrashing by Nice.

Romania fire coach Daum

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Bucharest (AFP) – Romania have parted company with German coach Christoph Daum following their failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup, the country’s football federation (FRF) announced on Thursday.

“The FRF president Razvan Burleanu and coach Christoph Daum have agreed to end their collaboration before the last two qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup,” the FRF said in a statement.

England keeper Heaton ‘out for months’

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton is set to be sidelined “for months” after undergoing surgery on his shoulder, Clarets manager Sean Dyche said Thursday.

Heaton, capped three times by England, landed awkwardly on his shoulder after colliding with team-mate Ben Mee as he caught the ball in the first half of Burnley’s 1-0 Premier League win at home to Crystal Palace last weekend.

Isco signs four-year Real contract extension

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid attacking midfielder Isco has signed a four-year contract extension which will keep him with the European champions until 2022, the La Liga club announced on Thursday.

The 25-year-old has become a key part of Zinedine Zidane’s side in recent months, scoring 11 goals in all competitions last season as Real won the Champions League and La Liga titles.

France’s Coman fined for attack on girlfriend

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Meaux (France) (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s French international forward Kingsley Coman was fined 5,000 euros ($5,940) Thursday for attacking his then girlfriend last year.

Coman, 21, had pleaded guilty to the attack on model Sephora Goignan last June at her home in Magny-le-Hongre outside Paris.

Kovacic adds to Real Madrid injury woes

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic faces a spell on the sidelines after suffering a thigh injury in his team’s 3-0 Champions League win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

The European champions said that the Croatian had a “partial tear of the adductor muscle tendon in his right leg”.

Ventura defends record as Italy slide in world football rankings

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Milan (AFP) – Coach Giampiero Ventura has defended his record despite a mixed World Cup qualifying campaign which has seen Italy slip in the world rankings.

Four-time world champions Italy are second behind Spain in European qualifying Group G for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

A 3-0 defeat in Madrid last week all but ended their hopes of automatic qualification.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on TV this weekend

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We’re just four games into the Premier League season and the competitive division has bared its sharp teeth already.

No team has a perfect record, we have our first managerial casualty of the campaign and as the season gets into gear again, the fascinating contests come thick and fast.

Almost $5 billion spent in transfer window – FIFA

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Paris (AFP) – The close-season transfer window saw $4.71 billion (3.96 billion euros) spent worldwide, over three quarters of which were from the top five European leagues, FIFA announced on Thursday.

Paris Saint-Germain’s world-record signing of Neymar from Barcelona for 222 million euros ($264 million) dominated the headlines, but many of Europe’s other big clubs also broke their own transfer records.

Where to find Atalanta vs. Everton on US TV and streaming

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

Everton kicks off their first Europa League group stage game in Italy today. For those viewers in the United States who don’t get FS2, here are several ways you can watch the game for free.

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

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

For the first time since 1997 there is no Champions League soccer to start the season at Arsenal. The Gunners will instead face Cologne in their first game in the Europa League.

Game: Arsenal vs.

Tottenham Wembley curse dead, says Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham’s 3-1 Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund has finally killed off their Wembley curse.

Pochettino’s side opened their Group H campaign with an impressive display at their temporary Wembley home on Wednesday as Harry Kane’s double and a Son Heung-Min strike sealed the points.

Klopp at peace after stormy Sevilla conclusion

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp claimed he had made peace with opposite number Eduardo Berizzo and the Sevilla coaching staff after a stormy conclusion to Liverpool’s 2-2 Champions League draw with the Spanish side at Anfield.

Young Liverpool defender Joe Gomez was sent off in the dying seconds of the group game, the second ‘dismissal’ of the night after Berizzo had been sent to the stands on the hour for throwing the ball away after Gomez hurried to take a throw-in for the home team.

Money and identity stoke Shanghai derby rivalry

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai Shenhua cross the city into enemy territory on Saturday to face Shanghai SIPG for China’s biggest derby, an intense rivalry spiced by money and identity.

Shenhua make the trip in turmoil: former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Gus Poyet quit as manager on Monday under pressure with the club languishing below mid-table in the 16-team Chinese Super League (CSL).

Football: Israel club official quits after anti-Muslim remark

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Jerusalem (AFP) – The professional adviser of an Israeli football club known for its far-right fan base has resigned after saying he would never sign a Muslim player, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Eli Cohen, a veteran manager who was hired to the position at Beitar Jerusalem earlier this month, had said that past attempts to bring Muslim players to the club failed bitterly.

Villas-Boas in hot water following Guangzhou outburst

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Shanghai (AFP) – The Asian Football Confederation said Thursday it was launching disciplinary action against Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas for his outburst after the epic Champions League quarter-final win over Guangzhou Evergrande this week.

The Portuguese, a former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager, strongly criticised the AFC and the referee, and levelled allegations at Chinese rivals Guangzhou of dirty tricks.

Klopp says no magic solution to Liverpool woes

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp says the transfer market is not the magic solution to Liverpool’s defensive woes after familiar problems returned to haunt his side on their return to Champions League action against Sevilla.

Dejan Lovren’s slip allowed Wissam Ben Yedder to score early in Wednesday’s match at Anfield but goals from Roberto Firmino, who also missed a penalty, and Mohamed Salah appeared to have put the home side in control.

City’s Stones ‘must win duels’ to become world-class: Guardiola

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Rotterdam (Netherlands) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed his two-goal Champions League hero John Stones - but warned he has some way to go before he can be called world-class.

England defender Stones found the net with two powerful headers as City thrashed Dutch champions Feyenoord 4-0 in Rotterdam on Wednesday to send a message of intent to their European rivals.

Ronaldo back in style for Real, Spurs end Wembley jinx

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Paris (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace on his return from suspension for Real Madrid, as Tottenham Hotspur ended their Wembley jinx and Liverpool were held on their Champions League comeback on Wednesday.

Real have sorely missed their Portuguese superstar as he serves a five-match domestic ban for pushing a referee.

Returning Ronaldo his double in routine Real win

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo wasted no time in showing Real Madrid what they have been missing during his five-game domestic suspension, by scoring twice as the holders began their Champions League defence with a routine 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo, banned for pushing a referee after being sent off in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, opened the scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross.

Stones stars as Manchester City hammer Feyenoord

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Rotterdam (Netherlands) (AFP) – Manchester City thrashed Dutch champions Feyenoord 4-0 as defender John Stones scored twice to get Pep Guardiola’s side off to a flying Champions League start on Wednesday.

Stones headed home on two minutes after a sublime chip by skipper David Silva, and after Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus had made the win safe, the England centre-back capped off the evening with a second powerful header for a memorable brace.

Correa leveller spoils Liverpool return

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Liverpool (AFP) – Roberto Firmino’s first-half penalty miss proved costly for Liverpool as Joaquin Correa scored a dramatic equaliser to grab Sevilla 2-2 Champions League draw on Wednesday.

Anfield was in jubilant mood as the English club welcomed back Champions League football after a two-year absence, but it took Sevilla just four minutes to dampen the enthusiasm.

Returning Ronaldo hits double in routine Real win

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo wasted no time in showing Real Madrid what they have been missing during his five-game domestic suspension, by scoring twice as the holders began their Champions League defence with a routine 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo, banned for pushing a referee after being sent off in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, opened the scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross.

Ronaldo returns to lead routine Real Champions League win

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo wasted no time in showing Real Madrid what they have been missing during his five-game domestic suspension, by scoring twice as the holders began their Champions League defence with a routine 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo, banned for pushing a referee after being sent off in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, opened the scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross.

Leipzig hold Monaco on Champions League debut

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) – Youri Tielemans levelled a minute after Emil Forsberg’s opener for RB Leipzig to salvage a 1-1 draw for French champions Monaco in the Champions League on Wednesday.

With Leipzig making their competition debut, Forsberg’s goal raised the roof at the Red Bull Arena.

Abuse victim accuses ex-England football manager of cover-up

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London (AFP) – An abuse victim on Wednesday accused late England football manager Graham Taylor of telling him to sweep his warnings about a paedophile coach “under the carpet”.

Tony Brien said he was abused as a child by Ted Langford, a football scout who was jailed in 2007 for sexually abusing four young players in the 1970s and 1980s.

Kane downs Dortmund as Tottenham end Wembley woe

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane banished Tottenham’s Wembley curse as the England striker’s double sealed a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

With White Hart Lane being redeveloped, Tottenham are playing their home matches at the English national stadium this season and that had been bad news for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Barcelona expect record 897-million-euro turnover

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Barcelona (AFP) – Boosted by Neymar’s world record move to Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona are set to smash the record turnover for a football club with a 897-million-euro ($1.07 billion) income for the 2017/18 season, the club announced on Wednesday.

