World Cup Buzz Archives for January 2017

Clough says no to Nottingham Forest return

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London (AFP) Nigel Clough has rejected the chance to become the new manager of ailing two-time European Cup winners Nottingham Forest and evoke memories of their glory days under his father Brian, it was announced Monday.

Instead Clough has decided to remain as manager of Forest's fellow Midlands side Burton Albion, who also play in the second-tier Championship.

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

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

After a busy FA Cup weekend, the Premier League returns on Tuesday with a massive clash between high-flying Chelsea and long-suffering Liverpool. The Reds will hope to bounce back from a dreadful week of losses in the League Cup and FA Cup.

Brazilian Jorge joins Monaco

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Monaco (AFP) Brazilian international defender Jorge has signed a four-year deal with Ligue 1 leaders Monaco, the French club confirmed on Monday.

The 20-year-old arrives from Brazilian outfit Flamengo on a deal which runs until June 2021.

Jorge runner-up in the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2015 alongside new Monaco teammate Gabriel Boschilia earned his first cap with the Brazilian senior team in last week's 1-0 win over Colombia.

Mason set for rehabilitation treatment after leaving hospital

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London (AFP) Hull midfielder Ryan Mason is set for a long period of rehabilitation treatment after being discharged from hospital, his Premier League club said.

The 25-year-old capped once by England fractured his skull in a horrific clash of heads with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill in the first-half of the 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge and was stretchered off the pitch attached to an oxygen mask.

Non-League Sutton face Arsenal in FA Cup

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London (AFP) Non-League Sutton will face Arsenal in next month's fifth round of the English FA Cup after being given a home draw against the Premier League giants on Monday.

Sutton saw off second-tier Leeds United last weekend and have now landed themselves one of the star ties in the last 16 of football's oldest senior knockout competition.

All London Premier League clubs linked to sex abuse probe

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London (AFP) Allegations of historical sex abuse have been made involving all five London clubs in the Premier League, the capital city's Metropolitan Police Service announced on Monday.

The five clubs swept up in the scandal that has rocked English football since former Crewe Alexandra youth player Andy Woodward went public in November last year are Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace and West Ham.

Spurs boss Pochettino issues Sunderland warning

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London (AFP) Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has urged his side to guard against complacency when they travel to bottom of the Premier League Sunderland on Tuesday.

Spurs head to the northeast nine points behind leaders and fellow London club Chelsea, are on a seven-match unbeaten league run.

UNFP rallies behind Sertic after ‘death threats’

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Paris (AFP) Bordeaux midfielder Gregory Sertic has received the full support of France's National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) after he was subjected to "death threats" over a proposed move to Marseille.

Bordeaux said on Sunday they had temporarily placed Sertic under protection after the 27-year-old, according to regional daily Sud Ouest, received the threatening messages at his home.

Moyes buys familiar faces to boost Sunderland survival bid

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London (AFP) Sunderland manager David Moyes placed his faith in Costa Rican international Bryan Oviedo and Ireland midfielder Darron Gibson in helping the Premier League tailenders escape the drop signing them on Monday from his former club Everton.

Oviedo, 26 and who signed a three-and-a-half year contract, will fill the vacuum left by fullback Patrick van Aanholt who signed for fellow strugglers Crystal Palace earlier Monday.

Player ratings for USA vs. Serbia international friendly

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At the back end of an unusually upbeat January camp, the first game of Bruce Arena's spell in charge of the US national team ended in a 0-0 draw against Serbia at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

The US plays again – their last match before a crucial March World Cup qualifier against Honduras – on Friday in Chattanooga against Jamaica.

Mane delay disappoints Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

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London (AFP) Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted on Monday that Sadio Mane might miss their crunch clash with Premier League leaders Chelsea at Anfield on Tuesday, despite their best efforts to rush the Senegal star back from the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Merseysiders sent a private jet to Gabon on Sunday following Senegal's exit from the competition, with Mane heartbroken after missing the decisive penalty in a 5-4 shoot-out quarter-final loss to Cameroon.

Marseille’s Payet defends actions in securing West Ham exit

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Marseille (AFP) France international Dimitri Payet said on Monday he didn't have to justify his behaviour after forcing through a return to Marseille from West Ham for a club-record transfer fee.

Payet rejoined the Ligue 1 side on a four-and-a-half-year deal after Marseille shelled out 30 million euros ($31.

Mourinho rejected ‘big offer’ to go to China

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London (AFP) Jose Mourinho turned down a "big offer" to go to China, the Manchester United manager disclosed in an interview published Monday.

The 54-year-old Portuguese boss did not disclose which club made the proposal but said he would not criticise anyone who made a highly lucrative move to the developing Chinese Super League.

Marseille’s Payet defends actions in securing West Ham transfer

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Marseille (AFP) France international Dimitri Payet said on Monday he didn't have to justify his behaviour after forcing through a return to Marseille from West Ham for a club-record transfer fee.

Payet rejoined the Ligue 1 side on a four-and-a-half-year deal after Marseille shelled out 30 million euros ($31.

Five things we learned from Serie A this weekend

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Rome (AFP) Juventus are out in front, revamped Inter are coming up fast on the outside and there might still be life in the relegation dogfight.

Here are five things we learned from Serie A this weekend:

Juve will take some catching now

Massimiliano Allegri's champions look to have taken a decisive step towards a record sixth straight Scudetto after closest rivals Roma and Napoli faltered.

Spurs counting on ‘incredible’ Son

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Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) Dutch striker Vincent Janssen believes South Korean teammate Son Heung-Min is demonstrating his growing importance to Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur squad.

Son helped save Spurs from an FA Cup embarrassment at the hands of Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday and is in contention to retain his starting spot for the Premier League visit to bottom club Sunderland.

Mourinho cries foul over fixture pile-up — again

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho complained about the lack of help being afforded his team by the football authorities as he attempts to win silverware on four fronts over the final four months of the season.

The irascible Portuguese coach has described a mounting schedule as a 'nonsense' and 'a laugh' in an extraordinary outburst that followed his side's comfortable passage into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 home win over Championship side Wigan.

Klopp seeks end of Liverpool slump, re-boot of title race

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London (AFP) For the first time since he arrived at Liverpool Jurgen Klopp is in the midst of a crisis to the extent that a win on Tuesday at home to Premier League leaders Chelsea is obligatory.

The 49-year-old charismatic German who replaced Brendan Rodgers in November 2015 has seen his side knocked out of two Cup competitions inside a week and a further loss to Chelsea would be the first time since 1923 they have lost four successive games at Anfield and only the second time in their 125-year history.

No stopping now, Rodgers warns record-breaking players

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Glasgow (AFP) Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has challenged his players to continue their impressive run after they extended their unbeaten domestic start to the season to 27 games to set a new club record.

The Scottish champions thrashed Hearts 4-0 on Sunday to eclipse the record set in Celtic's greatest ever season the legendary 'Lisbon Lions' 1966-67 campaign, which ended with a clean sweep of trophies including the European Cup.

Klopp at a low ebb as Chelsea come to town

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London (AFP) Viewed as Premier League leaders Chelsea's closest rivals a month ago, Liverpool confront Antonio Conte's side at Anfield on Tuesday with their season on the brink of total collapse.

Brimming with energy as 2016 drew to a close, Liverpool have looked a spent force in 2017, their only win in eight games arriving in an FA Cup replay at fourth-tier minnows Plymouth Argyle.

Welbeck targets Arsenal start against Watford

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London (AFP) Danny Welbeck is targeting a first Premier League start since last May when Arsenal face Watford on Tuesday after his two-goal showing in the 5-0 FA Cup demolition of Southampton.

The England striker confirmed his return to fitness, scoring twice at St Mary's Stadium and is now hoping to play a more prominent role in the Gunners' bid to close the eight-point gap to Premier League leaders Chelsea when Walter Mazzarri's struggling Watford side visit the Emirates Stadium.

West Ham hit out as Payet heads to Marseille

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London (AFP) France international Dimitri Payet's long drawn out transfer saga ended on Sunday as Premier League side West Ham agreed to sell him to Ligue 1 outfit Marseille for a reported £25 million (29.3m euros, $31.3m).

The 29-year-old who starred for the Hammers last season scoring 12 goals had effectively gone on strike at the beginning of the month.

No rush for Bale return, Real Madrid coach Zidane insists

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane believes he has no need to rush Gareth Bale back from a long-term ankle injury as the European champions extended their lead at the top of La Liga on Sunday.

Madrid saw off Real Sociedad 3-0 thanks to goals from Mateo Kovacic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata to open up a four-point lead on Barcelona and Sevilla and with a game in hand over their title rivals to come.

West Ham rebel Payet signs for Marseille

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London (AFP) Dimitri Payet's acrimonious divorce from West Ham ended late Sunday as the France international signed former club Marseille in a 30 million euro (£25 million ,$31.3m) deal.

The 29-year-old's short tenure with the Hammers came to a premature conclusion when he signed a contract lasting until 2021 in a new record deal for Ligue 1 outfit Marseille.

Payet returns to France amid West Ham fury

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Marseille (AFP) Dimitri Payet made a record-breaking return to Olympique Marseille on Monday leaving a bitter taste at West Ham United after going on strike to force a transfer.

The acrimonious divorce ended late Sunday when the French international signed a five season contract in a deal worth 30 million euros ($31.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger won’t make deadline day moves

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's squad strength means he has no need to make any last-ditch signings in the January transfer window.

The Gunners, who thrashed top-flight rivals Southampton 5-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday, are second in the Premier League.

A sign of their strength in depth was that veteran French manager Wenger, in charge of Arsenal since September 1996, was able to make several changes to his starting line-up against the Saints.

Critics ‘want me in jail’, jokes Wenger

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London (AFP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger joked Sunday that his critics would only be truly happy if he was sent to prison as punishment for pushing a fourth official.

The Frenchman was handed a four-match touchline ban for verbally abusing and shoving Anthony Taylor during his side's 2-1 win over Burnley earlier this month and he was forced to watch from the stands as Arsenal beat Southampton 5-0 in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Stones not tough enough, says Guardiola

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London (AFP) John Stones faces a battle to win back his place at Manchester City after manager Pep Guardiola expressed reservations about his ability to deal with high balls and powerful opponents.

City paid £47.5 million ($59.6 million, 55.7 million euros) to sign Stones, 22, from Everton in August, but after some error-strewn displays, he has started their last two matches on the bench.

Joy of six beckons for new-look Juve

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Rome (AFP) Massimiliano Allegri said Juventus's new-look attacking formation is here to stay after his side opened up a potentially decisive four-point lead at the top of Serie A on Sunday.

A 2-0 win at Sassuolo came as nearest rivals Roma went down to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Sampdoria while third-placed Napoli also lost ground after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Palermo.

Last-gasp Silva rescues Monaco at PSG

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Paris (AFP) Bernardo Silva struck an injury-time equaliser as Monaco salvaged a deserved point in a 1-1 draw at reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain to keep the visitors top of Ligue 1.

Edinson Cavani scored his 21st league goal of the season with an 81st-minute penalty at the Parc des Princes, but Portugal international Silva fired home in stoppage time to thwart the hosts.

Renard proud of Morocco in defeat

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Morocco coach Herve Renard said his team had been "exceptional" at the Africa Cup of Nations despite exiting the competition in the quarter-finals to Egypt on Sunday.

In their first appearance in the knockout phase of the tournament since 2004, Morocco lost 1-0 in Port-Gentil after conceding the decisive goal with just two minutes left.

Madrid extends La Liga lead as Barca, Sevilla slip-up

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid extended their La Liga lead to four points and still have a game in hand over their title rivals as Cristiano Ronaldo was on target in a 3-0 win over Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Earlier on Sunday, Barcelona were left to rue La Liga's lack of goal line technology as they weren't awarded a clear goal in a controversial 1-1 draw at Real Betis.

Egypt beat Morocco to end Renard dream, make Cup of Nations semis

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Mahmoud Kahraba scrambled in the winner in the 88th minute as Egypt beat Herve Renard's Morocco 1-0 on Sunday to reach the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

A tense last-eight tie in Port-Gentil seemed destined for extra time until Kahraba, on as a substitute, poked the ball over the line after the Moroccan defence had failed to cut out a corner.

Egypt beat Morocco to end Renard dream, make semis

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Mahmoud Kahraba scrambled in the winner in the 88th minute as Egypt beat Herve Renard's Morocco 1-0 on Sunday to reach the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

A tense last-eight tie in Port-Gentil seemed destined for extra time until Kahraba, on as a substitute, poked the ball over the line after the Moroccan defence had failed to cut out a corner.

USA to host key World Cup qualifier at San Jose

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Chicago (AFP) San Jose was named Sunday by the US Soccer Federation as the site of a crucial World Cup qualifier for the bottom-table Americans against Honduras on March 24.

The US squad opened with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 drubbing at Costa Rica last November, prompting the firing of coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the hiring of Bruce Arena as his replacement.

Mourinho says Schweinsteiger staying at United

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) One-time outcast Bastian Schweinsteiger appears to be back in favour with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who insisted Sunday the World Cup winner was staying at Old Trafford despite having yet to appear in the Premier League this season.

The 32-year-old former Bayern Munich lynchpin started his first game in over a year on Sunday and scored his first goal since November 2015 as they beat second-tier Wigan 4-0 in the FA Cup.

Celtic break ‘Lisbon Lions’ record in Hearts win

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Glasgow (AFP) Scott Sinclair scored twice as Celtic surpassed a 50-year-old club record in style with a 4-0 thrashing of Hearts on Sunday to extend their unbeaten domestic run to 27 matches.

Callum McGregor, only playing due to an injury to Stuart Armstrong in the warm-up, opened the scoring in the first half before late goals from Sinclair and Patrick Roberts made things comfortable for the Scottish champions.

Sutton shock Leeds as underdogs bite back in FA Cup

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London (AFP) Jamie Collins went from builder to hero on Sunday as his penalty secured non-league Sutton a 1-0 win over second-tier highflyers Leeds United and a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time.

Sutton, whose assistant coach Ian Baird ironically captained Leeds to the 1987 FA Cup semi-finals, join Lincoln in the last 16, the first time in the competition's history two non-league clubs have reached the fifth round.

Shaky Dortmund leak late equaliser

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Berlin (AFP) Borussia Dortmund conceded a late goal in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's low-key Bundesliga return on Sunday in a 1-1 draw at Mainz which cost them third place in the table.

Aubameyang, the German league's top scorer with 16 goals, was back in Dortmund's starting line-up following Gabon's group-stage exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, but he had just two shots on goal in Mainz.

Former outcast Schweinsteiger scores as United cruise

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Headers from Marouane Fellaini and Chris Smalling, and second half efforts from Henrkih Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger ensured holders Manchester United enjoyed a comfortable 4-0 fourth round FA Cup victory against Wigan on Sunday.

For German World Cup winner Schweinsteiger it was a rare sweet moment since Jose Mourinho took over he banished him at one point to train away from the first team before welcoming him back into the fold at the end of October scoring on his first start in 385 days.

Sutton penalty hero celebrates ‘great day’

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London (AFP) Jamie Collins's penalty secured non-league Sutton a 1-0 win over second-tier highflyers Leeds United and a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time on Sunday.

The club captain, who was working on a building site on Friday, said he hoped for a Premier League side in the next round.

Ayew brothers take Ghana into semi-finals

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew scored for Ghana as they reached the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo in Oyem.

Jordan opened the scoring after 63 minutes of a tight, bruising quarter-final in northern Gabon and Andre put Ghana ahead again from a 78th-minute penalty.

Suarez saves Barca in Betis draw, Sevilla beaten

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Madrid (AFP) Barcelona's La Liga title challenge suffered a huge blow as the Spanish champions were controversially held 1-1 at Real Betis despite Luis Suarez's last minute equaliser on Sunday.

A point is enough to move Barca above Sevilla into second on goal difference after Sevilla also missed the chance to go top of the table as they were reduced to 10 men after just two minutes in a 3-1 defeat at Espanyol.

Sutton lead underdog biteback in FA Cup

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London (AFP) Jamie Collins went from builder to hero on Sunday as his penalty secured non league Sutton a 1-0 win over second tier highflyers Leeds United and a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

Sutton, whose assistant coach Ian Baird ironically captained Leeds to the 1987 FA Cup semi-finals, join Lincoln in the last 16, the first time in the competition's history two non league clubs have reached that stage.

Nice return top after Guingamp win

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Paris (AFP) Mario Balotelli secured a first win in four games for Nice as they provisionally returned to the top of Ligue 1 with a 3-1 victory at home to Guingamp on Sunday.

Alassane Plea struck after 11 minutes to give Nice the lead at the Allianz Riviera and Jean-Michael Seri, back from Africa Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast, added a second before half-time.

Millwall and Fulham give underdogs bite in FA Cup

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London (AFP) A goal by former Wales international Steve Morison secured third tier Millwall a deserved 1-0 victory over Premier League Watford in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

It was Millwall's second successive top level scalp after eliminating Bournemouth in the previous round.

Second tier Fulham more predictably prevailed over out of sorts Premier League strugglers Hull 4-1.

Football sex abuse scandal a disgrace, says Beckham

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London (AFP) England football icon David Beckham labelled the historical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the sport as a 'disgrace' in an insightful interview on BBC Radio on Sunday.

He was unequivocal in his condemnation of the sex abuse dating back to the 1970's and 80's that has emerged since former Crewe Alexandra youth player Andy Woodward went public last November.

Tragedy-hit teenager Wilks makes debut for Leeds

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Sutton (United Kingdom) (AFP) Mallik Wilks whose brother Raheem was shot dead last Thursday came on as a substitute for tier two Leeds United in their FA Cup fourth round clash with non league Sutton on Sunday.

Raheem, 19, was shot dead in Leeds in what police termed a 'targeted attack' and they have subsequently arrested a 49-year-old man in connection with the offence.

Payet gets his dream move back to Marseille

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London (AFP) France international Dimitri Payet's long drawn out transfer saga ended on Sunday as Premier League side West Ham agreed to sell him to Ligue 1 outfit Marseille for a reported £25million (29.3m euros, $31.3m).

The 29-year-old who starred for the Hammers last season scoring 12 goals had effectively gone on strike at the beginning of the month.

Where to find USA vs. Serbia on US TV and live streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch USA vs. Serbia, you've come to the right place.

There are plenty of viewing options to choose from of how you can watch USA against Serbia international friendly, live from San Diego, California. The game will be shown on ESPN2 (English-language) as well as UniMas and Univision Deportes (Spanish-language).

West Ham to sell Payet to Marseille

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London (AFP) France international Dimitri Payet's long drawn out transfer saga ended on Sunday as Premier League side West Ham agreed to sell him to Ligue 1 outfit Marseille for a reported £25million (29.3m euros, $31.3m).

The 29-year-old who starred for the Hammers last season scoring 12 goals had effectively gone on strike at the beginning of the month.

Where to find PSG vs. Monaco on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch PSG vs. Monaco, we have good news and bad news.

First, the good news. The game will be shown live to viewers in the United States via beIN SPORTS Connect. The bad news is that the game won't be shown on television live but it will be shown on delay (from 6-8pm ET).

USA vs. Serbia preview and TV times for Bruce Arena’s first game again as USMNT coach

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There is somewhat of a trend in society right now where what's old is new again. That certainly appears to be the case with the US Men's National Team (USMNT) as former manager Bruce Arena retakes the reigns after the dismissal of Jurgen Klinsmann in November. Arena was the US manager from 1998 until 2006 when he was fired after finishing bottom of the group at the World Cup.

Conte readies Chelsea for sterner tests after FA Cup stroll

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London (AFP) Antonio Conte praised the depth of his Chelsea squad after they eased into the last 16 of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Brentford as he toldthe Premier League leaders to prepare for tougher challenges ahead.

Branislav Ivanovic, in what could be his final appearance for the Blues if a reported move away from Stamford Bridge takes place in the closing days of the January transfer window, scored one goal and created another in a 30-minute substitute appearance.

Blame me says Klopp after Reds crash out

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Liverpool (AFP) Jurgen Klopp accepted responsibility for Liverpool's stunning FA Cup fourth round exit as Championship club Wolves earned a shock 2-1 win at Anfield.

Klopp's line-up featured three teenagers and right-back Connor Randall starting his first game of the season, a selection which resulted in a third consecutive home defeat in the space of eight days.

Guardiola revels in glimpse of Manchester City’s future

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London (AFP) Pep Guardiola said he had seen a vision of Manchester City's future after 19-year-old Gabriel Jesus inspired his side to a 3-0 FA Cup victory at Crystal Palace.

Making his full debut, Jesus set up Raheem Sterling, 22, for City's opener in Saturday's fourth-round tie, with 21-year-old Leroy Sane adding a second before Yaya Toure curled in a late free-kick.

Wenger hails Welbeck as Arsenal thrash Saints in FA Cup

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London (AFP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised the mental strength and resilience of Danny Welbeck after the England forward scored twice on his first start since suffering a serious knee injury in May during a 5-0 FA Cup thrashing of Southampton.

Welbeck followed his first-half double at St Mary's on Saturday with an assist for former Saints star Theo Walcott, who completed his hat-trick in the second half of a comfortable fourth-round win for the Gunners over their Premier League rivals.

‘Anxious, worried’ Bundesliga leaders Bayern concern Ancelotti

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Berlin (AFP) Carlo Ancelotti admitted Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich looked "anxious and worried" during Saturday's 2-1 win at relegation-threatened Werder Bremen.

"That was an important win in a difficult game," said the Bayern coach after his side survived Werder's second-half onslaught to remain three points clear.

Premier League giants Chelsea to play Perth Glory in Australia

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Sydney (AFP) English Premier League giants Chelsea will play the A-League's Perth Glory in a friendly next year in the team's only Australian appearance, officials said Sunday.

The match will take place in late July or early August at Perth's new 65,000-capacity stadium, Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett said in a statement.

Where to find Braga vs. Moreirense Taça da Liga final on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch the Taça da Liga final between SC Braga vs. Moreirense, you've come to the right place.

Moreirense shocked Benfica in the semi-final to earn a place against Sporting Braga in the 2016/17 Taça da Liga final, which will be televised live on US television via GolTV.

Sydney FC charge to 11-point lead in A-League football

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Melbourne (AFP) Sydney FC have extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches and opened an 11-point lead at the top of Australia's A-League with a 2-1 win over title rivals Melbourne Victory.

Graham Arnold's Sky Blues came from behind to defeat 10-man Victory for the second time this season to all but seal the A-League premiership with 10 games left to the finals.

Magnificent seven for Inter, Lazio spit fury

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Rome (AFP) Inter Milan defender Danilo D'Ambrosio has hailed coach Stefano Pioli's clear orders as the key to the club's remarkable turnaround since Frank de Boer was sacked.

Right-back D'Ambrosio opened the scoring as Inter cruised to a 3-0 win over bottom side Pescara on Saturday, notching up a seventh straight win that allowed them to leapfrog imploding Lazio into fourth in the Serie A table eight places higher than when Dutch legend de Boer was ousted in November.

Agony for Mane as Cameroon, Burkina Faso reach Cup semis

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Sadio Mane's decisive penalty miss allowed Cameroon to knock fancied Senegal out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals on Saturday and join Burkina Faso in the last four.

Cameroon beat Senegal 5-4 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes in Franceville, southern Gabon, in the day's second game following a 2-0 win for Burkina Faso against Tunisia in Libreville earlier.

Magnificent seven sends reborn Inter fourth

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Rome (AFP) Inter Milan chalked up a seventh straight win to leapfrog stuttering Lazio and move into fourth place in Serie A Saturday after a comfortable 3-0 win over struggling Pescara.

The Italian top flight's bottom side were buried by the interval as goals from right-back Danilo D'Ambrosio and Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario put Stefano Pioli's much-improved Inter on cruise control.

Agony for Mane as Cameroon beat Senegal on penalties

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Sadio Mane agonisingly missed from the spot to allow Cameroon to beat Senegal 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out in their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final tie on Saturday.

The match went to penalties after a goalless 120 minutes in the southern Gabonese town of Franceville.

Walcott hat-trick as Arsenal dump Saints out of FA Cup

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) Theo Walcott struck a hat-trick against his former club after Danny Welbeck scored twice on his first start since a knee injury in May as Arsenal thrashed Southampton 5-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup at St Mary's on Saturday.

It was a match between two weakened teams, but the strength in depth of Arsenal, FA Cup winners in 2014 and 2015, ensured the visitors won out.

Gomez slams ‘naive, youth team’ Wolfsburg

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Berlin (AFP) Germany striker Mario Gomez has slammed "naive" Wolfsburg for playing "like a youth team" as their 2-1 home defeat to Augsburg dragged them back towards the Bundesliga's relegation places.

Inside 12 months, Wolfsburg have gone from beating Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid 2-0 in the Champions League quarter-finals, eventually losing after defeat in Spain, to their current ranking of 14th in Germany's top flight four points from the drop zone.

Old boy Benzia condemns Lyon to defeat

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Paris (AFP) Yassine Benzia punished former side Lyon with his first goals of the season to hand Lille a 2-1 win at Parc OL in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Algeria international Benzia, who joined Lille from Lyon in 2015, scored for the first time in over a year with a deflected first-half strike before adding a second from the penalty spot.

Stuttering Lazio sunk by Chievo

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Rome (AFP) Lazio's hopes of keeping pace with the Serie A pacesetters suffered a serious setback Saturday when they succumbed to a shock home defeat to mid-table Chievo.

Roberto Inglese's 90th-minute strike, a scrappy close-range effort, saw the northern minnows snatch all three points at the end of an uninspiring contest at the Stadio Olimpico.

Liverpool out of FA Cup, Spurs survive Wycombe scare

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London (AFP) Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship club Wolves as Tottenham survived a potential giant-killing of their own by twice coming from behind in a 4-3 win over fourth-tier Wycombe Wanderers.

Elsewhere, Premier League giants Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City all made it comfortably through to the last 16.

Leipzig end Hoffenheim run to keep pace with Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) Second-placed RB Leipzig ended 10-man Hoffenheim's unbeaten run this season with a 2-1 comeback win in Saturday's key Bundesliga clash to stay just three points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

Hoffenheim were the last undefeated team left in Europe's top leagues before Marcel Sabitzer's 77th-minute winner dealt the visitors their first loss of the campaign after striker Sandro Wagner's dismissal.

Supersub Bance sets up dramatic Burkina Faso win

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Libreville (AFP) A timely substitution and a stroke of luck helped Burkina Faso to a 2-0 triumph over Tunisia Saturday in the first Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final.

Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte introduced giant striker Aristide Bance on 76 minutes as a tight, physical last-eight clash seemed destined for extra time.

Double-chasing Chelsea down Brentford in FA Cup

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London (AFP) Premier League leaders Chelsea remained on course for a domestic double as they eased into the last 16 of the FA Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win at home to second-tier Brentford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Blues, eight points clear at the summit of English football, were rarely tested by their fellow west London side, who advanced with goals from Willian, Pedro, Branislav Ivanovic and Michy Batshuayi.

