World Cup Buzz Archives for January 2017

Nigeria to face former CHAN champions Libya

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

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

Coleman set to quit Wales for Sunderland: reports

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

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

Pernickety Pep tells Man City to keep striving

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

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

Mourinho blasts England over Jones injections

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

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

Dortmund sink at Stuttgart

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

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

Champions Monaco slip up with Amiens draw

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

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

Lille win over Saint-Etienne to ease pressure on Bielsa

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

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

Aubameyang baffled by his Dortmund punishment

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

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

Ronaldo ‘confident’ of winning Ballon D’Or

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

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

Conte targets 100% wins in Man City hunt

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

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

Guardiola mulls Kompany return for Man City

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

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

Madrid giants face similar issues ahead of derby

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

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

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

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

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

Barcelona braced for week of reckoning – Valverde

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

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

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 12

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

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

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

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

No Ramos-Ronaldo rift at Real, insists Zidane

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

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

Klopp fighting fit after health checks

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

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

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

Klopp fighting fit after health checks

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

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

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

Ibrahimovic, Pogba back for Man Utd – Mourinho

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

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

United may unleash Pogba and Ibrahimovic

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

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

Aguero fit for Man City after health scare

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

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

Klopp’s Liverpool afflicted as Southampton loom

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

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

Chelsea relish trip to hapless West Brom

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

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

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

Wenger vows to fix power shift in Spurs showdown

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

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

Ascending Tierney revels in Celtic milestone

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

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

Madrid giants face similar struggles ahead of La Liga derby

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

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

Five things to look out for in the Bundesliga

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

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

Ranieri plots downfall of unbeaten PSG

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

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

Italy’s stars fall back to earth in Serie A

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

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

Brazil’s scouts search for future Neymars

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

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

One-legged football ‘king’ melts Chinese hearts

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

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

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

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

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

CONCACAF announces ‘League of Nations’ shake-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aubameyang punished by Dortmund over behaviour

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

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

CAS rejects Silva’s appeal to play for Leicester now

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

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

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

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

Israeli group takes 15% stake in Atletico Madrid

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

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

Paraguay judge rules ex-soccer boss Leoz can be extradited

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

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

Syrian coach Hakim resigns after World Cup defeat

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

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

Former heads of FIFA ethics committee launch consultancy

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

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

Man City’s Aguero good to go after dizzy spell

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

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

Knee surgery for PSG’s Thiago Motta

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

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

Injury setback for Tottenham’s Alderweireld

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

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

Mourinho hits out at England over Jones injury

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

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

Australia reach fourth-straight World Cup after defeating Honduras

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

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

Football: Lippi sees improvement in goal-shy China

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

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

Kurds find joy in a Swedish football team’s success

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

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

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

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

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

Kiwis ‘gutted’ as Peru end World Cup dream

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

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

No 2030 football World Cup bid yet – Chinese FA

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

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

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

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

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

Cazorla injury the worst I’ve seen – Wenger

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

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

Italy sack Ventura, target Ancelotti

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

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

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

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

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

Griezmann unconcerned by goal drought

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

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

Spain to introduce video technology next season

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

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

Italy coach Ventura axed after World Cup disaster

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

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

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

Ventura axed as Italy coach

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

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

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

Liverpool manager Klopp hospitalised

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

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

“He is being assessed by doctors and will be absent from training on Wednesday as a result,” the club said in a statement.

Lewandowski says finding back-up a ‘difficult’ task

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Berlin (AFP) – Poland hotshot Robert Lewandowski believes Bayern Munich will have their work cut out finding an adequate back-up striker to fill his boots when he is resting.

Last month the 29-year-old said he wanted the German champions to find someone who can carry the striking load on occasions so last season’s Bundesliga player of the year can take a break.

Barcelona lose Mascherano for a month

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano will be sidelined for a month with a thigh injury he suffered in Argentina’s friendly international against Nigeria, the club said on Wednesday.

Mascherano played the full 90 minutes in his country’s surprise 4-2 loss to the Nigerians in the Russian city of Krasnodar on Tuesday.

Where to find Corinthians vs. Fluminense on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Corinthians vs. Fluminense in the Brasileiro, you’ve come to the right place.

Brazilian giants Corinthians face Fluminense in a game that will be televised live across United States television and streaming (see below for more details).

Universo to broadcast Peru-New Zealand World Cup playoff in Spanish on US TV

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Tonight’s second leg of the World Cup Qualifier Play Off between Perú and New Zealand will be shown live in Spanish-language via Universo and Telemundo Deportes en Vivo.

Telemundo Deportes, the Spanish-language home of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, secured the exclusive, Spanish-language media rights of the deciding leg of the playoffs between Peru and New Zealand as the Latin American team seeks a historic win to return to the World Cup after 36 years.

Argentina football official commits suicide over FIFA trial claims

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New York (AFP) – A former Argentine football official has reportedly committed suicide after he was accused of bribe-taking in testimony to a trial of top former FIFA figures in New York.

Jorge Delhon threw himself under a train in a Buenos Aires suburb on Tuesday, Argentine newspapers Clarin and La Nacion reported on their websites.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for October 31-November 5, 2017

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The 2017 MLS Conference Semi-Final second leg’s averaged 262,500 viewers, up 10% from an average of 238,750 viewers for the first leg matches and up 20% from 219,250 for the 2016’s Conference semi-final second legs. Overall MLS Cup Playoff viewership is up around 13% from 2016 and up just 584 viewers from an average of 266,833 in 2015.

Future of US soccer at stake in election – Gans

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Los Angeles (AFP) – The United States’ humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup may have left millions of fans across the country in shock, but for Steve Gans, the debacle had been a long time coming.

The 57-year-old Boston attorney’s worst fears came to fruition last month when the USA were eliminated after a 2-1 loss at Trinidad & Tobago in their final qualifying game.

Taxing times loom for China’s wantaway foreign football stars

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Shanghai (AFP) – Expensive flop Carlos Tevez could leave China soon, but other foreigners pining for a move in World Cup year may be disappointed by clubs desperate to retain their pricey stars.

The unsettled Argentine, branded “very homesick boy” by fed-up Chinese fans, has endured a miserable 11 months in the Chinese Super League (CSL) and hinted that he is eager to return to Argentina.

Football: ISL, seeking Indian ‘magic’, sheds foreign stars

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New Delhi (AFP) – The Indian Super League has slashed the number of high-earning foreign stars for its new season starting Friday but foreign coaches, including ex-England heroes Teddy Sheringham and Steve Coppell, will be in charge of every team.

Indian fans have been used to seeing the likes of Italy’s Alessandro Del Piero, French striker Nicolas Anelka, and Argentine Diego Forlan during the ISL’s first three seasons.

Former Argentine football official commits suicide: reports

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – A former Argentine football official committed suicide Tuesday, the same day he was accused of bribe-taking in the FIFA corruption trial that opened in New York this week, Argentine media reported.

Jorge Delhon threw himself under a train in a Buenos Aires suburb on Tuesday, the newspapers Clarin and La Nacion reported on their websites.

Saint-Etienne coach Garcia quits

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Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – Oscar Garcia has quit as coach of French first division side Saint-Etienne after five months at the helm, the club said Wednesday.

The Spanish coach led Saint-Etienne to a strong start to the season but they have won just one of their last seven games and were thrashed 5-0 in the local derby against Lyon on November 5.

Where to find Peru vs. New Zealand World Cup playoff 2nd leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Peru vs. New Zealand in the World Cup playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

The final game of the World Cup playoffs features Peru against New Zealand to determine who will be the last team to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Hat-trick hero Jedinak fires Australia into World Cup

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Sydney (AFP) – Captain Mile Jedinak’s second-half hat-trick fired Australia into next year’s World Cup in Russia on Wednesday as they swept past Honduras 3-1 in the second leg of their playoff in Sydney.

The Aston Villa midfielder’s free kick went in off Henry Figueroa on 54 minutes, and he then buried two penalties in the space of 13 minutes before Honduras scrambled a late consolation through Alberth Elis.

Italy didn’t deserve to qualify for World Cup after poor performances in qualification

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Welcome to the apocalypse. For the first time since 1958, Italy has failed to qualify for the World Cup.

It’s a shock to the system. No team apart from Germany had qualified more World Cups consecutively, and only one, Brazil, has won the tournament more times. Italy is a giant of world soccer in a way that only a handful of other countries are.

Global media paid bribes, FIFA trial hears

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New York (AFP) – A former executive who cut a plea deal with US prosecutors told the FIFA trial in New York Tuesday that media companies including Fox Sports paid bribes to secure television rights to soccer matches.

Alejandro Burzaco, the former chairman of an Argentine sports marking company, pleaded guilty in November 2015 to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies and agreed to pay $21.

Stindl denies France, Spain held by Russia

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Paris (AFP) – Lars Stindl scored a last-gasp equaliser as world champions Germany played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with France in Cologne on Tuesday, while Spain were held by Russia in a 3-3 friendly thriller.

France and Germany are among the favourites for next year’s World Cup in Russia, and Stindl’s injury-time effort extended Joachim Loew’s side’s unbeaten run to 21 matches.

Young England stifle Neymar’s Brazil

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London (AFP) – Neymar and his Brazil colleagues were held to a frustrating goalless draw after a spirited display by a callow England team in Tuesday’s friendly match at Wembley Stadium.

Brazil coach Tite was able to name a first-choice starting XI, but despite the presence of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho in the visitors’ line-up, they tested England goalkeeper Joe Hart only three times.

Sublime Eriksen propels Denmark to World Cup

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Dublin (AFP) – Christian Eriksen’s magnificent hat-trick inspired Denmark to a 5-1 demolition of the Republic of Ireland in Tuesday’s second leg of their play-off in Dublin to clinch a spot at next year’s World Cup.

Following Saturday’s stalemate in Copenhagen, Ireland got their home leg off to the perfect start when Shane Duffy headed them into the lead after only six minutes, but Denmark struck twice before the break and three more in the second half to seal their place in Russia.

M’bodji grabs dramatic win for Senegal

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Kara M’bodji scored in stoppage time to give already-qualified Senegal a flattering 2-1 win over South Africa in Dakar on Tuesday in a 2018 World Cup Group D eliminator.

Former France U-20 international Opa Nguette put the hosts ahead on 55 minutes and Themba Zwane missed a penalty for South Africa before Percy Tau levelled after 65 minutes.

New Zealand brace for Peru onslaught

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Lima (AFP) – New Zealand manager Anthony Hudson said his team are preparing for an early onslaught as they face Peru here on Wednesday with a World Cup place on the line.

The New Zealanders take on Peru in their Oceania-South America playoff with the odds against them after a 0-0 draw in the first leg at Wellington on Saturday.

Stindl equaliser saves Germany’s 21-match unbeaten run

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Cologne (Germany) (AFP) – Substitute Lars Stindl extended world champions Germany’s unbeaten run to 21 matches with a 93rd-minute equaliser in a 2-2 friendly draw against France in Cologne on Tuesday.