“The board have approved a budget for the 2017/18 season that reflects an expected record income of 897 million euros,” said Barca spokesman Josep Vives.

Spain and Portugal ‘Liga Iberica’ mooted

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Lisbon (AFP) – The creation of a ‘Liga Iberica’ involving top clubs from Spain and Portugal has been targeted for 2019, the Portuguese League said on Wednesday.

The Liga Iberica would allow Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Porto and the likes to measure up against Spanish giants like Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Reds stun Kawasaki to storm into Asian Champions League semis

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Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Urawa Reds scored three goals in a 15-minute blitz to floor Japanese rivals Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 in a fiery encounter Wednesday and reach the Asian Champions League semi-finals.

Slovenian Zlatan Ljubijankic, Brazilian Rafael Silva and Toshiyuki Takagi all scored late goals against 10-man Kawasaki as the home side overturned a two-goal deficit to win 5-4 on aggregate.

Ancelotti cool over Nagelsmann’s Bayern ‘dream’

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Berlin (AFP) – Amidst rising tension in Bayern Munich’s ranks, Carlo Ancelotti reacted calmly on Wednesday to Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann’s comments that he wants to eventually coach the Bavarians.

“It’s quite normal that a young and good coach such as Julian dreams of training a very high level club,” Bayern manager Ancelotti told broadcaster Eurosport.

Matthaeus slams Ribery tantrum

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany legend Lothar Matthaeus has criticised Franck Ribery for defiantly throwing off his Bayern Munich shirt after being substituted in Tuesday’s Champions League win over Anderlecht, prompting a passionate response from the Frenchman.

Having picked up an early booking for arguing with the referee in the 3-0 home victory, Ribery was taken off with 12 minutes to go in Munich and hurled his shirt at the Bayern bench.

Infantino accused of interference by ousted expert

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London (AFP) – A governance expert fired by FIFA on Wednesday accused the leadership of world football’s governing body of interfering with his work, ignoring rules and removing him in order to stay in power.

Speaking to MPs on Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Miguel Maduro gave a devastating indictment of FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s commitment to reform and said only “external pressure” would force the organisation to change.

‘I nearly quit Arsenal’, admits Giroud

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London (AFP) – Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud admitted on Wednesday that he came close to leaving the club in the close season before deciding to stay because his “story is not over”.

The France international has fallen behind club-record signing and compatriot Alexandre Lacazette in the pecking order this season but has come off the bench in all of the Gunners’ games so far this season.

Reds stun Kawasaki to reach Asian semi-finals

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Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Urawa Reds scored three goals in a 15-minute blitz to floor Japanese rivals Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 in a fiery encounter Wednesday and reach the Asian Champions League semi-finals.

Slovenian Zlatan Ljubijankic, Brazilian Rafael Silva and Toshiyuki Takagi all scored late goals against 10-man Kawasaki as the home side overturned a two-goal deficit to win 5-4 on aggregate.

Bundesliga boss wants shorter transfer window

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Berlin (AFP) – The Bundesliga looks set to follow the example of England’s Premier League by voting to shorten the transfer window, with German Football League (DFL) chief Reinhard Rauball proposing changes.

Germany’s 36 professional clubs are set to hold a vote at their general assembly in December and Rauball wants the Bundesliga clubs to agree to close the transfer window before the season starts.

Shanghai Shenhua drop ‘overweight’ Tevez

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Shanghai (AFP) – Handsomely paid Carlos Tevez is overweight and will not play again for Shanghai Shenhua until he gets fit, the Chinese club’s new coach has warned.

The 33-year-old Tevez is one of the best-paid players on the planet on reported weekly wages of about 730,000 euros (US$870,000) but has scored just twice this season and missed half the games with injury.

Marcelo extends Real Madrid contract

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid vice-captain Marcelo extended his 11-year stay with the Spanish giants by signing a new contract until 2022, the club announced on Wednesday.

The Brazilian, 29, has won three Champions League and four La Liga titles in over 400 appearances since joining from Fluminense in 2006.

Real Madrid target Werner plans to join ‘big club’

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Berlin (AFP) – Timo Werner has admitted he wants to join a “big club” amidst reports Real Madrid are interesting in signing the Germany striker, who makes his Champions League debut on Wednesday.

Werner will play the first Champions League match of his career at Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena when RB make their debut in European football’s top club competition against last season’s semi-finalists Monaco.

Manchester United part of ‘second level’, says Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United cannot be considered among the top band of teams in the Champions League, manager Jose Mourinho insisted after his side brushed aside Basel 3-0 on their competition return.

Goals from substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford sandwiched Romelu Lukaku’s first goal in the competition proper as United opened their Group A campaign in straightforward fashion on Tuesday.

Chelsea manager Conte expects selection gamble to pay off

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte believes his decision to rest several of Chelsea stars for their Champions League demolition of Qarabag will be rewarded when the Blues face Arsenal on Sunday.

Conte left out David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Victor Moses and Alvaro Morata for Tuesday’s 6-0 thumping of the Azerbaijan minnows at Stamford Bridge.

Emery warns five-star PSG can only get better

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Glasgow (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) coach Unai Emery says his side have learned lessons from the past after they started their Champions League Group B campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Celtic.

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani’s double and a Mikel Lustig own goal consigned Celtic to their record home European defeat and propelled PSG to the top of the table on goal difference from Bayern Munich, who they host on match day two.

Arsenal set for drop into Europe’s second tier

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London (AFP) – Premier League giants Arsenal make their Europa League bow this week, slipping into the continent’s second-string competition after nearly two decades in the Champions League, with AC Milan also injecting star quality.

Arsene Wenger’s men, fifth in the Premier League last season - their first finish outside the top four since 1995-96 - take on German side Cologne on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium in London.

Irate Villas-Boas accuses Guangzhou of dirty tricks

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas accused Guangzhou Evergrande of dirty tricks after his side’s epic AFC Champions League quarter-final win, claiming the hosts masterminded a series of road “accidents” to delay SIPG’s arrival at the stadium.

Evergrande almost pulled off a miracle in overturning a 4-0 first-leg deficit, before SIPG emerged battered and bruised from a remarkable all-Chinese encounter on Tuesday with a penalty shootout triumph after the tie had finished 5-5 on aggregate.

Injured Pogba could be out for ‘weeks’ – Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Paul Pogba could be out of action for “a few weeks” after suffering a suspected hamstring injury that took the shine off Manchester United’s successful return to the Champions League, manager Jose Mourinho said.

United, who missed out on qualification for Europe’s premier club competition last season, coasted to a 3-0 victory on Tuesday, with goals for Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

Man City’s Ederson could return just days after Mane collision

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Rotterdam (Netherlands) (AFP) – Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson could make a remarkable comeback in Wednesday’s Champions League match at Feyenoord just days after a nasty collision left him needing stitches in his face.

Ederson was caught by a high boot from Liverpool’s Sadio Mane on Saturday and received lengthy treatment before being carried off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask.

Pochettino urges Spurs to make fast start against Dortmund

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has warned his Tottenham Hotspur stars that they must make a fast start to their Champions League campaign or risk another early exit.

Pochettino’s side failed to make it past the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition last season.

Tottenham’s downfall was triggered by poor results in their home games at Wembley, where they were beaten by Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen.

Matthaeus slams Ribery for shirt-throwing tantrum

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany legend Lothar Matthaeus has criticised France winger Franck Ribery for throwing his Bayern Munich shirt in temper after being substituted late in the Champions League win over Anderlecht.

Having picked up an early booking for arguing with the referee in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over the Belgian side, Ribery was taken off with 12 minutes to go in Munich and hurled his shirt at the Bayern bench.

Shanghai Shenhua tell ‘overweight’ Tevez to shape up

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez is overweight and will not play again for Shanghai Shenhua until he gets fit, the Chinese club’s new coach has warned.

The 33-year-old Tevez is one of the best-paid players on the planet on reported weekly wages of about 730,000 euros but has scored just twice this season and already has missed half his games due to injury.

Celtic charged by UEFA over PSG pitch invasion

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London (AFP) – European football’s governing body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic following a pitch invasion during their Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

A supporter raced onto the Parkhead pitch late in the first half on Tuesday with the hosts 3-0 down and darted towards 18-year-old superstar Kylian Mbappe.

Celtic charged by UEFA over pitch invasion

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London (AFP) – European football’s governing body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic following a pitch invasion during their Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

A supporter raced onto the Parkhead pitch late in the first half on Tuesday with the hosts 3-0 down and darted towards 18-year-old superstar Kylian Mbappe.