Late goals take Burkina Faso into semi-finals

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Libreville (AFP) Burkina Faso scored twice in the closing stages to beat Tunisia 2-0 Saturday and become the first qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.

Substitute Aristide Bance scored on 81 minutes after a controversially awarded free-kick with big-screen replays suggesting the hand-ball decision was wrong.

Aleppo football fans cheer first home game in years

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Aleppo (Syria) (AFP) Syrians cheered excitedly in an Aleppo stadium on Saturday as they watched their first live football match in the war-ravaged city in years.

The Ittihad club beat Hurriya 2-1 in their first match on home turf since rebels took east Aleppo in 2012, dividing the northern city into a regime-held west and rebel-controlled east.

Atletico outplayed in stalemate at Alaves

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Madrid (AFP) Atletico Madrid had goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya to thank for preventing Theo Hernandez inflicting defeat on his parent club as the Champions League finalists clung on for a 0-0 draw at Alaves on Saturday.

Victor Languardia hit the bar in the first-half as Alaves dominated throughout.

Burkina Faso qualify for Africa Cup semi-finals

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Libreville (AFP) Burkina Faso scored twice in the closing stages to beat Tunisia 2-0 Saturday and become the first qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.

Substitute Aristide Bance scored on 81 minutes after a controversially awarded free-kick with big-screen replays suggesting the hand-ball decision was wrong.

Jesus lights Man City’s path to FA Cup win

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London (AFP) Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Yaya Toure scored as Manchester City secured their place in the FA Cup fifth round with a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Gabriel Jesus, City's £27 million ($33.9 million, 31.7 million euros) signing from Palmeiras, marked his full debut by setting up Sterling for City's opener shortly before half-time at Selhurst Park.

Leipzig fight back to keep pace with Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) Second-placed RB Leipzig ended 10-man Hoffenheim's unbeaten run this season with a 2-1 comeback win in Saturday's key Bundesliga clash to stay just three points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

Hoffenheim were the last undefeated team left in Europe's top leagues but Marcel Sabitzer's 77th-minute winner dealt the visitors their first loss of the season after striker Sandro Wagner's dismissal.

Liverpool out of FA Cup as Spurs survive Wycombe scare

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London (AFP) Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship club Wolves as Tottenham Hotspur survived a potential giant-killing of their own by twice coming from behind in a 4-3 win over fourth-tier Wycombe Wanderers at White Hart Lane.

Seven-times FA Cup winners Liverpool lost 2-1 at home to second-tier Wolves as the Merseysiders' season went from bad to worse.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Monaco preview, predicted lineups and streaming schedule

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Monaco have the perfect opportunity to cement their status as favorites for the Ligue 1 title on Sunday, as they head to the capital to take on champions Paris Saint-Germain.

The visitors, who sit top of the pile in France's top flight, have evolved into the most exciting team in European football, netting 64 goals in their 21 league matches so far this term.

Where to find Man United vs. Wigan FA Cup on US TV and streaming

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

Now that Manchester United are into the League Cup final and cruising in the Premier League, the Red Devils face another chance to go far in the FA Cup in what should be a straightforward cup game at home against Wigan Athletic.

Morocco must grasp Cup of Nations chance – Renard

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Morocco coach Herve Renard has called on his side to "seize the opportunity" at the Africa Cup of Nations after fulfilling their initial objective of reaching the quarter-finals.

"It is already a privilege to be in the last eight but now we need to be much more ambitious than that," Renard told reporters ahead of Sunday's meeting with Egypt in Port-Gentil, Gabon.

Wolves stun Liverpool in FA Cup

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Liverpool (AFP) Second-tier Wolverhampton Wanderers ensured Liverpool's season went from bad to worse as they knocked the seven-times winners out of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win at Anfield on Saturday.

Defeat meant Liverpool, 10 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea, had been knocked out of two cup competitions in a matter of four days following their 2-0 aggregate loss to Southampton in the semi-finals of the League Cup on Wednesday.

Critics part of being at Madrid – Zidane

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insisted there is still plenty for the European champions to be positive about on Saturday despite a run of just one win in five games.

Madrid were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo on Wednesday and have seen their lead at the top of La Liga cut to just a point from Sevilla after being defeated by their closest challengers for the first time in 40 matches two weeks ago.

Martial aims for FA Cup boost with Manchester United

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Anthony Martial's Manchester United future has looked to be in severe doubt lately, so Sunday's FA Cup fourth round tie against Wigan carries extra significance for him.

United boss Jose Mourinho has confirmed that the France forward will start the match, having been omitted from the squad for the last two matches.

Where to find Spurs vs. Wycombe FA Cup on US TV and streaming

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

For Tottenham supporters in the United States, the game is on FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2GO. But Spurs fans can watch the game for free with a 7-day trial to DIRECTV NOW, the new streaming service from AT&T that has nothing to do with DirecTV, the satellite service.

Eyes on World Cup as US coach Arena launches second coming

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Los Angeles (AFP) United States coach Bruce Arena will have his eyes firmly fixed on World Cup qualifying Sunday as he launches the first match of his second stint in charge with a friendly against Serbia.

Arena, who returned to the helm last November following the sacking of Jurgen Klinsmann, has only two friendlies to assess his options before March's crunch 2018 qualifiers against Honduras and Panama.

Renard eyes Cup of Nations semi-final spot with Morocco

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Herve Renard will be hoping to move a step closer to winning a third Africa Cup of Nations crown when he leads Morocco into a quarter-final against Egypt in Port-Gentil on Sunday evening.

The dashing Frenchman eliminated the Ivory Coast, the side he led to the title in 2015, as Morocco made the knockout phase of a Cup of Nations for the first time since 2004.

Where to find Southampton vs. Arsenal FA Cup on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Southampton vs. Arsenal, you've come to the right place.

After Southampton's impressive midweek win against Liverpool at Anfield, the Saints are on their way to Wembley to play Manchester United in the League Cup Final. Today, though, it's Arsenal who have an opportunity to continue their success in the FA Cup by trying to win at St.

‘Old school’ Cuper looking to restore Egypt to former glories

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final between Egypt and Morocco is set to be a classic battle of managerial minds, bringing together a two-time winner of the trophy in Herve Renard and wily Hector Cuper.

While Frenchman Renard has become a fixture on the African scene, and a successful one at that, the 61-year-old Argentine Cuper is sampling a major international tournament for the first time.

Mourinho sets Martial Wigan challenge

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London (AFP) Anthony Martial can play his way into Manchester United's starting XI with a convincing performance against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup on Sunday, manager Jose Mourinho has said.

Martial was left out of the squad for last weekend's 1-1 Premier League draw at Stoke City and Thursday's League Cup game at Hull City, which saw United reach the final despite a 2-1 defeat.

Guardiola adamant City chairman still a fan

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Pep Guardiola insists chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak is happy with Manchester City's season as he promised Sam Allardyce a hug.

City go to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, with Guardiola aiming to keep his hopes for a first trophy in England alive on two fronts.

Where to find Chelsea vs. Brentford FA Cup on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Chelsea vs. Brentford, you've come to the right place.

The west London derby between Chelsea and Brentford features Premier League leaders against Brentford, currently 15th in the Championship. The two clubs, who are only separated by 5 miles from Griffin Park to Stamford Bridge, should create an entertaining atmosphere between the two rivals who don't get to play each other that much anymore.

Gomis treble as Marseille return to form with Evra

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Marseille (AFP) Former France striker Bafetimbi Gomis notched a hattrick on Friday as Marseille returned to form with a 5-1 blitzing of Montpellier in Ligue 1.

Marseille were coming off defeats against leaders Monaco and Lyon as they moved into the top five thanks to an irresistible attack showing at the Stade Velodrome.

Morgan’s late leveller rescues Leicester

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Derby (United Kingdom) (AFP) Wes Morgan spared Leicester's blushes as his late equaliser rescued a 2-2 draw against second tier Derby in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday.

Claudio Ranieri's spluttering side were just four minutes away from an embarrassing exit at the hands of their local rivals when Foxes defender Morgan headed home to force a replay.

Liga MX continues to generate monster viewing numbers on US TV

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Last weekend was another huge weekend for Liga MX on US television as the two most popular clubs in Mexico —Club América and Chivas de Guadalajara —featured on the Univision network Saturday night.

Over 1.7 million people watched as Club América fell to Tigres by a score of 4-2.

Following that match, 1.

West Ham seal Snodgrass swoop

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London (AFP) West Ham signed Scotland winger Robert Snodgrass in a £10.2 million ($12 million) deal from Hull on Friday.

Snodgrass agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract to become West Ham's second January signing after their swoop for Southampton defender Jose Fonte.

With Hammers playmaker Dimitri Payet still trying to engineer a move back to his former club Marseille, Snodgrass would be a ready-made replacement for the France international.

Where to find Liverpool vs. Wolves FA Cup on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Liverpool vs. Wolves, you've come to the right place.

Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers head to Anfield on Saturday for the FA Cup 4th Round game against Liverpool. Wolves, currently seventh from bottom in the Championship table, will fancy their chances against a Liverpool team that is having a disastrous start to 2017 so far.

Monaco’s Falcao back in groove after English travails

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Monaco (AFP) Colombian striker Radamel Falcao says he is back in the groove after two misfit years with first Manchester United, then Chelsea in England.

Falcao, who made his name first with Porto then Atletico Madrid by scoring hatfuls of goals, was regarded as one of the world's top strikers when he headed to Old Trafford on loan three years ago.

Wenger given four-game ban for touchline row

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger was given a four-game touchline ban with "immediate effect" by the Football Association on Friday after accepting a misconduct charge following an incident that saw the veteran Arsenal manager sent off in Sunday's dramatic win over Burnley.

Wenger was sent to the stands by referee Jon Moss after allegedly using abusive or insulting language towards fourth official Anthony Taylor after Burnley were given a stoppage-time penalty at the Emirates Stadium.

Messi’s first coach dies in Argentina

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Buenos Aires (AFP) Ernesto Vecchio, the first coach of Lionel Messi when the budding superstar was a young rookie in Argentina, has died at the age of 65, the Newell's Old Boys club announced Friday.

"We regret to announce the death of Ernesto Vecchio, the technical director of Leo Messi during his debut (at Rosario)," said a statement on the Twitter account of Newell's where Vecchio worked for more than 30 years.

Rooney sees management in his future after football

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London (AFP) Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney has revealed he wants to go into management when he hangs up his boots.

The 31-year-old, who recently became United's record goalscorer, has made more than enough money to retire and spend the rest of his life relaxing, but the England captain loves the sport too much to walk away.

Manchester City admit doping rules breach

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester City are to appear before the Football Association after admitting breaching anti-doping rules, a club spokesman told AFP on Friday.

The Premier League side are now set to be fined around £25,000 ($31,000, 29,000 euros) after being charged with failing to ensure anti-doping officials knew where their players were for drug-testing.

Hello Dolly as South African signs for Montpellier

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Montpellier (France) (AFP) South African international midfielder Keagan Dolly has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Ligue 1 outfit Montpellier, the French club confirmed on Friday.

The 24-year-old arrives from 2016 African Champions League winners Mamelodi Sundowns on a deal worth 1.

Klopp backs injury-hit Sturridge to recover best form

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London (AFP) Jurgen Klopp is confident Daniel Sturridge's numerous injury problems have not led to a permanent decline in the Liverpool forward's ability.

The 27-year-old striker has not scored for five games and, following Liverpool's League Cup semi-final loss to Southampton, former Reds defender Jamie Carragher suggested Sturridge had lost a significant amount of pace.

Africa Cup of Nations US TV schedule in infographic and printer-friendly formats

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We're into the final 8 of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, DR Congo, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Morocco remaining in the competition.

For soccer fans in the United States, all of the quarterfinals will be shown on US television and/or streaming this weekend (see the full schedule at the bottom of the screen for links).

Dominant Bayern don’t worry Bundesliga boss

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Berlin (AFP) The Bundesliga has again posted record returns and it's CEO Christian Seifert believes future growth will only be affected if Bayern Munich's stranglehold on the German league trophy continues unchecked.

On Thursday, Germany's 18 top flight clubs posted a revenue total for the 2015/16 season of 3.

Guardiola wants player input as Manchester City aim to bounce back

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Pep Guardiola has urged his players to help come up with a plan to spark a Manchester City revival, saying clubs can only be successful if a manager and his squad are on the same wavelength.

City boss Guardiola is under pressure to salvage something from the season after conceding the Premier League title was beyond his side following their 4-0 thrashing at Everton on January 15.

Begovic’s Chelsea future up for grabs as Blues eye Gordon

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London (AFP) Asmir Begovic will only move from Chelsea during the transfer window if the Premier League leaders can bring in a replacement before next week's deadline, Blues manager Antonio Conte said Friday.

Conte's comments came as Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers confirmed London club Chelsea had made an offer for the Glasgow giants' Scotland international Craig Gordon.

Ghana hopeful on Gyan fitness

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana are hopeful that skipper Asamoah Gyan will be able to feature in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final against DR Congo after tests on an injury he suffered on Wednesday proved encouraging.

A Ghana FA statement said the striker had returned to the team's base in Oyem in northern Gabon to continue treatment on the thigh injury he picked up in the 1-0 defeat to Egypt in their last group game in Port-Gentil.

How to follow the FA Cup 4th Round games that aren’t televised

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If your team is involved in one of the nine FA Cup 4th Round games that will be televised and/or streamed in the United States this weekend, consider yourself fortunate. Unfortunately, there are seven other games that won't be televised anywhere in the world including such big teams as Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough.

Klopp hopes FA Cup revives spluttering Reds

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Liverpool (AFP) Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool will recover from a nightmare run at the start of 2017 when they face Championship club Wolves in the FA Cup fourth round at Anfield on Saturday.

A gruelling schedule of 10 fixtures, starting with the New Year's Eve victory over Manchester City, has seen Liverpool collect only one other win, in the third round FA Cup replay at League Two Plymouth Argyle.

Arsenal’s Wenger wants revenge over buoyant Saints

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) Arsene Wenger says Arsenal travel to a confident Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday determined to avenge their League Cup exit.

Claude Puel's underdogs won 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium in November in the League Cup and on Wednesday clinched their place in that competition's final by beating Liverpool.

Man City, Palace weigh priorities in FA Cup

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London (AFP) Manchester City supporters must once again wait to see which version of Pep Guardiola's team shows up in Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round game at Premier League rivals Crystal Palace.

City have won by four goals or more on five separate occasions, but have also fallen to two 4-0 defeats at Barcelona and more recently Everton and been beaten five times in the league.

FA Cup clash vs Brentford gives Fabregas chance to prove point

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London (AFP) Cesc Fabregas is not happy at his lack of game time under Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and on Saturday he can make a case for more opportunities in the FA Cup fourth-round clash with Brentford.

The 29-year-old former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder a member of the Spain side that won the 2010 World Cup has made just five Premier League starts this season and admits he has found it difficult to adjust to life on the sidelines.

Cameroon favourites, insists coach of rivals Senegal

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Libreville (AFP) Senegal coach Aliou Cisse insists Africa Cup of Nations opponents Cameroon are favourites to win the eagerly-awaited quarter-final in Franceville on Saturday.

Pundits beg to differ, though, making the Senegalese Teranga Lions favourites not only to reach the semi-finals, but to go on and win the competition for the first time.

Mourinho mocks Klopp as Man Utd reach final

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Kingston upon Hull (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho took a sarcastic swipe at his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp after his side booked their place in the League Cup final.

A day after Liverpool had been bundled out of the competition by Southampton, United progressed with a 3-2 aggregate win over Hull City despite losing 2-1 in Thursday's second leg.

Allegri focus on Sassuolo as new-look Juventus impress

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Milan (AFP) Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is expected to ring the changes but hinted his new-look tactical formation could be deployed again when the champions travel to Sassuolo on Sunday.

Allegri has regularly had to choose whether to pair Paulo Dybala or Mario Mandzukic with Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain as his side target a record sixth consecutive scudetto.

Rattled Real Madrid aim to halt sudden slump

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid host high-flying Real Sociedad on Sunday aiming to reverse an alarming dip in form that has seen Zinedine Zidane's seemingly unbeatable squad just two weeks ago fail to win in three of their last four matches.

The European champions bowed out of the Copa del Rey to Celta Vigo in midweek with a 2-2 draw at Balaidos not enough to overturn a 2-1 first leg deficit.

‘Sexy’ Leipzig to flaunt Bundesliga future

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Berlin (AFP) Ralf Rangnick says the Bundesliga will flaunt its future on Saturday when his "sexy" second-placed RB Leipzig face unbeaten Hoffenheim with both aiming to chase down leaders Bayern Munich.

"We are proud, modern and attractive, sexy even," Leipzig's director of sport, who has taken the Red Bull-backed upstarts from the fourth division to Germany's top tier, told daily FussballBild.

Senegal football coach Aliou Cisse has ‘unfinished business’

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Senegal coach Aliou Cisse still looks back at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations with a sense of unfinished business, so Saturday's quarter-final against Cameroon offers a chance, partly, to settle an old score.

The Lions of Teranga have never won the continental trophy, but they came mighty close 15 years ago in Mali when they reached the final for the first time.

‘Bayern have quality to win triple’ – Robben

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Berlin (AFP) Arjen Robben says Bayern Munich have the quality to repeat their 2013 triple of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles, but admits the Bavarian giants need to improve.

Bayern, who play Werder Bremen away on Saturday, are three points clear in Germany's top flight and face Arsenal next month in the last 16 of Europe.

Man arrested in relation to historic football sex abuse

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London (AFP) A man aged in his 70s has been arrested in relation to the ongoing investigation into historic sex abuse in football which has rocked the sport in England to its foundations, the police force in question announced on Friday.

He was arrested on suspicion of indecency with children and indecent assault.

Pochettino to visit family ‘hero’ Mason in hospital

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London (AFP) Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is to visit Hull midfielder Ryan Mason in the hospital because the former Spurs player remains a very special person to the Argentinian manager.

Mason, whom Pochettino sold to Hull for a reported £13million (15.3m, $16.3) just prior to the beginning of this season, fractured his skull in a horrific clash of heads with Chelsea's Gary Cahill last Sunday.

Five-star Barcelona stroll back into Cup semis

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Barcelona (AFP) Barcelona eased into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey for a seventh consecutive season 6-2 on aggregate as Denis Suarez scored twice in a 5-2 win over Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Already leading 1-0 from the first leg, Barca gave Sociedad a mountain to climb as Denis Suarez finished off a great team move with the only real chance of the first-half before Lionel Messi converted from the penalty spot.

Manchester United to face Saints in League Cup final

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Kingston upon Hull (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United will face Southampton in the League Cup final after coming through 3-2 on aggregate against Hull, despite losing 2-1 in Thursday's second leg of their semi-final.

Tom Huddlestone opened the scoring for the hosts andOumar Niasse scored late on but Paul Pogba's goal midway through the second-half gave United the breathing space they required against the Premier League strugglers.

Manchester United survive Hull scare to reach League Cup final

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Kingston upon Hull (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United survived a scare to reach the League Cup final after Oumar Niasse's late goal earned Hull City a 2-1 victory in Thursday's semi-final second leg.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg, United saw their advantage at an ice-cold KCOM Stadium halved by Tom Huddlestone's 35th-minute penalty and then restored by Paul Pogba's second-half strike.

Evra old cool head for Marseille dressing room

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Marseille (AFP) Former France full-back Patrice Evra indicated Thursday he saw himself as the old cool head to stabilise Marseille after joining the club from Juventus.

"I am someone who looks after the wellbeing of the dressing room," said the 81-cap, 35-year-old former Manchester United star, who has been released from the last six months of his contract with Juve.

Gerrard not sure he will make grade as a manager

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London (AFP) England great Steven Gerrard says that only time will tell whether he measures up as being good enough to be a football manager.

The 36-year-old, capped 114 times and a rampaging midfielder in his pomp, begins his new career in February as a youth coach at his beloved Liverpool, who hired him earlier this month.

Style-conscious Congolese add touch of elegance to Cup

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Stadiums may not be full at the Africa Cup of Nations but the supporters who do turn out create a noisy and colourful atmosphere and in the case of DR Congo the government is giving a helping hand.

The DRC's capital Kinshasa is the home of "Sape", a French acronym short for the Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People, and one such group add a classy touch to their team's matches.

Watford sign Niang on loan from AC Milan

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London (AFP) Watford signed AC Milan forward M'Baye Niang on loan for the rest of the season on Thursday as boss Walter Mazzarri looks to rejuvenate his spluttering side.

The 22-year-old Frenchman, who can play wide or up front, could make his debut in Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round tie at third-tier Millwall.

Viewing habits of soccer fans in the USA: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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World Soccer Talk is the weekly soccer podcast from Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris on the topic of watching soccer on TV, online and apps.

In the NEW episode, number 11, we cover a range of topics including:

•Our favorite memories of Tommy Smyth on ESPN from the past 24 years,

•Revealing results from a study by Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing about the viewing habits of American soccer fans,

•Discussion of weekly highlight shows for the major soccer leagues around the world,

•Disappointing Bundesliga TV ratings,

•The pluses of watching Africa Cup of Nations on TV,

•Plus questions from YOU, the listeners!

Mexico skipper Marquez next to hit out at Trump wall

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Paris (AFP) Veteran Mexico skipper Rafael Marquez on Thursday fired a Twitter volley at Donald Trump's proposed wall along the border as football weighed in on the US president.

"No wall can stop us if we believe in ourselves," tweeted the 37-year-old former Barcelona stalwart in a post including video of him firing home a trademark freekick from his Barca days.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for January 17-23, 2017

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Saturday afternoon's Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur posted 1.16 million viewers on the NBC broadcast network. This number ties the match between Hull City and Manchester United in the opening round of fixtures as the second most watched Premier League match on NBC this season.

PSG, Monaco clash in Ligue 1 as Evra makes Marseille debut

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Paris (AFP) Despite Sunday night's highly anticipated clash between champions Paris Saint-Germain and leaders Monaco all eyes will first be rivetted on Marseille for the Ligue 1 return of former France captain Patrice Evra.

The fiery 35-year-old left-back's arrival is the latest development of the Marseille revival and should send their raucous Velodrome stadium wild on Friday for the visit of Montpellier.

Chinese group in talks over Southampton investment: owner

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London (AFP) Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr has confirmed the Premier League club are interested in potential investment from a Chinese group.

Lander Holding announced its intention to buy a stake in League Cup finalists Southampton to the Shenzhen stock exchange on Thursday.

The news came less than 24 hours after Claude Puel's team reached the League Cup final by beating Liverpool in the semi-final second leg at Anfield.

Cracks appear in Zidane’s all-conquering Real Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) From 40 games without defeat to just one win in four, 2017 hasn't been kind to Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid with the European champions' Copa del Rey elimination to Celta Vigo sparking doubts for the first time in the Frenchman's tenure.

Zidane celebrated a near flawless first year in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu in early January having won three trophies in the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup and suffered just two defeats.

Tycoon takes over at French strugglers Lille

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Lille (France) (AFP) A colourful tycoon under whom the Formula One team Lotus went bankrupt on Thursday officially became the new owner of debt-ridden French Ligue 1 club Lille.

Luxembourg-Spanish businessman Gerard Lopez, who has also been linked with a takeover of Premier League Hull City, acquired a 95-percent stake in Lille for 80 million euros ($85 million) including the club's debts.

Juventus consult lawyers after mafia link claims

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Milan (AFP) Juventus are consulting lawyers to protect the club's "honour and integrity" after a newspaper report linked club officials to hardline ultra-fans with organised crime connections via a ticket touting scam.

A report in Rome based daily Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper on Thursday claimed Juventus president Andrea Agnelli had met with ultra leader Rocco Dominello, who was arrested for association with the 'Ndrangheta.

China’s Guoan FC now worth more than AC Milan

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Hong Kong (AFP) Beijing football club Guoan FC has been bought by a Chinese real estate developer, according to a statement on the Hong Kong stock exchange, with the club now valued at 754 million euros more than AC Milan.

Developer Sinobo Land bought 64 percent of the club from Chinese financial services giant CITIC for 3.

Ranieri shrugs off liar jibe in Ulloa dispute

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London (AFP) Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri insists he has no problem with unhappy striker Leonardo Ulloa despite being branded a liar by one of the Argentine's agents.

Ulloa handed in a transfer request last week but the Premier League champions have reportedly rejected a bid from Spanish club Alaves because Ranieri would prefer to keep him.

Wenger defends Xhaka over airport abuse claim

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger has defended Granit Xhaka after the Arsenal midfielder was spoken to by police over an allegation of racial abuse just days after being sent off for the second time this season.

Xhaka will serve a four-match ban after being dismissed during Arsenal's 2-1 victory over Burnley last Sunday following a needless and reckless challenge by the Swiss international.

Lamela set for Spurs return after injury

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London (AFP) Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino expects Erik Lamela to report to the club's training ground on Friday after completing his treatment for a hip problem at his former club Roma.

Lamela hasn't played for Tottenham since October and reports suggested the forward might try to engineer a transfer back to Italy when he opted to return there for his treatment rather then remain in England.

Burnley’s Marney out for rest of season

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London (AFP) Burnley midfielder Dean Marney has been ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee for a second time.

Marney suffered the injury while challenging Mesut Ozil in a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal in the Premier League last Sunday.

The 32-year-old sustained the same injury, to the same knee, during Burnley's last Premier League campaign in February 2015 when he was kept out for nine months.

Dortmund’s Subotic joins Cologne on loan

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Berlin (AFP) Neven Subotic confirmed Thursday he has joined Cologne on loan from Bundesliga rivals Dortmund until the end of the season, as he looks to regain form after injury.

The 28-year-old has been with Dortmund since 2008 and was a key part of the side which won the 2011 and 2012 German league titles.

Bilic went to hospital after bout of flu

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London (AFP) West Ham manager Slaven Bilic spent two days in hospital this week after a bad bout of flu, according to reports on Thursday.

Bilic is believed to have checked himself into a London hospital on Sunday following West Ham's 3-1 win at Middlesbrough last Saturday.

The 48-year-old Croatian was feeling unwell before and during the Middlesbrough match and ended up staying in hospital under observation until Tuesday.

Premier League game on NBC scores 1 million+ viewers for 4th week in row

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Saturday's live broadcast of Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur helped NBC Sports mark four consecutive weeks that a Premier League match has drawn more than 1 million viewers on the network.

The 12:30-2:30pm ET broadcast on NBC posted 1.16 million viewers. This number ties the match between Hull City and Manchester United in the opening round of fixtures as the second most-watched Premier League match on NBC this season.

Bundesliga on FOX Sports suffers worst Friday viewing number since September

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Bayern Munich's game last Friday against Freiburg was the least-viewed Friday afternoon Bundesliga game on FOX Sports since September, 2016.

The opening game of the second half of the 2016/17 Bundesliga season after the winter break was watched by an audience of just 54,000 people.

The last time a Friday afternoon Bundesliga game got a worse viewing number was the September 16, 2016 game between Koln and Freiburg.

Bundesliga clubs pass three billion euros mark

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Berlin (AFP) The 18 German top flight clubs posted a total of three billion euros ($3.2b) in revenue last season for the first time in the Bundesliga's 54-year history, it was announced Thursday.