A first international double by Alexandre Lacazette put France on the verge of a deserved victory in a clash of two of the favourites for next year’s World Cup.

Russia snatch thrilling friendly draw with Spain

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Moscow (AFP) – Spain were held to a thrilling 3-3 friendly draw by World Cup hosts Russia in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, despite a brace of penalties from centre-back Sergio Ramos.

Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba’s strike and Ramos’ first spot-kick put the visitors in control, but goals either side of half-time from Fedor Smolov and Alexei Miranchuk pulled Russia level.

Aguero taken to hospital after fainting

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Moscow (AFP) – Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero was rushed to a local hospital in Krasnodar after he fainted in Argentina’s dressing room during half-time of Tuesday’s friendly with Nigeria, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed.

“Aguero suffered a lypothymia (fainting without loss of consciousness), which is why he was transferred to hospital for routine tests as a precaution,” the AFA said in a statement.

Iwobi inspires Nigeria fightback to stun Argentina

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Moscow (AFP) – Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi scored twice as Nigeria stunned Argentina 4-2 in Krasnodar on Tuesday, while Sergio Aguero was reportedly taken to hospital after fainting in the dressing room.

Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and Manchester City striker Aguero fired Argentina, playing without the rested Lionel Messi, into a 2-0 lead after 36 minutes.

Iwobi inspires Nigeria fightback to stun Argentina

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Moscow (AFP) – Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi scored twice as Nigeria stunned two-time former World Cup winners Argentina by recovering from two goals down to win 4-2 in Krasnodar on Tuesday.

Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero fired Argentina, playing without the rested Lionel Messi, into a 2-0 lead after 36 minutes.

Maradona rues Italy’s World Cup absence

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Rome (AFP) – Argentine legend Diego Maradona lamented Italy’s failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup, regretting the absence of “one of the greats” of international football.

Four-time world champions Italy missed out on a place in the finals after Monday’s 0-0 draw in Milan in the second leg of their European play-off sent Sweden through 1-0 on aggregate.

Aguero hospitalised after fainting – report

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Moscow (AFP) – Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero was rushed to a local hospital in Krasnodar after he fainted in Argentina’s dressing room during half-time of Tuesday’s friendly with Nigeria, local media reported.

Aguero, who scored the winner in Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Russia on Saturday, netted his team’s second goal against Nigeria in the 36th minute in Krasnodar before he was replaced at the break.

Iceland held by last-gasp Qatar

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Doha (AFP) – A last-minute equaliser from Qatar’s Mohammed Muntari meant Iceland warmed up for their World Cup finals debut in Russia next year without a win in two friendly matches in Doha.

The 1-1 draw on Tuesday followed up their 2-1 defeat against the Czech Republic in Qatar last week.

After ‘Miracle of Milan’, could Zlatan return?

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Stockholm (AFP) – After Sweden’s “Miracle of Milan” booked them a berth at the World Cup finals and sent Italy crashing out, could Zlatan Ibrahimovic be set for a return from international retirement?

In the minutes after the Swedes hung on for a goalless draw on Monday that secured one of the big World Cup upsets, Ibrahimovic wrote “We are Zweden” on Instagram next to a photo of the delighted team, deliberately adding the ‘Z’ of his name to his country’s.

Ex-South American soccer boss watches FIFA trial from afar

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Asuncion (AFP) – When the FIFA corruption trial kicked off in New York this week, ex-South American soccer boss Nicolas Leoz was a significant absentee, watching from the comfort of his home in Paraguay.

Leoz, one of the main suspects in the huge bribery and money laundering scandal being investigated by the US Justice Department, is where any 89-year old is content to be, albeit under house arrest.

Heartbroken Italians demand answers after World Cup ‘apocalypse’

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Milan (AFP) – After the initial shock and disbelief, heartbroken Italians on Tuesday demanded answers as to why the one-time stars of the global game had missed the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.

The Italian press called it an “apocalypse” for the four-time world champions, who failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup but have played every other edition apart from the inaugural tournament in 1930.

Portugal vs. US Men’s National Team preview: US aims to restore faith after World Cup disaster

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The US is not going to the 2018 World Cup. It’s been over a month since that dismal night in Trinidad but it’s still a sore spot and it’s still shocking to hear and say. It’s also quite depressing. But it’s time to turn the page on that dark chapter in US Soccer history and to make sure that it never, ever happens again.

Italian despair at World Cup ‘apocalypse’

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Milan (AFP) – Stunned Italians awoke Tuesday to the nightmarish realisation they will miss out on the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years.

Distraught fans of the one-time top dogs of the global game reacted with shock and disbelief.

The Italian press called it an “apocalypse” for the team, who last failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup and have played every other edition apart from the inaugural tournament in 1930.

Former England star Sinclair arrested

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London (AFP) – Former England and Manchester City winger Trevor Sinclair has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer after being held for allegedly drink driving.

Sinclair was arrested on suspicion of drink driving, common assault and criminal damage on Sunday after a woman suffered minor injuries when she was hit by a car.

Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir would fit in perfectly at Arsenal

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With two of their superstars currently in the last year of their contracts, Arsenal are heading into an intensely important period. Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez have both been smash hits since their arrivals to north London in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Nevertheless, the dynamic duo are most likely in the midst of their final season with the Gunners.

Where to find England vs. Brazil friendly on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch England vs. Brazil in the international friendly, you’ve come to the right place.

England and Brazil have already qualified for the World Cup next summer, so Tuesday’s sold-out match at Wembley Stadium in London will be a perfect opportunity for both teams to build their confidence ahead of Russia 2018.

‘It’s over’ – dismay, disbelief as Italy miss World Cup

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Rome (AFP) – Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years was greeted by a mixture of disbelief, dismay and resigned disappointment by fans across the country.

In Rome’s trendy San Lorenzo district, the Le Mura bar, which showed Monday night’s playoff crunch with Sweden on a big screen, emptied at the final whistle after a goalless stalemate which condemned the Azzurri to a 1-0 aggregate defeat.

Where to find Ireland vs. Denmark 2nd Leg World Cup playoff on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Ireland vs. Denmark in the World Cup playoff second leg, you’ve come to the right place.

In the first leg, Denmark and Ireland battled to a nil-nil draw, so it’s all left to play for in the second leg. The winner will advance to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Where to find Germany vs. France friendly on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Germany vs. France friendly, you’ve come to the right place.

Two of the best soccer national teams in the world compete on Tuesday in a friendly live from the Rhein Energie Stadion in Cologne, Germany. And the good news is that the match will be televised live to viewers in the United States.

Sad farewell for Italian football legend Buffon

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Milan (AFP) – It was a tearful farewell for Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon, who had dreamed of bowing out with another record in a stellar career - a sixth World Cup finals appearance.

Instead, his career finished not in Russia but with a humiliating World Cup playoff exit against Sweden at Milan’s San Siro stadium, as Italy missed out on the finals for the first time in 60 years.

Buffon quits as Italy suffer World Cup ‘apocalypse’

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Milan (AFP) – A tearful Gianluigi Buffon quit international football as four-time champions Italy sensationally missed out on their first World Cup finals in 60 years after a playoff defeat to Sweden on Monday.

Coach Gian Piero Ventura also said he would consider his future after the Azzuri drew 0-0 in the second leg of their tie with Sweden, who qualified 1-0 on aggregate.

Toni Kroos, a vital cog in Germany’s engine

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany host France on Tuesday in a key friendly to prepare for next year’s World Cup with Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos poised to return to the world champions’ engine room.

The 27-year-old missed Friday’s goalless draw against England at Wembley with illness, but is back fit and ready to partner Juventus star Sami Khedira in the heart of Germany’s midfield.

Football: Honduras accuse Aussies of drone ‘espionage’

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Sydney (AFP) – Honduras accused Australia of using a drone for “espionage” on Tuesday, giving an extra edge to their winner-takes-all playoff to reach next year’s World Cup.

Coach Jorge Luis Pinto called it “embarrassing” after a drone was spotted hovering near an official training session - even though Australian reports said it was being flown by children.

Where to find Australia vs. Honduras World Cup playoff 2nd leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Australia vs. Honduras in the World Cup playoff 2nd leg, you’ve come to the right place.

It all comes down to this. After a 0-0 match in Honduras last week, with Australia looking very comfortable in the game, the Socceroos host Honduras on Wednesday morning in a match that’ll determine which country advances to next summer’s World Cup.

Honduras accuse Aussies of drone ‘espionage’

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Sydney (AFP) – Honduras accused Australia of using a drone for “espionage” on Tuesday, giving an extra edge to their winner-takes-all playoff to reach next year’s World Cup.

Coach Jorge Luis Pinto called it “embarrassing” after a drone was spotted hovering near an official training session - even though Australian reports said it was being flown by children.

Italy keeper Buffon ends international career

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Milan (AFP) – Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon confirmed Monday he was ending his international career after the four-time champions failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Buffon, 39, played his 175th and final game for Italy as they were beaten 1-0 on aggregate in a play-off by Sweden after a 0-0 second-leg draw at the San Siro, bringing an end to a 20-year international career that included winning the 2006 World Cup.

Italy miss out on World Cup as Sweden qualify

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Milan (AFP) – Italy failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958 on Monday as they were held to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their play-off at the San Siro by Sweden, who qualified with a 1-0 aggregate victory.

The four-time champions dominated possession but struggled to create enough clear-cut chances, as Sweden secured a first appearance at the finals since 2006 courtesy of Jakob Johansson’s first-leg strike in Stockholm.

England among World Cup favourites, says Brazil’s Tite

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London (AFP) – Brazil coach Tite views England as one of the favourites to win next year’s World Cup and believes the cosmopolitan nature of the Premier League has benefited their national team.

England manager Gareth Southgate successfully blooded several new players in Friday’s 0-0 friendly draw with Germany and will again be obliged to field an inexperienced team against Brazil on Tuesday due to injuries.

Football: FIFA defendants ‘blinded by greed,’ US prosecutors say

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New York (AFP) – Blinded by greed into accepting millions of dollars in bribes, or innocent bystanders?

Prosecution and defense lawyers opened the FIFA corruption trial on Monday, two and a half years after the United States unveiled the largest graft scandal in the history of world soccer.

Prove yourselves, Loew tells Germany

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew has told his Germany side to prove themselves in Tuesday’s friendly against France as the defending champions sharpen their preparations for next year’s World Cup.

Security will be tight in Cologne as the friendly takes place almost two years to the day since the Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015, when 130 people were killed and over 400 injured.

Paris attack memories haunt Loew, Deschamps

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany head coach Joachim Loew and his French counterpart Didier Deschamps admit still being haunted by memories of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, ahead of Tuesday’s friendly international.

World champions Germany host France in Cologne with the events of two years ago still casting a shadow.

Evra vows to return ‘stronger than ever’

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Paris (AFP) – Patrice Evra has vowed to come back “stronger than ever” in his first public message since leaving Marseille and being hit with a season-long European football ban for kung-fu kicking a supporter.