Where to find Real Madrid vs. APOEL on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Real Madrid vs. APOEL, you’ve come to the right place.

Studio coverage on Wednesday begins at 2:00 PM ET with host Rob Stone and analysts Alexi Lalas, Brad Friedel and Warren Barton. Studio coverage on FOX Deportes begins at 1:00 PM ET with hosts Claudio Suarez and John Laguna.

Messi inspires Barcelona, PSG win Champions League opener

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Paris (AFP) – Lionel Messi netted twice in Barcelona’s convincing 3-0 victory over Juventus that kicked off their Champions League campaign in style, while Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Chelsea also won big on Tuesday.

After a troubled summer, a home meeting with last season’s runners-up may not have been what Barcelona and their new coach Ernesto Valverde wanted, but Messi was at his brilliant best to give the Catalans the three points.

Alisson stars as Roma hold Atletico Madrid

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Rome (AFP) – A virtuoso display by Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker helped Roma hold Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday in their Champions League group-stage opener.

An open but tightly fought battle in the Stadio Olimpico confirmed Group C will be a three-way battle for qualification after Chelsea punished Azerbaijani newcomers Qarabag 6-0.

Thiago strike helps Bayern past 10-man Anderlecht

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Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Thiago Alcantara’s second-half strike helped an underwhelming Bayern Munich see off 10-man Anderlecht 3-0 in their opening Champions League group match on Tuesday.

After Robert Lewandowski converted an early penalty, Thiago turned the tie decisively Bayern’s way before Joshua Kimmich grabbed a late third at a sold-out Allianz Arena.

‘MCN’ lead five-star PSG past hapless Celtic

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Glasgow (AFP) – Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all scored as Paris Saint-Germain began their Champions League campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Celtic in Glasgow on Tuesday.

Brazilian Neymar continued to pay back his 222 million-euro ($264 million) world record transfer fee with his fifth goal in five games to put PSG in front before he set up Mbappe to make it 2-0.

Messi double inspires Barcelona to Juventus revenge

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona defied an outgoing off-field crisis as another Lionel Messi-inspired display exacted revenge on Juventus to open their Champions League campaign with a resounding 3-0 win on Tuesday.

Messi was involved in all three goals as he beat Gianluigi Buffon for the first time in his career to open the floodgates just before half-time.

Rampant Chelsea hit Qarabag for six

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London (AFP) – Chelsea made a swaggering start to their Champions League challenge as memorable strikes from Pedro and Davide Zappacosta inspired a 6-0 rout of Qarabag on Tuesday.

Antonio Conte’s side were in businesslike mood against the minnows from Azerbaijan, with Pedro’s long-range effort putting them ahead early on at Stamford Bridge.

Fix-it Fellaini gets Manchester United off the mark

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Substitute Marouane Fellaini proved an unlikely source of inspiration as Manchester United comfortably defeated Basel 3-0 on their return to the Champions League on Tuesday.

Fellaini, a replacement for the injured Paul Pogba, gave United a 35th-minute lead at a drizzly Old Trafford and teed up Marcus Rashford for the hosts’ third goal after Romelu Lukaku had struck early in the second period.

Mane appeal failure no surprise to Klopp as Sevilla await

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Tuesday said he knew the club’s appeal to reduce Sadio Mane’s three-match suspension would be “a waste of time”.

The Senegal winger was shown a straight red card during Liverpool’s 5-0 loss away to Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday after his high boot caught goalkeeper Ederson in the face.

Ex-England boss Hodgson new Palace manager

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London (AFP) – Roy Hodgson has been appointed the new manager of Crystal Palace, the English Premier League club announced Tuesday.

The 70-year-old former England manager has replaced Frank de Boer after the Dutchman was sacked following just four league games in charge of the south London club.

Ex-England boss Hodgson new Crystal Palace manager

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London (AFP) – Roy Hodgson has been appointed the new manager of Crystal Palace, the English Premier League club announced Tuesday.

The 70-year-old former England manager has replaced Frank de Boer after the Dutchman was sacked following just four league games in charge of the south London club.

Leipzig relishing Champions League debut

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) – Just eight years after starting life in the local leagues, RB Leipzig will enhance their rags to riches tale on Wednesday by hosting Monaco on the German club’s Champions League debut.

Backed by energy drinks giant Red Bull, who bought the licence of a fifth-division club, Leipzig began climbing Germany’s football pyramid in 2009.

World Cup ticket sales start Thursday

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Moscow (AFP) – FIFA announced Tuesday that ticket sales for the 2018 World Cup will begin on Thursday, nine months to the day that the tournament kicks off in Russia.

“Fans all over the world will also be able to book their place as ticket sales for the tournament start exclusively on FIFA.

FA reject Mane appeal against three-game ban

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London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Sadio Mane had his three-match suspension for a red card received for a high challenge on Manchester City’s Ederson upheld on Tuesday, after the Football Association rejected his claim of excessive punishment.

Senegal winger Mane was sent off after catching goalkeeper Ederson in the face during City’s 5-0 win in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Pochettino urges Spurs to make fast start

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has warned his Tottenham Hotspur stars that they must make a fast start to their Champions League campaign or risk another early exit.

Pochettino’s side failed to make it past the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition last season.

Tottenham’s downfall was triggered by poor results in their home games at Wembley, where they were beaten by Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen.

Shanghai SIPG into AFC semis on dramatic night

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Guangzhou (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG survived an almighty scare to sneak into the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League 5-4 on penalties and break Guangzhou Evergrande hearts on Tuesday.

Midfielder Yu Hai was the hero for Andre Villas-Boas’s battered side, holding his nerve to bury the decisive spot-kick and SIPG will face either of the Japanese teams Kawasaki Frontale or Urawa Reds in the last four.

FA reject Sadio Mane appeal against three-game ban

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London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Sadio Mane had his three-match suspension for a red card received for a high challenge on Manchester City’s Ederson upheld on Tuesday, after the Football Association rejected his claim of excessive punishment.

Senegal winger Mane was sent off after catching goalkeeper Ederson in the face during City’s 5-0 win in the Premier League at Eastlands on Saturday.

Ronaldo return eases Zidane’s striker shortage

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has underlined the importance of welcoming back World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo for the holders Champions League opener against APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo has been suspended for Real’s last four games after pushing a referee in the Spanish Super Cup and has been badly missed as the European champions have been held at home by Valencia and Levante in their last two outings.

‘Heroes’ Dortmund out to challenge Spurs

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund set out for Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Tottenham Hotspur in London hoping their stars will become “heroes” in a group containing titleholders Real Madrid.

“This is the hardest group, but also challenging, and in such groups, heroes are made,” said managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke on Tuesday.

Prudent Real Madrid remain Champions League favourites

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Madrid (AFP) – Such is Real Madrid’s confidence in creating more Champions League history that while others have spent hundreds of millions trying to catch up, the back-to-back European champions were happy to cash in.

Real made a profit of over 75 million euros ($90 million) in the transfer market thanks to the departures of Alvaro Morata, James Rodriguez and Danilo.

Rampant Manchester City ready to march on Feyenoord

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The Hague (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City will be keen to keep the momentum going as they open the hunt for Champions League glory against a diminished Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Wednesday.

After mauling Liverpool 5-0 in the Premier League on Saturday, City now travel to face the Dutch champions - who face a daunting prospect after a 15-year absence from the group stage of the competition.

No sand, no problem: Beach football in landlocked Afghanistan

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Kabul (AFP) – At a makeshift beach in landlocked Afghanistan, children as young as eight, wearing baggy Real Madrid and Barcelona shirts with “Ronaldo” and “Messi” printed on the back, joyfully kick and chase the ball.

Kabul’s Ghazi stadium was the scene of gruesome executions under Taliban rule but today it is where Afghan youths, the majority of whom have never seen the sea, dream of representing their country at beach football.

Nigeria’s Moses says doesn’t pick and choose

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Abuja (AFP) – Chelsea star Victor Moses has dismissed suggestions he picks and chooses the games he plays for Nigeria, insisting he always wants to be fit before appearing for his country.

Moses, 26, made his Nigeria debut in 2012 when he changed his international allegiance after representing England at various age-grade levels.

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

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

Studio coverage on Tuesday begins at 2:00 PM ET with host Rob Stone and analysts Alexi Lalas, Brad Friedel and Warren Barton. Studio coverage on FOX Deportes begins at 1:00 PM ET with hosts Claudio Suarez and John Laguna.

Champions League to test Klopp’s progress at Liverpool

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Liverpool (AFP) – When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015, he made a promise: “If we sit here in four years, I think we (will) win one title,” he said.