The league's finances are in rude health in the home of the world champions and for the 12th season in a row, the Bundesliga, founded in 1963, has posted record revenues, when the figures were revealed in Frankfurt.

MLS TV schedule ditches parity to focus on super clubs for national broadcasts

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Photo credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Soccer (MLS) has learned the lesson every other American professional and college sports league does — that despite discussion of parity and competitiveness, the real selling point of a league on TV is having elite clubs. Elite clubs could be those that excel on the pitch or perhaps those with the greatest atmospherics around it.

Klopp fumes over Liverpool’s rough justice

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Liverpool (AFP) Jurgen Klopp claimed it was "really hard" to accept the refereeing decisions he feels are going against Liverpool on a regular basis after his side were denied a place in the League Cup final.

Klopp's team crashed out of the competition on Wednesday as Southampton reached the final for the first time since 1979.

Rodgers salutes record-equalling Celtic

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Glasgow (AFP) Brendan Rodgers praised his Celtic players for their professionalism as they equalled a club record run of 26 domestic games unbeaten at the start of a season.

Belgium defender Dedryck Boyata's 72nd minute header helped the current crop of Celtic stars defeat St Johnstone 1-0 at Celtic Park on Wednesday to match the record originally set by the legendary 'Lisbon Lions' side in their European Cup winning season of 1966-67.

Real Madrid’s ruthlessness will return, Zidane warns

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid will recover their killer instinct in front of goal, coach Zinedine Zidane warned as his side's treble ambitions ended with elimination from the Copa del Rey at the hands of Celta Vigo on Wednesday.

A 2-2 draw on the night at Balaidos saw Celta progress to the semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate as Zidane's men have now failed to win in three of their last four games following a Spanish record 40-match unbeaten run.

Guardiola seeks FA Cup lift at Crystal Palace

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London (AFP) A potential FA Cup banana skin awaits Pep Guardiola as he takes his inconsistent Manchester City team to Crystal Palace in the fourth round on Saturday.

This month's results tell the tale of City's erratic form, with Guardiola's men cruising to a 5-0 win at West Ham United in the FA Cup third round, only to then crash to a 4-0 Premier League defeat at Everton.

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

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad, you've come to the right place.

With a 1-0 lead from the first leg of this quarterfinal, Barcelona has the advantage going into the second leg as well as playing at home at the Nou Camp stadium. With Real Madrid getting knocked out of Copa del Rey, Barcelona has a big opportunity to go all the way in this tournament.

Arsenal’s Wenger to accept FA charge over touchline row

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London (AFP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed he will accept a Football Association misconduct charge after being sent off in Sunday's explosive win over Burnley.

Wenger was sent to the stands by referee Jon Moss after allegedly using abusive or insulting language towards fourth official Anthony Taylor after Burnley were given a stoppage-time penalty at the Emirates Stadium.

Tommy Smyth says farewell to ESPN after 24 years

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Whether you like or dislike Tommy Smyth's soccer analysis, there's no doubt that he's been an important part of the history of soccer on US television. Sadly, today was his last day at ESPN.

Smyth, who is most famous for his catchphrase "Bulge in the old onion bag," bid farewell to ESPN today after a career than spanned 24 years at the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader of Sports.

Puel targets Wembley glory as Saints make League Cup final

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London (AFP) Southampton manager Claude Puel set his sights on League Cup glory after masterminding his side's semi-final triumph over Liverpool on Wednesday.

Puel's team won 1-0 at Anfield as Shane Long's late goal secured a 2-0 aggregate success that booked the club's first League Cup final appearance since 1979.

Mourinho eyes Wenger’s FA charge

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Jose Mourinho intends to keep a close watch on how the Football Association deal with the misconduct charge facing Arsene Wenger.

Manchester United manager Mourinho is keen to ensure Wenger is dealt with correctly after the Arsenal boss was accused of verbally abusing and pushing a fourth official during a win against Burnley on Sunday.

Monaco to face PSG in French League Cup final

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Paris (AFP) Radamel Falcao pounced on a goalkeeping blunder to send Monaco through to the French League Cup final against Paris Saint-Germain after a 1-0 win over Nancy on Wednesday.

The Colombian scored the only goal of the game in first-half stoppage time after a calamitous error from Nancy keeper Guy Roland Ndy Assembe left Falcao to head into an empty net.

Pjanic stunner as Juve set-up Napoli Cup semi

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) A superb curling free-kick from Miralem Pjanic kept Juventus on track for a third consecutive Serie A and Italian Cup double on Wednesday after a dramatic 2-1 quarter-final win over 10-man AC Milan.

Milan were looking to hand the two-time defending Cup champions their third defeat in succession after following a 1-0 league win earlier in the season with Italian Super Cup victory in Doha in December.

Salah scores as Egypt reach Cup of Nations quarters

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Mohamed Salah's thumping early free-kick gave Egypt a 1-0 win against Ghana on Wednesday as they sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The record seven-time winners of the competition came into the game in Port-Gentil only needing a draw to be certain of going through but the victory at a barely half-full stadium allowed them to leapfrog already-qualified Ghana and finish on top of Group D.

Evergreen Evra seals Marseille move

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Paris (AFP) Veteran French international defender Patrice Evra signed for Marseille on Wednesday on a free transfer from Juventus on an 18-month contract, the Ligue 1 club announced.

The 35-year-old left-back, who had been linked with a return to Manchester United, underwent a medical after being released from the last six months of his contract at Italian champions Juventus.

Real Madrid fall to Celta Vigo in Cup quarters

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Madrid (AFP) A fine free-kick from Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't prevent Real Madrid from being dumped out of the Copa del Rey as a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Wednesday allowed the hosts to progress to the semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

Hampered by a series of injuries, Real's hopes of turning the tie around were dealt a huge blow when Danilo's own goal handed Celta to lead on the night just before half-time.

Long rocks Reds as Saints reach League Cup final

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Liverpool (AFP) Southampton reached the League Cup final for the first time since 1979 as Shane Long grabbed the goal that sealed a memorable 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the semi-final second leg on Wednesday.

Leading by Nathan Redmond's goal from the first leg two weeks ago, Claude Puel's side showed great resolve to survive a barrage of second-half pressure at Anfield before securing their 2-0 aggregate triumph when Long struck late on.

Ghana sweat on fitness of skipper Gyan

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana coach Avram Grant has admitted captain Asamoah Gyan is a doubt for the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after he came off injured against Egypt on Wednesday.

"It's not looking so good but Gyan is a very strong boy," said Grant when asked about the extent of the problem.

Where to find Hull vs. Man United (League Cup semifinal, 2nd leg) on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Hull vs. Man United, you've come to the right place.

In the first leg, Manchester United defeated Hull City 2-0, so the Red Devils are certainly in pole position to advance to the next round to face Southampton in the 2016/17 EFL Cup final. But Hull City will certainly have something to say about it despite having sold star player Robert Snodgrass this week.

Real Madrid eliminated from Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo

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Madrid (AFP) A fine free-kick from Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't prevent Real Madrid from being dumped out of the Copa del Rey as a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo allowed the hosts to progress to the semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

Hampered by a series of injuries, Real's hopes of turning the tie around were dealt a huge blow when Danilo's own goal handed Celta to lead on the night just before half-time.

Southampton beat Liverpool to reach League Cup final

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London (AFP) Southampton reached the League Cup final for the first time since 1979 after a 1-0 victory against Liverpool in the semi-final second leg on Wednesday.

Claude Puel's team secured a 2-0 aggregate triumph thanks to a clinical finish from Shane Long in second-half stoppage-time at Anfield.

Mali, Uganda bow out in soggy Oyem stalemate

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Mali and Uganda drew 1-1 Wednesday on a rain-drenched Oyem pitch to exit the Africa Cup of Nations after disappointing Group D campaigns.

Uganda had already been eliminated and Mali needed to win and hope Egypt lost to Ghana to have a chance of sneaking through as runners-up.

Salah sinks Ghana as Egypt go through

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Mohamed Salah's thumping early free-kick gave Egypt a 1-0 win against Ghana on Wednesday as they sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The record seven-time winners of the competition only needed a draw to be certain of going through but the victory at a barely half-full stadium allowed them to leapfrog already-qualified Ghana and finish on top of Group D.

Mali, Uganda bow out of Africa Cup of Nations after draw in wet Oyem

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Mali and Uganda drew 1-1 Wednesday on a rain-drenched Oyem pitch to exit the Africa Cup of Nations after disappointing Group D campaigns.

Uganda had already been eliminated and Mali needed to win and hope Egypt lost to Ghana to have a chance of sneaking through as runners-up.

Unbeaten Celtic equal 50-year-old ‘Lisbon Lions’ record

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Glasgow (AFP) Celtic equalled a 50-year-old club record on Wednesday as the Scottish champions beat St Johnstone 1-0 to extend their unbeaten run to 26 matches.

Dedryck Boyata's 72nd minute strike at Celtic Park ensured Brendan Rodgers' side stretched their unblemished start in all domestic campaigns this term.

Salah sinks Ghana as Egypt go through in Cup of Nations

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Mohamed Salah's thumping early free-kick gave Egypt a 1-0 win against Ghana on Wednesday as they sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The record seven-time winners of the competition only needed a draw to be certain of going through but the victory at a barely half-full stadium allowed them to leapfrog already-qualified Ghana and finish on top of Group D.

Egypt qualify for Africa Cup quarter-finals

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Egypt qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over Ghana in Port-Gentil.

Roma attacker Mohamed Salah rifled a free-kick into the net on 11 minutes for a win that lifted his team to the top of the final Group D standings, one point ahead of fellow qualifiers Ghana.

PSG net Portuguese star Guedes

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Paris (AFP) Paris Saint Germain confirmed Wednesday they had signed Portuguese forward Goncalo Guedes from Benfica for around 30 million euros ($32 million).

The rangy Guedes, just 20 and blessed with mazy dribbling skills, impressed last season as Benfica motored to the title and PSG have captured him on a four-and-a-half year deal.

Niang set for Watford as Milan look to Ocampos

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) Out-of-favour AC Milan striker M'Baye Niang is set to join Premier League strugglers Watford on a loan deal as the Rossoneri look to lure Lucas Ocampos to the San Siro, Milan CEO Adriano Galliani said Wednesday.

Niang has dropped down the pecking order in the Rossoneri squad having initially shown plenty of promise following his return from a loan spell at Genoa last year.

Atletico Madrid ease into Copa del Rey semis

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Madrid (AFP) Atletico Madrid cruised into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday despite fielding an under-strength side as a 2-2 draw at Eibar secured a 5-2 aggregate win.

Holding a comfortable 3-0 first leg lead, Atletico boss Diego Simeone left top scorer Antoine Griezmann back in the Spanish capital, whilst Diego Godin and Koke were also left on the bench.

Bastia fan admits Balotelli racial abuse – club

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Bastia (France) (AFP) "Several" Bastia fans racially abused Nice forward Mario Balotelli with monkey chants while one admitted it and faces a France-wide stadium ban, the Corsican club said on Wednesday.

The Italian said he suffered racist abuse throughout Friday's 1-1 Ligue 1 draw at Bastia, where the coach of title-chasers Nice was also pelted with stones.

Isak deal took Dortmund’s Tuchel by surprise

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Berlin (AFP) Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel admitted Wednesday he knew little about Swedish teenage prodigy Alexander Isak, dubbed 'the new Zlatan Ibrahimovic', before the deal was confirmed.

Isak moved on Monday from AIK after just 24 games in the Swedish championship for a reported 10 million euros ($10.

Evergreen Evra set to seal Marseille move

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Paris (AFP) Veteran French international defender Patrice Evra is set to sign for Marseille on Wednesday on a free transfer from Juventus on an 18-month contract, French media said.

The 35-year-old left-back, who had been linked with a return to Manchester United, was due to undergo a medical at Marseille ahead of sealing a move to the French club, L'Equipe said on its website.

Darmstadt sack Tunisian international over Islamic group link

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Berlin (AFP) Bundesliga club Darmstadt said Wednesday they have sacked German-Tunisian midfielderAnis Ben-Hatira over his work with a controversial Islamic aid organisation.

Duesseldorf-based Ansaar International is reportedly under surveillance by domestic intelligence services for alleged links to Germany's ultra-orthodox Muslim Salafist community.

Sweden bans fans covering face to curb stadium violence

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Stockholm (AFP) Sweden on Wednesday banned fans from covering their faces at sporting venues to clamp down on violence by masked hooligans, while allowing exceptions for religious reasons.

The ban, which aims to prevent people from "disguising all or part of their face so as to make it more difficult to be identified", will come into force on March 1.

Bastia admits fans racially abused Balotelli

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Bastia (France) (AFP) "Several" Bastia fans racially abused Nice forward Mario Balotelli with monkey chants while one admitted it and faces a France-wide stadium ban, the Corsican club said on Wednesday.

The Italian said he suffered racist abuse throughout Friday's 1-1 Ligue 1 draw at Bastia, where the coach of title-chasers Nice was also pelted with stones.

Mourinho fears Man United fixture pile-up

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho expressed concern on Wednesday that the Premier League's fixture planners could ruin his side's top-four hopes if they reach the League Cup final.

United carry a 2-0 lead into Thursday's League Cup semi-final second leg at Hull City and will face either Liverpool or Southampton at Wembley on February 26 if they progress.

Mourinho fears Man Utd fixture pile-up

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho expressed concern on Wednesday that the Premier League's fixture planners could ruin his side's top-four hopes if they reach the League Cup final.

United carry a 2-0 lead into Thursday's League Cup semi-final second leg at Hull City and will face either Liverpool or Southampton at Wembley on February 26 if they progress.

Doubts grow over Luis Enrique’s future at Barca

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Barcelona (AFP) Barcelona boss Luis Enrique again avoided questions over his future on Wednesday as speculation grows that he could walk away from the Spanish champions at the end of the season.

Enrique has won eight trophies in two-and-a-half years in charge but is out of contract at the end of the season and is in no rush to renew, with the club's focus on securing new deals for Lionel Messi and captain Andres Iniesta.

Football: Turkey’s Erdogan wins Arda Turan backing for campaign

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Istanbul (AFP) Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan and other Turkish football stars on Wednesday backed a campaign pushing for a "Yes" vote in the referendum on giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greater powers.

Turan and his fellow former Galatasaray star Burak Yilmaz, who now plays for Beijing Guoan, joined a social media campaign started by Turkish football legend Ridvan Dilmen for voters to back the idea.

Adebayor ponders future after Togo Cup exit

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor will return home and ponder his options after his country exited the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old former Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur forward has been without a club since leaving Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

Where to find Liverpool vs. Southampton (League Cup semifinal, 2nd leg) on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Liverpool vs. Southampton, you've come to the right place.

In the first leg, Liverpool lost 1-0 to Southampton after Nathan Redmond scored the only goal in the game. However, the Saints now face a Reds team at Anfield who will be looking to bounce back after a shock 2-3 defeat against Swansea on Saturday.

Carrick says Manchester United will go for it at Hull

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London (AFP) Michael Carrick has pledged that Manchester United will not rest on their laurels when they travel to Hull City looking to close out victory in their League Cup semi-final.

United won 2-0 in the first leg at Old Trafford courtesy of second-half strikes from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini, putting them within reach of a final showdown with either Liverpool or Southampton.

Where to find Juventus vs. AC Milan Coppa Italia quarterfinal on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Juventus vs. AC Milan in the Coppa Italia quarterfinal match, you've come to the right place.

In the 70th edition of Coppa Italia, Juventus vs. AC Milan are one step away from qualifying for the semifinals in this knockout match. But will it be Juventus or Milan who will make it into the final 4 of this tournament?

Where to find Celta vs. Real Madrid Copa del Rey quarterfinal 2nd leg on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Celta vs. Real Madrid, you've come to the right place.

Real Madrid is one step away from qualifying for the semifinals of the 2016/17 Copa del Rey. Madrid has to overturn a 1-2 defeat from the first leg to make it into the next round. But don't underestimate Celta de Vigo especially when they're playing at home.

Football: Turkey’s Arda Turan backs Erdogan presidential plan

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Istanbul (AFP) Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan and other Turkish football stars on Wednesday backed a campaign pushing for a "Yes" vote in the referendum on giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greater powers.

Turan and his fellow former Galatasaray star Burak Yilmaz, who now plays for Beijing Guoan, joined a social media campaign started by Turkish football legend Ridvan Dilmen for voters to back the idea.

Valencia legend Mendieta urges owner Peter Lim to change tack

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London (AFP) Former Valencia midfielder Gaizka Mendieta believes owner Peter Lim needs to adopt a more long-term approach to running the club, as they teeter above the La Liga relegation zone.

Valencia have gone through five coaches and three sporting directors in Lim's two-and-a-half-year tenure, with Cesare Prandelli and Jesus Garcia Pitarch the latest figures to give up the respective roles.

Coutinho signs new ‘long-term’ Liverpool deal

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London (AFP) Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho has committed his future to Liverpool by signing a new "long-term" contract, the Premier League giants announced on Wednesday.

Liverpool did not reveal details of the deal, but reports suggest Coutinho has signed a five-year contract worth between £150,000 ($188,800, 175,650 euros) and £200,000 per week.

Ex-Valencia star Mendieta urges owner Peter Lim to change tack

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London (AFP) Former Valencia midfielder Gaizka Mendieta believes owner Peter Lim needs to adopt a more long-term approach to running the club, as they teeter above the La Liga relegation zone.

Valencia have gone through five coaches and three sporting directors in Lim's two-and-a-half-year tenure, with Cesare Prandelli and Jesus Garcia Pitarch the latest figures to give up the respective roles.

Australian Open briefs

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Melbourne (AFP) Brief stories from the Australian Open on Wednesday:

Where did you get that hat?

Serena Williams nearly scrawled with marker pen on an designer pink hat when she was handed it after her win over Johanna Konta. Williams, who was signing autographs, was about to write on the hat when she realised it was a gift from Australian race-horse trainer Gai Waterhouse.

Future bright for Ivory Coast despite failed Cup defence

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) A young Ivory Coast side must pick themselves up quickly and look to the future after the bitter disappointment of their early elimination from the Africa Cup of Nations.

The reigning champions suffered an ignominious group-stage exit on Tuesday after a 1-0 defeat to a Morocco side coached by Herve Renard, the man who led the Elephants to the 2015 title.

Cavani, Di Maria fire PSG into League Cup final

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Paris (AFP) Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria propelled holders Paris Saint-Germain into a fourth straight French League Cup final with both scoring twice in a 4-1 victory at Bordeaux on Tuesday.

Argentine Di Maria's stunning free-kick gave record six-time champions PSG the lead, but Diego Rolan cancelled out the winger's effort just past the half hour.

Renard-led Morocco knock holders I. Coast out

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Title-holders the Ivory Coast were dumped out of the Africa Cup of Nations Tuesday after a superb Rachid Alioui goal gave Herve Renard-coached Morocco a 1-0 win in Gabon.

Clinching a quarter-finals place was particularly sweet for Frenchman Renard, the coach of the Ivorians when they won the biennial tournament two years ago.

Kalou announces international retirement after Ivorian exit

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Ivory Coast forward Salomon Kalou announced his retirement from international football after the reigning champions were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.

"I am 31, this is my sixth Africa Cup of Nations. I have been to a final and won another," said the 31-year-old after a 1-0 defeat to Morocco in Oyem condemned the Elephants to a group-stage exit.

Champs I. Coast out as Renard-led Morocco win

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Title-holders the Ivory Coast were dumped out of the Africa Cup of Nations Tuesday after a superb Rachid Alioui goal gave Herve Renard-coached Morocco a 1-0 win in Gabon.

Clinching a quarter-finals place was particularly sweet for Frenchman Renard, the coach of the Ivorians when they won the biennial tournament two years ago.

Brazil, Colombia play match for Chapecoense

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) Brazil and Colombia play a benefit match on Wednesday for the families of members of Brazilian team Chapecoense who were killed in a plane crash in November.

The team's plane went down on November 28 in mountains in Colombia as they flew to play Atletico Nacional of Medellin in the final of the Copa Sudamericana tournament.

Impressive DR Congo ease into Cup quarters

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Junior Kabananga set DR Congo on their way to a comfortable 3-1 win against Togo in Port-Gentil on Tuesday to clinch an Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals spot.

Kabananga's opener came just before the half-hour mark and Neeskens Kebano ran through to increase the lead in the 54th minute.

Ferguson can’t see Rooney’s United goal record falling

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London (AFP) Alex Ferguson believes Wayne Rooney's Manchester United goal-scoring record is one for the ages and unlikely ever to be broken.

The 31-year-old England forward scored his 250th goal for United when his superb free-kick late on rescued a 1-1 draw away to Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday.

Arsenal’s Xhaka in ‘racism’ probe – police

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London (AFP) Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has been interviewed by police over an allegation he racially abused a staff member at London's Heathrow Airport on Monday.

The 24-year-old Switzerland international was not arrested but voluntarily attended a nearby police station after the incident was reported by a third party.

How to watch the Premier League on NBC network with a HD indoor TV antenna

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If you're a subscriber to Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW or the soon-to-be relaunched fuboTV, one of the biggest complaints is that you're not able to watch the Premier League games on the NBC over-the-air network TV.

The same applies to the over-the-air FOX network. Both the NBC and FOX networks are only available in select cities (approximately 12 nationwide).

Hernandez leaves Leicester for Malaga

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Madrid (AFP) Spanish defender Luis Hernandez has left Premier League champions Leicester City to return to his homeland with Malaga on a three-and-a-half-year deal, both clubs confirmed on Tuesday.

"Leicester City Football Club can confirm that defender Luis Hernandez has signed for Spanish La Liga side Malaga in a permanent deal for an undisclosed fee," read a Leicester statement on the club's website.

Old Trafford capacity cut as United increase disabled places

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London (AFP) Manchester United are to create 300 new positions for disabled supporters at Old Trafford as part of a plan that will see the ground's capacity shaved from 75,635 to about 73,000.

The increase in the number of places for disabled fans will involve United moving 2,600 season-ticket holders from their current positions over three years United admitted that would be "a sacrifice" for those supporters.

Sports court upholds Kosovo’s UEFA membership

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Lausanne (AFP) The world's top sports court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by Serbia against Kosovo's membership in European football governing body UEFA.

Belgrade had appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) seeking to annul a May decision by UEFA members admitting the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK).

Owen urges Rashford to bide time at Man Utd

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London (AFP) Former Manchester United striker Michael Owen believes Marcus Rashford can be the club's first-choice centre-forward for "years to come", but told AFP he will have to be patient.

Rashford, 19, exploded onto the scene with United last season, scoring eight goals in his first 18 appearances and breaking into England's Euro 2016 squad.

Barca chief relaxed despite Messi speculation

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Barcelona (AFP) Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez insists he is sure Lionel Messi will sign a new deal with the Catalan giants despite continued speculation over the five-time World Player of the Year's future.

Messi has just 18 months left on his current contract and would have no shortage of lucrative offers should he decide to leave the club where he has spent the entirety of his glittering career.

Everton have made a significant step forward under Ronald Koeman

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Identity is a throwaway term in modern football parlance. But it's important.

It can be a crutch for managers who are toiling in the nascent stages of their spell with a new club. If supporters can see a methodology forming, poor results are more tolerable.

For Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp in their respective positions at Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, supporters were contented during indifferent starts, as both men were clearly putting the wheels in motion for a significant overhaul in terms of style and personnel.

Injury-hit Real wait on Cristiano Ronaldo for Cup comeback

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane hopes Cristiano Ronaldo will shrug off a foot problem in time to lead the European champions' bid to overcome a Copa del Rey deficit at Celta Vigo on Wednesday.

Zidane's squad, down 2-1 from the quarter-final first leg at home, has been hit by a series of injuries with Marcelo and Luka Modric joining Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Dani Carvajal and Pepe on the sidelines after limping off in Saturday's 2-1 win over Malaga.

Celtic on verge of becoming history Bhoys

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Glasgow (AFP) Celtic stand on the verge of reaching a historic milestone when they return to league action on Wednesday.

The runaway league leaders have been in cold storage for the past three weeks as the Scottish Premiership took a winter break but took a step closer to a domestic treble on Sunday with a 3-0 defeat of Albion Rovers in the Scottish Cup.

Liverpool seek League Cup home comfort in Saints semi-final

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Liverpool (AFP) Liverpool's formidable home record was meant to provide the platform for a tilt at three trophies this season -– but Saturday's surprise 3-2 Premier League defeat by Swansea spoiled that idea.

If Jurgen Klopp's team are to overcome Southampton at Anfield in the second leg of a League Cup semi-final on Wednesday and reach Wembley, their defending will have to improve significantly.

Impatient Chinese chase football glory at all costs

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Beijing (AFP) European clubs Inter Milan, Aston Villa and Sochaux have had a high turnover of managers since Chinese takeovers, sparking fears that their trigger-happy newowners have little patience and no strategy.

"Many buyouts are irrational and defy the laws of the market," Zhou Jiming, a football analyst and director at the official China Sports Journal, told AFP.

Egypt look to join Ghana in Cup of Nations quarters

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Seven-time champions Egypt face Ghana in Port-Gentil on Wednesday looking for the result that will see them join their opponents in qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

The Pharaohs need only draw the game, which kicks off at 8pm (1900 GMT), in the Gabonese port city to be certain of progressing to the last eight, although if Mali fail to beat Uganda they will be through anyway.

Give Egyptians something to celebrate – Elmohamady

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ahmed Elmohamady knows what it takes to win the Africa Cup of Nations and the Hull City man is quietly confident that Egypt can go all the way again on their long-awaited return to the tournament.

Elmohamady is only 29 but the flying wing-back is a comparative veteran in a young Egypt squad taken to Gabon by the wily Hector Cuper.

Algeria coach Georges Leekens quits after Africa Nations Cup exit

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Algiers (AFP) Algeria's Belgian coach Georges Leekens quit Tuesday after the side crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Algeria were one of the pre-tournament favourites for the competition in Gabon but failed to win a game in their opening group.

"For the good of all I decided to quit even though I do it with heart ache, and I wish all the success in the world to the national side," he said in a statement on the Algerian Football Federation website.

Man City’s Toure dismisses lure of China

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London (AFP) Yaya Toure says he wants to remain at Manchester City and is not interested in moving to China, amid reports of a big-money offer from the Chinese Super League.

Reports last week said Toure, 33, had rejected an approach from a Chinese club that would have seen him paid around £430,000 ($536,000, 499,000 euros) a week.

Hull’s Ryan Mason making ‘excellent progress’ after skull fracture

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London (AFP) Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason is making "excellent progress" after fracturing his skull but will remain under close observation in hospital, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old suffered serious injury when he accidentally clashed heads with Chelsea's Gary Cahill in the 14th minute of the 2-0 loss at the Premier League leaders on Sunday.

Algeria out after Senegal draw

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Islam Slimani scored twice but Algeria's Africa Cup of Nations hopes were ended after a 2-2 draw with Senegal in Franceville on Monday.