Evra, who was sent off after attacking the Marseille fan ahead of the Ligue 1 side’s 1-0 Europa League defeat to Vitoria Guimaraes on November 2, made the promise while pulling a Jeep in a light-hearted Instagram post filmed in Dubai by former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka, who Evra nicknamed “Spielberg” in the post.

Football: FIFA bribery trial kicks off in New York

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New York (AFP) – Three South American former soccer officials were blinded by greed and accepted millions of dollars in bribes, US prosecutors told the FIFA corruption trial Monday as defense lawyers insisted their wealthy clients were innocent.

Forty-two officials and marketing executives, and three companies were indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes to the tune of $200 million.

Prove yourselves, German stars told for French test

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew has told his Germany side to prove themselves in Tuesday’s friendly against France as the defending champions’ sharpen their preparations for next year’s World Cup.

Security will be tight in Cologne as the friendly takes place almost two years to the day since the Paris terror attacks of November 13 2015, when 130 people were killed and over 400 were injured.

Neymar neurosis clouds Brazil’s Wembley trip

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London (AFP) – It is with a raincloud hovering above the head of their talisman Neymar that Brazil are gearing up for their final assignment of 2017 against England at Wembley on Tuesday.

Though Neymar has scored 11 goals in 12 games since his world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona, recent weeks have yielded stories of rifts with his team-mates and disagreements with coach Unai Emery.

‘Apocalypse’ now as Italy face World Cup humiliation

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Milan (AFP) – Four-time champions Italy face missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958, a potential national humiliation likened to the “apocalypse” by the team’s fanatical supporters.

Italy need to overturn a 1-0 play-off first-leg defeat against Sweden at the San Siro on Monday.

Australian Socceroos’ Tim Cahill fit for Honduras showdown

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Sydney (AFP) – Veteran talisman Tim Cahill said Monday he had recovered from an ankle injury and was fit to play for Australia in this week’s World Cup play-off with Honduras in Sydney.

The country’s all-time leading scorer remained on the bench during the goalless first leg in San Pedro Sula on Friday but said he was expecting to make an appearance in Wednesday’s do-or-die match to qualify for Russia 2018.

Thai court accepts $420 mn lawsuit against Leicester City owner

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Bangkok (AFP) – A Thai anti-corruption court on Monday accepted a lawsuit accusing duty-free giant King Power, the company that owns Leicester City Football Club, of owing the state $420 million in unpaid taxes.

The case is a rare attack on an ultra-rich firm run by one of the kingdom’s best-connected billionaires.

Where to find Italy vs. Sweden World Cup playoff 2nd leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Italy vs. Sweden in the World Cup playoff second leg, you’ve come to the right place.

Italy is on the verge of missing out on next summer’s World Cup. After losing 0-1 in the first leg in Sweden, the Italians have to make sure that they prevent Sweden from scoring because away goals count for double in the European playoffs for the World Cup qualification.

Football: FIFA bribery trial to kick off in New York

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New York (AFP) – The FIFA corruption trial is to get underway with opening statements in New York on Monday, two and a half years after US prosecutors unveiled the largest graft scandal in the history of world soccer.

Forty-two officials and marketing executives, and three companies were indicted in an exhaustive 236-page complaint detailing 92 separate crimes and 15 corruption schemes to the tune of $200 million.

Vardy defends Drinkwater over England call-up row

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London (AFP) – Jamie Vardy insists Danny Drinkwater didn’t snub England after his former Leicester team-mate rejected the chance of a call-up for the national team’s current friendlies.

Drinkwater was accused of letting down England boss Gareth Southgate last week when he pulled out of the squad for the fixtures against Germany and Brazil.

O’Neill bemoans penalty call after World Cup heartbreak

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Paris (AFP) – Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill bemoaned the controversial first-leg penalty that saw his side’s World Cup dream end with a 1-0 aggregate defeat by Switzerland in their play-off on Sunday.

Ricardo Rodriguez’s spot-kick in Belfast on Thursday proved the difference between the two sides, as the Swiss held off some late pressure from the unfancied Northern Irish in the second leg at Basel in difficult conditions after heavy rain.

Croatia qualify for World Cup with Greece draw

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Croatia qualified for the 2018 World Cup on Sunday by holding Greece to a 0-0 draw in the second leg of their play-off in Piraeus for a 4-1 win on aggregate.

Zlatko Dalic’s men will be playing in their fifth World Cup in Russia next year, having only once failed to qualify in 2010.

Cristiano Ronaldo becomes father for fourth time

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo announced on Sunday that he had become a father for the fourth time after girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez gave birth to a baby girl, Alana Martina.

“Alana Martina has just been born! Both Geo and Alana are doing great. We are all very happy,” the beaming 32-year-old footballer wrote on Twitter, posting a photo of himself, Rodriguez, his seven-year-old son Cristiano Junior and the new arrival.

Deschamps in charge means no World Cup for me, says Benzema

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Paris (AFP) – Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema admitted Sunday that he had no hope of playing at the World Cup next year as long as Didier Deschamps remains as France coach.

“Of course I believe it (playing for France again), I still believe in it,” the 29-year-old Benzema told Canal+.

Switzerland edge out Northern Ireland to qualify for World Cup

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Basel (Switzerland) (AFP) – Switzerland held off Northern Ireland to seal a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 0-0 second-leg draw on Sunday that secured a 1-0 aggregate play-off victory.

Vladimir Petkovic’s side wasted numerous first-half chances as the Northern Irish stayed in the tie, but Ricardo Rodriguez’s controversial first-leg penalty in Belfast proved enough for the Swiss to reach their fourth consecutive World Cup.

Southgate ponders captaincy change against Brazil

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate is considering changing captain for Tuesday’s friendly international against Brazil as he looks to increase his side’s stock of leaders ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Southgate has been happy to rotate the leadership during his time in charge of the national side, with Eric Dier becoming the sixth England captain of his tenure during an encouraging goalless draw in a friendly with world champions Germany at Wembley on Friday.

‘We’re Italy, we’ll qualify’, insists Ventura

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Milan (AFP) – “We’re Italy and if we qualify it will be by playing football,” coach Gian Piero Ventura insisted on Sunday on the eve of their crunch World Cup play-off against Sweden.

Four-time world champions Italy need to overturn a 1-0 first-leg defeat to avoid missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958 when Sweden hosted the tournament.

Ousted Evra backed by Mandanda

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Paris (AFP) – After being hit with a season-long ban and losing his job at Marseille for a karate kick on a supporter, Patrice Evra was backed by former team-mate Steve Mandanda on Sunday.

“He’s a really good guy,” the Marseille goalkeeper said of the 36-year-old Evra, who parted ways with the club after being banned from European football until June 30, 2018.

Neymar not immune to criticism, says Mbappe

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe insisted his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar is “human like everyone else” after the Brazilian was reduced to tears on Friday by the controversy that has followed him since his arrival from Barcelona.

A tearful Neymar pleaded with the media to stop the “false stories” about his alleged frosty relations with PSG coach Unai Emery and fellow striker Edinson Cavani following Brazil’s 3-1 international friendly win over Japan in Lille.

New Zealand riding high after Peru first-leg draw

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Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand declared themselves “definitely confident” on Sunday of upsetting Peru in their World Cup qualifying showdown, heartened by a 0-0 draw in the first leg.

As the country toasted keeping Peru scoreless in Wellington on Saturday, coach Anthony Hudson confirmed he expected the side to be at full strength for the return clash in Lima on Wednesday.

Socceroos’ Sainsbury says it’s advantage Australia

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Sydney (AFP) – Australia will have a recovery advantage over Honduras in this week’s return World Cup qualifier after taking a chartered flight home, Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury said on Sunday.

The Australian contingent arrived home Sunday from Honduras, where they fought out a scoreless draw in San Pedro Sula on Friday, giving them an extra day to recover before Wednesday’s second leg in Sydney.

France lose Giroud for Germany clash

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Paris (AFP) – Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud will miss Tuesday’s friendly against world champions Germany in Cologne due to injury, the French football federation said on Sunday.

The 31-year-old suffered a right thigh strain during Friday’s 2-0 victory over Wales at the Stade de France, where he scored his 29th international goal.

Five-star Spain thrash Costa Rica

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Málaga (Spain) (AFP) – Spain’s stunning form under coach Julen Lopetegui continued as David Silva scored twice in a 5-0 friendly thrashing of Costa Rica in Malaga on Saturday.

Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Alvaro Morata also netted in a one-sided display from the 2010 world champions.

Moroccan World Cup celebrations turn violent in Brussels

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Brussels (AFP) – Celebrations turned violent in central Brussels on Saturday, minutes after the qualification of the Moroccan national football team for the next World Cup in Russia, police told Belga news agency.

Riot police were sent out to control a crowd of about 300 people, at one point firing water canon at revelers.

Ireland hold Denmark to first-leg stalemate

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Copenhagen (AFP) – The Republic of Ireland and Denmark played out a drab 0-0 draw in the first leg of their World Cup play-off in Copenhagen on Saturday.

The closest either side came to a goal was when Pione Sisto fired wide in the first half for the hosts, while Yussuf Poulsen saw a 90th-minute header saved by Darren Randolph.

Bosnian trailblazer Ibisevic quits national team

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Sarajevo (AFP) – Veteran striker Vedad Ibisevic, who scored the goal that took Bosnia to their first World Cup finals and then found the net again when they got there, quit the national team on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Ibisevic decided to call time on his 10-year international career after Bosnia failed to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Morocco, Tunisia take different paths to World Cup

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Johannesburg (AFP) – North African nations Morocco and Tunisia took contrasting routes Saturday as they qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Morocco scored twice within five minutes through Nabil Dirar and Medhi Benatia during the opening half to triumph 2-0 in the Ivory Coast and win Group C.

Mane, Salah among BBC’s African Player of the Year nominees

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London (AFP) – Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were among five nominees named for the BBC’s African Footballer of the Year award on Saturday.

Mane’s fine form for Liverpool has carried over to the international stage as the winger helped Senegal qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2002.

Aguero seals Argentina win in Moscow

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Moscow (AFP) – A late goal from Sergio Aguero unlocked a stubborn Russian defence on Saturday as Argentina won 1-0 in the ground that will stage the World Cup final next year.

The goal by the Manchester City forward gave the South Americans a deserved win at Moscow’s renovated 81,000-capacity Luzhniki stadium.

Loew to test German World Cup hopefuls

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s friendly against France on Tuesday offers Joachim Loew a chance of revenge, but the coach appears to be looking forward to the 2018 World Cup rather than back at Euro 2016.

“There are certain players that I want to see tested against the best,” Loew said ahead of the meeting in Cologne with Les Bleus, whose 2-0 victory in the Euro semifinals was Germany’s last defeat.

Australia frustrated in Honduras draw

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San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – Australia edged closer to a place in the 2018 World Cup finals on Friday after grinding out a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Honduras in their Asia-CONCACAF playoff.