Next month will mark the second anniversary of Klopp’s appointment, the halfway point of that four-year cycle.

Tottenham fight to end Wembley woe

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London (AFP) – Frustrated by a series of miserable experiences at Wembley, Tottenham Hotspur host Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday desperate to finally vanquish the ghosts that haunt them at the national stadium.

When Mauricio Pochettino’s side kick off their Champions League campaign against the Germans, it won’t be just priceless Group H points that are up for grabs.

Atletico, Roma prepare key Champions League clash

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Rome (AFP) – Roma host Atletico Madrid on Tuesday in an opening game of the Champions League group stages which Italian coach Eusebio Di Francesco believes will be crucial to their ambitions.

In a Group C that also includes Premier League champions Chelsea, both sides desperately need to win in the Stadio Olimpico.

Belgian Jupiler League makes return to US TV and streaming

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EXCLUSIVE: The Belgian Jupiler League makes it return to Eleven Sports Network for the weekend of September 16-17, which marks the 7th round of the Championship.

Eleven Sports first picked up Jupiler League rights last season in April during the Championship Playoff stage.

MLS attendances through gameweek 27 of the 2017 season

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After 302 matches, the average MLS attendance (21,604) is up 0.47% compared to 2016.

This past week in MLS, it was another normal week of reported attendances. There were strong showings in most venues, including Atlanta’s new Mercedes Benz Stadium. A relatively weak turnout for NYCFC’s midweek match.

10 things we learned from MLS gameweek 27 of the 2017 season

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Here are the ten things we learned from Week 27 of the 2017 MLS season.

1. The Playoff Picture Clears Up

With Real Salt Lake and San Jose losing this weekend – and despite the fact that Dallas continues to stare into the abyss – the Western Conference playoff race appears to be settled.

Carlos Eduardo hat-trick fires Al Hilal into semis

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Riyadh (AFP) – Carlos Eduardo struck a fine hat-trick as Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal stormed into the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League with a 3-0 rout of UAE’s Al Ain on Monday.

Victory at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh gave the reigning Saudi champions and continental runners-up in 2014 a 3-0 aggregate win following their goalless draw in the first leg last month.

Ayew gives West Ham’s Bilic birthday cheer

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London (AFP) – Pedro Obiang and Andre Ayew scored to give West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic the perfect 49th birthday present as the Hammers beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 in the Premier League on Monday.

Obiang got the opener via an enormous deflection and Bilic then pumped the air in relief as much as delight when Ghanaian star Ayew pounced to add the second as West Ham claimed their first points of the season.

Neymar signing great for France: PSG president

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London (AFP) – The signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar for a world record fee by Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain is “amazing for France”, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told the Daily Telegraph.

PSG paid Barcelona 222 million euros ($264 million) for Neymar, 25, in August before signing Kylian Mbappe on loan with an option to buy the 18-year-old from Monaco for up to 180 million euros in the second largest deal in history.

Crystal Palace sack de Boer after just four EPL games

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace on Monday sacked manager Frank de Boer after a dismal start to the Premier League season that has seen them lose all four of their matches without scoring a single goal.

The south London club, languishing in 19th place in the league, have been strongly linked with a move to appoint former England boss Roy Hodgson to replace the departing Dutchman.

Judge Barcelona, Juventus on results not transfers, coaches argue

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde warned against snap judgements on his side and Juventus’ Champions League aspirations despite losing key players in the transfer market.

The sides meet in their competition opener on Tuesday (1845 GMT) in a rematch of a quarter-final clash won 3-0 on aggregate by Juventus last season.

Judge Barcelona, Juventus at season’s end: Valverde

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde warned against snap judgements on his side and Juventus’ Champions League aspirations despite losing key players in the transfer market.

The sides meet in their competition opener on Tuesday (1845 GMT) in a rematch of a quarter-final clash won 3-0 on aggregate by Juventus last season.

PSG duo ruled out of Champions League opener

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Glasgow (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain forwards Javier Pastore and Angel Di Maria have been ruled out of the French club’s Champions League opener at Celtic on Tuesday with injuries.

Celtic striker Moussa Dembele will also miss out, with manager Brendan Rodgers saying Monday the 21-year-old Frenchman is not yet match-fit after suffering a hamstring injury in July.

Mueller can imagine life after Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) – Disgruntled Germany star Thomas Mueller admits he can envisage leaving Bayern Munich after failing to shine recently for the German champions.

Mueller set up two goals for Germany in their 6-0 rout of Norway last Monday in a World Cup qualifier, but produced another poor display on the wing for Bayern in Saturday’s 2-0 league defeat at Hoffenheim.

Chelsea’s Conte set to shuffle pack for Qarabag

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte indicated on Monday he will rotate his players for his side’s Champions League opener against Azerbaijani newcomers Qarabag.

Tuesday’s encounter at Stamford Bridge is the second in a sequence of seven matches in 21 days for Conte’s Premier League champions.

Crystal Palace sack de Boer after just four Premier League games

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace on Monday sacked manager Frank de Boer after a dismal start to the Premier League season that has seen them lose all four of their matches without scoring a single goal.

The south London club, languishing in 19th place in the league, have been strongly linked with a move to appoint former England boss Roy Hodgson to replace the departing Dutch manager.

Chelsea pledge action over anti-Semitic chant

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London (AFP) – Chelsea have vowed to take the “strongest possible action” against any supporters found to have used anti-Semitic language in a chant about the club’s new striker Alvaro Morata.

The song, aired during Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Leicester City on Saturday, describes supporters of rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who have traditional links to the Jewish community, as “Yids”.

Haunted by Euro woes, Conte eyes redemption

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London (AFP) – Frustrated by his past failures in the Champions League, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has set his sights on a mission of redemption as he returns to the competition after a four-year absence.

Conte still bears the scars from a snowy night in Istanbul in 2013 when Juventus suffered a shock defeat against Galatasaray that sent the Italian giants crashing out of Europe’s elite club competition.

Australian women footballers take step towards professionalism

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Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s women footballers took a step towards professionalism Monday with pay rises and better employment conditions agreed as the nation works to build on the success of the Matildas national team.

Until now, many players in the domestic W-League were considered amateur and received only reimbursement of expenses.

Battle for control of Barcelona overshadows Juventus reunion

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Barcelona (AFP) – A 5-0 derby win, an assist for 105 million euro ($126 million) purchase Ousmane Dembele on his debut and a four-point La Liga lead over Real Madrid ought to have brought some semblance of relief to Barcelona’s beleaguered board.

Yet, no sooner had the celebrations died down from Luis Suarez’s finish from Dembele’s cross in the final minute of Saturday’s thrashing of Espanyol, than cries for president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign rang around the Camp Nou.

Spain’s Champions League reign under threat

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Madrid (AFP) – Neymar and Kylian Mbappe headline free-spending Paris Saint-Germain’s quest to knock Real Madrid off their perch as the Champions League group stages begin on Tuesday under the shadow of infighting at the top of the European game.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has lambasted PSG’s 222 million euro ($267 million) capture of Neymar from Barcelona as “financial doping” with the French giants also set to splash another 180 million on 18-year-old Mbappe next summer to make his loan move from Monaco permanent.

Stielike takes over at Chinese strugglers Tianjin Teda

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Shanghai (AFP) – Uli Stielike has been tasked with saving Tianjin Teda from relegation out of the Chinese Super League (CSL), three months after the German was axed as coach of South Korea.

Underlining the challenge facing the 62-year-old, Tianjin lost 3-1 at second-placed Shanghai SIPG on Saturday and sit one place off the bottom of the CSL with seven games left.

Scolari’s Evergrande chase Champions League miracle

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Shanghai (AFP) – Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Guangzhou Evergrande must perform an AFC Champions League miracle on Tuesday if they are to overhaul a 4-0 deficit in their quarter-final home clash with Shanghai SIPG.

Evergrande are streaking away from their domestic rivals in the Chinese Super League (CSL) but were embarrassed in Shanghai three weeks ago when Andre Villas-Boas’s side was rampant in the first leg.

Man Utd’s Herrera patient despite lack of game time

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London (AFP) – Manchester United’s Ander Herrera says team success is his top priority despite the frustrations of a lack of game time this season for the Premier League leaders.

The club’s reigning player of the year, who made his first league start of the season in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Stoke, has struggled for minutes on the pitch after the arrival of Nemanja Matic from Chelsea.

Man City’s De Bruyne targets big games in title push

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London (AFP) – Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne says beating the club’s biggest rivals will be key to challenging for the Premier League title after Pep Guardiola’s side swept Liverpool aside in impressive style.