The Leicester City striker put Algeria ahead on two occasions but each time Senegal equalised, first through Papa Diop and then courtesy of Moussa Sow as they finished Group B in first place with seven points.

Tunisia fire four past Zimbabwe to progress

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Libreville (AFP) Tunisia became the first team to score four goals at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations as they beat Zimbabwe 4-2 in Libreville Monday to seal a quarter-finals place.

The Carthage Eagles, who led 4-1 at half-time, finished Group B runners-up behind Senegal and play Burkina Faso at the same stadium Saturday.

Algeria out after Senegal draw at Africa Cup of Nations

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Islam Slimani scored twice but Algeria's Africa Cup of Nations hopes were ended after a 2-2 draw with Senegal in Franceville on Monday.

The Leicester City striker put Algeria ahead on two occasions but each time Senegal equalised, first through Papa Diop and then courtesy of Moussa Sow as they finished Group B in first place with seven points.

Out of favour Markovic sent on loan to Hull by Liverpool

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Kingston upon Hull (United Kingdom) (AFP) Serbian international winger Lazar Markovic has been sent straight back out on loan to Premier League strugglers Hull on Monday by rivals Liverpool after a spell at Sporting Lisbon was cut short.

The 22-year-old who has joined until the end of the season returned to Liverpool after all three parties agreed it was best to bring his year long loan to Sporting to a premature end.

Costa return delights Chelsea’s Pedro and Fabregas

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London (AFP) Chelsea's Pedro believes fiery striker Diego Costa is "perfect" for the Premier League leaders after seeing him mark his return to the starting line-up with a goal in Sunday's 2-0 win over Hull City.

Spain forward Costa was left out of the Blues side as they beat reigning champions Leicester on January 14.

Klopp ready to help Gerrard realise manager dream

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London (AFP) Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has promised to do everything he can to help Anfield great Steven Gerrard realise his ambition of becoming a manager.

Former Liverpool captain Gerrard is to rejoin his hometown club in February as an academy coach and Klopp said the 36-year-old ex-England midfielder would be assured of his support as he embarks on a new phase of his football career.

Gabon left to ponder wider worries after Cup of Nations exit

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Libreville (AFP) Sporting agony in the shape of an early elimination from their own Africa Cup of Nations has only added to the other woes facing Gabon, a country already in the midst of a political and economic crisis.

"The Africa Cup of Nations is not finished. I encourage all football lovers to enjoy the quality of the remaining matches," said president Ali Bongo in a statement released following Sunday's 0-0 draw with central African neighbours Cameroon in Libreville.

Sunderland’s Djilobodji charged with violent conduct

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London (AFP) Sunderland defender Papy Djilobodji has been charged with violent conduct by England's governing Football Association following an incident late in Saturday's 2-0 Premier League loss at West Bromwich Albion.

Djilobodji, who could be banned for up to four matches if found guilty, appeared to swing his arms at West Brom midfielder Darren Fletcher at an 86th-minute free-kick.

Kremlin to host World Cup finals draw

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Moscow (AFP) The draw for the 2018 World Cup finals hosted by Russia will take place in the Kremlin on December 1, the country's Football Union (RFU) chief Vitaly Mutko said Monday.

Mutko, Russia's deputy prime minister, said that FIFA had approved the plan, which world football's ruling body later confirmed.

Arsenal boss Wenger hit with misconduct charge

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London (AFP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was charged with misconduct by England's governing Football Association on Monday after an alleged altercation with the fourth official during Sunday's 2-1 Premier League win over Burnley.

The veteran French boss was dismissed from his technical area by referee Jon Moss after being angered by the award of a stoppage-time penalty to Burnley, having allegedly verbally abused fourth official Anthony Taylor.

Wenger apologises for Burnley row but could still face ban

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger apologised after he was sent off and then shoved the fourth official during Arsenal's dramatic 2-1 win over Burnley but could still face a significant ban.

Having taken the lead through Shkodran Mustafi's first goal for the club on Sunday, Arsenal saw Granit Xhaka dismissed for a needless foul and then nearly imploded as Andre Gray struck from the spot following Francis Coquelin's foul on Ashley Barnes.

Dortmund fend off Real to snare ‘next Zlatan’ Alexander Isak

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) Borussia Dortmund on Monday snapped up Swedish teenage prodigy Alexander Isak in the face of intense competition from Real Madrid and other top European clubs.

Isak dubbed the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic moved from AIK after just 24 games in the Swedish championship for a reported 10 million euros ($10.

Hull skull fracture victim Mason talking in hospital

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London (AFP) Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason has been talking in hospital about the incident which left him with a fractured skull, the Premier League club said Monday.

The 25-year-old Mason suffered the injury when he accidentally clashed heads with Chelsea's Gary Cahill in the 14th minute of Hull's eventual 2-0 loss away to the Premier League leaders at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Asian Cup 2019 draw pits India against Kyrgyzstan

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) India was pitted against Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Macau when the draw for the final round of qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup took place Monday.

India, which like other Asian nations has invested heavily in football in recent years, is hoping to reach its first Asian Cup finals since 2011.

Skull fracture victim Ryan Mason talking in hospital

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London (AFP) Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason has been talking in hospital about the incident which left him with a fractured skull, the Premier League club said Monday.

The 25-year-old Mason suffered the injury when he accidentally clashed heads with Chelsea's Gary Cahill in the 14th minute of Hull's eventual 2-0 loss away to the Premier League leaders at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Mason, Cahill clash highlights head risks in sport

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London (AFP) Ryan Mason's clash of heads with Chelsea's Gary Cahill has again set alarm bells ringing over the risk of head injuries across a number of high profile sports.

The 25-year-old Hull City midfielder remained "stable condition" in hospital after the brutal impact with Cahill, 14 minutes into Sunday's Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, left him with a fractured skull.

Togo fans attack goalkeeper’s home after Cup of Nations loss

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Angry fans attacked the home of Togo's Kossi Agassa and the "scarred" goalkeeper is now a major doubt for the decisive Africa Cup of Nations clash against DR Congo on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old was blamed by Togolese fans for his role in the 3-1 defeat to Morocco last Friday and some took their fury out by targeting his home in the capital Lome at the weekend, forcing police to intervene.

Conte applauds Chelsea show of unity

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London (AFP) Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said his side had put on a united front after Diego Costa marked his return with a goal in a 2-0 victory over Hull City.

Absent from Chelsea's 3-0 win at Leicester City amid reports he had been unsettled by an offer from China, Costa celebrated his opener on Sunday with a hand gesture suggestive of media chatter.

Gritty Arsenal impress Wenger

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger hailed Arsenal's dramatic 2-1 win over Burnley as proof they have the character to catch runaway leaders Chelsea in the Premier League title race.

Wenger's side were on the brink of suffering a damaging setback at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser.

Morocco hoping to dump Ivory Coast out of Africa Cup of Nations

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Having guided the Ivory Coast to glory at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Herve Renard is now hoping to end his former side's defence of the trophy when they face his Morocco team on Tuesday.

The script could not have been better written, with Renard's Morocco and the Elephants clashing in a winner takes all final Group C showdown in the northern Gabonese town of Oyem, kicking off at 2000 local time (1900 GMT).

Footballers rally around Hull City’s Mason after skull fracture

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London (AFP) The football world rallied around Ryan Mason on Monday after the Hull City midfielder fractured his skull and underwent surgery following a nasty clash of heads with Chelsea's Gary Cahill.

The 25-year-old was in a stable condition in hospital following the collision with Cahill 14 minutes into Sunday's Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger apologises but could still face ban

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger apologised after he was sent off and then shoved the fourth official during Arsenal's dramatic 2-1 win over Burnley but could still face a significant ban.

Having taken the lead through Shkodran Mustafi's first goal for the club on Sunday, Arsenal saw Granit Xhaka dismissed for a needless foul and then nearly imploded as Andre Gray struck from the spot following Francis Coquelin's foul on Ashley Barnes.

Poor build-up to blame for Gabon exit – Aubameyang

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Libreville (AFP) Gabon talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang admitted that the Africa Cup of Nations hosts had blown their chance and blamed a poor build-up to the tournament after they were sent packing in the group stage on Sunday.

"We had chances. Unfortunately there are days when it doesn't go in," said the Borussia Dortmund striker, who missed a glorious early opportunity for the Panthers as they drew 0-0 with Cameroon in Libreville.

Rooney remains Lingard’s United role model

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) He may have found himself alongside Wayne Rooney on the Manchester United's substitutes' bench, but for fellow Old Trafford forward Jesse Lingard the record-breaking goal-scorer remains a role model.

Rooney surpassed Bobby Charlton's tally of 249 goals for United when he scored with a superb curling free-kick deep into stoppage-time to secure a 1-1 draw away to Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday.

Hosts Gabon suffer group-stage exit at Cup of Nations

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Libreville (AFP) There was agony for Gabon on Sunday as the Africa Cup of Nations hosts were condemned to a group-stage exit following a goalless draw with Cameroon in Libreville.

Star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was guilty of a glaring early miss while Denis Bouanga broke down in tears at the end after hitting the post at the death as the Panthers played out a third draw in as many games.

Hull City’a Mason ‘stable’ after skull fracture

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London (AFP) Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason was in a "stable condition" in hospital on Sunday following an operation on a fractured skull, his club said after a sickening clash of heads with Chelsea's Gary Cahill,

The pair collided 14 minutes into Premier League leaders Chelsea's eventual 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

Dzeko to the rescue as Roma stay in title hunt

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Milan (AFP) Edin Dzeko's second-half strike kept Serie A title challengers Roma in the hunt with a 1-0 win at home Cagliari that cut the gap on leaders Juventus to one point on Sunday.

Fresh life was breathed into the race for the scudetto last week, especially for Roma and Napoli, when Juventus suffered a chastening 2-1 defeat at Fiorentina.

Camacho not ready to discuss future after Gabon exit

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Libreville (AFP) Gabon coach Jose Antonio Camacho refused to discuss his own future as he said bad luck was to blame for the hosts' early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.

"I am sorry for the fans and for the team. We went out to win the game but football is not fair, and we hit the post in injury time before their goalkeeper made a great save from the follow-up," said Camacho after a 0-0 draw with Cameroon in Libreville.

Monaco thrash Lorient to go clear at top of Ligue 1

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Paris (AFP) Gabriel Boschilia and Valere Germain both struck twice as a rampant Monaco routed bottom side Lorient 4-0 on Sunday to climb two points clear of Nice at the top of Ligue 1.

Brazilian striker Boschilia netted a brace inside the opening half hour as Monaco punished slack Lorient defending in driving rain at the Stade Louis II before Germain curled in a third on 37 minutes.

Barcelona, Sevilla maintain pressure on Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all on target as Barcelona shrugged off the loss of the injured Sergio Busquets to remain just two points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid with a 4-0 win at Eibar on Sunday.

Sevilla separate the giants of Spanish football in second, just a point behind Madrid, after twice coming from behind to edge a seven-goal thriller 4-3 at rock-bottom Osasuna.

Hosts Gabon crash out of Cup of Nations

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Libreville (AFP) Africa Cup of Nations hosts Gabon crashed out of the competition in the group stage on Sunday after a goalless draw with Cameroon, who advance to the last eight.

Gabon were left to regret an inability to convert their chances at the Stade de l'Amitie in Libreville, including one spectacular early miss from star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Burkina Faso, Cameroon into Cup of Nations quarters, Gabon out

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Libreville (AFP) Burkina Faso and Cameroon secured progress to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday as hosts Gabon crashed out.

Gabon were held to a 0-0 draw by Cameroon in Libreville, and their opponents went through to the last eight as runners-up in Group A.

Burkina Faso won the group on goal difference after a 2-0 victory against Guinea-Bissau in Franceville.

Barcelona’s Busquets suffers ankle ligament damage

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Madrid (AFP) Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets had to be stretchered off just eight minutes into the Catalans' trip to Eibar on Sunday with sprained ligaments in his right ankle.

"Busquets has a sprained external lateral ligament in his right ankle. Tomorrow he will have more tests," Barca's official Twitter account confirmed.

Algeria football coach admits chances are slim

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Algeria coach Georges Leekens admitted on Sunday that his side do not stand much chance of making it to the knockout stage of the Africa Cup of Nations.

"We know that the chances are not great. It does not only depend on us," said the Belgian ahead of Monday's final matches in Group B.

Costa stars as Chelsea extend lead, Arsenal go second

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London (AFP) Diego Costa marked his return to Chelsea duty by scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 victory over Hull on Sunday that saw the Premier League leaders go eight points clear after Arsenal went second by coming through late penalty drama.

Brazil-born Spain forward Costa, who on Sunday took his Chelsea tally for the season to 15 goals, missed last weekend's 3-0 win at Leicester City due to a back complaint.

Australia winger Kruse joins China exodus

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Berlin (AFP) Australian international winger Robbie Kruse has left Bayer Leverkusen to join Chinese Super League side Liaoning Whowin FC, the German club said on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Kruse, just the latest European-based player to be enticed by the riches on offer in China, has already passed a medical at his new club in a deal which will reportedly cost Liaoning about 500,000 euros ($535,000).

Returning Costa gives Chelsea breathing space

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London (AFP) Diego Costa marked his comeback with a goal as Chelsea overcame an obdurate Hull City side 2-0 on Sunday to surge eight points clear at the Premier League summit.

Costa missed Chelsea's 3-0 win at Leicester City last weekend due to a back problem, amid reports he had rowed with a fitness coach after being unsettled by a big-money offer from China.

Sevilla maintain pressure on Madrid, Griezmann saves Atletico

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Madrid (AFP) Sevilla produced another late fightback to remain just one point behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid after twice coming from behind to edge out rock bottom Osasuna 4-3 on Sunday.

However, Atletico Madrid lost further ground on the top three as they needed a spectacular Antoine Griezmann equaliser 10 minutes from time to secure a 2-2 draw at Athletic Bilbao.

Football: Calhanoglu breaks Leverkusen penalty curse

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Berlin (AFP) Hakan Calhanoglu finally broke Bayer Leverkusen's penalty curse this season with the first of his two goals in Sunday's 3-1 Bundesliga win at home to Hertha Berlin.

The Turkish international winger drilled home from the spot on 36 minutes to put his side 2-0 up holding his nerve after Leverkusen had failed to convert all five spot-kicks they had been previously awarded this season.

Wenger sorry after fourth official row

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger apologised for his behaviour after the Arsenal manager was sent off for rowing with fourth official Anthony Taylor during his team's explosive 2-1 win against Burnley on Sunday.

With the Gunners already down to 10 men following referee Jon Moss's decision to send off Granit Xhaka for a reckless lunge, Wenger's frustration boiled over when Burnley were awarded a late penalty at theEmirates Stadium.

Calhanoglu breaks Leverkusen penalty curse

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Berlin (AFP) Hakan Calhanoglu finally broke Bayer Leverkusen's penalty curse this season with the first of his two goals in Sunday's 3-1 Bundesliga win at home to Hertha Berlin.

The Turkish international winger drilled home from the spot on 36 minutes to put his side 2-0 up holding his nerve after Leverkusen had failed to convert all five spot-kicks they had been previously awarded this season.

Penalty drama sees Arsenal go second as Saints tame Foxes

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London (AFP) Ten-man Arsenal went second in the Premier League with a stunning 2-1 win over Burnley at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday that saw both sides score penalties in stoppage-time.

Shkodran Mustafi's first Arsenal goal put the Gunners 1-0 up in the 59th minute and that was how the score looked like it would stay when, in the third of seven minutes of time added on by referee Jon Moss, Burnley's Ashley Barnes was fouled inside the area by Francis Coquelin.

Ice-cool Sanchez lifts Arsenal to late win over Burnley

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London (AFP) Alexis Sanchez kept his nerve to haul 10-man Arsenal into second place in the Premier League as the Chilean's last-gasp penalty sealed a dramatic 2-1 home win over Burnley on Sunday.

Arsene Wenger's side appeared to have blown their chance to get back in the title race when Burnley's Andre Gray scored a stoppage-time penalty to cancel out Shkodran Mustafi's first goal for Arsenal.

Monaco thrash Lorient to go clear at top

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Paris (AFP) Gabriel Boschilia and Valere Germain both struck twice as a rampant Monaco routed bottom side Lorient 4-0 on Sunday to climb two points clear of Nice at the top of Ligue 1.

Brazilian striker Boschilia netted a brace inside the opening half hour as Monaco punished slack Lorient defending in driving rain at the Stade Louis II before Germain curled in a third on 37 minutes.

Comeback kings Sevilla maintain pressure on Real Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) Sevilla produced another late fightback to remain just one point behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid after twice coming from behind to edge out rock bottom Osasuna 4-3 on Sunday.

Sergio Leon and a Vicente Iborra own goal put the hosts in front early in each half.

But Iborra twice levelled before Franco Vazquez's controversial third 10 minutes from time and a stoppage time effort from Pablo Sarabia sealed a vital three points for Sevilla.

Diego Costa back in Chelsea team against Hull

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London (AFP) Diego Costa returned to Chelsea's starting XI for the Premier League leaders' home game against Hull City on Sunday.

The Brazil-born Spain striker, Chelsea's top scorer with 14 goals, missed last weekend's 3-0 win at Leicester City due to a back complaint.

But he was reported to have had a furious training-ground row with fitness coach Julio Tous and was also thought to be the subject of a mega-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian.

Dybala, Higuain strike as Juve humble Lazio

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Milan (AFP) Paulo Dybala hit a fifth-minute opener and Gonzalo Higuain added a quick second as Juventus humbled Lazio 2-0 on Sunday to restore their four-point lead over Roma.

Despite a poor record against the Turin giants in recent years, Lazio travelled to Turin looking to end the Serie A champions' 26-match unbeaten league run at home.

Southampton forget Fonte fuss to beat Leicester

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) Southampton put the row over former captain Jose Fonte's departure to one side as they beat struggling champions Leicester 3-0 in the Premier League at St Mary's on Sunday.

Fonte joined top-flight rivals West Ham in an £8 million ($9.9 million, 9.2 million euros) move on Friday, with the Portugal defender having been dropped by Southampton manager Claude Puel earlier this month after he handed in a transfer request.

Brazil’s tragic Chapecoense draws in first match since plane crash

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Chapecó (Brazil) (AFP) Chapecoense, the up and coming Brazilian football club decimated by a plane crash, proudly strode back on the field Saturday in a new line-up for their first match since the tragedy.

The team took the field amid intense public and media attention focusing on the 20,000-place Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco decked out in the home side's green color.

Jesus can’t be Manchester City saviour, says Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola warned against expecting too much from new arrival Gabriel Jesus after he made an eye-catching debut in their 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.

Substitute Jesus, a £27 million ($33 million, 31 million euros) acquisition from Palmeiras, twice went close to giving City victory, heading narrowly over and seeing a goal ruled out for offside.

Mourinho wants Manchester United wins rather than Rooney records

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) Jose Mourinho wants record-breaker Wayne Rooney to help Manchester United solve a familiar problem after they failed yet again to turn their dominance into three points in a battling 1-1 draw with Stoke City.

Juan Mata's own-goal gave Stoke a 19th-minute lead at the Britannia Stadium before Rooney rescued a point for the visitors deep into stoppage-time by becoming United's all-time leading scorer with his 250th goal for the English giants as he broke Bobby Charlton's longstanding club record.

Klopp laments ‘passive’ defending Liverpool after Swansea shock

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Liverpool (AFP) Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp berated his side's "passive" defending after a 3-2 loss at home to Swansea dealt a major blow to their Premier League title hopes.

Relegation-threatened Swansea became the first away team to win a league fixture at Anfield for more than a year as Fernando Llorente scored twice on Saturday before Gylfi Sigurdsson struck the winner 16 minutes from time.

Algerian stars need miracle to survive in Africa Cup of Nations

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Star-packed Algeria came to the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon as one of the title favourites, but they need a miracle in Franceville Monday to reach the quarter-finals.

A team including African Footballer of the Year Riyad Mahrez must defeat Group B winners Senegal, and hope fellow strugglers Zimbabwe beat Tunisia in Libreville in a simultaneous kick-off.

Last-gasp defeat hard to accept for Uganda coach

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic admitted the way in which his side were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations with a last-gasp defeat to Egypt on Saturday was a crushing blow.

"We tried our best but unfortunately it was not enough," said "Micho" after Abdallah El Said's 89th-minute strike, from a Mohamed Salah assist, gave Egypt a 1-0 win in the Group D encounter in Port-Gentil.

Insigne, Callejon on target as Napoli stroll past Milan

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Milan (AFP) Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon struck inside the opening minutes as classy Napoli kept their title hopes alive with a 2-1 win at AC Milan on Saturday.

A week after seeing Fiorentina stun leaders Juventus 2-1 to carve open the Serie A title race, AC Milan hoped to upset predictions at a packed San Siro.

Egypt strike late to dump out Uganda from Africa Cup of Nations

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Abdallah El Said scored with a minute left as Egypt snatched a 1-0 win over Uganda on Saturday that leaves them on the verge of the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals and eliminated their opponents.

The substitute lashed in from a Mohamed Salah pass to leave the seven-time champions needing only a point from their last Group D game against Ghana who beat Mali 1-0 earlier in the day to go through.

Balotelli accuses Bastia fans of racial abuse

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Nice (France) (AFP) Angry Nice striker Mario Balotelli accused Bastia fans of racially abusing him and screaming monkey chants throughout Friday's 1-1 Ligue 1 draw in Corsica.

"Yesterday the result against Bastia was right... We will do more work to try to get our objective. The referee was good too," Balotelli wrote on his Instagram account, alongside the image of a black square.

Egypt strike late to dump out Uganda

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Abdallah El Said scored with a minute left as Egypt snatched a 1-0 win over Uganda on Saturday that leaves them on the verge of the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals and eliminated their opponents.

The substitute lashed in after collecting a Mohamed Salah pass to leave the seven-time champions needing only a point from their last Group D game against Ghana who beat Mali 1-0 earlier in the day to go through.

Ritchie double has Newcastle flying high

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London (AFP) A Matt Ritchie double propelled Newcastle back to the top of the English Championship as they strolled to a 4-0 win over bottom side Rotherham on Saturday.

Ritchie's double plus goals from Ireland international Daryl Murphy and Ayoze Perez see the Magpies leapfrog Brighton who beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in an ill-tempered encounter on Friday by a point.

Missed chances, not ref, to blame: Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his side's wasteful finishing rather than a contentious refereeing decision was to blame for their 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

City were 2-1 up, Dele Alli having hit back for Spurs after goals by Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne, when Raheem Sterling appeared to be shoved in the back by Kyle Walker inside the visitors' box.

Leipzig down 10-man Frankfurt to trim Bayern lead

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Berlin (AFP) Goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky was sent off just 125 seconds into Eintracht Frankfurt's 3-0 defeat on Saturday as second-placed RB Leipzig trimmed Bayern Munich's lead in the Bundesliga.

The match at Leipzig's Red Bull Arena had barely begun when Hradecky dropped to the turf to gather a loose ball just outside his area and was shown a straight red card for handling the ball.

Wayne Rooney’s five best Man Utd goals

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) Wayne Rooney became Manchester United's outright record goal-scorer on Saturday when he scored his 250th goal for the club to earn a 1-1 draw at Stoke City.

AFP Sport selects the five most memorable strikes from his United collection:

Manchester United 2 Newcastle United 1 (Premier League, April 2005)

Rooney's first season at United was a frustrating one as his side were left for dead by Chelsea in the Premier League and lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup final, but he gave a sign of the glories to come with a stupendous volley against Newcastle United.

Tottenham Hotspur fightback thwarts Guardiola’s Manchester City

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Pep Guardiola's Manchester City were denied a morale-boosting Premier League victory as Tottenham Hotspur came from two goals down to earn a contentious 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Blunders by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris allowed Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne to give City a deserved 2-0 lead, only for Dele Alli and substitute Son Heung-Minto grab a point for the visitors.

Fiorentina teen breaks duck in Chievo romp

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Milan (AFP) Teenaged forward Federico Chiesa's first Serie A goal for Fiorentina in a 3-0 romp at Chievo boosted La Viola's Europa League hopes on Saturday.

A week after stunning champions and leaders Juventus 2-1 to throw the Serie A title race open, Fiorentina travelled to the Bentegodi stadium without suspended Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic.

Lay off misfiring Ronaldo, Zidane tells Real Madrid fans

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Madrid (AFP) Zinedine Zidane urged Real Madrid's notoriously demanding fans to lay off Cristiano Ronaldo as the Real coach faces up to a mounting injury crisis on top of a congested fixture list.

Ronaldo was whistled as his sluggish start to 2017 continued with a wasteful display in front of goal as Madrid edged past Malaga 2-1 on Saturday thanks to two goals from captain Sergio Ramos.

Gyan steers Ghana into Cup of Nations quarter-finals

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations as Asamoah Gyan's goal was enough to beat Mali 1-0 in Port-Gentil on Saturday.

On an appalling playing surface, Gyan headed home from Jordan Ayew's cross in the 21st minute to score his eighth goal at the Cup of Nations over six consecutive tournaments going back to 2008.

Ghana coach rewards team for ‘mature football’

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana coach Avram Grant said his team's 1-0 victory over Mali on Saturday that sealed their progress to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals owed much to their ability to hold on in the second half.

"In tournaments you play for the points. In the first half we went 1-0 ahead, we were dominating and we had chances to score even more goals," said the Israeli.

Afobe rescues draw for battling Bournemouth

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) Bournemouth substitute Benik Afobe salvaged a 2-2 draw against Watford in the Premier League as the hosts twice came from behind at Dean Court on Saturday.

Watford were on course for their first win in seven matches before Afobe denied them all three points eight minutes from time on the south coast.

Brazil’s tragic Chapecoense play first match since plane crash

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Chapecó (Brazil) (AFP) Chapecoense, the Brazilian football club cruelly decimated by a plane crash, stride back on the field Saturday in a new line-up for their first match since the tragedy.

Intense public and media attention was greeting the friendly match against Palmeiras, to be played in the 20,000-place Arena Conda stadium in Chapeco decked out in the home side's green color.

Cavani hits double for impressive PSG

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Paris (AFP) Edinson Cavani struck his 19th and 20th goals of the Ligue 1 season as French champions Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 at in-form Nantes on Saturday.

The impressive away win leaves PSG still in third, but they are now just a point behind leaders Nice and level with Monaco, who have a game in hand on Sunday at home to Lorient.

Piszczek rescues Dortmund at 10-man Bremen

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Berlin (AFP) Lukasz Piszczek saved Borussia Dortmund's blushes with the winner in a 2-1 victory at 10-man Werder Bremen on Saturday to lift them up to fourth in the Bundesliga.

A Dortmund side missing predator Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang trail leaders Bayern Munich by 12 points, but climbed up from sixth with their first league win since the start of December.

Gyan steers Ghana into Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations as Asamoah Gyan's goal was enough for them to beat Mali 1-0 in Port-Gentil on Saturday.

On an appalling playing surface, Gyan headed home from Jordan Ayew's cross in the 21st minute to score his eighth goal at the Cup of Nations over six consecutive tournaments going back to 2008.