Socceroos striker Tomi Juric missed golden chances in each half as the Australians dominated a physical Honduras side without managing to find a precious away goal at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.

Japan coach laments ‘naivety’ in Brazil loss

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic rued his team’s “naivety” after losing to Brazil but insisted there were plenty of positives to draw upon ahead of next year’s World Cup.

First-half goals from Neymar, Marcelo and Gabriel Jesus condemned Japan to a 3-1 defeat - their 10th in 12 meetings with Brazil - in Lille despite a much-improved display after the interval.

Loftus-Cheek showed he can cut it – Southgate

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate felt Ruben Loftus-Cheek had shown the level required for international football after he produced a promising debut performance in a 0-0 draw with Germany.

Faced with a raft of injuries, Southgate gave debuts to five players in Friday’s friendly at Wembley, with Jordan Pickford, Joe Gomez, Jack Cork and Tammy Abraham also getting their first tastes of senior international football.

Where to find Denmark vs. Ireland World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Denmark vs. Ireland in the World Cup playoff first leg, you’ve come to the right place.

Both the Danish and Irish fans must be dreaming about the possibility of playing in the World Cup next summer, but the two-leg playoff series is in front of them first.

Australia’s coach Postecoglou happy after Honduras stalemate

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San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – Australia coach Ange Postecoglou praised the way his side dealt with hostile conditions on Friday after the Socceroos held Honduras to a 0-0 draw in their World Cup playoff clash.

Postecoglou said Australia would return to Sydney for Wednesday’s second leg in good heart following a controlled display that puts them in the box seat to qualify for next year’s finals in Russia.

Footballer Cardona caught in racism row in S. Korea

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Seoul (AFP) – Colombian footballer Edwin Cardona has apologised after he was accused of making a racist gesture during a friendly international against South Korea.

Cardona was caught on camera appearing to make a slant-eyes gesture during a minor scuffle between the two sides in the second half of Friday’s match at Suwon World Cup Stadium, south of Seoul.

Toothless Peru held in New Zealand

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Wellington (AFP) – Peru failed to break down a resolute New Zealand defence in a 0-0 draw in Wellington on Saturday to leave their dream of ending a 36-year absence from the World Cup finals hanging by a thread.

“Los Incas” failed to score a coveted away goal despite outplaying New Zealand in the opening match of their two-legged World Cup qualifier, with the winner claiming a spot at next year’s finals in Russia.

Blatter says Hope Solo’s ‘grabbed ass’ claim is ‘absurd’

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Lausanne (AFP) – The former head of world football Sepp Blatter said Saturday that claims by US women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo that he had grabbed her backside were “absurd”.

Solo told Portuguese newspaper Expresso that then-FIFA president Blatter had sexually harassed her at the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony.

We’ll make World Cup despite setback, says Italy coach

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Stockholm (AFP) – Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura insisted Saturday that the four-time champions will still make the 2018 World Cup finals despite a 1-0 loss to Sweden in the first leg of their play-off.

Substitute Jakob Johansson grabbed the only goal of a scrappy game in the 61st minute with a low strike that found the corner with the aid of a big deflection to leave Italy in danger of missing the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

US star Solo accuses Blatter of sexual assault

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Lisbon (AFP) – US women’s football star Hope Solo accused Sepp Blatter of sexual assault on Friday, claiming the disgraced former FIFA president groped her backside at the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony.

The 36-year-old Solo, her country’s standout goalkeeper, claimed the 81-year-old Blatter pounced as she was about to present an award to her teammate Abby Wambach.

Brazil, France impress, England in Germany stalemate

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar starred as Brazil ramped up their World Cup preparations with a 3-1 win over Japan on Friday, while France saw off Wales 2-0 in Paris and a new-look England held Germany 0-0 at Wembley.

Elsewhere, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku became his country’s equal all-time record goalscorer as Belgium played out a thrilling 3-3 draw against Mexico in Brussels.

Five things learned from England v Germany

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London (AFP) – England kicked off their build-up for next year’s World Cup with a 0-0 draw against Germany on Friday.

Here AFP Sport looks at five things we learned from the Wembley friendly:

Southgate’s kids are alright

With England boss Gareth Southgate giving debuts to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 21, Tammy Abraham, 20, and Jordan Pickford, 23, there were only 101 caps combined among the starting line-up, making it the least experienced in 37 years.

New boys impress as England hold Germany

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London (AFP) – England debutants Jordan Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek caught the eye as Gareth Southgate’s injured-ravaged side played out a 0-0 draw with world champions Germany in Friday’s Wembley friendly.

Everton goalkeeper Pickford, 23, made a number of smart saves, while 21-year-old Chelsea midfielder Loftus-Cheek, who is on loan at Crystal Palace, produced an assured display in the number 10 shirt.

Algeria convert soft penalty to hold Nigeria

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Constantine (Algeria) (AFP) – Yacine Brahimi won and converted a harshly-awarded late penalty to rescue a 1-1 draw for Algeria against already-qualified Nigeria Friday in a World Cup Africa zone Group B dead-rubber.

The Gabonese referee ruled that Abdullahi Shehu fouled Brahimi as he moved into the box in Constantine, but big-screen replays suggested otherwise.

Italy lose to Sweden in World Cup play-off first leg

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Solna (Sweden) (AFP) – Sweden claimed a precious 1-0 first-leg victory over Italy in their World Cup play-off at Stockholm on Friday, leaving the four-time champions in danger of missing the tournament for the first time in 60 years.

Substitute Jakob Johansson grabbed the only goal of a scrappy game in the 61st minute with a low strike that found the corner with the aid of a big deflection.

Sampaoli calls on Messi’s team-mates to prove Argentina worth

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Moscow (AFP) – Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli called on his side to show they can cope without Lionel Messi, ahead of the friendly with 2018 World Cup hosts Russia in Moscow on Saturday.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi scored a hat-trick as Argentina clinched a place for next year’s finals with a 3-1 win at Ecuador in their final qualifier last month.

Northern Ireland’s Evans apologises for wife’s ref rant

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Belfast (AFP) – Corry Evans has apologised for his wife’s foul-mouthed tweet towards the referee who awarded a penalty against him in Northern Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat by Switzerland in Belfast on Thursday.

The key moment came with just over 30 minutes to go when Xherdan Shaqiri’s volley from range was blocked by Evans just a few yards away in the box and Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan pointed to the spot, even though the ball struck him on his shoulder as he took evasive action.

Sakho, Mane star as Senegal book World Cup slot

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Polokwane (South Africa) (AFP) – English Premier League pair Diafra Sakho and Sadio Mane played key roles as Senegal defeated South Africa 2-0 in Polokwane Friday to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

West Ham striker Sakho opened the scoring off a pass from Liverpool attacker Mane and both were involved in the move that led to a Thamsanqa Mkhize own-goal before half-time.

‘Karate kick’ Evra leaves Marseille, banned until June 30

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Marseille (AFP) – Patrice Evra parted ways with Marseille on Friday after his infamous karate kick on one of his own fans, just moments after being banned from European tournaments until June 30, 2018.

Marseille said they and the 36-year-old defender had both agreed the former Manchester United and French international would leave by “mutual consent”.

Injury-cursed Bale suffers new setback

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid’s injury-prone star Gareth Bale suffered a new leg injury on Friday, adding to the frustrations of the Welsh winger who has already been sidelined with a calf strain for five weeks.

“Gareth Bale, who felt some discomfort in his left leg at the end of training, today underwent various tests carried out by the Real Madrid medical team,” said a club statement.

South Africa still leads 2023 Rugby World Cup race after ‘clarifications’

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London (AFP) – South Africa is still the preferred bidder to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup after officials said they had “addressed in full “clarification requests” from rivals Ireland and France.

Last week, the Rugby World Cup board said South Africa should be chosen after they gave it an overall rating of 78.

Russia cuts university year for World Cup security

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Moscow (AFP) – The Russian government said Friday it was shortening the academic year at universities in some cities hosting the 2018 World Cup to make room in dormitories for police.

The decision drew protests from the country’s largest student union and underscored the concern Russia devotes to security at the marquee June 14-July 15 competition.

Boateng lifts lid on Ancelotti’s Bayern exit

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich star Jerome Boateng has lifted the lid on Carlo Ancelotti’s team selection for what turned out to be the manager’s last match in charge, a Champions League thrashing in Paris.

Bayern were hammered 3-0 at the end of September as Dani Alves, Edinson Cavani and Neymar netted for Paris Saint-Germain after Ancelotti dropped five stars from his starting line-up, including Boateng.

Mitrovic on target as Serbia win 2-0 in China

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Guangzhou (AFP) – Newcastle United forward Aleksandar Mitrovic was on target as clinical Serbia stepped up their preparations for the World Cup with a hard-earned 2-0 friendly win in China on Friday.

Serbia, under caretaker coach Mladen Krstajic after they parted company with Slavoljub Muslin last month even though he had just guided them into the World Cup finals, will need to play better if they are to make an impression next summer.

Telemundo to broadcast extensive coverage of Honduras-Australia on Spanish-language TV

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Today’s World Cup playoff match between Honduras and Australia will be televised live on Spanish-language television in the United States.

The hugely important first leg from the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras will be shown on Telemundo and Universo, as well as streamed live on TelemundoDeportes.

Dortmund bus attack suspect faces trial in December

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Berlin (AFP) – A German-Russian man, accused of carrying out a bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund’s team bus, will go on trial on December 21, a German court said Friday.

Sergej W., 28, has been charged with 28 counts of attempted murder, setting off explosions and causing serious physical injury in the assault on April 11.

‘Kevin’ was a birth certificate mistake – Boateng

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Berlin (AFP) – Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has revealed that he dislikes his colourful first name because of a small mistake on the birth certificate which stopped him being called Kelvin-Prince.

“I don’t like my first name,” the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder told local station HIT Radio FFH while explaining why he only has the name ‘Prince’ on his shirt.

Neymar, Brazil roll aside Japan with video help

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Neymar scored a penalty and missed another as Brazil signalled their intent ahead of next year’s World Cup by outclassing Japan 3-1 in Friday’s international friendly in Lille.

The Paris Saint-Germain star rolled in a 10th-minute spot-kick following consultation with the video assistant referee, although Neymar saw a second penalty saved shortly after by Eiji Kawashima.

Scotland FA thinking of Hampden Park exit

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Glasgow (AFP) – The Scottish Football Association is considering leaving the historic Glasgow ground Hampden Park, chief executive Stewart Regan has said.

Glasgow is also home to Celtic’s Parkhead and Rangers’ Ibrox but the sectarian feeling surrounding the Old Firm duo that Hampden means has been the preferred “neutral” venue for cup finals and Scotland international matches.

Cahill poised for Australia World Cup boost

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San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – Tim Cahill is poised to give Australia a massive World Cup boost after being declared available for the Socceroos crucial 2018 World Cup playoff with Honduras here Friday.