City failed to sustain a title challenge last season and their record against the other teams that finished in the top seven proved a major shortfall.

El Clasico switched to December 23

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Madrid (AFP) – La Liga president Javier Tebas confirmed on Monday that the first El Clasico of the season between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be played on December 23 at 1:00 pm (1200GMT).

The clash was expected to take place on December 20 as part of a full midweek round of fixtures before Spain’s winter break.

Crystal Palace chairman urges unity as pressure grows on De Boer

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has urged everyone at the club to “stick together” despite a dismal start to the Premier League season and increasing speculation about the future of manager Frank de Boer.

De Boer has overseen four defeats in as many games without scoring a single goal since taking over at Selhurst Park in the summer, the worst start in Premier League history.

Wenger ‘not tempted’ by Man Utd approach

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he was never tempted to join Manchester United, after it emerged the Old Trafford club approached him about succeeding Alex Ferguson in 2002.

Former United chairman Martin Edwards revealed in his new autobiography that the club sounded out Wenger after Ferguson announced he would retire at the end of the 2001-02 season.

Battle for control of Barca overshadows Juventus reunion

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Barcelona (AFP) – A 5-0 derby win, an assist for 105 million euro ($126 million) purchase Ousmane Dembele on his debut and a four-point La Liga lead over Real Madrid ought to have brought some relief to Barcelona’s beleaguered board.

Yet no sooner had the celebrations died down from Luis Suarez’s finish from Dembele’s cross in the final minute of Saturday’s thrashing of Espanyol, than cries for president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign rang around the Camp Nou.

Bayern boss fires back at Lewandowski

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has fired back at Robert Lewandowski after the Poland hot-shot criticised the Bavarian giants’ spending policy.

Bayern crashed to a shock 2-0 defeat at Hoffenheim on Saturday which left them sixth in the German league table - their worst position after the first three games since 2010/11.

Harry Kane says quality signings can fire Spurs title bid

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane says the club are ready for another Premier League title push after some quality late additions to th squad.

The London side had an underwhelming start to the season, losing to Chelsea and drawing against Burnley at their temporary Wembley home, but they bounced back with an emphatic 3-0 win against Everton at the weekend.

Crystal Palace sack manager Frank de Boer

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace on Monday sacked manager Frank de Boer after a dismal start to the Premier League season.

“Crystal Palace Football Club have this morning parted company with Frank de Boer,” said a statement on the club’s website.

“We would like to thank Frank for his dedication and hard work during his time at the club.

Inter, Napoli join Juventus top of Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Napoli and Inter Milan made it three wins out of three to keep pace with six-time title holders Juventus at the top of Serie A Sunday as AC Milan fell at Lazio.

Luciano Spalletti’s Inter beat promoted SPAL 2-0 in the San Siro after Juventus eased past Chievo 3-0 in Turin on Saturday.

Fekir fuels Lyon, Marseille slump again

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Paris (AFP) – Nabil Fekir struck his fourth goal in five matches as Lyon defeated Guingamp 2-1 on Sunday, while Rennes belatedly secured their first win of the season with a 3-1 victory at Marseille.

Mariano Diaz curled in a 19th-minute opener for Lyon as the former Real Madrid striker netted his fourth Ligue 1 goal since his close-season arrival from Spain.

Sociedad go joint top with win at Deportivo

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Sociedad scored twice early and late on to see off Deportivo la Coruna 4-2 and move alongside Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Sunday.

The Basques shot into a 2-0 lead at La Riazor inside five minutes thanks to goals from Juanmi and Asier Illarramendi.

Deportivo fought back, though, as Adrian Lopez pulled a goal back before half-time before on-loan Arsenal forward Lucas Perez was summoned from the bench on his return to Galicia.

Football: Five things we learned in the Premier League

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London (AFP) – Manchester City crushed 10-man Liverpool, while Manchester United lost their 100 percent record.

Chelsea maintained their revival and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez endured a difficult return to action.

Here are five things we learned from this weekend’s Premier League action:

Bloodied Ederson is Guardiola’s kind of keeper

Ederson ended Manchester City’s 5-0 thrashing of Liverpool unsteady on his feet and with a white dressing concealing a large gash on the left side of his face, but having enhanced his reputation in the eyes of manager Pep Guardiola.

German female referee makes history as Leckie nets again

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus made history on Sunday as the first female referee to officiate a match in a top European league by taking charge of Hertha Berlin’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen.

Steinhaus became the first woman to referee a top-tier match in the German, English, French, Italian or Spanish leagues when she oversaw the Bundesliga encounter in Berlin.

Newcastle’s Lascelles provides welcome tonic for Benitez

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Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jamaal Lascelles provided a welcome tonic for ailing Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez as his late goal secured a 1-0 win at Swansea City on Sunday.

Benitez was forced to miss his side’s trip to south Wales while he recovered from an infection.

Immobile hat-trick as Lazio sink AC Milan

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Milan (AFP) – Ciro Immobile scored a hat-trick as Lazio stunned AC Milan 4-1 in Serie A, while city rivals Inter joined Juventus at the top with a 2-0 win over SPAL on Sunday.

Luciano Spalletti’s Inter were too strong for promoted SPAL in the San Siro and joined Juventus on maximum nine points after the champions beat Chievo 3-0 on Saturday.

German female ref makes history as Leckie nets again

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus made history on Sunday as the first female referee to officiate a match in a top European league by taking charge of Hertha Berlin’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen.

Steinhaus became the first woman to referee a top-tier match in the German, English, French, Italian or Spanish leagues when she oversaw the Bundesliga encounter in Berlin.

Dortmund captain Schmelzer out of Spurs clash

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer will miss Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley with torn ankle ligaments, the German club confirmed.

A scan on Sunday on the left-back’s right ankle revealed the injury after Schmelzer was stretchered off with half an hour gone of Saturday’s goalless draw at Freiburg.

Wood’s winner piles pressure on Palace boss De Boer

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chris Wood’s dream home debut for Burnley pushed Frank De Boer to the brink of the sack as Crystal Palace crashed to a 1-0 defeat on Sunday.

New Zealand international Wood marked his maiden appearance for Burnley at Turf Moor following his club record £15 million ($19 million, 16 million euros) move by firing the winner early in the first half.

Wood’s debut winner piles pressure on Palace boss De Boer

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chris Wood’s dream debut for Burnley pushed Frank De Boer to the brink of the sack as Crystal Palace crashed to a 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor on Sunday.

New Zealand international Wood marked his maiden appearance for Burnley following his club record £15 million ($19 million, 16 million euros) move by firing the winner early in the first half.

Burnley keeper Heaton faces long absence after shoulder injury

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton is likely to be sidelined for several months after the England international suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Heaton landed awkwardly on his shoulder after colliding with team-mate Ben Mee as he caught the ball in the first half at Turf Moor.

Wood’s debut winner piles pressure on De Boer

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chris Wood’s dream debut for Burnley pushed Frank De Boer to the brink of the sack as Crystal Palace crashed to a 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor on Sunday.

New Zealand international Wood marked his maiden appearance for Burnley following his club record £15 million ($19 million, 16 million euros) move by firing the winner early in the first half.

Real Sociedad go joint top with win at Deportivo

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Sociedad scored twice early and late to see off Deportivo la Coruna 4-2 and move alongside Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Sunday.

The Basques shot into a 2-0 lead at La Riazor inside five minutes thanks to goals from Juanmi and Asier Illarramendi.

Deportivo fought back, though, as Adrian Lopez pulled a goal back before half-time before on loan Arsenal forward Lucas Perez was summoned from the bench on his return to Galicia.

Germany’s Steinhaus becomes first female ref in Europe’s top leagues

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus made history on Sunday by becoming the first female referee to officiate a match in a top European league.

The 38-year-old police officer became the first woman to ref a top-tier match in the German, English, French, Italian or Spanish leagues when she took charge of Hertha Berlin’s home Bundesliga match against Werder Bremen.

Inter join Juventus at top of Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan claimed a third straight win with a Mauro Icardi penalty and Ivan Perisic volley giving them a 2-0 win over SPAL to join Juventus at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday.

Champions Juventus beat Chievo 3-0 on Saturday and Luciano Spalletti’s side were too strong for promoted SPAL in the San Siro.

De Bruyne masterclass leaves Guardiola purring

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola said Manchester City were lucky to have Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgium midfielder inspired his team to a resounding 5-0 victory over Premier League rivals Liverpool.

De Bruyne created goals for Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus and had a hand in one of Leroy Sane’s two strikes as City recorded their biggest win over Liverpool since March 1937.