Wayne Rooney highs and lows

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) After Wayne Rooney broke Bobby Charlton's Manchester United scoring record by scoring his 250th goal for the club, AFP Sport looks back at his career highs and lows:

HIGHS

Euro 2004 explosion

Rooney's emergence as a global star can be traced back to the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, when, aged 18, he terrified opposition defences with his direct running as England reached the quarter-finals.

‘It means a hell of a lot,’ says Manchester United’s record-breaking Rooney

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) Wayne Rooney became Manchester United's record scorer when he netted his 250th goal for the English giants in a 1-1 draw at Stoke on Saturday, saying the landmark meant "a hell of a lot."

Rooney equalised in the fourth minute of stoppage time to break fellow England great Bobby Charlton's United record of 249 goals.

Carroll brace fires resurgent Hammers past Boro

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Middlesbrough (United Kingdom) (AFP) Andy Carroll scored twice as West Ham added to Middlesbrough's struggles in the Premier League with a 3-1 win at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.

The England international sent a thumping header beyond Victor Valdes to give the Hammers, who were again playing without want-away France playmaker Dimitri Payet, a ninth-minute lead.

Rooney salvages point for Manchester United with record-breaking strike

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) Wayne Rooney fired home a spectacular injury-time equaliser to break Bobby Charlton's Manchester United goalscoring record and force a 1-1 draw with Stoke City in Saturday's Premier League clash.

Rooney couldn't have chosen a better way to grab his 250th goal for the club from a free-kick with time running out after United had trailed since the early stages to an unfortunate own goal by Juan Mata.

Ghana through to Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations as Asamoah Gyan's goal was enough for them to beat Mali 1-0 in Port-Gentil on Saturday.

On an appalling playing surface, Gyan headed home from Jordan Ayew's cross in the 21st minute to score his eighth goal at the Cup of Nations over six consecutive tournaments going back to 2008.

Napoli duo Ghoulam, Koulibaly go head to head at Cup of Nations

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) Colleagues at club level, Kalidou Koulibaly and Faouzi Ghoulam will come up against each other when Senegal meet Algeria at the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday.

The game in Franceville, south-eastern Gabon, is decisive for Ghoulam's Algeria, who have to win and hope Tunisia lose to outsiders Zimbabwe if they are to progress to the quarter-finals of a competition for which they were among the pre-tournament favourites.

Adrian Lopez returns to Villarreal on loan

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Madrid (AFP) La Liga side Villarreal have bolstered their attacking options with the return of Adrian Lopez on loan from Porto until the end of the season.

"Villarreal and Porto have reached an agreement for the loan of forward Adrian Lopez, who will wear the yellow shirt until the end of the season subject to a medical and the signing of his contract, which will take place on Monday," Villarreal said in a statement on Saturday.

Rooney breaks Charlton’s Manchester United goal record

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) Wayne Rooney became Manchester United's record scorer when he netted his 250th goal for the English giants in a 1-1 draw away to Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday.

Rooney equalised in the fourth minute of stoppage time to break fellow England great Bobby Charlton's United record of 249 goals.

West Brom volleys leave Sunderland rock bottom

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Birmingham (United Kingdom) (AFP) Clinical first-half volleys from Darren Fletcher and Chris Brunt gave buoyant West Brom a 2-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday, leaving the visitors bottom of the Premier League.

For Tony Pulis's West Brom this was three wins from four Premier League games and leaves them in a lofty eighth place on 32 points.

Ramos saves Real Madrid as fans target Ronaldo

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos struck twice within eight first-half minutes to get the European champions back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Malaga at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Madrid's 40-game unbeaten run had come to a crashing halt with back-to-back defeats to Sevilla and Celta Vigo in the past week, but after a nervy start Ramos ensured they opened up a four-point gap at the top of the table.

Coleman deepens crisis for Allardyce and Palace

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London (AFP) Seamus Coleman's late strike gave Everton a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday to leave the losers without a win under Sam Allardyce in five Premier League matches and third from bottom of the table.

The Irish international's goal four minutes from time was no more than the visitors deserved recording wins in their first three league matches in a calendar year for the first time since 2008 having peppered the Palace goal with 16 shots prior to that.

Rooney becomes Manchester United’s new record goalscorer

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) Wayne Rooney became Manchester United's record goalscorer when he netted his 250th goal for the English giants in a 1-1 draw away to Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday.

Rooney equalised in the fourth minute of stoppage time to break fellow England great Bobby Charlton's United record of 249 goals.

Klopp slams sloppy Liverpool after Swansea shock

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Liverpool (AFP) Jurgen Klopp slammed Liverpool's careless defending as his side's Premier League title challenge suffered a damaging blow in a shock 3-2 home defeat against Swansea on Saturday.

Reds boss Klopp was furious Swansea striker Fernando Llorente was allowed to score twice in quick succession in the second half after lapses in concentration from the Liverpool defence.

Klopp slams sloppy Liverpool

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Liverpool (AFP) Jurgen Klopp slammed Liverpool's careless defending as his side's Premier League title challenge suffered a damaging blow in a shock 3-2 home defeat against Swansea on Saturday.

Reds boss Klopp was furious Swansea striker Fernando Llorente was allowed to score twice in quick succession in the second half after lapses in concentration from the Liverpool defence.

Sigurdsson strike stuns Liverpool at Anfield

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Liverpool (AFP) Gylfi Sigurdsson's decisive goal boosted Swansea's hopes of Premier League survival as they inflicted Liverpool's first home defeat for almost a year with a 3-2 triumph at Anfield on Saturday.

Iceland international Sigurdsson, who has repeatedly been linked with a move away from the Welsh club, struck with 16 minutes left after Paul Clement's side had let a two-goal lead slip against title-chasing Liverpool.

Arsenal face defining period, says midfielder Xhaka

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London (AFP) Granit Xhaka admits Arsenal's Premier League clash with Burnley on Sunday marks the start of a defining period as the Gunners battle to get back in the title race.

Arsene Wenger's side have fallen eight points behind leaders Chelsea and can't afford many more stumbles if they are to catch their London rivals.

Chelsea seek to put Costa furore to bed

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London (AFP) Premier League leaders Chelsea will hope to draw a line beneath the controversy that has embroiled striker Diego Costa when they welcome Hull City to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Costa missed last weekend's 3-0 win at champions Leicester City after reportedly rowing with fitness coach Julio Tous amid reports of an eye-watering offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian.

Cup of Nations hosts face decisive Cameroon date

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Libreville (AFP) Veteran Gabon goalkeeper Didier Ovono has called for the country to unite behind the team as they face the prospect of having to beat Cameroon on Sunday to stay in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Panthers have so far only managed two 1-1 draws against Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso, form that has not been good enough to rouse the central African state hit by violence after a contested presidential election last year.

Tevez out to prove his worth in ‘new home’ Shanghai

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Shanghai (AFP) Argentine forward Carlos Tevez said Saturday he will have to earn every yuan of his reportedly world-leading salary as he officially joined Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, declaring it his "new home."

Tevez, who arrived to a rapturous fan welcome Thursday, is arguably the highest-profile foreign player to ever play in China, one of a slew of overseas stars lured by increasingly lavish sums that have triggered a backlash from Chinese authorities.

Chelsea won’t dwell on Costa trouble, Spurs plan City misery

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London (AFP) Chelsea will bid to put the Diego Costa crisis behind them when the Premier League leaders host Hull, while title chasing Tottenham aim to maintain their hot streak at troubled Manchester City on Saturday.

Blues striker Costa reportedly clashed with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte last week over the club's treatment of his back injury.

Arsenal face season-defining period, says Xhaka

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London (AFP) Granit Xhaka admits Arsenal's Premier League clash with Burnley on Sunday marks the start of a defining period as the Gunners battle to get back in the title race.

Arsene Wenger's side have fallen eight points behind leaders Chelsea and can't afford many more stumbles if they are to catch their London rivals.

Shaw struggling at Man United – Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has acknowledged England left-back Luke Shaw is enduring a testing period in his Old Trafford career due to illness and injury.

Shaw, 21, spent most of last season recovering from a double leg break sustained in September 2015 and has made only 12 starts since Mourinho succeeded Louis van Gaal in the close season.

Matip given FIFA clearance to return for Liverpool

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London (AFP) Liverpool defender Joel Matip has been cleared to return to action with the Premier League club after FIFA resolved the Cameroon international's status on Friday.

Matip recently claimed he had retired from international football and did not want to play for Cameroon despite their attempts to call him up for the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

Title hopefuls Nice held at Bastia

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Bastia (France) (AFP) French title hopefuls Nice edged provisionally a point clear of Monaco but were Friday lamenting the loss of two points in a 1-1 draw at lowly Bastia.

The match was marred by an ugly incident beforehand when police reported some Bastia fans stoned the Nice team bus, breaking two windows, as it arrived at the Armand Cesari stadium.

Ivory Coast set for Renard showdown after DR Congo draw

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Reigning champions the Ivory Coast will need to beat the Morocco of their former coach Herve Renard to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals after a second draw in as many games on Friday.

The Ivorians had to come from behind twice to draw 2-2 with DR Congo in Oyem in the day's early game with Wilfried Bony and Geoffrey Serey Die getting their goals.

Spurs bigger than Man City, says Pochettino

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London (AFP) Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has declared his club have a more storied history and more supporters than Saturday's Premier League opponents Manchester City.

City have won two league titles, two League Cups and one FA Cup since their 2008 takeover by Sheikh Mansour and enrolled superstar manager Pep Guardiola prior to the current campaign.

West Ham land Saints defender Fonte

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London (AFP) West Ham signed Portugal defender Jose Fonte from Southampton in an £8 million ($9 million) swoop on Friday.

Fonte had been dropped by Southampton manager Claude Puel earlier this month after the club captain handed in a transfer request.

The 33-year-old was linked with moves to Liverpool and Manchester City, but Hammers boss Slaven Bilic convinced him to move to east London.

Lewandowski’s late strike seals Bayern’s win

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Berlin (AFP) Robert Lewandowski's 91st-minute strike snatched victory for Bayern Munich in their 2-1 comeback win at Freiburg in sub-zero temperatures on Friday as the Bundesliga resumed after the winter break.

Lewandowski, last season's top scorer in Germany, showed his class with two superb strikes at Freiburg's sold-out Schwarzwald Stadion.

Hasenhuettl braced for test of Leipzig’s mettle

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Berlin (AFP) RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl admits his young side face a test of their mettle as legitimate Bundesliga title challengers with three tough matches, starting on Saturday.

Leipzig are second only to Bayern Munich in Germany's top flight with the league resuming this weekend after the four-week winter break.

Morocco battle back to beat Togo at Cup of Nations

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Herve Renard's Morocco came roaring back from behind to beat Togo 3-1 in Oyem on Friday and breathe life into their Africa Cup of Nations bid.

In front of a sparse crowd, Mathieu Dossevi had given Togo an early lead in northern Gabon, but goals from Aziz Bouhaddouz and Romain Saiss had the Atlas Lions in front before the midway point in the first half.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 22

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Second-place Tottenham visit fifth-place Manchester City this Saturday, Jan. 21, at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC UNIVERSO, highlighting NBC Sports Group's Premier League coverage this week. Spurs are on a six-match winning streak in the league, most recently defeating West Bromwich Albion 4-0 with a hat trick from Harry Kane.

Laurent Koscielny is Premier League’s most complete center back

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In recent years, Manchester City's Vincent Kompany and Chelsea's John Terry have dominated most debates on who is the best center back in England's top flight. After all, Kompany has landed in the PFA Team of the Year three times since his arrival to the blue side of Manchester, and Terry made four appearances in the aforementioned team over the years.

Gerrard returns to Liverpool as academy coach

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London (AFP) Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard will return to coach at their academy next month, the Premier League outfit said on Friday.

Gerrard had been widely tipped to join the Anfield coaching staff following his decision to leave LA Galaxy after 18 months with the MLS team.

The 36-year-old, who made 710 appearances for Liverpool before joining the Galaxy in 2015, will take up a full-time role at the Reds' Kirkby youth complex from February.

Fiorentina’s Kalinic turns down 40mn-euro China option

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Rome (AFP) Fiorentina's Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic said Friday he would stay with the club rather than respond to an overture from China.

Chinese outfit Tianjin had expressed interest in securing his services.

But Italian media quoted comments by Kalinic to Croatian website Sportske.

Chelsea won’t dwell on Costa, Spurs plan City misery

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London (AFP) Chelsea will bid to put the Diego Costa crisis behind them when the Premier League leaders host Hull, while title chasing Tottenham aim to maintain their hot streak at troubled Manchester City on Saturday.

Blues striker Costa reportedly clashed with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte last week over the club's treatment of his back injury.

Champions Ivory Coast hit back to hold DR Congo

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Defending champions the Ivory Coast had to come from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw with the Democratic Republic of Congo Friday in a lively Africa Cup of Nations clash.

The result in the northern Gabonese town of Oyem kept the vibrant Congolese top of Group C with four points from two matches followed by the Ivorians with two.

Zinedine Zidane seeks quick solution to Real Madrid woes

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists he is responsible for the European champions' back-to-back defeats as they look to return to winning ways when Malaga visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Madrid hadn't lost in 40 matches in all competitions stretching back nine months until conceding twice to lose 2-1 at Sevilla last weekend, and followed that up with a shock defeat by the same scoreline at home to Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday.

Dortmund’s injuries pile up ahead of Bremen

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Berlin (AFP) Borussia Dortmund have been hit by fresh injury problems ahead of Saturday's Bundesliga clash at Werder Bremen with midfielders Sebastian Rode and Emre Mor the latest to be ruled out.

The German league restarts after the four-week winter break, but Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel has a dwindling pool of players.

Liverpool not being treated fairly over Matip – Klopp

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Liverpool (AFP) Liverpool are suffering as a result of the stand-off with Cameroon over central defender Joel Matip despite him having retired from international football, manager Jurgen Klopp said on Friday.

Klopp was not best pleased to have to pull Matip, who has not played for the Indomitable Lions since September 2015, from the starting line-up for the previous two matches including last Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester United because of confusion over the player's international status.

Germany to apply to host Euro 2024

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Berlin (AFP) The German Football Association (DFB) announced Friday that it is applying to host the 2024 European championships.

The DFB has rubber-stamped the decision to apply for the finals with European football's governing body UEFA having set the deadline for confirmed interest by March 3 with candidates announced on March 10.

Ghana coach says injury rules unfair amid pitch concerns

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana coach Avram Grant has called for Africa Cup of Nations organisers to allow teams to replace players who have suffered injuries because of the state of the pitches in Gabon.

The Black Stars have lost left-back Abdul Rahman Baba to a serious knee injury suffered in the first half of Ghana's 1-0 win against Uganda on Tuesday.

Guardiola: Bravo and I should take share of blame for City’s woes

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Pep Guardiola admitted on Friday that he and under-fire goalkeeper Claudio Bravo must shoulder their share of responsibility for Manchester City's disappointing start to the Premier League season.

Last Sunday's 4-0 thrashing at Everton saw City drop 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, a state of affairs hardly anticipated when Guardiola arrived at the Etihad Stadium in the close season.

East Timor banned from Asian Cup 2023 over Brazilians scam

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) East Timor has been banned from the Asian Cup in 2023 and fined $76,000 for fielding several Brazilian-born footballers with fake documents, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Friday.

The AFC and FIFA investigated the eligibility of a number of East Timor footballers after the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 qualifier playoff round matches last year.

Where to find Freiburg vs. Bayern Munich on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Freiburg vs. Bayern Munich, you've come to the right place.

It's been 30 days since Bayern Munich last played a competitive match, but they return today to kick off the second haf of the Bundesliga season now that the winter break has ended. With Bayern already three points ahead in the Bundesliga table, today gives the top German team a chance to extend their lead to six points before RB Leipzig has even had a chance to kick a ball.

Diego Costa to make Chelsea return, reveals Conte

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London (AFP) Chelsea striker Diego Costa will return for Sunday's home game with Hull City after missing last weekend's 3-0 victory at Leicester City, manager Antonio Conte revealed on Friday.

A back problem was the official reason for Costa's absence at Leicester, but there were reports it stemmed from an angry row with fitness coach Julio Tous.

Mourinho tips Depay for possible Man Utd buy-back

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Jose Mourinho says he would not be surprised if Manchester United eventually activate the buy-back clause that they inserted in the transfer of Dutch winger Memphis Depay to French club Lyon.

Depay has suffered an underwhelming 18 months in English football since former United manager Louis van Gaal paid PSV Eindhoven a reported £25 million ($30.

Micho, the ‘soldier and servant of African football’

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) "There is no bigger showroom than the Africa Cup of Nations," says Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic, and making it to this year's tournament in Gabon has thrust him and his team into the limelight.

The articulate and engaging Serbian has been working towards this moment since first arriving on the continent in 2001, and now he has taken Uganda to a first Cup of Nations since 1978.

Tragic Chapecoense turn page with Palmeiras friendly

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Chapecó (Brazil) (AFP) Tragic Brazilian football team Chapecoense are ready to turn the page with new players recruited in record time to play their first match on Saturday since its squad was wiped out in a plane crash.

The friendly against Brazilian champions Palmeiras will be the final tribute to the 19 players and 24 other club members who were killed as the team travelled to the away leg of the Copa Sudamerica final in Colombia last November.

Lyon sign Memphis Depay from Manchester United

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Lyon (AFP) Lyon have completed the signing of Netherlands international Memphis Depay from Manchester United, the French club confirmed on Friday.

Depay will be presented to the media at a press conference later on Friday and could make his debut in Sunday's Ligue 1 clash at home to Marseille.

AFP

Manchester United ready for Stoke exorcism

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United's visit to Stoke on Saturday offers the chance to exorcise some bad memories as Jose Mourinho's side look to reel in the Premier League's top four.

United's lowest point of last season came in this fixture when, amid fevered speculation about Louis van Gaal's future as manager, they performed woefully and slipped to a 2-0 Boxing Day defeat.

Will Johnson’s last stand at Orlando City SC

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It's been a tumultuous two years for Will Johnson.

On September 27th of 2014, Johnson, then the Portland Timbers' captain, collided with Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom less than a minute into a game at BMO Field in Johnson's hometown of Toronto and broke his right leg.

Johnson wouldn't play first-team football again until May of 2015, when his return to the Timbers lineup sparked a run of five straight wins for a Portland team struggling to the point of supporter protest.

PSG test yardstick for rejuvenated Nantes

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Paris (AFP) Sergio Conceicao has inspired a revival at former French giants Nantes but will face the toughest test of his fledgling tenure on Saturday when champions Paris Saint-Germain visit the Stade de la Beaujoire.

Nantes, who claimed the last of their eight Ligue 1 titles in 2001, have won four games in a row without conceding a goal since former Portugal international Conceicao replaced Rene Girard at the helm last month.

Origi wants Liverpool to keep pressure on Chelsea

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Liverpool (AFP) Liverpool striker Divock Origi has challenged his team-mates to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea when they host relegation-threatened Swansea on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp's side are seven points behind Chelsea in third place after losing ground in the title race following a frustrating 1-1 draw at bitter rivals Manchester United last weekend.

NBC Sports brings 4K Premier League games to US television with DIRECTV

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NBC Sports has teamed up with DIRECTV to present 4K coverage of the Premier League in the United States.

This weekend's game between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday, 12:30pm ET on NBC) will be the first match available in 4K to viewers in the States. The 4K broadcast in ultra high-definition (UHD) will be available via channel 106 in the crisp, detail-rich 4K UHD format.

Milan out for Napoli revenge as Serie A title race sizzles

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Milan (AFP) Resurgent AC Milan host Napoli looking to avenge a crushing home defeat to the Azzuri last season as the fight for title glory and coveted Champions League places intensifies in Serie A.

A week after leaders Juventus suffered a shock 2-1 reverse at Fiorentina to allow Roma to close to within one point, the Turin giants have reason to be looking over their shoulders as they chase a record sixth consecutive crown.

Guardiola gloom not the spur for Tottenham

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London (AFP) Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino wants his players to demonstrate their Premier League title credentials in Saturday's crunch clash with Pep Guardiola's ailing Manchester City.

Tottenham climbed to second place in the table last weekend by outclassing West Bromwich Albion 4-0 and are seeking to register seven successive league wins for the first time since 1967.

Zidane seeks quick solution to Real Madrid collapse

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists he is responsible for the European champions' back-to-back defeats as they look to return to winning ways when Malaga visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Madrid hadn't lost in 40 matches in all competitions stretching back nine months until conceding twice to lose 2-1 at Sevilla last weekend, and followed that up with a shock defeat by the same scoreline at home to Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday.

Chelsea won’t dwell on Costa, Spurs plan City misery in Premier League

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London (AFP) Chelsea will bid to put the Diego Costa crisis behind them when the Premier League leaders host Hull, while title chasing Tottenham aim to maintain their hot streak at troubled Manchester City on Saturday.

Blues striker Costa reportedly clashed with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte last week over the club's treatment of his back injury.

Ghana target Africa Cup of Nations last-eight berth

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana can secure a place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a group game to spare if they beat Mali in Group D in Port-Gentil on Saturday.

Avram Grant's side, beaten on penalties by the Ivory Coast in the 2015 final, set themselves up nicely in this year's tournament by edging out Uganda 1-0 courtesy of an Andre Ayew spot-kick in their opening match on Tuesday.

China plans salary caps in spending crackdown

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Shanghai (AFP) Chinese football authorities will impose salary caps on domestic clubs and send auditors to probe their finances, toughening a crackdown on the record-breaking sums spent to acquire top foreign players.

Teams will be required to provide detailed information on their financial situations including funding sources, and the salary caps will be devised based on league and individual club revenues, the China Football Association (CFA) said in a statement late Thursday.

Top Rio football stadium in disrepair as firms quarrel

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) It is revered as a temple of the beautiful game but the footballing gods have forsaken Brazil's legendary Maracana stadium after the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

The grass of the pitch is yellowing, the stands are rusting and thieves have stolen seats symptoms of a legal mess that have left this Rio de Janeiro landmark abandoned.

East Timor banned from Asian Cup 2023

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) East Timor has been banned from the Asian Cup in 2023 and fined $76,000 for fielding several Brazilian-born footballers with fake documents, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Friday.

The AFC and FIFA investigated the eligibility of a number of East Timor footballers after the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 qualifier playoff round matches last year.

PSG better option than China, says Angel Di Maria

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Paris (AFP) Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria has insisted he wants to see out his contract with the French champions, dismissing speculation he could move to the cash-rich Chinese Super League.

"There are two years left on my contract," Di Maria, who joined PSG from Manchester United in August 2015, told ESPN Argentina.

Aubameyang ‘will never join Bayern’, but drops exit hint

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Berlin (AFP) Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has admitted he could leave Borussia Dortmund in the summer but has insisted he will never join their Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.

"I will never go to Bayern, that is for sure," Aubameyang told new German sports daily FussballBild, which launched on Friday, while on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Gabon.

Barca end Sociedad hoodoo, Atletico cruise

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Madrid (AFP) Barcelona ended a decade-long drought without winning away to Real Sociedad on Thursday as Neymar's first-half penalty handed the Spanish champions a 1-0 Copa del Rey quarter-final, first leg lead.

Atletico Madrid also took a huge step towards the semi-finals as goals from Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro downed an under-strength Eibar 3-0 at the Vicente Calderon.

Nainggolan hits maiden Roma brace in Cup romp

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Milan (AFP) Radja Nainggolan's maiden Roma brace stole the spotlight as his team secured an Italian Cup quarter-final tie against second division Cesena with a 4-0 romp over Sampdoria on Thursday.

Although Luis Muriel hit the post early on for Sampdoria, a sensational Leandro Paredes volley also hit the woodwork at the other end and was a sign of more to come from Luciano Spalletti's Serie A title challengers.

Senegal end dismal run by reaching last eight

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Senegal put a string of disastrous Africa Cup of Nations campaigns behind them Thursday by beating Zimbabwe 2-0 and becoming the first qualifiers for the 2017 quarter-finals.

The Group B match was all but over as a contest after only 13 minutes in Gabonese city Franceville after Liverpool star Sadio Mane and Henri Saivet scored.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for January 10-16, 2017

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Liga MX ratings remained strong last week as 1.5 million tuned in to watch Univision's broadcast of Monterrey take on Chivas de Guadalajara, making it the most-watched Liga MX match ever in the 8-10pm ET timeslot. The most-watched game in the 8-10pm ET timeslot of the 2016 Clasura also featured Monterrey as they took on Club America in front of an audience of 1.

Mane scores as Senegal reach quarter-finals

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Liverpool star Sadio Mane scored as Senegal defeated Zimbabwe 2-0 in Franceville Thursday to become the first qualifiers for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

The Senegalese Teranga Lions burst out of the blocks in the southeastern Gabonese city to score twice within 13 minutes through Mane and Henri Saivet.

AEK Athens bring back former coach Jimenez

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Athens (AFP) Manolo Jimenez has returned for a second spell as AEK Athens coach, signing a six-month contract, the Greek Super League club announced on Thursday.

Jimenez, 52, previously coached AEK from 2010-2011, taking the team to a third place finish in the league and winning the Greek Cup.

Atletico cruise past Eibar, towards Cup semis

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Madrid (AFP) Atletico Madrid took a huge step towards the Copa del Rey semi-finals as goals from Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro downed an under-strength Eibar 3-0 in their quarter-final, first leg on Thursday.

In contrast to the Basque visitors, Atletico boss Diego Simeone named a strong, attack-minded side and was rewarded early on when Griezmann pounced on an error from Eibar goalkeeper Yoel Rodriguez to nod home his 13th goal of the season.

2017 MLS TV schedule pros and cons: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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World Soccer Talk is the new weekly soccer podcast from Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris on the topic of watching soccer on TV, online and via apps.

In the NEW episode, number 10, we cover a range of topics including:

•News about el Clasico coming to the United States this summer,

•Our pluses and minuses about the 2017 MLS TV schedule,

•Thoughts on the coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations,

•News about Liga MX scoring their best-ever viewing number for a game on a Saturday night,

•Plus questions from YOU, the listeners!

Ancelotti demands Bayern run hot at icy Freiburg

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Berlin (AFP) Temperatures are forecast to plummet, but Carlo Ancelotti wants his Bayern Munich to turn up the heat at icy Freiburg on Friday when the Bundesliga resumes after the winter break.

Temperatures are set to dip as low as minus nine degrees Celsius (15.8 Fahrenheit) for kick-off at Freiburg's Schwarzwald Stadium when the German league resumes after the four-week break.

Tunisia bounce back to defeat Algeria

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Tunisia scored twice in the second half to beat Algeria 2-1 in Franceville Thursday and haul themselves back into contention for an Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals place.

An Aissa Mandi own-goal broke the deadlock and Naim Sliti converted a penalty as the Tunisians atoned for a 2-0 defeat by Senegal in their opening Group B game.

Ghana lose injured defender Baba

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Ghana defender Abdul Rahman Baba has left the team's Africa Cup of Nations base in Port-Gentil and faces a potentially lengthy absence after suffering a serious-looking knee injury against Uganda on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old left-back was forced off in the first half of the Black Stars' opening Group D game in Port-Gentil, which they won 1-0 thanks to an Andre Ayew penalty.