Record scorer Cahill has been touch-and-go for the Asia-CONCACAF first leg tie after twisting an ankle a week ago in Melbourne City’s A-League game with Sydney FC.

Jury chosen in FIFA corruption trial in New York

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New York (AFP) – Twelve jurors and six alternates were selected at the FIFA corruption trial in New York on Thursday, tasked with deciding the guilt or innocence of three fabulously wealthy and once powerful South American soccer officials.

The impanelling of the jury clears the way for prosecutors to begin opening statements next Monday, two and a half years after they unveiled what is the largest bribery scandal in the history of the world’s most popular sport.

AFP

Where to find New Zealand vs. Peru World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch New Zealand vs. Peru in the World Cup playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

The World Cup playoff between New Zealand and Peru will be televised for soccer fans in the United States. The game can be found on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Espanol.

Where to find Honduras vs. Australia World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Honduras vs. Australia in the World Cup playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

The match between Honduras and Australia will be shown live in the United States on both English-language and Spanish-language television. Here’s all of the information about how you can watch the game live.

Karate kick Evra faces day of double jeopardy

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Marseille (AFP) – Patrice Evra faces his disciplinary destiny on Friday when he could be sacked by Marseille and heavily sanctioned by UEFA for aiming a karate kick at one of his own supporters.

The fiery 36-year-old former Manchester United and Juventus defender was red-carded for his violent reaction to being taunted by Marseille fans during the pre-match warm-up at last week’s Europa League game against Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.

Kiwis eye Peru upset in World Cup qualifiers

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Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand believe they can spring a massive upset and down Peru to reach the 2018 World Cup finals, even if no one else shares their faith, coach Anthony Hudson said Friday.

The New Zealanders host “Los Incas” in Wellington Saturday for the opening leg of a two-match qualification tie with a berth at the finals in Russia next year up for grabs.

Where to find Sweden vs. Italy World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Sweden vs. Italy in the World Cup playoff first leg, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s incredible to consider that a World Cup powerhouse such as Italy faces the threat of being eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, but here we are.

Northern Ireland fume, Croatia cruise

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Belfast (AFP) – Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill said he was “staggered and bewildered” by a controversial penalty decision which gave Switzerland a 1-0 win in their World Cup play-off first leg on Thursday.

Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland team dominated the match at a rain-swept Belfast but squandered a succession of chances.

Croatia see off Greece to close on World Cup

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Zagreb (AFP) – Croatia cruised to a 4-1 victory over Greece in their World Cup play-off first leg on Thursday to move to the brink of a spot at next year’s finals in Russia.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric opened the scoring in Zagreb from the penalty spot in the 13th minute, after Greek goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis brought down striker Nikola Kalinic.

Wilshere ‘wrong fit’ for depleted England

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Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate has muddied the waters regarding Jack Wilshere’s international status by saying the Arsenal midfielder is not playing in the right position to be selected.

Southgate had previously justified his decision not to pick Wilshere by citing the 25-year-old’s problematic injury record.

Switzerland on top after narrow win over Northern Ireland

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Belfast (AFP) – Switzerland took a giant step towards qualifying for Russia 2018 on Thursday but needed a controversial penalty to earn a 1-0 win against Northern Ireland in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.

Vladimir Petkovic’s team dominated the match at Windsor Park in Belfast but squandered a succession of chances as Michael O’Neill’s team held them at bay.

Friedel appointed Revolution coach

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Former United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel was named as head coach of the New England Revolution on Thursday, the Major League Soccer club confirmed.

Friedel, 46, replaces Jay Heaps, who was fired in September after six seasons in charge. Friedel’s appointment comes after the Revs failed to reach the MLS postseason for a second straight year.

Deschamps backs Griezmann to find form

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Paris (AFP) – France head coach Didier Deschamps backed forward Antoine Griezmann to rediscover his best form after a difficult start to the season, ahead of a friendly against Wales at the Stade de France on Friday.

Griezmann has scored only three times in 13 appearances for Atletico Madrid this term and is without a goal for his club since netting a penalty against Chelsea in the Champions League on September 27.

Say hello to Telstar 18, the 2018 World Cup ball

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Moscow (AFP) – What on Earth is Telstar 18?

Several heads were left being scratched on Thursday after Russia used some hardcore techno beats in a dark auditorium decked out to look like an underground dance club to present the official 2018 World Cup ball.

The orb in the spotlight followed the edgy motif of the presentation by being adorned with black-and-grey checkered rectangles that could have featured in one of Hollywood’s latest sci-fi thrillers.

Ex-St Petersburg official admits to stadium embezzlement

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Saint Petersburg (AFP) – Former Saint Petersburg deputy governor Marat Oganesyan admitted that he embezzled 50.4 million rubles ($848,526) during the construction of the city’s new stadium for the World Cup, the Investigative Committee of Russia said on Thursday.

Oganesyan was arrested in November 2016 over a fraud scheme with a firm that was supposed to provide the stadium with a video scoreboard.

Stars on show for Brazil in Japan test

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian stars, including the world’s most expensive player, Neymar, face Japan in Lille on Friday as both nations ramp up their preparations for the 2018 World Cup.

Brazil were the first team - aside from hosts Russia - to clinch their place at next year’s finals after romping through South American qualifying, while Japan will make a sixth straight appearance at the global showpiece.

Coleman hints he could stay on as Wales manager

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Paris (AFP) – Chris Coleman indicated on Thursday that he could stay on as Wales manager, saying he doesn’t see upcoming friendlies against France and Panama as “the end of anything”.

Wales failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup after a 1-0 home loss to the Republic of Ireland last month, leading to speculation that former Fulham coach Coleman would resign despite taking the team to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

FIFA human rights panel warns over migrant workers

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Geneva (AFP) – FIFA’s human rights advisors on Thursday criticised a lack of transparency over the condition of workers on World Cup projects in Russia, highlighting the plight of North Koreans reportedly building facilities.

In its first report, FIFA’s newly-branded Human Rights Advisory Board issued a warning over “significant risks to workers’ rights in the final phases of the construction in Russia”.

Rating how European soccer clubs market themselves in the US: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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

In the NEW episode, number 50, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• Which foreign clubs are the ones that market themselves the best in the US

• News about the latest version of the famed Football Manager computer game

• Kyle Martino steps down from NBC to run in the USSF Presidency election,

• Which Premier League club Amazon will be filming a behind-the-scenes documentary about,

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

Khedira, Wagner slam VAR tests in Italy, Germany

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Berlin (AFP) – German internationals Sandro Wagner and Sami Khedira on Thursday heavily criticised the “disastrous” testing of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in both Italy and Germany.

The technology is being trialled in Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga this season with FIFA yet to announce whether it will be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Italy face World Cup nightmare against Sweden

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Milan (AFP) – For football giants Italy the next few days could be a nightmare as they face a double-headed playoff against Sweden to avoid the humiliation of missing the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

“A World Cup without Italy isn’t a World Cup” has become the catchphrase of many Italians - four-time world champions - who are perplexed at how the once-mighty Azzurri have fallen so low.

Germany to test World Cup options at Wembley: Loew

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew says he will look at his World Cup options by “experimenting” with his line-up at Wembley on Friday when Germany take on England in a friendly.

With seven months to go before the World Cup kicks-off in Russia, Loew wants to ensure he has cover for each position.

Germany’s Loew ‘not losing sleep’ over Neuer injury

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany coach Joachim Loew insisted Thursday he is not losing sleep as goalkeeper Manuel Neuer struggles to recover from a fractured foot, with just seven months to go before the World Cup.

“I haven’t been in contact with him for the last two weeks, but from what I do know, it doesn’t worry me and it doesn’t disturb my sleep,” Loew said at a press conference in Berlin.

Football Manager 2018 review: New features add more complexity but enhance game

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Football Manager 2018 will be released on November 10, and while the gameplay is hardly different from FM 2017, the game remains a must-purchase for any addicted Football Manager player or general fans of the sport.

I’ve been playing Football Manager and its predecessor Championship Manager for almost two decades going back to when I had to purchase copies abroad and bring them to the United States to get the full game.

Russian PM vows World Cup crackdown on ticket touts

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Moscow (AFP) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev vowed on Thursday to crack down harshly on people who intended to profit from reselling their tickets to the 2018 World Cup.

The price of admission for the June 14-July 15 event ranges from 1,200 rubles ($22, 19 euros) for the nosebleed seats at the opening matches to 66,000 rubles for the best ones available for the grand finale.

Club v country talk ‘nonsense’, says Southgate

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Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate has dismissed talk of a club-versus-country row following Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane’s withdrawal from his squad.

Kane, the Premier League’s joint-top scorer, pulled out of England’s squad to face Germany and Brazil in friendlies after sustaining a knock in Spurs’ 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend.

Where to find Northern Ireland vs. Switzerland World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Northern Ireland vs. Switzerland in their World Cup qualification playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

Northern Ireland and Switzerland are both two games away from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup but only one of the teams will advance.

Where to find Croatia vs. Greece World Cup playoff 1st leg on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Croatia vs. Greece in their World Cup qualification playoff, you’ve come to the right place.

In the first leg of the World Cup qualifier between Croatia and Greece, the match will be shown live on US television and streaming. It’s available on ESPN Deportes (in Spanish) as well as ESPN3 and Sling Orange (in English).

Opportunity knocks for England, Germany hopefuls

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London (AFP) – With both squads beset by injuries, Friday’s Wembley friendly between England and Germany represents an opportunity for fringe players and untested youngsters to stake claims to World Cup places.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling are among the players to have withdrawn from England’s squad, while world champions Germany are without Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Mueller.

Naby Keita – Leipzig’s Liverpool-bound midfield engine

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Berlin (AFP) – Liverpool-bound Naby Keita has hit the headlines for allegedly using a forged driving licence in Germany, but he is RB Leipzig’s midfield engine who one day hopes to play for Barcelona.

The 22-year-old box-to-box midfielder was a key component in Leipzig’s stunning first season in the Bundesliga when they briefly kept Bayern Munich off top spot before finishing second in the 2016/17 campaign.

Football: Cahill, injured and 37, still vital for Socceroos

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Sydney (AFP) – Veteran goalscorer Tim Cahill remains indispensable as Australia head into their World Cup playoff with Honduras - even when he’s injured and rapidly approaching his 38th birthday.

Cahill’s enduring value was in evidence this week when he flew out to Honduras, wearing an ice pack and accompanied by a medic, despite badly twisting an ankle in the A-League days earlier.

Elder statesman Young relishes England return

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London (AFP) – After reaching a low point in his Manchester United career last season, Ashley Young is savouring the turnaround that has seen him end a four-year exile from the England squad.

Young was scarcely seen at United during Jose Mourinho’s first season as manager, making only eight Premier League starts and missing out on the club’s Europa League triumph against Ajax.

Univision Deportes sublicenses Bundesliga TV rights from FOX Deportes for 3 years

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Univision Deportes today announced that it has sublicensed the Spanish-language TV rights in the United States from FOX Deportes for the next three years.