Mourinho confidence undimmed by Stoke road bump

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho claimed his confidence in his Manchester United side remains intact despite seeing Stoke City end their perfect start to the Premier League season with a 2-2 draw.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored twice for the Potters, becoming the first player to score against United in four games this season and making Stoke the first side to deny them maximum points.

Wenger tells Sanchez to counter jeers on pitch

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has called on Alexis Sanchez to deliver on the pitch and silence those Arsenal fans who jeered him during the 3-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth.

Sanchez came close to a deadline day move to Manchester City, only to see Arsenal pull out of the deal after they failed to land Monaco’s Thomas Lemar as his replacement.

Conte delivers Kante warning to rivals

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte warned the rest of the Premier League that double player of the year N’Golo Kante is only going to get better.

The combative French midfielder won the PFA and Football Writers’ award last season after his performances inspired Chelsea to the Championship.

Messi hat-trick ensures Barcelona pounce on Madrid stumble

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi’s hat-trick saw Barcelona move four points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Ousmane Dembele marked his debut with an assist in a 5-0 rout of local rivals Espanyol on Saturday.

Earlier, Madrid paid for the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held to a shock 1-1 home draw by newly-promoted Levante.

Messi hat-trick ensures Barca pounce on Madrid stumble

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi’s hat-trick saw Barcelona move four points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Ousmane Dembele marked his debut with an assist in a 5-0 rout of local rivals Espanyol on Saturday.

Earlier, Madrid paid for the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held to a shock 1-1 home draw by newly-promoted Levante.

Dybala lifts Juventus in Serie A ahead of Barcelona trip

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Milan (AFP) – Paulo Dybala inspired Juventus to a 3-0 win over Chievo on Saturday to keep the Serie A title-holders unbeaten ahead of next week’s Champions League opener at Barcelona.

Three days ahead of their trip to the Camp Nou Massimiliano Allegri tested his troops after the international break which had deprived the champions of key players.

South African football squad to discuss ‘devastating’ FIFA order

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Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa football bosses will meet Monday to discuss a “devastating” FIFA order that a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal must be replayed after the referee manipulated the result.

National association president Danny Jordaan said Saturday in a statement that issues for debate could include appealing the decision, writing to FIFA or taking legal action.

Manchester United held as Choupo-Moting scores double for Stoke

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting ended Manchester United’s perfect start to the Premier League season as his first two goals for Stoke secured a 2-2 draw against Jose Mourinho’s side on Saturday.

Choupo-Moting gave Stoke the lead before grabbing the crucial equaliser after Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku had put United ahead.

Juventus ease past Chievo ahead of Barcelona trip

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus prepared for next week’s Champions League opener at Barcelona by easing to a 3-0 win against Chievo on Saturday to keep their unbeaten Serie A record.

Three days ahead of their trip to the Camp Nou Massimiliano Allegri tested his troops after the international break which had deprived the champions of key players.

Bayern crash to shock defeat at Hoffenheim

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Berlin (AFP) – Striker Mark Uth netted twice as defending champions Bayern Munich slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat at Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga on Saturday.

Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti paid the price for rotating his squad, having started with both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on the bench, ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match at home to Anderlecht.

Manchester City rout Reds, Manchester United held by Stoke

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London (AFP) – Manchester City capitalised on Sadio Mane’s controversial red card to thrash title rivals Liverpool 5-0, while Manchester United lost their 100 percent record after a 2-2 draw at Stoke on Saturday.

City goalkeeper Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s boot as he raced out to head the ball away, with the Liverpool winger dismissed for the clash late in the first half at Eastlands.

Chelsea call on fans to stop anti-Semitic chant about striker Alvaro Morata

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea were forced to plead with their fans to ditch an anti-Semitic song about the club’s striker Alvaro Morata after they sang the offensive chant during a 2-1 win at Leicester City on Saturday.

Morata scored his third goal for Chelsea since his club record move from Real Madrid to open the scoring.

Manchester City rout Reds, Mancehster United held by Stoke

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London (AFP) – Manchester City capitalised on Sadio Mane’s controversial red card to thrash title rivals Liverpool 5-0, while Manchester United lost their 100 percent record after a 2-2 draw at Stoke on Saturday.

City goalkeeper Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s boot as he raced out to head the ball away, with the Liverpool winger dismissed for the clash late in the first half at Eastlands.

Balotelli double helps Nice thrash Monaco

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli scored a brace as Monaco’s record 16-match winning streak in Ligue 1 was ended with a 4-0 thumping by Nice at the Allianz Riviera on Saturday.

Balotelli’s early penalty put Nice ahead, before Alassane Plea made it two in the 18th minute.

Monaco tried to apply some pressure early in the second period, but Balotelli completed a brace to put the game beyond the reach of the reigning French champions and teenage substitute Ignatius Ganago finished the rout to leave the visitors shell-shocked.

Nice thrashes Monaco thanks to Balotelli double

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli scored a brace as Monaco’s record 16-match winning streak in Ligue 1 was ended with a 4-0 thumping by Nice at the Allianz Riviera on Saturday.

Balotelli’s early penalty put Nice ahead, before Alassane Plea made it two in the 18th minute.

Monaco tried to apply some pressure early in the second period, but Balotelli completed a brace to put the game beyond the reach of the reigning French champions and substitute Ignatius Ganago finished the rout to leave the visitors shell-shocked.

Welbeck brace lifts mood for Arsenal’s Wenger

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London (AFP) – Danny Welbeck’s double fired Arsenal to a 3-0 victory over Bournemouth that lifted the pressure on Arsene Wenger on Saturday.

England forward Welbeck struck in either half and also played his part in an Alexandre Lacazette goal at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal recovered from their thrashing at Liverpool before the international break.

Gross ends Brighton’s 34-year wait for top-flight win

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pascal Gross was Brighton’s hero as the Seagulls clinched their first top-flight win since 1983 with a 3-1 success against West Bromwich Albion at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

German midfielder Gross bagged a brace and laid on the third for Tomer Hemed to give the Premier League new boys their maiden three points since last season’s promotion.

Dortmund held by 10-man Freiburg as Champions League Spurs clash looms

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund stuttered to a frustrating goalless draw at 10-man Freiburg in the German Bundesliga on Saturday ahead of their midweek Wembley clash against Tottenham Hotspur.

Dortmund face Spurs at London’s iconic stadium on Wednesday in a high-profile opening Champions League group stage match.

City rout Reds, Arsenal ease pressure on Wenger

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London (AFP) – Manchester City capitalised on Sadio Mane’s controversial red card to thrash title rivals Liverpool 5-0, while Arsenal eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger with a vital 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.

City goalkeeper Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s boot as he raced out to head the ball away, with the Liverpool winger dismissed for the clash late in the first half at Eastlands.

Dortmund suffer double injury blow as Spurs loom

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Berlin (AFP) – Marcel Schmelzer and Marc Bartra both suffered injuries in Borussia Dortmund’s frustrating goalless draw at 10-man Freiburg on Saturday ahead of their midweek Wembley clash against Tottenham Hotspur.

Dortmund play Spurs at London’s iconic stadium on Wednesday in their opening Champions League group stage match, but lost Schmelzer to an ankle injury and Bartra with a groin strain in Freiburg.

Chelsea’s Kante returns to haunt Leicester

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A rare N’Golo Kante goal on his return to Leicester gave Premier League champions Chelsea a 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Kante struck five minutes after half-time with a low shot that appeared to take City keeper Kasper Schmeichel by surprise as it came though a crowd of players to find the bottom corner.

Tottenham nails Everton with double from Kane

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Liverpool (AFP) – Harry Kane placed his by-now customary August problems firmly behind him, scoring twice as Tottenham’s emphatic 3-0 victory against Everton at Goodison Park announced a return to form for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Christian Eriksen scored in between Kane’s two goals as Spurs maintained a run, dating back to last season, which has seen them win four consecutive away league games while scoring 18 goals.

Silva’s Watford see off Saints, soar to fourth

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Marco Silva’s Watford climbed to fourth in the Premier League on Saturday after a 2-0 win at Southampton to remain unbeaten in their opening four games for the first time.

Goals in either half from Abdoulaye Doucoure and substitute Daryl Janmaat maintained Watford’s jaunty start to the campaign which began with their fighting 3-3 draw with Liverpool.

Manchester City rout Reds, Arsenal ease pressure on Wenger

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London (AFP) – Manchester City capitalised on Sadio Mane’s controversial red card to thrash title rivals Liverpool 5-0, while Arsenal eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger with a vital 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.