NBC breaks record for most-watched Premier League game in US TV history

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Sunday's live broadcast of the Premier League game between Manchester United and Liverpool on NBC and NBCSN has broken the record for the most-watched Premier League game in US TV history.

The combined viewing figure for the game across both networks was 1.82 million, which eclipses the previous record held by FOX Sports from 2011 when the tape-delayed game featuring Chelsea against Liverpool scored an audience of 1.

Arsenal’s Wenger concerned by Chinese spending power

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger fears the huge wages being offered by big-spending Chinese clubs could cause problems when the Premier League teams look to negotiate new contracts with their star players.

Wenger is currently locked in talks with Arsenal duo Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez as the pair reportedly seek parity with the best-paid players in the Premier League.

Bilic calls on Marseille to resolve Payet stand-off

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London (AFP) West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says Dimitri Payet will only get his wish to leave the Premier League club if Marseille meet his asking price for the unsettled France midfielder.

Payet is trying to engineer a return to Marseille and has been training with West Ham's Under-23 squad this week after telling Bilic he wasn't willing to play in Saturday's win against Crystal Palace.

Man Utd dethrone Real Madrid as cash kings

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London (AFP) Manchester United's relative failure on the pitch has not been reflected off it as for the first time in over a decade they top Deloitte's Football Money League for revenue in the 2015/16 season.

United who were last on top in the 2003/04 campaign earned record revenue of 689m euros (£515.

Klopp eager to keep FA Cup match-winner Lucas

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Plymouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pledged Lucas Leiva would remain at the club after the Brazilian's goal secured a 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay victory at fourth-tier Plymouth Argyle.

Lucas, Liverpool's stand-in captain, scored his first goal in seven years to see off League Two minnows Plymouth at Home Park on Wednesday.

Defeated Real Madrid surprise Zidane

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane admitted he was surprised by his side's slow start as they slumped to a second defeat in four days, 2-1 at home to Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday.

Zidane's men hadn't lost in a Spanish record 40 games stretching back to April last year before conceding twice in the final five minutes to lose 2-1 at Sevilla on Sunday.

Bayern’s Robben wants show of strength at Freiburg

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Berlin (AFP) Arjen Robben is demanding a show of strength when Bayern Munich resume their hunt for a fifth straight title at Freiburg on Friday as the Bundesliga resumes after its winter break.

The German league is back after a four-week rest with Bayern three points clear of nearest rivals RB Leipzig, who briefly kept the Bavarians off top spot for three weeks until early December.

Le Roy, Renard loom large over key Africa Cup of Nations clash

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) French coaches Herve Renard and Claude le Roy loom large over the key Africa Cup of Nations Group C clash between Morocco and Togo in Oyem Friday.

Renard, a Cup of Nations winner with Zambia in 2012 and the Ivory Coast in 2015, was hired by Morocco last year and given a mandate to reach the semi-finals.

Where to find Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona, you've come to the right place.

Barcelona head to the Basque Country on Thursday to play the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Real Sociedad in San Sebastian. Just as Real Madrid lost their first leg on Wednesday, Barcelona shouldn't take anything for granted in their match against Sociedad.

Asian champs Jeonbuk to appeal AFC ban

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Seoul (AFP) Disgraced Asian title-holders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports after being banned from this year's AFC Champions League over a domestic match-fixing scandal, reports said Thursday.

"We have decided to appeal the case to the CAS to justify our participation," Jeonbuk were cited as saying by South Korea's mass-selling Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

Asian football champs Jeonbuk to appeal AFC ban

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Seoul (AFP) Disgraced Asian title-holders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports after being banned from this year's AFC Champions League over a domestic match-fixing scandal, the club said Thursday.

"We have decided to appeal the case to the CAS to justify our participation," Jeonbuk said in an emailed statement.

Money man Tevez touches down in Shanghai

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Shanghai (AFP) Argentine striker Carlos Tevez arrived Thursday to a rousing welcome from hundreds of fans in Shanghai, where he will join local side Shenhua in a deal that reportedly makes him the world's top-earning footballer.

Tevez, 32, is the highest-profile foreign player lured to China's free-spending domestic leagues in a recent gold rush that has triggered a backlash from Chinese authorities amid worries that clubs were recklessly overspending on foreign stars.

Man City complete Gabriel Jesus transfer from Palmeiras

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London (AFP) Brazilian starlet Gabriel Jesus has formally completed his move to Manchester City from Palmeiras, the Premier League club announced on Thursday.

City agreed to sign Jesus on a five-year contract in August, but the 19-year-old was immediately loaned back to Palmeiras until the end of the Brazilian season in December.

Cameroon close on last eight as Aubameyang, Gabon held again

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Libreville (AFP) Cameroon closed in on the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations by beating Guinea-Bissau 2-1 on Wednesday while hosts Gabon were left still waiting for a win despite another goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Indomitable Lions came from behind to defeat Guinea-Bissau with Sebastien Siani and Michael Ngadeu netting after Piqueti's contender for goal of the tournament had given the debutants the lead.

Milinkovic, Immobile fire Lazio into Inter Cup quarter tie

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Milan (AFP) Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic struck in the second half as stuttering Lazio overame Genoa 4-2 on Wednesday to book an Italian Cup quarter-final with Inter Milan.

Lazio enjoyed a bright start at the Stadio Olimpico and were off the mark on 20 minutes when Filip Djordjevic sprung the offside trap to meet Felipe Anderson's through ball and fire into the roof of the net.

Celta inflict shock Cup defeat on Real Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) After surrendering a record 40-game unbeaten run, Real Madrid suffered a second defeat in four days on Wednesday as Celta Vigo took a 2-1 first leg lead from their Copa del Rey quarter-final at the Santiago Bernabeu.

All three goals came in a six-minute spell midway through the second-half as strikes from former Liverpool striker Iago Aspas and Jonny either side of Marcelo's reply for Madrid handed Celta a famous win.

Lucas sees Liverpool through in FA Cup replay

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Plymouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) Stand-in captain Lucas Leiva scored his first goal in seven years to earn Liverpool a 1-0 victory at fourth-tier underdogs Plymouth Argyle in Wednesday's FA Cup third-round replay.

The Brazilian, playing at centre-back, met countryman Philippe Coutinho's 18th-minute corner with a firm near-post header to sink Plymouth, who had drawn 0-0 at Anfield 10 days previously.

Univision Deportes scores most-viewed Liga MX match ever in Saturday night timeslot

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Univision Deportes' broadcast of the Monterrey against Guadalajara game reached 1.5 million viewers last weekend, making it the most-watched Liga MX match ever in the 8-10pm ET timeslot.

The Liga MX Clausura game was featured on Sabado Futbolero, Univision Deportes' popular Saturday night sports broadcast, aired on Saturday, January 14, 2017.

Cameroon battle back to beat Guinea-Bissau

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Libreville (AFP) Defender Michael Ngadeu smashed in the winning goal as Cameroon came from behind to beat minnows Guinea-Bissau 2-1 at the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.

Guinea-Bissau had gone in front in the Group A game in Libreville when Piqueti produced a contender for goal of the tournament in the 13th minute.

Galaxy sign US international Jones

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Los Angeles (AFP) The Los Angeles Galaxy confirmed the signing of US international Jermaine Jones on Wednesday, bolstering the midfield resources following the departure of Steven Gerrard.

Jones, 35, was a key member of the USA squad at the 2014 World Cup and joins the Galaxy after three Major League Soccer seasons with the New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids.

Leading Togo at Cup of Nations an ‘obligation’ for Adebayor

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Emmanuel Adebayor has been without a club for six months now but the only thing on his mind in that time has been leading his country Togo into the Africa Cup of Nations.

In an interview with AFP at the Togo team's base in Oyem in northern Gabon, the former Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur striker admitted he felt a responsibility to lead the small west African nation on their return to the tournament.

Man Utd and Lyon agree Depay fee – reports

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London (AFP) Manchester United have agreed to sell Dutch winger Memphis Depay to Lyon for a fee that could reach around 25 million euros ($26.7 million), British media reported on Wednesday.

Depay, 22, joined United from PSV Eindhoven for a reported fee of £25 million ($30.7 million, 28.8 million euros) in June 2015.

Middlesbrough sign Bamford from Chelsea

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London (AFP) English striker Patrick Bamford has returned to Middlesbrough from Premier League leaders Chelsea on a four-and-a-half-year contract, his new club announced on Wednesday.

"Middlesbrough have secured the signing of striker Patrick Bamford from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee," Middlesbrough announced on their website.

Aubameyang nets again as Gabon draw with Burkina Faso

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Libreville (AFP) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted for the second time in as many games but Africa Cup of Nations hosts Gabon were again held to a 1-1 draw by Burkina Faso in Libreville on Wednesday.

Prejuce Nakoulma silenced the Stade de l'Amitie as he gave Burkina Faso an early lead but Aubameyang soon levelled from the penalty spot after he had been fouled inside the area.

Slimani among injury worries for Algeria

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Algeria have injury worries in attack ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations clash with neighbours Tunisia on Thursday with Islam Slimani struggling and Hilal Soudani ruled out.

At a press conference on Wednesday coach Georges Leekens confirmed that Dinamo Zagreb striker Soudani will miss the game in Franceville, south-eastern Gabon, due to a thigh injury.

Dortmund’s Ramos set to join China’s Chongqing

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Berlin (AFP) Borussia Dortmund's Colombia striker Adrian Ramos is set to quit the Bundesliga to join Chinese Super League club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan, the German team said.

Sixth-placed Dortmund, who face Benfica in the last 16 of the Champions League next month, are at Werder Bremen on Saturday when the Bundesliga resumes after the winter break.

Manchester United ‘first’ to appoint counter-terror chief

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London (AFP) Manchester United have appointed a counter-terrorism manager and believe they are the first Premier League club to do so, reports said on Wednesday.

The English football giants, who suffered two embarrassing security blunders in recent months, appointed an unnamed former member of the Manchester police and made the announcement at a fans' forum recently, the BBC and other British media said.

FIFA’s van Basten reveals radical vision

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Berlin (AFP) Time penalties instead of yellow cards, no off-side rule and more substitutions: legendary ex-striker Marco van Basten, FIFA's technical director, has a radical vision of football's future.

"We must keep looking for ways to improve the game, to make it more honest, more dynamic, more interesting, so that what we offer is attractive enough," the 52-year-old Dutchman told German magazine Sport Bild.

Over 200 football clubs ‘impacted’ in sex abuse scandal

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London (AFP) The number of football clubs who have been brought up in the historic sex abuse inquiry which has rocked the sport has risen by 100 in the past month to 248 in figures released on Wednesday.

The clubs range from Premier League to amateur level and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) are at pains to point out that does not mean they are under investigation but have been 'referenced when information is submitted'.

Man United ‘first’ to appoint counter-terror chief

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London (AFP) Manchester United have appointed a counter-terrorism manager and believe they are the first Premier League club to do so, it emerged on Wednesday.

The English football giants, who suffered two embarrassing security blunders in recent months, appointed an unnamed former member of the Manchester police and made the announcement at a fans' forum recently.

Foreign players wear out China welcome

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Shanghai (AFP) China is cracking down on the use of pricey foreign players by its domestic league teams just as sides are gearing up for the coming season. Here's how it happened:

Getting the ball rolling

The Chinese domestic league had been steadily growing by the time President Xi Jinping took office in 2012 and increasing attention was paid to past comments he had made declaring his vision of China becoming a football superpower.

Asian champs Jeonbuk banned from 2017 season

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Asian title-holders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have been banned from this year's AFC Champions League over a match-fixing scandal in South Korea's K-League, Asia's football governing body said on Wednesday.

"The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) independent Entry Control Body today declared that Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) is ineligible to participate in AFC competitions for the 2017 season due to its indirect involvement in activities aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of matches during the 2013 and 2014 K-League seasons,"the confederation said in a statement.

Senegal have Africa Cup of Nations last-eight place in sight

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Sadio Mane-inspired Senegal will become the first qualifiers for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals if they defeat upstarts Zimbabwe in Franceville on Thursday.

Senegal enter the match with three points, Algeria and Zimbabwe have one each and Tunisia none.

Trouble in paradise as Guam players threaten strike

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Tokyo (AFP) Guam's footballers could go on strike after the palm-fringed Pacific island voted to withdraw its national side from the final round of Asian Cup qualifiers.

The Guam Football Association have blamed the bombshell decision made late last month on "financial constraints" but long-serving captain Jason Cunliffe slammed the move, telling AFP the players may respond by downing tools.

Diego Costa back in favour after making peace with Conte

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London (AFP) Diego Costa could be back in the Chelsea starting line-up against Hull on Sunday after he made up with the Premier League leaders' manager Antonio Conte, British media reported Wednesday.

The 28-year-old striker whose 14 goals this season has spurred Chelsea to a seven-point lead at the top of the table was pictured at the club's training ground hugging fitness coach Julio Tous, with whom apparently he had a row last week over the level of his fitness and amid reports of a big-money offer from China.

Ex-Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal: ‘I’m not retiring yet’

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Madrid (AFP) Louis van Gaal says he is not definitely done with football just yet, after appearing to suggest earlier this week that he was retiring from the game at 65.

The Dutchman, who was sacked by Manchester United last year after an uninspiring stint at Old Trafford, had told popular daily tabloid De Telegraaf: "I don't believe I'll return to work.

Egyptian football star Mohamed Aboutrika placed on ‘terror’ list

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Cairo (AFP) An Egyptian court has added former football star Mohamed Aboutrika to the authorities' terror list, his lawyer said Tuesday, based on suspicions he financed the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

In 2015 a government committee froze the assets of the former player for Cairo-based club Al-Ahly and Egypt's national team, two years after he retired.

Egyptian football star placed on ‘terror’ list

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Cairo (AFP) Egypt has added Mohamed Aboutrika one of the most successful African footballers of his generation to its terror watch list on suspicions he financed the banned Muslim Brotherhood, his lawyer said Tuesday.

The Brotherhood was outlawed in 2013, months after the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who hailed from the movement.

Allardyce off the mark, Lincoln, Sutton spring surprises

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London (AFP) Christian Benteke spared Sam Allardyce's blushes as the Crystal Palace striker came off the bench to inspire a 2-1 win over Bolton, while Lincoln and Sutton pulled off shock victories in Tuesday's FA Cup third round replays.

Palace manager Allardyce had gone five matches without a win since replacing the sacked Alan Pardew just before Christmas.

Yaya Toure rejected huge China offers — reports

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London (AFP) Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has rejected offers from Chinese Super League clubs that would have paid the Ivorian around £430,000 a week ($533,000), reports said on Tuesday.

Toure is out of contract at the end of the season and has been approached by clubs from China who have been splashing on a host of star signings in recent months.

Egypt held on Cup of Nations return

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Essam El Hadary became the oldest player ever to appear at the Africa Cup of Nations as Egypt drew 0-0 with Mali on their return to the tournament on Tuesday.

The 44-year-old goalkeeper came off the bench in the first half to replace the injured Ahmed El Shennawy and beat the old mark set by compatriot Hossam Hassan, who was 39 when he played at the 2006 Cup of Nations.

Marseille swoop for young French midfielder

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Marseille (AFP) Marseille are set to seal the signing of exciting French midfielder Morgan Sanson from Ligue 1 rivals Montpellier in a deal worth up to 12 million euros ($13 million).

The 22-year-old will arrive in Marseille this week to undergo a medical and becomes Marseille's first signing of the winter transfer window.

Valencia extends United contract

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London (AFP) Antonio Valencia will stay at Manchester United until 2018 after the Premier League club triggered a one-year extension clause in his contract.

Valencia has established himself as Jose Mourinho's first-choice right-back and has now been rewarded with an extended stay at United.

El Hadary becomes Cup of Nations’ oldest player

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary smashed the record for the oldest player ever to appear at the Africa Cup of Nations when he came on against Mali on Tuesday.

El Hadary, the Egypt captain who turned 44 on Sunday, was not named in the Pharaohs' starting line-up for their Group D opener against Mali.

Uganda undone by stage fright – Sredojevic

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic admitted that the occasion got to his players as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Ghana in their first match back at the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.

Thirty-nine years after losing to Ghana in the 1978 final, the Cranes made their comeback in the tournament in Port-Gentil but lost their Group D opener to a first-half Andre Ayew penalty.

Spurs sweat on Vertonghen ankle injury

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London (AFP) Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen faces an anxious wait to discover how long he will be sidelined after suffering ankle ligament damage.

The Belgian international sustained the injury in Tottenham's 4-0 home win over West Brom on Saturday.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said the injury looked "very bad" in the immediate aftermath of the Premier League fixture and scans on Tuesday confirmed the ankle damage.

Metz appeal firecracker points deduction

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Metz (France) (AFP) French basement club Metz are appealing a two-point deduction imposed after a Ligue 1 match against Lyon last month was abandoned after firecrackers thrown by their fans injured visiting goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

The game on December 3 at Metz's Stade Saint-Symphorien was abandoned in the 31st minute following the incidents, which came after Gauthier Hein had put Metz 1-0 up with a superb goal.

Andre Ayew gives Ghana narrow win over Uganda

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Andre Ayew converted a first-half penalty as Ghana started their latest bid to reclaim the Africa Cup of Nations title with a hard-earned 1-0 victory against Uganda in Port-Gentil on Tuesday.

The West Ham United star's 32nd-minute conversion from the spot was all that separated the sides on an awful pitch as Ghana withstood Ugandan pressure in the second half and ended their recent poor record against the Cranes.

Chinese bids for Costa, Cavani ‘collapse’ with clampdown

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Beijing (AFP) China's clampdown on big-spending football clubs has scuppered a bid by Tianjin to buy Diego Costa and a host of other Europe-based stars, its chairman said.

Tianjin had Chelsea striker Costa, Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani, Radamel Falcao at Monaco and Raul Jimenez at Benfica in their sights until the authorities imposed limits on foreign players and wages, Shu Yuhui told Tianjin Sports TV.

Liverpool’s Klopp baffled by Cameroon’s claim on Joel Matip

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London (AFP) Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Tuesday he could not understand why "retired" Cameroon defender Joel Matip was currently unavailable to the Reds because of the African Nations Cup.Klopp had to pull Matip out of Sunday's Premier League draw with Manchester United because of confusion over the player's international status.

FA examine retrospective diving ban

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London (AFP) Players in English football found guilty of diving could face retrospective bans from the Football Association, The Times newspaper reported Tuesday.

In neighbouring Scotland, players can receive a two-match ban if they are found to have won a significant advantage for their team by tricking the referee by diving or simulation.

Man City’s Bacary Sagna fined £40,000 over referee comment

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London (AFP) Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna was fined £40,000 ($49,439, 46,214 euros) and warned about his future conduct by the Football Association on Tuesday after making an Instagram post that questioned referee Lee Mason's impartiality.

Sagna, 32, posted a photo with the caption "10 against 12.

Zinedine Zidane leans on squad to bounce back from rare defeat

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists he has no reason to panic and will once again use the depths of his squad against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday looking to bounce back from a first defeat in 40 games.

Madrid conceded twice in the final five minutes in losing 2-1 to Sevilla on Sunday to see their lead at the top of La Liga over the Europa League holders cut to one point.

Maradona set for Napoli role, if tax millions settled

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Milan (AFP) Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis says a global ambassador's role will be offered to Diego Maradona if the former club legend settles his score with the Italian tax man.

Maradona was served with a tax bill of around 39 million euros (£33m) four years ago when he returned to Italy, where he led Napoli to their two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.

Scottish teenager Burke at home with RB Leipzig

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) Scotland's Oliver Burke plans to fly his mum over to Germany to supply a taste of home cooking as he seeks to cement his future at RB Leipzig.

A Scotland international at just 19, the pacy teenage winger was told to forget everything he had learned tactically at Nottingham Forest after RB signed him for a reported 15 million euros (£13 million, $16 million) last August.

Aubameyang promises better by Africa Cup of Nations hosts Gabon

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Libreville (AFP) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and hosts Gabon vowed to put a poor start to their Africa Cup of Nations behind them and beat Burkina Faso on Wednesday in the second series of Group A matches.

A "Panthers" team captained by the Borussia Dortmund star striker conceded a last-minute goal to only draw 1-1 with minnows Guinea-Bissau in the tournament opener.

FA examine retrospective diving ban – report

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London (AFP) Players in English football found guilty of diving could face retrospective bans from the Football Association, The Times newspaper reported Tuesday.

In neighbouring Scotland, players can received a two-match ban if they are found to have won a significant advantage for their team by tricking the referee by diving or simulation.

‘Iron Tulip’ Louis Van Gaal to retire

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The Hague (AFP) Firebrand manager Louis van Gaal has announced his retirement from professional football after more than three decades, citing "family reasons," a Dutch newspaper reported Tuesday.

"I don't believe I'll return back to work," Van Gaal told popular daily tabloid De Telegraaf, which added he is "definitely drawing a line under his training career.

Outside pressure child’s play for Ibrahimovic

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London (AFP) Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahmovic says the pressure on him that comes from outside is like a kindergarten compared to the pressure he places on himself every time he trains or plays for Manchester United.

The 35-year-old striker who has defied the sceptics who thought he was too old to flourish at United but has scored 14 goals in 20 Premier League appearances said the pressure he placed on himself was so immense because nothing less than winning counted.

AC Milan stay in chase for Europe with Torino draw

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Milan (AFP) AC Milan battled back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Torino on Monday keeping their bid for Europe alive by moving fifth in the Serie A table.

Andrea Belotti had put Torino ahead after 21 minutes with his 14th league goal of the season and Marco Benassi adding a second for the hosts five minutes later.

Kabananga strikes as DR Congo stun Morocco

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Junior Kabananga pounced on a goalkeeping error to give the Democratic Republic of Congo a 1-0 win over Morocco in an Africa Cup of Nations upset on Monday in Gabon.

Success came two days after the central Africans refused to train over a bonuses row and a red card and an injury meant they were briefly reduced to nine men in the closing stages.

Kabananga strikes as DR Congo upset Morocco

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Junior Kabananga scored to give the Democratic Republic of Congo an upset 1-0 win over Morocco Monday in an Africa Cup of Nations Group C match in Gabonese town Oyem.

Victory took the Congolese Leopards to the top of the table after defending champions the Ivory Coast were held 0-0 by Togo in the first half of a dobule-header.

FIFA warn Liverpool over Matip selection

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Zurich (AFP) FIFA warned Liverpool on Monday they cannot play Joel Matip unless Africa Cup of Nations participants Cameroon give the Premier League title-chasers permission.

The key central defender missed Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday amid a disagreement over his international status and he could be unavailable for the next month.

El Hadary ready to become Cup of Nations’ oldest player

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) If he plays in Egypt's opening Africa Cup of Nations fixture against Mali in Port-Gentil on Tuesday, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary will smash the record for the oldest player ever at the tournament.

El Hadary turned 44 on Sunday, leaving him poised to beat the previous mark set by his fellow Egyptian Hossam Hassan, who was a mere 39 years, five months and 24 days old when he played at the 2006 Cup of Nations.

Russians sign Brazilian Adriano from Milan

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Moscow (AFP) Russian Premier League table-toppers Spartak Moscow have signed Brazilian international forward Luiz Adriano from AC Milan, the Moscow club said on Monday.

No financial details of the deal were disclosed but Russian media reported a fee of one million euros ($1.06 million) for the 29-year-old striker.

Cup of Nations return destiny: Uganda coach

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic says it was Uganda's destiny to make their long-awaited return to the Africa Cup of Nations against Ghana as the teams prepare to meet on Tuesday.

The Cranes have not appeared at the tournament finals since losing 2-0 to hosts Ghana in the final in Accra in 1978, and after a 39-year absence the Black Stars will once again be their opponents in Gabon.

Alexis Sanchez admits one-mn-euro tax fraud

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Barcelona (AFP) Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez on Monday admitted defrauding Spanish tax authorities of 983,443 euros ($1 million) while playing for Barcelona.

The 28-year-old Chile international's confession could see him receive a fine and possibly a non-custodial prison sentence.

Giving evidence via video link from London, Sanchez "recognised a tax error which he has settled with the Spanish Treasury," a judicial source said.

Diego Costa trains alone amid China reports

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London (AFP) Chelsea striker Diego Costa trained alone for the second day in a row on Monday at the club's training base, British media reported, as he recovers from an apparent back injury.

The Spain forward's Chelsea future was called into question after he was left out of the Premier League leaders' win at champions Leicester on Saturday amid speculation he could be the subject of a colossal bid from a wealthy Chinese club.

Champions Ivory Coast disappoint in Togo draw

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) Ivory Coast made a disappointing start to their Africa Cup of Nations title defence Monday when held 0-0 by lowest Group C seeds Togo in Gabonese town Oyem.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier came close to breaking the deadlock with two minutes remaining, heading a cross narrowly wide.

Costa trains again as China row rumbles on

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London (AFP) Chelsea striker Diego Costa took part in a solitary training session for the second day in a row Monday at the club's Surrey training base, British media reported, as he continued his recovery from a back injury.

The Spain forward's Chelsea future was called into question after he was left out of the Premier League giants' win at champions Leicester on Saturday amid speculation he could be the subject of a colossal bid from a wealthy Chinese club.

Toure talks up Manchester City title chances despite points gap

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London (AFP) Yaya Toure is adamant Manchester City can still end the season as Premier League champions even after a humiliating 4-0 defeat by Everton left them 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Sunday's reverse at Goodison Park prompted City manager Pep Guardiola to put an end to his side's title hopes by saying top spot was now out of the question.

Ghana can thrive on pressure at Africa Cup of Nations, says Grant

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) It is 35 years since Ghana won the Africa Cup of Nations but coach Avram Grant is looking to use the pressure to end that long drought as a positive.

"I don't think you can achieve anything without pressure. We like to use pressure as a negative word but I think it's good," said Grant on Monday, on the eve of the Black Stars' opening match at this year's tournament against Uganda.

Mourinho wants Man United to sharpen up

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho called on his players to stop spurning chances after they needed an 84th-minute equaliser from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to rescue a 1-1 draw against Liverpool.

Paul Pogba squandered a one-on-one in the early stages of Sunday's game and after his handball allowed James Milner to put Liverpool ahead with a penalty, United were left chasing the game.

Combative Klopp expects Reds response

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London (AFP) Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool will use the frustration of their dramatic draw with Manchester United to avoid FA Cup humiliation at fourth tier Plymouth.

Klopp's side were denied a memorable victory over bitter rivals United when Zlatan Ibrahimovic headed a late equaliser at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Zidane proud as Real finally fall at 41st hurdle

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane urged his side to put their disappointment of a first defeat in 40 games behind them as Sevilla produced a remarkable late turnaround to breathe new life into the Spanish title race with a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Zidane's men looked set to extend their commanding lead at the top of the table when Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring at the Sanchez Pizjuan from the penalty spot midway through the second-half.