Under the terms of the agreement, FOX Deportes will still broadcast Bundesliga matches in Spanish, but Univision Deportes will air three matches per week across Univision Deportes Network and UniMas as it has been doing for several weeks for this season after getting the broadcasts that GolTV used to air.

World Cup qualifying play-offs: Eight European teams desperate for a place in Russia

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International football is back in focus over the next fortnight, with an array of friendlies to be played across the globe.

However, competitive action is also on the menu, as World Cup qualifying playoffs will take place to determine which teams will complete the line-up in Russia next summer.

West Ham players need to “step it up”, warns Moyes

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London (AFP) – New West Ham boss David Moyes warned his under-performing players to “step it up” or face the axe as he appeared before the press for the first time on Wednesday.

The former Everton and Manchester United boss replaced Slaven Bilic on Tuesday and faces a tough task to turn around the fortunes of the London club, mired in the Premier League relegation zone.

Olympiakos owner steps down for “few months” to fight corruption charges

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Athens (AFP) – Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis said Wednesday that he will step down from his job as club president “for a few months” to fight charges of match fixing.

Greek media reported Tuesday that Marinakis is among 28 people who are to be brought to trial for corruption in Greek football.

Man City announce record £473.4m revenues

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London (AFP) – Premier League leaders Manchester City announced record revenues of £473.4 million ($619.9 million, 534.5 million euros) for the past financial year on Wednesday.

The figures published in City’s annual report for 2016-17 mark an increase of 21 percent on the previous year’s revenues and represent the third successive year the club’s revenues have grown.

Kane fit to face Arsenal, says Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur hotshot Harry Kane will be fit to face arch rivals Arsenal on November 18, manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Wednesday.

Kane sustained a knock during Spurs’ 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend and withdrew from the England squad for their friendlies against Germany and Brazil.

Goetze hopes to reboot Germany career at Wembley

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s World Cup-winner Mario Goetze hopes to use Friday’s friendly against England at Wembley to kick-start his international career after a year on the sidelines.

The 25-year-old wrote himself into German footballing folklore by volleying home the winning goal in extra time for a 1-0 victory over Argentina in the 2014 final.

Sweden less scary minus Ibrahimovic – De Rossi

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Florence (Italy) (AFP) – Daniele De Rossi expressed relief on Tuesday that Sweden no longer have Zlatan Ibrahimovic among their ammunition as Italy prepares for the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off.

The 34-year-old De Rossi is one of Italy’s three 2006 World Cup-winning veterans - alongside goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, 39, and 36-year-old defender Andrea Barzagli - taking part in the last-gasp quest to grab a ticket to the World Cup finals.

Italy’s proud World Cup record in danger

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Paris (AFP) – The last burst of qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup allows some nations a chance to dream, but for football aristocrats Italy, the next few days are a potential nightmare.

The last nine places in Russia will be settled in seven frantic days starting on Thursday.

Germany’s Boateng out of England clash, Kroos doubtful

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany will be without World Cup-winning defender Jerome Boateng for Friday’s friendly against England at Wembley.

The German camp confirmed on Wednesday that the Bayern Munich star is struggling with a muscular injury and will sit out the international in London.

Marseille boss blames Evra and fans for attack

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Paris (AFP) – Marseille’s American owner Frank McCourt said Wednesday that Patrice Evra’s kung-fu kick on a supporter was “unacceptable” but he also pointed the finger at the fans involved.

Evra’s future at the French club hangs in the balance after the attack on a fan who he said was abusing him before Marseille’s Europa League game against Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal last week.

Mexican girls fight violence with boys’ own game: football

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San Felipe del Progreso (México) (AFP) – Guadalupe Garcia, an indigenous Mexican woman, was working as a maid when she fell in love - not with her boss, like a hackneyed telenovela plot, but with football.

Garcia, a petite but powerful athlete with a sharp mind and wide smile, was not allowed to play football growing up as a poor Mazahua indigenous girl in the small village of San Juan Coajomulco.

World Cup qualifiers: Preview of final games to determine who will be in World Cup

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In a week’s time, the field for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be set. All that’s left to settle are four playoff ties in Europe, two pitting teams from across continental divides, and three groups in Africa.

Drama is guaranteed. The tournament, as we approach the new year, lies just around the corner.

UN clears Qatar in migrant worker abuse probe

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Geneva (AFP) – The UN’s labour agency on Wednesday closed a probe into the alleged mistreatment of foreign workers in World Cup 2022 host Qatar, praising a reform plan agreed by the emirate.

Activists and leading international labour unions had accused Qatar of subjecting migrant workers to slave-like conditions on jobs that included infrastructure projects for FIFA’s top tournament.

Tarnished Modric key to Croatia World Cup hopes

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Zagreb (AFP) – Croatia will hope Real Madrid star Luka Modric can carry the nation to the World Cup finals as they go into the first leg of a tricky play-off with Greece on Thursday.

The 32-year-old captain has faced a tumultuous year, with his shining reputation tarnished by a scandal in June over allegedly false testimony he gave at a major corruption trial.

Olympiakos owner to stand trial for corruption: reports

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Athens (AFP) – Greek media reported Tuesday that Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis is among 28 people who are to be brought to trial for corruption in Greek football.

The Athens News Agency, quoting reliable sources, said the Athens Court of Appeals will officially announce a referral order on Wednesday, ending an ongoing investigation into match-fixing in top Greek leagues.

Robbie Rogers retires from football

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Los Angeles Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers, the first openly gay male athlete to play in a major North American sports league, announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Rogers, 30, confirmed his retirement in a statement released through the Galaxy, ending a professional career that spanned 11 seasons and included stints in England, the Netherlands and Major League Soccer.

Burnley’s Cork gets first England call

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London (AFP) – Burnley midfielder Jack Cork was called up to the England squad for the first time on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming friendlies with Germany and Brazil after yet more withdrawals from Gareth Southgate’s squad.

Cork, formerly of Swansea and Southampton, was summoned by England manager Southgate after Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph and Jordan Henderson became the latest withdrawals from the squad for the back-to-back Wembley matches.

Ferencvaros sanctioned over Hungary’s first fan stabbing

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Budapest (AFP) – Hungary’s most popular club Ferencvaros was hit Tuesday with a fine and an order to close part of its stadium after a fan was stabbed in the country’s first ever incident of football-related knife violence.

Budapest-based Ferencvaros must pay a 3 million forints fine (9,600 euros, $11,000) and close four stadium sectors occupied by “ultra” fans for the next three home games, said the Hungarian Football Association in a statement.

6 transfer targets for Arsenal if Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leave the Gunners

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Much has been said about the futures of Arsenal superstars Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Both players are out of contract at the end of the season and talks have not progressed as well as some have hoped. Sanchez is already thought to have his sights set on a switch to Manchester City, with a January move possible.

Brazil’s Marquinhos at home ahead of Japan clash

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Paris (AFP) – Brazil’s Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos admitted he felt “very emotional” after training with his international teammates at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday ahead of their friendly against Japan.

The Brazil squad are using the Paris club as their headquarters on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading off for Friday’s international friendly at Lille, in northern France.

World Cup report ‘leaves door open to drug abuse’ – Laporte

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London (AFP) – French rugby chief Bernard Laporte raised the stakes in a bitter war of words over the destiny of the 2023 World Cup on Tuesday by saying the sport risks being seen as weak over doping.

Last week, the Rugby World Cup Board recommended the World Rugby Council award the tournament to South Africa after a technical report placed it ahead of rival bidders France and Ireland on an overall score across a range of criteria.

Video ref reform calls in Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – German football chiefs want to reorganise refereeing in the Bundesliga after the head of their fledgeling video refereeing (VAR) system was sacked amidst accusations of bias.

The VAR system is being trialled this season in Italy and Germany, generating much debate in both countries with fans complaining it slows games down.

World Cup will be Koscielny swansong

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Paris (AFP) – Laurent Koscielny will retire from the France team after the 2018 World Cup, making way for a new generation of players, the Arsenal centre-back said on Tuesday.

“I’m starting to get a bit old at 32. With Sam (Umtiti of Barcelona) and the others in their twenties and on the lookout, the time has come,” Koscielny told a press conference at the French team headquarters.

World Cup report leaves ‘door open to drug abuse’: Laporte

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London (AFP) – French rugby chief Bernard Laporte has raised the stakes in a bitter war of words over the destiny of the 2023 World Cup on Tuesday by saying the sport risks being seen as weak over doping.

Last week, the Rugby World Cup Board recommended the World Rugby Council award the tournament to South Africa after a technical report placed it ahead of rival bidders France and Ireland on an overall score across a range of criteria.

Sling Blue cheatsheet now available for download, answers questions about streaming service

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Out of all of the legal streaming services available in the United States, Sling Blue is one of the most appealing to sports fans because it offers NBC Sports and FOX Sports in one package for $25/month.

Of course, the streaming package from Sling TV offers much more than just those two networks.

New West Ham boss Moyes has ‘point to prove’

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London (AFP) – West Ham named former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes as their new manager on Tuesday after sacking Slaven Bilic following a string of poor results that left the club mired in the Premier League relegation zone.

The Hammers parted company with Bilic on Monday, two days after a chastening 4-1 loss at home to Liverpool convinced co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold that the club needed a change of direction to stop the rot.

Turner Sports delivers uninspiring segment to promote Champions League coverage

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This past weekend, Turner Sports had a short segment on their NBA show to promote the network’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League, which begins next summer.

In short, the attempt by Turner Sports was awkward, underwhelming and didn’t help fill the viewer with any confidence that the network knows soccer.

Seeing double as identical twins play football for Russia

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Moscow (AFP) – Opponents of Russia’s national side can be forgiven for confusion as they face two identical players: twin brothers Anton and Alexei Miranchuk.

The 22-year-old Miranchuk siblings appeared together in the national squad for the first time last month after manager Stanislav Cherchesov rewarded their solid performances for Russian league leaders Lokomotiv Moscow.

West Ham appoint David Moyes as new manager

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London (AFP) – West Ham have appointed former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes as their new manager, the struggling Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

“We believe David is the right man to turn things around and get the best out of the players at the club,” joint chairman David Sullivan said.

Struggling West Ham appoint Moyes as manager

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London (AFP) – West Ham have appointed former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes as their new manager, the struggling Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

“We believe David is the right man to turn things around and get the best out of the players at the club,” joint chairman David Sullivan said.

Abraham has no regrets about Nigeria snub

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Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – New England call-up Tammy Abraham says he never considered playing for Nigeria at international level despite repeated overtures from the Nigerian Football Federation.

Abraham’s father is Nigerian and a childhood friend of Nigerian federation president Amaju Pinnick, who claimed in September that Abraham had decided to play for the west African country.

Martino joins race for US soccer top job

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Kyle Martino on Monday joined the crowded field vying for the presidency of the United States Soccer Federation in the wake of the country’s 2018 World Cup debacle.