City goalkeeper Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s boot as he raced out to head the ball away, with the Liverpool winger dismissed for the clash late in the first half at Eastlands.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for August 29-September 4, 2017

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In the soccer TV ratings game, the United States kept it close with Mexico this international break as their matches kicked off back to back. The United States played first, drawing nearly 2.4 million viewers total and over 1 million from both the English language ESPN and Spanish language Univision broadcasts.

Bring on Monaco, boasts Leipzig coach

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl says his side proved they are ready for their Champions League debut at home to Monaco on Wednesday after producing two stunning goals in the Bundesliga.

Leipzig earned a 2-0 win at Hamburg on Friday after Liverpool-bound Naby Keita unleashed a fierce drive from outside the area, which hit the top right-hand corner from 20 metres, following a quickly-taken free kick.

Benzema injury exposes Real striking options

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema looks set to miss the holders’ Champions League opener against APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday after limping off with a hamstring injury in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Levante.

Gareth Bale was forced to play as an auxiliary centre-forward after replacing the Frenchman midway through the first-half as the European champions dropped points at home for the second consecutive game.

World Cup trophy starts tour in Moscow

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Moscow (AFP) – The World Cup trophy tour began a worldwide tour in Moscow on Saturday at a ceremony attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino.

Ten months before the 2018 World Cup kicks off there, the ceremony took place at Luzhniki stadium, which has been fully renovated and will also host the final and five other matches.

Brendan Rodgers confident Celtic can handle Neymar and PSG

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Glasgow (AFP) – The world’s most expensive player Neymar and his side Paris Saint Germain hold no fear for Scottish champions Celtic says the latter’s manager Brendan Rodgers.

Neymar, French starlet Kylian Mbappe - signed on loan from Monaco with a view to a huge transfer fee next year - and Uruguayan veteran Edinson Cavani are due in Glasgow for Tuesday’s Champions League opener.

Wenger to lose key ally in transfer negotiator Law

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London (AFP) – Under-fire Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been dealt a blow with news that key ally and transfer negotiator Dick Law is to leave the troubled Premier League giants.

Law - who has along with Wenger been severely criticised for the club’s transfer policy over the past few years - had surprised many when he remained in his post in the close season as back in May it had been stated he would leave.

Sadio Mane off as five-star Man City crush Liverpool

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool’s Sadio Mane was dismissed for a challenge that saw goalkeeper Ederson stretchered off as Manchester City destroyed their Premier League title rivals 5-0 on Saturday.

Brazilian Ederson was carried off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s foot as he raced out to head the ball away late in the first half and the Liverpool forward was shown a straight red card.

Real Madrid held by Levante as Marcelo sees red

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid paid for the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held 1-1 at home by Levante on Saturday.

A slow start by a much-changed Real team was punished when Ivi Lopez fired newly-promoted Levante into a shock lead after just 12 minutes.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on TV this weekend

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Football, the American version, will be back on a lot of screens across the United States this weekend after a prolonged absence. But soccer, following a two-week international break that felt like a summer layoff, still takes centre stage here.

In Europe the top divisions can settle into a groove until the next international layoff, that is, somewhat annoyingly, in a month’s time.

France’s Bautheac joins Brisbane Roar

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Sydney (AFP) – French winger Eric Bautheac has signed with Brisbane Roar for the next Australian A-League season, the club said on Saturday.

Bautheac, 30, joins Roar as a free agent from LOSC Lille.

The pacey attacker, who also had playing stints with AS Cannes, Dijon and Nice, has made a total of 172 appearances in Ligue 1, scoring 26 goals.

Chelsea still attractive to stars says Conte

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte insists Chelsea can still attract the world’s best players despite the chaotic conclusion to their transfer window.

Conte spent much of the close season grumbling about Chelsea’s failure to land his top targets after watching Manchester United beat him to Romelu Lukaku’s signature.

Manchester City priced out of Evans move – Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City failed in a move to sign centre-back Jonny Evans because they were simply unable to meet West Bromwich Albion’s asking price, says manager Pep Guardiola.

City were accused of “financial doping” by La Liga chief Javier Tebas after spending around £215 million ($284 million, 236 million euros) on new players during the close-season transfer window.

Thousands attend first Mogadishu night-time football match in decades

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Mogadishu (AFP) – Several thousand fans on Friday watched the first night-time football match to be played in Mogadishu since chaos descended on the Somali capital nearly three decades ago, raucously backing their respective teams in what the mayor called a “historic” event.

The match - the final of a city-wide club tournament for 16- to 18-year-olds - took place at the Konis Stadium, which has been renovated by FIFA.

Manchester United can swagger to league title, says Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says recent history proves it takes a defensive mindset to win the Premier League, although he insists his Manchester United side can buck that trend.

In one of his by-now frequent and thinly veiled critiques of his former club Chelsea, Mourinho pointed out that his successor Antonio Conte employed a defence-first, counter-attacking style to win last season’s title.

Keita, Werner net as Leipzig win at Hamburg

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Berlin (AFP) – Naby Keita and Timo Werner netted second-half goals to seal RB Leipzig’s 2-0 win at Hamburg on Friday to give their Bundesliga club a confidence-booster before their Champions League debut.

It was an important win for Leipzig who play in the Champions League for the first time at home to Monaco on Wednesday.

Mbappe nets debut strike as PSG thrash Metz

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe scored on his debut as Paris Saint-Germain eased to a 5-1 away thumping of 10-man Metz in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Neymar’s pin-point through ball created the opening goal for Edinson Cavani in the 31st minute, only for Emmanuel Riviere to head in an equaliser before half-time.

Football transfer window the talk of Europe

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Madrid (AFP) – The European football transfer window may now be closed but there was talk of little else this week as the likes of top coaches Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel made calls for sweeping changes.

The subject is at the centre of attention not only because of the soaring inflation that marked the latest round of transfers, but also because of the mayhem losing top players can wreak on a team’s best-laid plans.

Sanchez seeks to put transfer blow behind him

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are proponents of crowd-pleasing attacking football which should make Saturday’s Premier League clash between Manchester City and Liverpool an eye-catching affair.

However, both City’s Guardiola and Klopp at Liverpool are under pressure this season to turn the attractive styles into silverware.

Dembele settled ahead of Barcelona debut, says Valverde

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Barcelona (AFP) – Young French forward Ousmane Dembele is “looking better every day”, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said ahead of his debut on Saturday.

Dembele, 20, joined Barcelona for a Spanish record transfer fee of 105 million euros ($125 million) from Borussia Dortmund that could rise to 145m euros with add-ons.

Lewandowski criticises Bayern’s spending policy

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Berlin (AFP) – Top striker Robert Lewandowski has said Bayern Munich must spend more on star players or risk being left trailing their rivals.

“Bayern have to think something up and be more creative if the club wants to attract a world-class player to Munich,” Lewandowski told magazine Der Spiegel in a critical interview.

Merkel urges tougher rules to end sky-high transfers

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Berlin (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday urged football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA to tighten rules governing transfers and stamp out spiralling record spending on players.

“I view the financial developments in professional football as critically as many people,” she told Mittelbayerische Zeitung daily.

First Mogadishu night-time football match in decades

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Mogadishu (AFP) – Football fans in Mogadishu were preparing Friday to cheer on their teams in the first night-time match since chaos descended on the Somali capital nearly three decades ago.

The tournament for 16- and 18-year-olds at the Konis Stadium, renovated by FIFA, will be played under tight security because of the constant threat posed by the Shabaab Islamist group.

Pele delighted by Neymar’s PSG switch

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Paris (AFP) – Brazilian legend Pele hailed Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain as an opportunity for his his compatriot to “be the big star”, in an interview with goal.com on Friday.

Pele, who won the World Cup three times as a player and scored over 1,000 goals during his career, said that it would be good for Neymar to leave the shadow of former Barca teammate Lionel Messi.

FIFA open disciplinary proceedings against Alli over finger gesture

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London (AFP) – England’s Dele Alli could face a suspension after FIFA on Friday confirmed it had opened disciplinary proceedings over the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder’s obscene gesture during a World Cup qualifier.

Alli stuck his middle finger up during the national side’s match against Slovakia on Monday but said after the game the hand signal had been directed at teammate Kyle Walker as a joke.

Jose Mourinho disappointed over Pereira loan move

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has questioned young midfielder Andreas Pereira’s decision to leave Old Trafford on loan to Valencia rather than stay and fight for a place in Manchester United’s first-team squad.

The 21-year-old Brazilian defied Mourinho’s express advice when he sought, and accepted, a temporary move to the La Liga side, having spent all of last season on loan at Granada.

Frank de Boer positive about Palace future

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer said on Friday he remained “very positive for the future” despite swirling rumours his job is on the line after a miserable start to the Premier League season.