Ghana begin latest Africa Cup of Nations bid, Egypt return

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Port-Gentil (Gabon) (AFP) Runners-up two years ago, Ghana start their latest bid to recapture the Africa Cup of Nations crown when they face Uganda in Port-Gentil in Group D on Tuesday.

The Black Stars are in Gabon looking to win a fifth Cup of Nations but a first since 1982, and Israeli Avram Grant remains at the helm after leading them to a defeat on penalties against the Ivory Coast in the 2015 final in Equatorial Guinea.

China to cut foreign football player numbers on pitch

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Beijing (AFP) The Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced Monday that it is reducing the number of foreign players a team can field as the country's cash-rich clubs continue to lure international talent.

Teams in the top-flight Chinese Super League will be able to field no more than three foreigners per match when the new 2017 season begins in March, according to the new rules posted on the official CFA web site.

Former Crewe coach Bennell denies abuse charges

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London (AFP) Former football coach Barry Bennell told an English court on Monday he denied committing eight child abuse offences on one boy.

Bennell, 63, appearing via video-link from Woodhill Prison in a hearing held at Chester Crown Court, northwest England, answered "not guilty" to all the charges put before him.

Guardiola concedes defeat in title race

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Liverpool (AFP) Pep Guardiola says his first season in English football will not end with Manchester City winning the Premier League title following a shambolic 4-0 defeat at Everton.

City were beaten for the fourth time in their last eight league games as former Barcelona and Bayern Munich Guardiola boss suffered the largest league defeat of his glittering managerial career.

Italian title race not over, says beaten Juve boss

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Milan (AFP) The Serie A title race is far from over, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri warned after a first-half opener by Chinese Super League target Nikola Kalinic paved the way for Fiorentina's shock 2-1 defeat of the champions.

Juventus travelled to Florence looking for their fifth consecutive win since suffering a shock 3-1 loss at Genoa at the end of November.

Falcao fires 60-goal Monaco top in Marseille mauling

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Paris (AFP) Monaco climbed top of Ligue 1 after thrashing Marseille 4-1 away on Sunday as the free-scoring southerners took their goal haul to 60 from just 20 league games.

The result puts Monaco top on goal difference as Nice, who slugged out a 0-0 draw with bottom side Metz earlier in the day, also have 45 points.

Juventus beaten as Kalinic paves way for Viola

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Milan (AFP) Fiorentina blew a hole in Juventus's title hopes with a shock 2-1 win in Florence on Sunday as Nikola Kalinic reassured fans troubled by a possible move to China with a superb first-half opener.

Winning coach Paulo Sousa was riled up Saturday after hearing Massimiliano Allegri claim that Juve were coming to "take command" at the Artemio Franchi stadium.

Sevilla late show ends Madrid’s 40-game unbeaten run

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Madrid (AFP) A stunning stoppage time winner from Stevan Jovetic ended Real Madrid's Spanish record 40-game unbeaten run on Sunday as Sevilla scored twice in the final five minutes to win 2-1 at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty put Madrid in front 23 minutes from time, but Sergio Ramos's own goal levelled before Jovetic, making his La Liga debut on loan from Inter Milan, curled home from 25 yards.

Real Madrid’s 40-game unbeaten run ended by Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) A stunning stoppage time winner from Stevan Jovetic ended Real Madrid's Spanish record 40-game unbeaten run on Sunday as Sevilla scored twice in the final five minutes to win 2-1 at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty put Madrid in front 23 minutes from time, but Real captain Sergio Ramos's own goal levelled before Jovetic, making his La Liga debut on loan from Inter Milan, curled home from 25 yards.

Mane propels Senegal to winning start at Cup of Nations

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Sadio Mane scored from the penalty spot to send Senegal on their way to a 2-0 victory over Tunisia in their first outing at the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.

Mane netted from 12 yards with 10 minutes on the clock in Franceville and Kara Mbodj headed home on the half-hour mark as Senegal became the first team to win a game at this Cup of Nations after three previous matches ended in draws.

Discord over Maradona’s night at the opera

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Rome (AFP) Diego Maradona steps into the world of high culture on Monday when epic tales of World Cup glory as well as reflections on his colourful private life are played out at Naples' famed Teatro di San Carlo.

Sadly for the Argentine, who was idolised when he starred for Napoli 30 years ago, his presence at the world's oldest active opera house has sparked an angry reaction amongst the country's artistic community.

Mane propels Senegal to winning start

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Sadio Mane scored from the penalty spot to send Senegal on their way to a 2-0 victory over Tunisia in their first outing at the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.

Mane netted from 12 yards with 10 minutes on the clock in Franceville and Kara Mbodj headed home on the half-hour mark as Senegal became the first team to win a game at this Cup of Nations after three previous matches ended in draws.

Liverpool came to defend, says Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said Liverpool had come to Old Trafford with the aim of stifling his side following Sunday's 1-1 Premier League draw between the teams.

United, chasing a 10th successive win in all competitions, fell behind to James Milner's first-half penalty and needed an 84th-minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic header to rescue a point.

Expulsion ‘planned’, says coach after foul-mouthed ref tirade

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Milan (AFP) Atalanta coach Gianpiero Gasperini said he fell victim to a "planned" expulsion in a fiery 2-1 defeat at Lazio that saw the hosts' coach, Simone Inzaghi, also given his marching orders on Sunday.

Gasperini could be in hot water with Serie A bosses after a foul-mouthed tirade was caught by television pictures after he was expelled in the 79th minute by referee Luca Pairetto at the Stadio Olimpico.

West Ham misfit Zaza joins Valencia on loan

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Madrid (AFP) Italian international Simone Zaza has bolstered La Liga strugglers Valencia's attacking options as the Spanish club confirmed he had joined on loan from Juventus until the end of the season on Sunday.

"Valencia have completed the signing of Simone Zazaon loan from Juventus until the end of the season," Valencia said in a statement.

City thrashed by Everton, Ibrahimovic rescues United

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London (AFP) Pep Guardiola suffered the largest league defeat of his managerial career as Manchester City were thrashed 4-0 by Everton, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic's late equaliser gave Manchester United a 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday.

Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas put Everton in control at Goodison Park.

Ibrahimovic rescues Manchester United in Liverpool draw

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 84th-minute header as Manchester United prevented Liverpool from recapturing second place in the Premier League table in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

Paul Pogba stood to be United's fall guy at Old Trafford after conceding a soft first-half penalty for handball, which James Milner converted, only for Ibrahimovic to save his blushes.

Mahrez scores twice but Algeria held by Zimbabwe

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Riyad Mahrez scored twice but Algeria had to settle for a 2-2 draw with rank outsiders Zimbabwe as their Africa Cup of Nations campaign got off to a slow start in Franceville on Sunday.

Newly-crowed African player of the year Mahrez gave Algeria an early lead in the Group B match but Kudakwashe Mahachi quickly equalised and a penalty before the half-hour mark scored by Nyasha Mushekwi had the Warriors in front.

Ibrahimovic strikes late to rescue United

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London (AFP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic came to Manchester United's rescue as his late header salvaged a 1-1 draw against bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp's side silenced Old Trafford when James Milner converted a 27th minute penalty awarded for Paul Pogba's needless handball.

But, not for the first time, Ibrahimovic was United's saviour as the Swedish forward struck from close-range in the 84th minute for his 19th goal this season.

Roma, Napoli, Lazio keep pressure on champions

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Milan (AFP) Radja Nainggolan hit a first-half winner as Roma won 1-0 at Udinese to close the gap on leaders Juventus to a single point in Serie A on Sunday.

Juventus, bidding for a record sixth straight league title can restore their four-point lead if they beat Fiorentina away in Sunday's late game.

Pep Guardiola won’t blame Manchester City flops after drubbing

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Liverpool (AFP) Pep Guardiola refused to blame his humiliated Manchester City stars after they crashed to a dismal 4-0 defeat against Everton on Sunday.

City's wretched effort at Goodison Park condemned Guardiola to the heaviest league defeat of his glittering managerial career.

But, publicly at least, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss wasn't angry with his expensively assembled team and he insisted the chastening afternoon could have gone differently if City had taken their early chances.

Pep Guardiola rocked as Everton crush Manchester City

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Liverpool (AFP) Pep Guardiola suffered the biggest league defeat of his managerial career as Manchester City slumped to a 4-0 loss against Everton on Sunday.

Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas put Everton in control at Goodison Park before teenager Tom Davies scored his first goal for the club and debutant Ademola Lookman completed the rout after coming on as an 89th minute substitute.

Matip out for Liverpool amid Cameroon confusion

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Joel Matip missed Liverpool's Premier League game at Manchester United on Sunday because his club are still awaiting clearance from FIFA following his retirement from international football with Cameroon.

Matip, 25, announced he no longer wished to be considered for selection by Cameroon last year and was not named in their Africa Cup of Nations squad.

New dad Harry Kane enjoys week to remember

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London (AFP) New dad Harry Kane admitted his hat-trick in Tottenham's win against West Bromwich Albion completed one of the best weeks of his life.

Kane's wife Kate gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Ivy, last weekend and the England striker celebrated the new addition to the family in memorable fashion.

Man United look to exploit Liverpool wobble

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Jose Mourinho's resurgent Manchester United will attempt to reel in arch rivals Liverpool when Jurgen Klopp's faltering side visit Old Trafford in Sunday's Premier League headline clash.

United have won their last nine games in all competitions their best run since an 11-match winning streak in early 2009 while Liverpool are still to win a game in 2017.

Spurs in better shape for title challenge: Pochettino

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London (AFP) Mauricio Pochettino believes his Tottenham Hotspur side have demonstrated they are now capable of sustaining a Premier League title challenge after falling just short last season.

Spurs faded in the final weeks last season, finishing third on the final day of the campaign after pushing eventual champions Leicester close for much of the second half of the season.

Conte keeps Costa’s China syndrome ‘in house’

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Antonio Conte insisted he will keep any problems in the Chelsea camp ‘in-house' after dismissing claims of a row with star striker Diego Costa.

Conte saw his Premier League leaders triumph 3-0 at Leicester City without Costa, who was omitted amid reports of an argument with fitness coach Julio Tous and interest from clubs in China.

Wenger hails angry Alexis after Swansea rout

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Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) Arsene Wenger lavished praise on Alexis Sanchez after Arsenal brushed aside Swansea 4-0 at the Liberty Stadium, despite the Chilean star's anger at being substituted.

Sanchez scored the last of Arsenal's four goals on a day when new manager Paul Clement saw precisely how big the job of keeping Swansea in the top flight is going to be.

White-shirted Herve Renard chases treble at Africa Cup of Nations

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Oyem (Gabon) (AFP) The only certainty in hard-to-predict Group C of the Africa Cup of Nations before the opening fixtures Monday is that Morocco coach Herve Renard will wear the same white shirt on matchdays.

He wore one in every match when outsiders Zambia shredded the form book in 2012 to win the premier African national team football competition for the only time.

Aubameyang’s Gabon denied on Cup of Nations opening day

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Libreville (AFP) Minnows Guinea-Bissau enjoyed an Africa Cup of Nations debut to remember as they held the host nation Gabon of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a surprise 1-1 draw in Libreville on Saturday.

Juary Soares scored a last-minute equaliser to cancel out the opener from Borussia Dortmund striker Aubameyang at the Stade de l'Amitie in the Group A curtain-raiser.

Perisic, Eder strike late as Inter down Chievo

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Milan (AFP) Ivan Perisic and Eder hit late goals as Inter Milan stuttered to a precious 3-1 comeback win at home to Chievo on Saturday.

Chievo travelled to the San Siro hoping for a second consecutive upset over the Nerazzurri after a shock 2-0 home win at the start of the campaign when former coach Frank De Boer was at the helm.

2017 MLS TV schedule features plenty of changes to disrupt consistent TV windows

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Major League Soccer has announced TV coverage plans for the 2017 season, which will include plenty of changes thatwill disrupt the consistent television windows that fans have only recently become adjusted to after the 2016 season.

In the 2016 season, the vast majority of MLS games had consistent television windows where many Friday night games were on UniMas, Saturday games were on MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick and Sunday games featured an early afternoon match on ESPN followed by Sunday night games on FS1.

Conte dismisses talk of Costa bust-up

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Chelsea manager Antonio Conte played down talk of a problem with Diego Costa after omitting the striker from his squad for Saturday's 3-0 win at Leicester City.

Costa, Chelsea's top scorer with 14 league goals, is thought to have been dropped after a training-ground row with fitness coach Julio Tous.

No Costa, no problem as Chelsea down Leicester

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Chelsea made light of Diego Costa's controversial absence as the Premier League leaders cruised to a 3-0 win at reigning champions Leicester City on Saturday.

Wing-back Marcos Alonso was their unlikely goal hero with a brace just his second and third goals for the club either side of half-time before fellow Spaniard Pedro Rodriguez completed the scoring.

Proud Bilic has dig at Payet after Hammers win

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London (AFP) West Ham manager Slaven Bilic couldn't resist a dig at want-away star Dimitri Payet following the impressive 3-0 win over Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The 48-year-old Croat said his players had been 'magnificent' and showed it was more about the team than any individual player as they ended a streak of three games without a win or a goal.

Alonso lifts Chelsea as Spurs climb to second

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London (AFP) Marcos Alonso proved an unexpected replacement for the absent Diego Costa as Chelsea won 3-0 at Leicester City on Saturday to consolidate their position atop the Premier League table.

Costa, Chelsea's top scorer, was missing after reportedly rowing with coaching staff about his fitness, but Spanish wing-back Alonso's double helped Antonio Conte's side go seven points clear.

Guinea-Bissau deny hosts Gabon as Cup of Nations begins

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Libreville (AFP) Minnows Guinea-Bissau made it a memorable start to the Africa Cup of Nations as a late Juary Soares equaliser saw them hold hosts Gabon to a 1-1 draw in Saturday's opening game.

Soares headed home for the tournament debutants in the 90th minute to cancel out Gabonese poster boy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's opener in the Group A game at the Stade de l'Amitie in capital Libreville.

Messi indispensable to Barca – president

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Barcelona (AFP) Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insists ensuring Lionel Messi's future at the Catalan giants is his top priority after a week littered with embarrassing series of PR own goals for the Spanish champions.

"Renewing Messi's contract is indispensable to our club," Bartomeu told Catalan TV station TV3 before Barca's 5-0 thrashing of Las Palmas on Saturday.

Draxler winner delivers immediate return for PSG

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Paris (AFP) New boy Julian Draxler produced a brilliant first-time finish to give Paris Saint Germain a 1-0 win at Rennes on his Ligue 1 debut for the champions on Saturday.

The victory lifts PSG level second with Monaco on 42 points, two behind table-toppers Nice, who host lowly Metz Sunday, while the Monegasques face a tough trip along the coast to Marseille.

Aubameyang, Gabon denied in Cup of Nations opener

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Libreville (AFP) Juary Soares grabbed a dramatic late equaliser for debutants Guinea-Bissau as they recovered from a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike to hold hosts Gabon to a 1-1 draw in the Africa Cup of Nations opening game.

Gabon appeared to be heading for victory in Saturday's Group A curtain-raiser after Borussia Dortmund striker Aubameyang turned the ball in from close range seven minutes into the second half at the Stade de l'Amitie in the capital Libreville.

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

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

One of the biggest rivalries in all of world soccer kicks off on Sunday between Manchester United and Liverpool. For viewers in the United States, the game will be shown live on television and streaming in a match that has a lot of top four repercussions for both clubs.

Returning Barton stars as Burnley beat Saints 1-0

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) Substitute Joey Barton marked his return to Burnley, after a short-lived stint at Rangers, by scoring a 78th-minute free-kick to earn his side a 1-0 home win over Southampton on Saturday.

The controversial English midfielder returned to the Premier League this month despite having a charge of misconduct hanging over him for alleged betting.

Sanchez rounds off Arsenal romp over limp Swansea

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Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) Alexis Sanchez's 14th goal of the season added the finishing touch to Arsenal's convincing 4-0 Premier League victory over relegation battlers Swansea on Saturday elevating them to third.

The in-form France striker Olivier Giroud gave the visitors a first half lead before own goals from Jack Cork and Kyle Naughton and an opportunist strike from Chilean star Sanchez completed the job.

Crouch key as Stoke see off sorry Sunderland

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Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) Peter Crouch scored one goal and set up another as Stoke beat Sunderland 3-1 on Saturday with this 14th defeat of the season piling the pressure on David Moyes' relegation strugglers.

Stoke's first win at Wearside since 1994 lifted them up two places to ninth, while Sunderland slipped to one off the foot of the Premier League table.

Costa missing for Chelsea at Leicester

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Diego Costa was left out of Chelsea's squad for the Premier League leaders' game at Leicester City on Saturday after reports of a bust-up with coaching staff.

Reports emerged on Friday that the Brazil-born Spain international, Chelsea's top scorer with 14 league goals, had been dropped by coach Antonio Conte after a training-ground row over his fitness.

Carroll gem boosts Hammers in wake of Payet storm

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London (AFP) A wonderful bicycle kick from Andy Carroll helped West Ham shrug off Dimitri Payet's refusal to play as they coasted to a welcome 3-0 win over Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday.

While Carroll's goal was the pick of the three it was Mickail Antoinio who ran the show creating all of the Hammers goals bringing them their first win in four matches and ending a goal drought stretching back three games.

Kane sends Spurs second, Arsenal up to third

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London (AFP) Harry Kane plundered a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur climbed to second place in the Premier League on Saturday with a classy 4-0 demolition of West Bromwich Albion.

The England striker, who became a father for the first time last weekend, took his tally for the season to 15 goals in all competitions as Mauricio Pochettino's side recorded a sixth successive league win.

Watford held after emotional Taylor tribute

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) Watford fans paid an emotional tribute to Graham Taylor after the death of their former manager, but their team couldn't match that fitting send-off in a dour 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Taylor passed away on Thursday at the age of 72 after suffering a suspected heart attack and the club where he made his name did him proud with moving tributes before the Premier League clash at Vicarage Road.

Suarez, Messi keep Barca on Madrid’s tail

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Barcelona (AFP) Luis Suarez scored twice and Lionel Messi continued his sensational form as Barcelona moved to within two points of La Liga leaders Real Madrid on Saturday with a 5-0 rout of Las Palmas.

Madrid remain very much in pole position, though, with two games in hand, the first of which comes at third-placed Sevilla on Sunday.

Univision Deportes ends 2016 with record-breaking ratings

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Univision Deportes ended 2016 with record-breaking ratings thanks to impressive viewing numbers for Copa America Centenario, Liga MX and the Mexican national team.

Univision Deportes (UDN) delivered record ratings and double-digit growth in key metrics for its sports content across media platforms in 2016.

Sevilla vs. Real Madrid predicted lineups, TV times and preview

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Even though we're less than halfway through the opening month of 2017, you sense that Real Madrid can wrap up the La Liga title when they visit Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday.

It'll be Los Blancos' second visit to the Andalusian outfit in the space of four days, having secured their passage into the next stage of the Copa del Rey on Thursday 6-3 on aggregate.

Watford fans honour late England manager Taylor

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) Watford fans paid a heartfelt tribute to their former manager Graham Taylor prior to Saturday's Premier League home game with Middlesbrough.

Taylor, who also managed England from 1990 to 1993, died aged 72 on Thursday following a heart attack.

He led Watford from the fourth tier to the top division during the first of his two spells as manager and there were emotional scenes at Vicarage Road as fans remembered him.

Manchester United vs. Liverpool predicted lineups, TV times and preview

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Even though both Manchester United and Liverpool were involved in EFL Cup semi-final matches this week, with a clash between the two sides at Old Trafford on Sunday looming, the fixtures felt somewhat insignificant.

Duels between these two massive rivals have felt diluted in recent years, with neither club in a position to challenge for top spot in the Premier League.

NBC network TV to air second half of Manchester United-Liverpool game

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NBC Sports' coverage of Manchester United against Liverpool is the unlikely benefactor of severe winter weather conditions this Sunday. While the entire match will be televised live on NBCSN from 11am ET, the second half of the North West Derby will also be shown live on NBC over-the-air broadcast channel.

Payet won’t be sold vows Hammers owner Sullivan

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London (AFP) West Ham co-owner David Sullivan has warned Dimitri Payet there is no chance he will allow the unhappy France star to force his way out of the Premier League club.

Payet stunned West Ham boss Slaven Bilic this week when he admitted he wants to leave during the January transfer window and wasn't willing to play against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Aubameyang leads hosts Gabon into Cup of Nations opener

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Libreville (AFP) Gabon lifts the curtain Saturday on the Africa Cup of Nations with the hosts, spearheaded by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, playing minnows Guinea-Bissau in the opening match in Libreville.

The first match in Group A in the 16-team competition, preceded by the opening ceremony, was set to begin at 1600 GMT at the Stade de l'Amitie in the Gabonese capital.

Kane delivers hat-trick to lift Spurs to second

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London (AFP) New father Harry Kane scored a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur crushed West Bromwich Albion 4-0 on Saturday to climb to second place in the Premier League table.

Kane's hat-trick, which took his season tally to 15 goals, capped an outstanding performance that ensured Mauricio Pochettino's side maintained the standards set in last week's defeat of leaders Chelsea.

Manchester United look to exploit Liverpool wobble

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London (AFP) Jose Mourinho's resurgent Manchester United will attempt to reel in arch rivals Liverpool when Jurgen Klopp's faltering side visit Old Trafford in Sunday's Premier League headline clash.

United have won their last nine games in all competitions their best run since an 11-match winning streak in early 2009 while Liverpool are still to win a game in 2017.

Prancing Pogba symbolises Man Utd revival

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London (AFP) After an unsteady start to his second Manchester United career, Paul Pogba has returned to the level that convinced the club to make him the world's most expensive footballer.

Brought back to Old Trafford from Juventus in an £89.3 million ($108.9 million, 102.4 million euros) deal, the 23-year-old was initially derided for some less than stellar performances.

Toure sounds title rallying call to Manchester City team-mates

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Liverpool (AFP) Yaya Toure suggests Manchester City can forget about winning the Premier League this season if they fail to beat Everton this weekend.

The Ivorian veteran's assertion that City have no more room for error appears to be shared by his team-mates judging by the performances in their first two matches of 2017.

Manchester United brace for Liverpool crunch, Chelsea eye recovery

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London (AFP) Manchester United have a golden opportunity to haul themselves into the Premier League title race at the expense of bitter rivals Liverpool this weekend.

While all is sweetness and light for the moment with United and manager Jose Mourinho, the storm clouds may be gathering over his former side Chelsea, who had soared to the top of the table on the back of a 13 match winning run.

Cash row sours Zimbabwe’s Africa Cup build-up

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Harare (AFP) Zimbabwe have endured a troubled run-up to theAfrica Cup of Nations, with players refusing to attend a farewell gala and missing scheduled flights to the tournament in a dispute over pay.

The "Warriors", who have all now arrived in Gabon, look to overcome their minnows status in their opening Group B game on Sunday against Algeria, followed by clashes against Senegal and Tunisia.

Algeria coach wary of Africa Cup of Nations outsiders Zimbabwe

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Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) Virtually all the pre-2017 Africa Cup of Nations talk about Group B has concerned which two countries from Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia will advance to the quarter-finals.

Zimbabwe, who complete the quartet based in southeastern Gabonese city Franceville, have been dismissed as no-hopers in a section featuring three of the top five ranked African teams.

Mahrez chose Algeria in tribute to late father

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Sarcelles (France) (AFP) Riyad Mahrez chose to play for Algeria rather than France, where he was born, in a tribute to his late father, the African player of the year's brother said.

Propelled to global renown by Leicester City's amazing run to Premier League glory, the 25-year-old will be one of the most watched stars at the Cup of African Nations where Algeria start against Zimbabwe on Sunday.

Gabon pin hopes on Aubameyang as Africa Cup of Nations begins

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Libreville (AFP) The Africa Cup of Nations gets underway in Gabon on Saturday afternoon as the hosts, spearheaded by the brilliant Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang, face minnows Guinea-Bissau in the tournament's opening game in Libreville.

The Panthers, coached by veteran Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho, are looking to the French-born Borussia Dortmund striker to lead their bid to win the continental title for the first time, 60 years on from the inaugural Cup of Nations.

Pogba can be United captain, says Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Paul Pogba has all the qualities to be a future Manchester United captain, according to Jose Mourinho.

The United manager believes the 23-year-old France midfielder's recent performances show he can be a long-term replacement for Wayne Rooney in the role.

Rooney's future at Old Trafford has been the subject of speculation, despite the fact he recently drew level with Bobby Charlton as the club's all-time record goalscorer.

Vibrant Leeds into third after Wood strikes

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London (AFP) New Zealand international Chris Wood's 14th league goal of the season propelled slumbering English football giants Leeds United to a 1-0 win over in-form Derby and into third in the Championship on Friday.

Wood's header right on half-time his 18th in all competitions this season sees them move above Reading, who lost 1-0 to QPR on Thursday, and just four points off the automatic promotion places to the Premier League which they have not been in since being relegated in 2004.

Chelsea axe Costa after £30 million China link

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London (AFP) Diego Costa's future at Premier League leaders Chelsea was plunged into doubt on Friday after their leading scorer was dropped for Saturday's away match with champions Leicester.

The 28-year-old Spanish international, who has scored 14 goals in 19 games this season, is believed to have had a bust-up at the club over the level of his fitness and has not trained all week.

Chelsea axe Costa after £30 million China link – reports

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London (AFP) Diego Costa's future at Premier League leaders Chelsea was plunged into doubt on Friday after their leading scorer was reportedly dropped for Saturday's away match with champions Leicester.

The 28-year-old Spanish international, who has scored 14 goals in 19 games this season, is believed to have had a bust-up at the club over the level of his fitness and has not trained all week.

Chelsea axe top scorer Costa after China link – reports

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London (AFP) Diego Costa's future at Premier League leaders Chelsea was plunged into doubt on Friday after their leading scorer was reportedly dropped for Saturday's away match with champions Leicester.

The 28-year-old Spanish international, who has scored 14 goals in 19 games this season, is believed to have had a bust-up at the club.

Ugandans facing Cup blackout

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Kampala (AFP) Uganda's state owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporationwill be unable to broadcast Africa Cup of Nations matches live for a lack of funds, a senior official said Friday.

"We needed about 600,000 euros ($650,000) to acquire the rights but this has not been possible for now," UBC Managing Director Winston Agaba told AFP.

Cameroon coach calls for Cup of Nations date change

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Libreville (AFP) Cameroon coach Hugo Broos on Friday called for the Africa Cup of Nations to be moved to a different time of year and said pressure from European clubs was to blame for the host of withdrawals from his squad.

The Indomitable Lions have won the tournament four times but come into this year's Cup of Nations which begins in Gabon on Saturday with arguably their weakest ever squad.

Chelsea reveal £8.3m Mourinho payment

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London (AFP) Chelsea paid Jose Mourinho and his staff £8.3 million ($10.1 million) following his sacking last season, taking the total severance payments to the Portuguese coach and his assistants to a remarkable £31.4 million since 2007.