Martino, best known in the US as an analyst for NBC television, said he had decided to challenge for the USSF presidency after the result of “many conversations” in recent weeks.

Spurs star Kane out of Germany, Brazil games

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur’s prolific striker Harry Kane withdrew from the England squad for prestigious friendlies with World Cup holders Germany and five-time winners Brazil on Monday due to a knee injury.

His Spurs team-mate, midfielder Harry Winks, also limped out with an ankle problem, bringing the absentees from the club to three as Dele Alli had already pulled out.

Greece football coach angered by Manolas play-off ban

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Athens (AFP) – Greece coach Michael Skibbe blasted FIFA’s decision to ban Roma defender Kostas Manolas from Thursday’s World Cup play-off first leg away to Croatia for “intentionally seeking a yellow card”.

“What FIFA did was not right. FIFA sometimes takes some ‘special’ decisions.

Kung fu kick Evra ‘should have known better’, says Deschamps

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Paris (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps predicted Patrice Evra would pay a heavy price for kicking a Marseille fan last week and says the former national captain should have known better.

“I’m neither condemning him nor judging him,” said Deschamps, for whom Evra played at Monaco and with France.

TV schedule for World Cup qualifiers and international friendlies: November 9-15

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The final World Cup qualifiers take place during the current international break, which will determine the final countries that will make up the 32 teams competing in next summer’s World Cup.

Plus there are several enticing friendlies that’ll be played around the world.

So far, here are the countries who have qualified for World Cup 2018: Russia, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, England, Spain, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Poland, Egypt, Iceland, Serbia, Portugal, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and Panama.

10 things we learned from the 2017 MLS Conference Semifinals

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Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the ten things we learned from the 2017 MLS Conference Semifinals.

1. Toronto Loses Its Cool

Jozy Altidore is great player, but his conduct in the first half of Toronto’s game on Sunday against the Red Bulls was phenomenally stupid.

Pochettino confident Kane will be fit for England

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino insists Harry Kane will be available for England’s upcoming friendly internationals despite an injury scare in a 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace.

The Spurs striker went off 14 minutes from the end of Sunday’s success at Wembley after receiving treatment in the first half.

Conte warns axed Luiz to fight for Chelsea future

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has warned David Luiz he faces a fight to win back his Chelsea place after the Brazil defender was dropped for the 1-0 win over Manchester United.

Luiz paid the price for some sloppy performances as Blues boss Conte left him out of the squad at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Manchester City will be ‘hard to stop’, warns angry Wenger

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger accepted leaders Manchester City would be “hard to stop” in their quest for the Premier League title especially if they continued to get the rub of the green from referees.

The Gunners manager accused City forward Raheem Sterling of diving after he won a penalty in his team’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Etihad on Sunday.

Russia faces ‘very real’ threat of attack at World Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – Russia says it will take extraordinary measures to combat any terrorist threat when it hosts the World Cup next year, as its military campaign in Syria makes the country a prime target for jihadists.

A bombing on the metro in Saint Petersburg in April that left 15 people dead was among the recent high-profile terror attacks on Russian soil.

Toronto, Columbus to meet in MLS East showdown

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New York (AFP) – Toronto FC advanced to Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference finals despite a 1-0 home loss Sunday to the New York Red Bulls in a playoff matchup marred by a half-time scuffle.

The heated encounter saw Toronto’s Jozy Altidore and New York’s Sacha Kljestan given red cards as tempers boiled over into shoving between the US national team members as players departed the field at half-time.

Cannavaro quits Tianjin as Evergrande rumours swirl

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Shanghai (AFP) – Fabio Cannavaro has resigned as coach of Tianjin Quanjian, the club announced Monday, just days after steering them to an AFC Champions League berth and with rumours swirling he will return to seven-time Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande.

The Italian World Cup winner, who engineered the club’s promotion to the Chinese Super League (CSL) last year and a third-place finish this year, will be succeeded by former Portuguese international Paulo Sousa, the club said.

Injured Tim Cahill travels with ice machine to Honduras

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Melbourne (AFP) – Goal-scoring talisman Tim Cahill took an ice machine on board the long flight to Honduras on Monday to treat his injured ankle as he races to be fit for this week’s vital World Cup playoff.

The veteran Cahill, 37, said he would receive treatment from a member of Australia’s medical staff during the 15-hour journey, adding that he hoped to speed up his recovery with “round the clock work”.

Everton defender Michael Keane called up by England

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London (AFP) – Everton defender Michael Keane was on Monday called into the England squad for high-profile friendlies against Germany and Brazil, with manager Gareth Southgate forced to juggle his resources due to injury concerns.

Keane, 24, played in the Toffees’ 3-2 victory against Watford in the Premier League on Sunday after returning from a recent leg injury.

West Ham sack manager Slaven Bilic

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London (AFP) – West Ham sacked manager Slaven Bilic on Monday after a poor run of results that have left the club in the Premier League relegation zone.

“West Ham United can confirm that Slaven Bilic has today left his position with the club,” the Hammers said in a statement on their website.

West Ham sack Bilic, Moyes favourite for job

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London (AFP) – West Ham sacked manager Slaven Bilic on Monday after a poor run of results that have left the club languishing in the Premier League’s relegation zone, with David Moyes the favourite replace him.

The club announced the departure of the Croatian, appointed in June 2015, following a chastening 4-1 loss to Liverpool at the London Stadium on Saturday that leaves them 18th in the table and facing a fight for Premier League survival.

Marseille tune out Evra drama, Lyon win heated derby

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Paris (AFP) – Marseille fans made their feelings clear to Patrice Evra as the Mediterranean side put their European troubles behind them by romping to a 5-0 win over Caen in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Evra, 36, was not involved in the game at the Velodrome having been suspended by his club for aiming a karate kick at the head of one of his team’s own supporters prior to Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Vitoria Guimaraes.

Real Madrid roll over Las Palmas to calm crisis talk

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid quietened crisis talk after back-to-back defeats as Marco Asensio added to his collection of wonder strikes in a 3-0 victory over Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Victory cuts third-placed Real’s deficit on Barcelona at the top of La Liga back to eight points.

Juventus close gap as Napoli, Inter Milan held

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus closed the gap at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win over bottom club Benevento on Sunday as leaders Napoli were held by Chievo and Inter Milan drew 1-1 against Torino.

Amato Ciciretti’s first-half opener for Benevento stunned Juventus before Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado scored after the break to seal three points for the six-time defending champions.

Evra thanks ‘real fans’ after karate kick attack

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Paris (AFP) – Patrice Evra praised the support he has received from “real Marseille” fans on Sunday, just three days after launching a karate kick at one of his team’s own supporters ahead of a Europa League match.

The 36-year-old was suspended by Marseille on Friday after he was red-carded for the assault which occurred in the pre-match warm-up before Thursday’s game against Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.

Real roll over Las Palmas to calm crisis talk

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid quietened crisis talk after back-to-back defeats as Marco Asensio added to his collection of wonder strikes in a 3-0 victory over Las Palmas at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Victory cuts third-placed Real’s deficit on Barcelona at the top of La Liga back to eight points.

Manchester City well ahead as Chelsea beat Manchester United

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City were left with a healthy eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League after second-placed Manchester United suffered a 1-0 loss away to champions Chelsea hours after the leaders saw off Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday.

United manager Jose Mourinho, a former title-winning boss with Chelsea, saw his latest visit to Stamford Bridge end in defeat courtesy of Alvaro Morata’s 55th-minute header that ended a run of six game without a goal for the Spain striker.

Morata strikes as Chelsea derail Manchester United title bid

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London (AFP) – Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata condemned Jose Mourinho to another damaging defeat against his former club as the champions clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Morata rewarded an enterprising display from Antonio Conte’s side when the Spain striker headed home early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.

Genoa sack Juric after derby defeat

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Genoa (Italy) (AFP) – Genoa announced on Sunday they have sacked coach Ivan Juric after this weekend’s Serie A derby defeat against local rivals Sampdoria.

The club made the announcement in a brief statement a day after a 2-0 defeat at home left them third from bottom with just six points from 12 games.

Marseille hit five, Balotelli sent off in Nice win

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Paris (AFP) – Marseille fans made their feelings clear to Patrice Evra as the Mediterranean side put their European troubles behind them by romping to a 5-0 win over Caen in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Evra, 36, was not involved in the game at the Velodrome having been suspended by his club for aiming a karate kick at the head of one of his team’s own supporters prior to Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Vitoria Guimaraes.

Juventus close gap as Napoli, Inter held

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus closed the gap at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win over bottom club Benevento on Sunday as leaders Napoli were held by Chievo and Inter Milan drew 1-1 against Torino.

Amato Ciciretti’s first-half opener for Benevento stunned Juventus before Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado scored after the break to seal three points for the six-time defending champions.

Wagner stakes Germany claim to face England

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Cologne (Germany) (AFP) – Sandro Wagner made a case to face England in Germany’s forthcoming friendly international by netting twice in Hoffenheim’s 3-0 win at the Bundesliga’s bottom side Cologne on Sunday.

The Germans face Gareth Southgate’s England at Wembley on Friday before hosting France four days later in Cologne in friendlies designed to test the defending champions before next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Aguero on target as Man City sink Arsenal

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City’s newly-crowned record goalscorer Sergio Aguero was on the mark again, as his second-half penalty helped the Premier League leaders beat Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Aguero scored via the post after Nacho Monreal was judged to have brought down Raheem Sterling with a clumsy challenge in the 49th minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Balotelli scores, is sent off in Nice win

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli scored the only goal of the game as Nice beat Dijon 1-0 in Ligue 1 on Sunday but his afternoon was marred when he was sent off late on.

The Italian striker converted a penalty five minutes from half-time after a foul on Alassane Plea in the area for his sixth league goal of the campaign.

Inter held by Torino as rain wipes out Lazio game

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan maintained their unbeaten record in Serie A on Sunday but a 1-1 home draw against Torino could allow Napoli to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Inter fought back after Iago Falque put Torino ahead on 59 minutes, with Eder coming off the bench to snatch a point 11 minutes from time after a neat touch from captain Mauro Icardi.

Qatar to use foreign police officers at 2022 World Cup

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Doha (AFP) – Police officers from different countries will be on Qatar’s streets during the 2022 World Cup in an effort to prevent hooliganism, a senior security officer for the tournament has said.

Major Ali Mohammed Al-Ali, deputy executive director for security with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the body overseeing the tournament, also predicted that Qatar would deliver “the safest World Cup in the world”.

Son and Gazzaniga star as injury-hit Spurs beat Palace

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London (AFP) – Son Heung-Min’s second-half goal and a fine debut from goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga helped Tottenham Hotspur to a nervy 1-0 Premier League victory over bottom club Crystal Palace in a London derby at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s injury-ravaged side failed to hit the heights of Wednesday’s memorable 3-1 Champions League victory over Real Madrid and the title-chasers were fortunate to claim all three points.

Inter Milan held back by Torino

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan maintained their unbeaten record in Serie A on Sunday but their 1-1 draw at home against Torino could allow Napoli to extend their lead at the top of the Italian championship.