The former Ajax and Inter Milan head coach was only appointed by the south London club during the summer but he is under intense scrutiny after three defeats from three matches.

Guardiola said ‘no’ to Sanchez-Sterling swap

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola personally made sure Raheem Sterling would not be allowed to join Arsenal in a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez, he revealed on Friday.

The two clubs spent transfer deadline day locked in talks over City’s desire to sign Sanchez, only for the deal to collapse because Arsenal were unable to sign their preferred replacement, Monaco winger Thomas Lemar.

Zidane favours transfer window closing before season start

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane added his voice Friday to the growing clamour for the summer transfer window to close before the season starts across Europe.

English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to shut the 2018 close-season transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign following complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations.

Zidane, Ancelotti want transfer window closed before season start

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti on Friday added to growing calls for the summer transfer window to close before the season starts across Europe.

English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to shut the 2018 close-season transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign following complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations.

Kompany out of Man City’s Liverpool clash

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany will miss his side’s Premier League showdown with Liverpool on Saturday due to a calf injury, manager Pep Guardiola revealed on Friday.

The centre-back, who has a long history of calf problems, sustained the injury after completing the 90 minutes of Belgium’s 4-0 victory over Gibraltar in World Cup qualifying last week.

Coutinho left out of Liverpool squad to play Man City

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London (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho has been left out of Liverpool’s squad to face Manchester City this weekend over his fitness but manager Jurgen Klopp said the Brazilian did nothing “unforgivable” during Barcelona’s pursuit of him.

The playmaker, who returned from international duty this week, was linked with a move to the Catalan giants following the departure of his compatriot Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain but Liverpool refused to budge.

Sanchez has mentality to deliver for Arsenal, says Wenger

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger says his star forward Alexis Sanchez has the mentality to deliver for Arsenal despite suffering the disappointment of an aborted transfer to Manchester City.

The London club reportedly agreed a fee for the Chilean forward on transfer deadline day, only for the deal to collapse after Wenger was unable to complete a move for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar.

41 cities bidding for 2026 World Cup games

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Forty-one cities in Canada, Mexico and the United States have submitted bids to serve as host cities for the 2026 World Cup, officials said Thursday.

The joint North American bid is seen as the favorite for 2026, with only one other bid - Morocco - so far in the running for the tournament.

Rooney looks to redeem himself against Spurs

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Liverpool (AFP) – Everton manager Ronald Koeman confirmed striker Wayne Rooney will play against Tottenham on Saturday despite a drink drive charge hanging over the striker.

Rooney was arrested a week ago and has a court hearing on September 18th after being released on bail over the incident.

Stoke manager Hughes out to end Manchester United’s 100% start

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United have made the perfect start to the Premier League season, but one of their most fondly remembered former strikers is plotting their downfall.

Jose Mourinho’s side have begun the campaign with three wins from three matches, without conceding a goal, and start the weekend top of the table as they prepare to visit Stoke City on Saturday.

New Liverpool recruit Oxlade-Chamberlain itching to start work

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London (AFP) – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is itching to start work with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and could make his debut in Saturday’s Premier League headline clash with Manchester City.

The England midfielder, 24, rejected a new contract offer from Arsenal and an approach from champions Chelsea to join Liverpool in a £35 million ($45.

Allegri’s Juve warm-up for Barca against Chievo

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri will get a final chance to test his troops before next week’s Champions League opener at Barcelona in Saturday’s Serie A tie at home against Chievo.

Serie A champions Juventus travel to the Camp Nou on Tuesday to take on the Catalan side they eliminated in the quarter-finals of the European competition last season.

Chelsea manager Conte has no worries over squad’s resilience

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is confident his squad can cope with a far busier September than last year.

The reigning Premier League champions will kick off at Leicester on Saturday in sixth place on six points, one spot below West Bromwich and one above Watford whilst Leicester are three points worse off and fifth from bottom after three games.

Dembele debuts at Barcelona, Atletico face resurgent Valencia

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Madrid (AFP) – The most expensive player in Barcelona’s history will take to the field for the first time on Saturday as Ousmane Dembele debuts in a Catalan derby against Espanyol.

Atletico Madrid travel to a revitalised Valencia in the headline clash of the weekend, whilst there is an early start for champions Real Madrid.

Mancini demands Russian Premier League title focus from Zenit

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Moscow (AFP) – Roberto Mancini’s Zenit St Petersburg will hope to make it five wins in a row against Dynamo Moscow when they meet in the Russian Premier League on Sunday.

But Mancini has warned his charges to take newly promoted Dynamo seriously after watching his side struggle to a 0-0 draw in their last league match before the international break.

Coutinho and Sanchez seek to overcome transfer disappointment

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are proponents of crowd-pleasing attacking football which should make Saturday’s Premier League clash between Manchester City and Liverpool an eye-catching affair.

However, both City’s Guardiola and Klopp at Liverpool are under pressure this season to turn the attractive styles into silverware.

Pochettino threatens to ‘head-butt’ Aurier if he steps out of line

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has threatened to “head-butt” new signing Serge Aurier if he steps out of line in a stark warning over his expected behaviour at the club.

The talented Ivorian right-back joined Spurs for £23 million ($30 million, 25 million euros) from PSG on transfer deadline day last week.

FIFA investigate Dele Alli middle finger gesture

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London (AFP) – FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli after the player was caught making an obscene gesture during an England match, the world governing body announced on Friday.

Alli stuck his middle finger up during the national side’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday but said after the game the gesture had been directed at teammate Kyle Walker as a joke.

Tottenham striker Janssen to join Fenerbahce on loan

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur striker Vincent Janssen is set to join Fenerbahce on loan after failing to establish himself in Mauricio Pochettino’s side, the Turkish club said in a statement on Friday.

The Dutch forward, who joined Spurs from AZ Alkmaar in July 2016, was left out of Spurs’ Champions League squad after the Londoners signed Fernando Llorente from Swansea.

Ronaldo ‘delighted’ to be staying at Real – president

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo, hounded by allegations of tax evasion in Spain, is “delighted” to be staying at Real Madrid, according to club president Florentino Perez, who called claims that the Portuguese striker might leave the country exaggerated.

“As he said a little while back, he’s delighted to be here.

State-of-art Spurs stadium to have unique feature

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur’s new 61,000-seater stadium will boast an historic feature by having the first dividing retractable football pitch, the Premier League side announced Thursday.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has said in the past he is keen to host a London NFL franchise and, with this in mind, there will be a grass surface for football and beneath it an artificial surface for American football.

Monaco to reinvest in football training centre

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Monaco (AFP) – Monaco may have sold a swathe of top players but the club said Thursday they will invest 50 million euros ($60 million) on the training ground that helped produce the 2017 French champions.

Club vice president Vadim Vasilyev announced that work would begin in 2018 at the club’s La Turbie training centre.

Premier League to close transfer window before season

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London (AFP) – English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to shut the 2018 close-season transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Following complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations, clubs will not be able to register new players after 1600 GMT on the Thursday before the season starts.

South Africa may appeal FIFA replay order

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Soweto (South Africa) (AFP) – South Africa may appeal a FIFA decision ordering the replay of a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal after the referee manipulated the result.

“The South African Football Association (SAFA) is studying the contents of the report and will issue a statement on intentions to challenge that decision,” the organisation said Thursday.

Juventus boss backs Premier League transfer window move

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta has backed the decision by English Premier League clubs to close the transfer window before the start of the season and wants Serie A to follow suit.

Premier League clubs voted that new players not be allowed to register after 1600 GMT on the Thursday before the season starts.

Aurier to enjoy fresh start at Spurs – Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said Thursday he is confident new signing Serge Aurier will seize his chance after the player was dogged by disciplinary problems at Paris Saint-Germain.

The talented Ivorian right-back joined Spurs for £23 million ($30 million, 25 million euros) from PSG on transfer deadline day last week.

Fuming Mueller grumbles from Bayern’s bench

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich play Hoffenheim away on Saturday with the spotlight on whether out-of-favour Germany star Thomas Mueller plays for the defending Bundesliga champions.

The 27-year-old World Cup winner is struggling for a place in Bayern’s starting line-up under Carlo Ancelotti, but impressed for Germany on Monday, creating two goals in a 6-0 rout of Norway in a World Cup qualifier.

Premier League to close transfer window before 2018 season start

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London (AFP) – English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to close the 2018 close-season transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Following complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations, Premier League clubs will not be able to register new players after 1600 GMT on the Thursday before the season starts.