Mourinho was axed by Blues owner Roman Abramovich in December 2015 after his mutinous team lurched towards the Premier League relegation zone just months after being crowned English champions.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 21

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Second-place Liverpool visit Manchester United in a clash of English football's two most successful clubs this Sunday, Jan. 15, at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and TELEMUNDO. Liverpool (18 top-flight titles) are unbeaten in their last six league matches, while Manchester United (20 top-flight titles) are coming off six straight league wins.

Bayern’s Robben sits out warm-up tournament

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Berlin (AFP) Arjen Robben will miss Bayern Munich's final warm-up for the restart of the Bundesliga season with a cold keeping the 32-year-old Dutch winger out of Saturday's four-team mini tournament in Duesseldorf.

Bayern's opening Bundesliga fixture of 2017 is at mid-table Freiburg next Friday.

Unexpected call doesn’t faze Manchester United’s Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Jose Mourinho was unfazed when an unexpected telephone call interrupted the Manchester United manager's weekly session with the media on Friday.

Initially, it was business as usual as Mourinho took questions from journalists at United's training ground ahead of their crucial Premier League clash with bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for January 2-9, 2017

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Univision's coverage of the first round of the Liga MX Clasura averaged 883,000 viewers, up 16% from 760,000 in the opening round of the 2016 Apertura. Viewership peaked Saturday night with the most-viewed soccer match last week as nearly 1.6 million tuned into Univision's coverage of the match between Chivas and Pumas.

Keep calm on Messi deal, says Barca coach

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Barcelona (AFP) Barcelona need to avoid a growing sense of hysteria felt by fans, fellow players and media over protracted negotiations to extend superstar striker Lionel Messi's contract, his coach Luis Enrique said Friday.

With just 18 months left on the 29-year-old Argentine's deal, Enrique insisted there is no need to panic.

Sunderland’s Moyes slams Jeremain Lens relegation wish

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London (AFP) Sunderland manager David Moyes has accused Jeremain Lens of being "disgracefully disrespectful" after the Netherlands midfielder said it would be good for him if the Premier League strugglers were relegated.

Lens is currently on loan at Turkish club Fenerbahce after being recruited by former Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat, who brought the 29-year-old to the Stadium of Light in July 2015

Advocaat is keen to strike a permanent deal for Lens and Sunderland are prepared to sell the player, who failed to make an impact during his 13 months on Wearside.

Antonio Conte vows to keep hold of John Terry

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London (AFP) Antonio Conte insists Chelsea defender John Terry won't be allowed to leave the Premier League leaders during the January transfer window.

Terry has been unable to nail down a first team place since returning from injury and the Chelsea captain was linked with a temporary move to Bournemouth this week after Blues defender Nathan Ake was recalled from his own loan spell at Dean Court.

Pep Guardiola concerned by Vincent Kompany’s injury woes

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Pep Guardiola admits he is not certain if injury-plagued Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany will ever return to peak form.

Kompany is back in first team contention having had an eight-week lay-off for a knee problem he sustained against Crystal Palace in November.

I’m calmer than Klopp, claims Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Jose Mourinho claims he is a calmer manager than Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, despite having been sent to the stands twice for disciplinary reasons this season.

United manager Mourinho has guided his team to nine successive wins in all competitions, and even though they are currently sixth, they could make up significant ground on the Premier League's top four by beating Liverpool on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho says he is calmer than Jurgen Klopp

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) Jose Mourinho claims he is a calmer manager than Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, despite having been sent to the stands twice for disciplinary reasons this season.

United manager Mourinho has guided his team to nine successive wins in all competitions, and even though they are currently sixth, they could make up significant ground on the Premier League's top four by beating Liverpool on Sunday.

CAF boss Issa Hayatou facing challenge

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Libreville (AFP) CAF executive committee member Ahmad Ahmad said Friday he will challenge long-serving Issa Hayatou in March for the presidency of the African football body.

Cameroonian Hayatou, 70, has run CAF since succeeding Sudanese Abdel Halim Muhammad in 1988 and is seeking an eighth four-year term.

Lyon target Manchester United forward Memphis Depay

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Décines-Charpieu (France) (AFP) Manchester United's Dutch forward Memphis Depay is the top target for French club Lyon during the winter transfer window, coach Bruno Genesio said Friday.

"I'm a fan of this player and have made him my priority," Genesio told a press conference as he outlined the 23-year-old's qualities.

Guinea-Bissau aim to extend Leicester-like run at Cup of Nations

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Libreville (AFP) Shock qualifiers Guinea-Bissau face hosts Gabon Saturday in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations opener, hoping to continue a Leicester City-like run in the competition.

Traditional underachievers Leicester were the sensational winners of the 2015-2016 English Premier League, giving football minnows across the world belief that nothing is impossible.

Pochettino demands no more Spurs lows after highs

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London (AFP) Mauricio Pochettino has challenged his Tottenham Hotspur players to demonstrate their growing maturity when they face West Brom on Saturday in the wake of their impressive victory over Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Pochettino's side ended Chelsea's run of 13 successive league victories by extending their own winning run to six games and moving up to third place, seven points adrift of the leaders.

Koscielny demands more from Arsenal

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Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) Fresh from signing a new contract Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny has demanded his team-mates ramp up their performances, beginning with the Premier League game at struggling Swansea on Saturday.

Koscielny, who has committed himself to 2020 which would mean the French defender has been at the Gunners for 10 years says it is vital they rediscover their form having slipped to fifth in the table, eight points off leaders Chelsea.

United brace for Liverpool crunch, Chelsea eye recovery

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London (AFP) Manchester United have a golden opportunity to haul themselves into the Premier League title race at the expense of bitter rivals Liverpool this weekend, while leaders Chelsea will look to steady their nerves at Leicester.

United go into the Old Trafford showdown in fine fettle after beating Hull in the League Cup semi-final first leg in midweek to extend their winning streak in all competitions to nine matches.

Minimum room for error for PSG in French League action

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Paris (AFP) With one eye twitching in the direction of Barcelona in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain head into their first taste of 2017 French league action with ground to make up.

Saturday's game at a Rennes side with realistic designs on Europe will, PSG hope, reignite their form after an opening half of the campaign which saw four defeats and left them five points adrift of Ligue 1 table-toppers Nice.

Del Piero tips Juventus to outplay Fiorentina

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Milan (AFP) Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero said he scored "perhaps the best goal of my career" against Fiorentina, and he expects the Old Lady to continue outplaying La Viola when the sides meet on Sunday.

For Del Piero, Juventus v Fiorentina is a "derby" and one in which he struck a superb volley with the outside of his boot to seal a 3-2 win for Juve in December 1994.

Top two collide in latest La Liga challenge for relentless Real

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Madrid (AFP) Cristiano Ronaldo returns for Real Madrid as the European champions put their Spanish record 40-game unbeaten run on the line for the second time in four days in a top of the table clash at Sevilla on Sunday.

Victory for the hosts would blow the La Liga title race wide open with Sevilla closing to within one point of Real, who also still have a game in hand.

Ivorians impress as ‘Auba’, Mahrez lead football stars parade

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Libreville (AFP) New-look Ivory Coast are preparing to defend the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off in Gabon on Saturday, buoyed by encouraging results and impressive form from new recruit Wilfried Zaha.

The Crystal Palace flier hopes to make an impact in a competition that boasts Europe-based stars like Riyad Mahrez of Algeria, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Sadio Mane of Senegal.

Wenger hopes his future plans won’t influence Ozil talks

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London (AFP) Arsene Wenger insists Mesut Ozil won't base his contract talks with Arsenal solely on the uncertain future of the Gunners manager.

Wenger's current deal only runs until the end of the season and he has yet to reveal whether he will extend his 20-year reign at the Premier League club.

Where to find Leeds United vs. Derby on US TV and streaming

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If you're trying to find out how you can watch Leeds United vs. Derby, you've come to the right place.

Leeds United has another opportunity tonight to climb into the top three in the Championship while seventh-place Derby County can move up a couple of places with a win at Elland Road. The two clubs, formerly managed by Brian Clough, meet face-to-face in what should be an entertaining Championship encounter.

Kucka, Bonaventura strike as Milan set up Juve Cup quarter

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Milan (AFP) Juraj Kucka and Giacomo Bonaventura struck in four second-half minutes to fire AC Milan to a thrilling 2-1 Italian Cup win over Torino and a quarter-final tie with Juventus on Thursday.

It means one of this season's Cup quarters will be a repeat of the 2015 Cup final, when Juventus beat Milan on their way to a second successive league and Cup double.

Real late show sets record 40-game unbeaten run

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Madrid (AFP) Karim Benzema struck deep into stoppage time as Real Madrid set a new Spanish record by extending their unbeaten run to 40 games in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Sevilla to progress to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday.

Holding a 3-0 first leg lead, a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real looked set for defeat for the first time in eight months as an own goal from Danilo and second-half strikes from Stefan Jovetic and Vicente Iborra saw Sevilla lead 3-1 inside the final 10 minutes.

Real Madrid set Spanish record 40-game unbeaten run

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Madrid (AFP) Karim Benzema struck deep into stoppage time as Real Madrid set a new Spanish record by extending their unbeaten run to 40 games in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Sevilla to progress to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday.

Holding a 3-0 first leg lead, a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real looked set for defeat for the first time in eight months as an own goal from Danilo and second-half strikes from Stefan Jovetic and Vicente Iborra saw Sevilla lead 3-1 inside the final 10 minutes.

Nigeria, South Africa in 2019 Africa Cup group

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Johannesburg (AFP) The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying draw made in Libreville Thursday pitted Nigeria against South Africa in one of the 12 groups and Tunisia against Egypt in another.

Nigeria and South Africa are in Group E with Libya and the Seychelles while Tunisia and Egypt are in Group J with Niger and Swaziland.

Gerrard to receive Freedom of Liverpool

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London (AFP) Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is set to receive the Freedom of the City after his outstanding career with the Premier League club.

Gerrard, 36, captained Liverpool to Champions League and FA Cup triumphs after emerging from the youth academy to become one of the club's favourite sons.

The impact of a 48-team World Cup on TV: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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World Soccer Talk is the new weekly soccer podcast from Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris on the topic of watching soccer on TV, online and via apps.

In the NEW episode, number 9, we cover a range of topics including:

•The impact that a 48-team World Cup will have on TV,

•News regarding developments at FOX Sports as well as the new face of their Bundesliga coverage,

•Details about the most-watched Premier League game of the season,

•Our favorite matches from the past week,

•Plus questions from YOU, the listeners!

Swansea sign Dutch winger Narsingh from PSV

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London (AFP) Swansea City have signed Dutch international winger Luciano Narsingh from PSV Eindhoven for £4 million ($4.9 million, 4.6 million euros), the Premier League strugglers announced on Thursday.

The 26-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract and becomes Paul Clement's first signing since he succeeded Bob Bradley as manager earlier this month.

Schneiderlin completes £20mn Everton switch

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London (AFP) French holding midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has joined Everton from Manchester United for an initial fee of £20 million, the Merseyside club said on Thursday.

The 27-year-old signed a four-and-a-half-year contract in a deal that will rise to £24 million (27.5 million euros, $29 million) with bonuses.

Morgan Schneiderlin can be a vital building block on Ronald Koeman’s Everton blueprint

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It may have come a little too late for the liking of Everton manager Ronald Koeman, but on Thursday the Toffees boss finally got his man, as the club completed a deal for Morgan Schneiderlin from Manchester United.

Although the Frenchman wasn't at Goodison Park in time to prevent the team's FA Cup exit to Leicester City on Saturday, he's poised to become a vital part of the Everton midfield for the rest of the Premier League season.

Expanded World Cup ‘more competitive’ says Portugal coach

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Lisbon (AFP) FIFA's expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026 will make football's showpiece tournament "more competitive", Portugal coach Fernando Santos said Thursday.

"We must avoid being too dramatic," Santos said. "If this expansion meant an increase in the number of games (played during the tournament) things would be more complicated, but as it's not the case, I'm clearly in favour of it.

Germany’s Max Kruse escapes injury after car crash

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Berlin (AFP) Germany international Max Kruse admitted he was lucky to have walked away from a car crash having reported for training hours after wrecking the vehicle he was driving on Thursday.

The accident happened at 0400 local time (0300 GMT) in north Germany, but Kruse still reported punctually for training at 1000 with struggling German league club Werder Bremen.

Graham Taylor, tabloid target and England statesman

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London (AFP) Graham Taylor, who died aged 72 on Thursday, was Watford's greatest manager and overcame a turbulent period as England boss to become one of English football's most fondly regarded figures.

Over 10 years, Taylor guided Watford from the Fourth Division to a second-place finish in England's top tier and an FA Cup final appearance.

Former England manager Graham Taylor dead at 72

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London (AFP) Former England manager Graham Taylor died on Thursday at the age of 72 after suffering a suspected heart attack.

Taylor made his name as the mastermind behind Watford's rise to the English top-flight in the 1980s and also enjoyed a successful spell as Aston Villa boss before spending three years as England manager.

Joker Thomas Mueller chats into passport to duck questions

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Berlin (AFP) Thomas Mueller put a bizarre new spin on an old trick by pretending his passport was a mobile phone to avoid questions when Bayern Munich returned from their winter training camp.

Bundesliga leaders Bayern arrived back into Munich on Wednesday after their eight-day camp in Doha with the German league to resume after the winter break on January 20.

Prosecutors mull Hillsborough disaster criminal charges

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London (AFP) The two investigations into the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster on Thursday passed files on 23 suspects to prosecutors who will now consider criminal charges.

Fifteen of the suspects relate to the investigation into the causes of the disaster, while eight relate to an alleged police cover-up which followed the tragedy in which 96 Liverpool supporters died.

Ex-England manager Graham Taylor dead at 72

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London (AFP) Former England manager Graham Taylor has died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 72, his family announced on Thursday.

Taylor made his name as the mastermind behind Watford's rise to the English top-flight in the 1980s and also enjoyed a successful spell as Aston Villa boss before spending three years as England manager.

Former England manager Taylor dead at 72

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London (AFP) Former England manager Graham Taylor has died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 72, his family announced on Thursday.

Taylor made his name as the mastermind behind Watford's rise to the English top-flight in the 1980s and also enjoyed a successful spell as Aston Villa boss before spending three years as England manager.

Messi must be handed new deal – Suarez

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Barcelona (AFP) Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has hit back at comments by the club's CEO that the Catalan giants won't "go crazy" when negotiating a new contract for five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.

Barca CEO Oscar Grau said on Wednesday that a new deal for Messi, who has 18 months left on his current deal, was being negotiated with "common sense and discretion.

Redmond puts Southampton within touching distance of League Cup Final

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted he may have bamboozled his players by jotting down a change of tactics on a scrap of paper during his team's 1-0 defeat to Southampton in the League Cup semi-final first leg.

Striker Daniel Sturridge appeared nonplussed when passed the details on the note in the second half at St Mary's, with other Liverpool players also bemused by Klopp's switch.

When Uganda last played Africa Cup, Idi Amin ruled

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Kampala (AFP) In an era when dictator Idi Amin would interrupt football training to offer advice and bundles of cash, Uganda made it all the way to the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations' final.

However in the nearly 40 years that followed that surprise success, the "Cranes" named after the national bird never again soared to such dizzy heights.

Ghana look to end 35-year Africa Cup of Nations drought

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Abuja (AFP) The Black Stars of Ghana will again be one of the favourites for the Africa Cup of Nations as they aim to clinch a fifth title after their last triumph 35 years ago.

Ghana are one of the most successful teams in the continent's football showpiece having won it in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982.

‘Egyptian Messi’ Salah’s star rising for Egypt

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Milan (AFP) He may have failed to impress Jose Mourinho, but Mohamed Salah has the chance at the Africa Cup of Nations to demonstrate just why he has been hailed as the 'Egyptian Messi'.

"Salah looks great," Egypt coach Hector Cuper told the asroma.it website on Wednesday.

"If he continues the way he's going, he can become one of the best players in the world.

Riyad Mahrez, high-rise Desert Fox takes on Africa

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Sarcelles (France) (AFP) "Riyad Mahrez? He's an example!" goes the mantra in Sarcelles, a north Parisian housing project where strings of high-rise blocks were built in the 1950s and 1960s primarily to accommodate French settlers from Algeria.

It was in this town 16km (10 miles) north of Paristhat the Algerian international was born and raised, and the Premier League winner with Leicester who will be one of the stars of the upcoming African Cup of Nations continues to inspire.

Japan striker Miura signs to play into his 50s

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Tokyo (AFP) Former Japan striker Kazuyoshi Miura, who turns 50 next month, has renewed his contract with Yokohama FC, stretching his record as the oldest Japanese to play professional football.

The forward, dubbed "King Kazu" by Japanese media and fans, will take his career into a remarkable 32nd season after agreeing a one-year deal, the J-League second-tier club said.

Giroud, Koscielny, Coquelin pen new Arsenal deals

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London (AFP) Arsenal's French trio Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Francis Coquelin have all agreed contract extensions, the Premier League club announced on Thursday.

The club said the three players had signed "long-term" contracts, but did not disclose the duration of their deals.

"We are very pleased that three important members of our team have committed to us for the long term," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on the club website.

Payet wants to leave West Ham, says Bilic

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London (AFP) West Ham United playmaker Dimitri Payet has informed the club of his desire to leave and no longer wishes to play for them, manager Slaven Bilic revealed on Thursday.

Payet, 29, joined West Ham from Marseille in a reported £10.7 million ($13.1 million, 12.3 million euros) deal in 2015 and had a sensational first season, scoring 12 goals and supplying 12 assists.

Jerome Boateng sued for unpaid 250,000 euros deposit

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Berlin (AFP) Jerome Boateng has been taken to court over an unpaid deposit of 250,000 euros ($265,590) as the Bayern Munich star battles to be fit for their Champions League clash against Arsenal.

A laywer representing the Germany defender was in Munich's district court on Wednesday over the unpaid bill of a quarter of a million euros, plus tax a deposit on a villa in the Bavarian capital.

I’ve conquered England in three months says Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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London (AFP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic has set his sights on leading Manchester United to the Premier League title after boasting he took just three months to establish himself as one of the best players in England.

Despite critics claiming Ibrahimovic would struggle to adapt to the Premier League, the Swedish forward has already scored 18 goals since joining United on a free transfer from Paris Saint Germain last year.

Where to find Sevilla vs. Real Madrid Copa del Rey on US TV and streaming

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

Real Madrid is one step away from qualifying for the quarterfinals of the 2016/17 Copa del Rey. With a commanding 3-0 lead from the first leg, Madrid is almost through. But never underestimate Sevilla especially when they're playing at home.

Messi free-kick magic sends Barcelona into Cup quarters

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Barcelona (AFP) Lionel Messi's third goal from a free-kick in as many games this year secured Barcelona's place in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey as the holders beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1 to edge through 4-3 on aggregate on Wednesday.

Luis Suarez's 100th Barca goal and Neymar's penalty cancelled out Athletic's 2-1 first leg lead, but Enric Saborit's header six minutes into the second-half had the tie headed for extra time.

Chelsea get green light over Bridge stadium rebuild

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London (AFP) Chelsea have been given the green light for a multi-million pound redevelopment of their Stamford Bridge stadium, the Premier League leaders revealed on Wednesday.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council's planning committee voted unanimously to approve the proposal for a 60,000-seat stadium, which would reportedly cost around £500 million ($610 million, 576 million euros).

Messi free-kick magic sends Barca into Cup quarters

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Barcelona (AFP) Lionel Messi's third goal from a free-kick in as many games this year secured Barcelona's place in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey as the holders beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1 to edge through 4-3 on aggregate.

Luis Suarez's 100th Barca goal and Neymar's penalty cancelled out Athletic's 2-1 first leg lead, but Enric Saborit's header six minutes into the second-half had the tie headed for extra time.

Redmond puts Saints within touching distance of Wembley

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) Southampton edged one step closer to the League Cup final as Nathan Redmond's cool finish secured a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

Claude Puel's side went in front through Redmond's first half strike at St Mary's and only a strong display from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius prevented Southampton from winning by more.

Thiago Silva nods holders PSG into last four

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Paris (AFP) Captain Thiago Silva showed the wasteful Edinson Cavani how to do it with two crashing headers as holders Paris Saint-Germain surged into the semi-finals of the French League Cup with a 2-0 win over Metz on Wednesday.

Also into the last four are Nancy, Monaco and Bordeaux, who won their quarter-final 3-2 at home to Guingamp earlier in the evening.

Pjanic penalty helps Juve into Italian Cup quarters

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Milan (AFP) A late penalty from Miralem Pjanic saw holders Juventus scrape through to an Italian Cup quarter-final clash with either AC Milan or Torino after a nervous 3-2 win over high-flying Atalanta.

Atalanta travelled to Turin looking to cause an upset as they enjoy their best season in years under Gianpiero Gasperini, who has steered the Bergamo side to within 10 points of Juve's lead in Serie A at the halfway point.

Redmond put Saints within touching distance of Wembley

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) Southampton edged one step closer to the League Cup final as Nathan Redmond's cool finish secured a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

Claude Puel's side went in front through Redmond's first half strike at St Mary's and only a strong display from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius prevented Southampton from winning by more.

Suarez nets 100th Barcelona goal

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Barcelona (AFP) Luis Suarez became the third-fastest player to score 100 goals for Barcelona after reaching his century in just 120 games on Wednesday trumping even Lionel Messi.

The Uruguayan volleyed home Neymar's cross in acrobatic fashion at the Camp Nou to put Barca 1-0 up on Athletic Bilbao in the second leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 clash and ahead in the tie on away goals with the scores level at 2-2.

A 48-team World Cup, but who can host it?

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Paris (AFP) FIFA's decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams starting with the 2026 tournament prompted one major question: who can host the global showpiece in its revamped format?

North America is the favourite and in pole position with other former candidates relegated to outsiders.

Odds against Renard in quest for third Africa Cup of Nations title

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Paris (AFP) Herve Renard is looking to do something in Gabon that no coach has done before and win a third Africa Cup of Nations title with a third different country.

The Frenchman leads Morocco into the tournament having won the title with the Ivory Coast two years ago and with Zambia, the last time it was held in Gabon in 2012.

Bayer striker Javier Hernandez scotches transfer talk

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Berlin (AFP) Struggling Bayer Leverkusen striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez has scotched reports of a transfer move.

According to media reports the club are ready to sell the former Manchester United star who has lost his scoring touch. But the Mexican international said no move was on the cards.

Cohen Bramall has all the ingredients, says Arsene Wenger

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London (AFP) Former non league player Cohen Bramall has the all round qualities to make it at Arsenal said Gunners manager Arsene Wenger on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old defender who a week ago was facing life on the dole queue after being made redundant by luxury carmakers Bentley will first be tried out in the Under-23 side.

English record goalscorer Kelly Smith retires

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London (AFP) England's women's record goalscorer Kelly Smith announced her retirement from the sport on Wednesday.

The 38-year-old striker who scored 46 goals in 117 appearances for England won five FA Cups with Arsenal, scoring six goals in the showpiece event.

She also played in Arsenal's historic 2007 UEFA Cup now the womens' Champions League success and they remain the only British side to have won the trophy.

World Cup will suffer for FIFA’s misguided expansion

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Photo credit: AFP.

When the small Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago qualified for its first World Cup in November of 2005, the nation's Prime Minister Patrick Manning declared a national holiday.

That same year, when the African country of Cote d'Ivoire qualified for its first finals, the country's Civil War ground to a halt as its President agreed to open peace talks.

First goal for Wilfried Zaha as Ivorians crush Uganda

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Johannesburg (AFP) Wilfried Zaha scored his first goal for African champions the Ivory Coast as they trounced Uganda 3-0 Wednesday in a warm-up match for the 2017 Cup of Nations.

The Crystal Palace and former England winger struck with a low shot after a superb solo run during the second half in Abu Dhabi.

Divers to search for missing Hamburg official

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Berlin (AFP) Divers are planning an underwater search of Hamburg's port for missing merchandisemanager Timo Kraus, who works for the city's Bundesliga club, local police confirmed on Wednesday.

The 44-year-old father of two has not been seen since leaving a riverside bar in the city's port on Saturday night after meeting colleagues.

Cristiano Ronaldo rested again as Zidane targets treble

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane once again left Cristiano Ronaldo out of his squad that travels to Sevilla on Thursday holding a 3-0 lead for the second leg of their Copa del Rey last 16 tie.

Madrid made light of Ronaldo's absence in the first leg as a double from James Rodriguez and Raphael Varane's header maintained Real's relentless form.

Makelele named Swansea assistant coach

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London (AFP) Former France midfielder Claude Makelele has been appointed assistant coach of Premier League strugglers Swansea City, reuniting him with manager Paul Clement.

The 43-year-old Makelele, capped 71 times, signed for the rest of the season in what promises to be a tough battle to preserve Swansea's Premier League status they are second from bottom, but only a point from safety.

Manchester City charged over anti-doping procedures

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London (AFP) Manchester City have been charged by the Football Association over anti-doping procedures, the governing body announced on Wednesday.

"Manchester City have been charged in relation to The FA's Rules on Anti-Doping," an FA statement read.

"It is alleged the club failed to ensure that their 'Club Whereabouts' information was accurate, contrary to Regulation 14(d).

Leaving Chelsea for China ‘not a step down’ – Oscar

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Doha (AFP) Oscar insisted on Wednesday that quitting the English Premier League to play in China was not a step down but admitted that the mind-boggling financial offer was a definite incentive.

In his first substantive comments since leaving Chelsea for an eye-catching 60 million euros ($63 million), Oscar said the big-spending Chinese Super League would eventually rival the best leagues in the world.

Barca won’t break bank to keep Messi

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Barcelona (AFP) Barcelona won't put their financial future at risk in negotiating a new contract for Lionel Messi, the club warned on Wednesday, in comments that will encourage his many suitors across Europe.

Messi and club captain Andres Iniesta are entering the final 18 months of their current deals at the Camp Nou meaning they would be free to talk to other clubs in a year's time if they don't extend their contracts in 2017.

Last-gasp Fiorentina into Italian Cup quarters

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Milan (AFP) Federico Bernardeschi netted an injury-time penalty to fire Fiorentina into the quarter-finals of the Italian Cup with a 1-0 win over Chievo on Wednesday.

Chievo looked to have held on for extra time at the Artemio Franchi stadium until the referee pointed to the spot after Bernardeschi was felled from behind by the away side's Massimo Gobbi.

FOX Sports hires Kate Abdo as soccer studio presenter

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FOX Sports has hired Kate Abdo as studio presenter for its soccer coverage, a source has revealed to World Soccer Talk.

Abdo, who previously worked for FOX Sports as a guest host during the network's coverage of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, will join the network's coverage of soccer and is expected to play a pivotal role in FOX Sports' coverage of the World Cup, Confederations Cup and other tournaments.

France, Germany, England return for US tournament

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Chicago (AFP) France, Germany and England will face the United States in March in the second edition of the SheBelieves Cup women's tournament, the US Soccer Federation confirmed on Wednesday.

The four-way event will be played at three venues in the northeast between March 1 and 7 as a round-robin tournament.