Inter fought back after Iago Falque opened for Torino on 59 minutes with Eder coming off the bench to snatch a point on 79 minutes after a neat cross from captain Mauro Icardi.

Son goal enough for injury-hit Spurs against Palace

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London (AFP) – Son Heung-Min’s second-half goal gave Tottenham Hotspur a nervy 1-0 Premier League victory over bottom club Crystal Palace in a London derby at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s injury-ravaged side failed to hit the heights of Wednesday’s memorable 3-1 Champions League victory over Real Madrid and the title-chasers were fortunate to claim all three points.

Dele Alli limps out of England friendlies squad

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur’s in-form midfielder Dele Alli has had to pull out of the England squad for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Brazil.

Alli’s two goals fired Spurs to a famous 3-1 Champions League success over titleholders Real Madrid at Wembley last Wednesday.

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

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

Manchester City has an opportunity to increase their lead atop the Premier League, but Pep Guardiola’s high-flying City will face a stern test against an Arsenal team that are playing well in the league.

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

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

Managers Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte will clash again at Stamford Bridge when their teams face off against each other in a battle of the top four.

Football: FIFA corruption trial opens in New York

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New York (AFP) – It was the raid that changed the face of the world’s most popular sport. Swiss police swooped in on a five-star Zurich hotel at dawn, arresting seven soccer officials at US request.

Two and a half years later, the only defendants detained in the United States who continue to profess their innocence will go on trial.

Germany’s coach Loew wary of ‘strongest England in years’

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany head coach Joachim Loew launched a charm offensive ahead of Friday’s international friendly at Wembley by insisting this is the strongest England side in recent years.

The Germans have won all of their last six matches against old rivals England at the iconic Wembley, a run stretching back to 1982.

Celtic manager Rodgers proud of his record-breaking ‘Bhoys’

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said he was proud of his players for overcoming every challenge they have had to face on their way to breaking their own 100-year-old British record unbeaten domestic run.

The Scottish champions extended their domestic unbeaten streak to 63 games with a 4-0 thrashing of St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Bilic on brink after Liverpool debacle

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London (AFP) – West Ham manager Slaven Bilic admits his side’s “naive” 4-1 thrashing by Liverpool could be fatal to his hopes of avoiding the sack.

Bilic’s side are just one point above the Premier League relegation zone after slumping to a dismal defeat at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Where to find River Plate vs. Boca Juniors on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch River Plate vs. Boca Juniors in the Superclásico, you’ve come to the right place.

One of the most eagerly-anticipated games of the soccer calendar pits River Plate against Boca Juniors. In previous years, it’s been difficult to find the game on US airwaves, but here’s all of the info you need below.

Injured Socceroo Cahill to travel to Honduras – FFA

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Sydney (AFP) – Key attacker Tim Cahill will join the Australian squad in Honduras as he recovers from an ankle injury for this week’s FIFA World Cup intercontinental play-off, the FFA said on Sunday.

The squad leaves on Sunday but Football Federation Australia said the country’s all-time leading goalscorer will delay his departure and join his team-mates in Honduras a day later than originally scheduled.

Cries of ‘freedom’ as record-breaking Barcelona march on

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona continued their record-breaking start to a La Liga season by beating Sevilla 2-1 thanks to Paco Alcacer’s double on Saturday in an atmosphere at the Camp Nou marked by the political upheaval in Catalonia.

A huge Catalan flag and banners reading “justice” in Catalan and English were displayed before kick-off after eight ministers of the Catalan government deposed by Madrid were detained pending a possible trial for their roles in the drive for Catalan independence.

Alcacer double edges Barca past Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona continued their record-breaking start to a La Liga season by beating Sevilla 2-1 thanks to Paco Alcacer’s double on Saturday in an atmosphere at the Camp Nou marked by the political upheaval in Catalonia.

A huge Catalan flag and banners reading “justice” in Catalan and English were displayed before kick-off after eight ministers of the Catalan government deposed by Madrid were detained pending a possible trial for their roles in the drive for Catalan independence.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for October 25-31, 2017

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Viewership for the MLS Knockout Round was up slightly from 2016 with an average of 301,000 viewers for the four matches across UniMás, UDN, ESPN2 and FS1. Viewership peaked for October 26th’s early match between expansion side Atlanta United and MLS original Columbus Crew, averaging a combined 577,000 on ESPN2 and UniMás and beating out last season’s top match of the knockout round by 114,000 viewers.

Wydad are African champions again after 25 years

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Wydad Casablanca of Morocco became African champions for a second time when they defeated Al Ahly of Egypt 1-0 Saturday in the second leg of the CAF Champions League final.

Walid El Karty nodded the lone goal on 69 minutes to give the home team a 2-1 aggregate triumph after they forced a 1-1 draw in Egyptian coastal city Alexandria last weekend.

Bilic says ‘difficult situation’ after Liverpool defeat

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London (AFP) – West Ham boss Slaven Bilic admitted he was in a “difficult situation” after a damaging 4-1 defeat to Liverpool left his side in deep trouble just above the Premier League relegation zone.

Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead and Joel Matip doubled the visitors’ lead before half-time at the London Stadium.

All Blacks coach Hansen questions referee’s ‘focus’ after Barbarians win

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Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – New Zealand coach Steve Hansen suggested referee Nigel Owens had not been as “focused” as he would have been for a Test match after the world champions launched their tour of Europe with a 31-22 win over the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.

Hansen deliberately fielded an unfamiliar-looking All Blacks team, with fly-half Beauden Barrett captaining the side in place of the rested Kieran Read.

Liverpool pile pressure on West Ham, Leicester extend run

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London (AFP) – Rampant Liverpool turned up the heat on beleaguered West Ham boss Slaven Bilic with a 4-1 win on Saturday as former champions Leicester City extended their unbeaten run with a draw at Stoke.

Elsewhere, struggling West Brom’s winless run stretched to nine league matches in a 1-0 loss against 10-man Huddersfield, cranking up the pressure on manager Tony Pulis, while Burnley’s 1-0 victory at Southampton lifted them briefly to sixth in the table.

Bayern down Dortmund to open four-point lead

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich stamped their authority on the Bundesliga on Saturday by opening a four-point lead as Robert Lewandowski netted an audacious goal in their commanding 3-1 win at Borussia Dortmund.

Defending champions Bayern stay on course to win the German League for a sixth straight season after dominating the high-tempo showdown at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.

Salah fires Liverpool to pile pressure on Bilic

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London (AFP) – Mohamed Salah’s brace left West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic in grave danger of the sack as Liverpool thrashed the Premier League strugglers 4-1 on Saturday.

Salah put Liverpool ahead at the London Stadium and Joel Matip doubled the visitors’ lead before half-time to leave Bilic facing a toxic atmosphere.

Where to find Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland in the Championship, you’ve come to the right place.

The north east derby features a clash between bottom of the table Sunderland against tenth-place Middlesbrough. The bragging rights in that part of England are on the line.

100 up for insatiable Cavani as PSG win without Neymar

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Paris (AFP) – The injured Neymar was left at home as Edinson Cavani reached a century of goals in Ligue 1 with a brace in Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-0 romp away to Angers on Saturday.

The world’s most expensive player sat out the game at the Stade Raymond Kopa with a minor thigh problem picked up in the midweek Champions League win over Anderlecht but he was not missed as PSG went provisionally seven points clear at the top of the table from Monaco.

Werner fires warning shots to England, France

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Berlin (AFP) – Timo Werner proved his form ahead of Germany’s forthcoming internationals as his late goal sealed RB Leipzig’s 2-1 comeback win against Hanover 96 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, who has just recovered from a neck injury, is set to feature for the world champions in high-profile friendly matches against England and France in the next 10 days after missing his country’s matches last month.

Leicester stretch unbeaten run, Pulis under pressure

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London (AFP) – Leicester City extended their unbeaten run on Saturday with a draw at Stoke while struggling West Brom’s winless run stretched to nine league matches against 10-man Huddersfield, cranking up the pressure on manager Tony Pulis.

With five of the top six sides not in action until Sunday, the focus was on the battle lower down the Premier League table before Liverpool were due to kick off in the late match against struggling West Ham.

Werner fires Leipzig back to winning ways

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Berlin (AFP) – Timo Werner proved his readiness to return to the Germany team as his late goal sealed RB Leipzig’s 2-1 come-from-behind win at home to Hanover 96 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, who has just recovered from a neck injury, is set to feature for the world champions in high-profile friendly matches against England and France in the next 10 days after missing his country’s matches last month.

Valencia put pressure on Barca, Atletico bounce back

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia swept aside Leganes 3-0 on Saturday as they continued their stunning form with an eighth straight win to close to within a point of La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side also moved ahead of Barca as the league’s top scorers with 30 goals in their first 11 games as Dani Parejo, Rodrigo and Santi Mina found the net.

Peerless Celtic break 100-year British unbeaten record

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Glasgow (AFP) – French striker Moussa Dembele scored one and created another two as Celtic thrashed St Johnstone 4-0 to break their own 100-year British record of unbeaten domestic matches

The Scottish champions extended their domestic unbeaten record to 63 to eclipse the Celtic team of Willie Maley who went 62 league games unbeaten - pre-League Cup whilst the Scottish Cup was not played during World War I - between 1915 and 1917.

Liverpool-bound Keita accused of using forged driving licences

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Berlin (AFP) – Liverpool-bound midfielder Naby Keita could face a six-figure fine after allegedly twice using forged licences to try to obtain a German driving permit, a report claimed on Saturday.

The RB Leipzig defensive midfielder and Guinea international, who is joining Liverpool for 2018/19, is accused of two counts of forgery which carries a minimum penalty of 100,000 euros ($115,195), according to Bild.

Peerless Celtic break British domestic unbeaten record

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Glasgow (AFP) – French striker Moussa Dembele scored one and created another two as Celtic thrashed St Johnstone 4-0 to break their own 100-year British record of unbeaten domestic matches.

The Scottish champions extended their domestic unbeaten record to 63 to eclipse the Celtic team of Willie Maley who went 62 league games unbeaten - pre-League Cup whilst the Scottish Cup was not played during World War I - between 1915 and 1917.

Crouch earns Stoke share of spoils against Leicester

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Former England striker Peter Crouch came off the bench to rescue a point for Stoke City in a 2-2 draw on Saturday, denying new Leicester manager Claude Puel a second consecutive win of his young managerial reign.

The 2015-16 Premier League champions are now unbeaten in six games in all competitions after early season struggles but will be disappointed they twice let their lead slip and in the end were indebted to goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who made a fantastic flying stop in the dying seconds.

Bothroyd suffers training ground blackout in Japan

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Tokyo (AFP) – Former Cardiff City striker Jay Bothroyd is recovering at home after collapsing during training with his Japanese side Consadole Sapporo, the J-League club said on Saturday.

The 35-year-old, who joined Sapporo in July, underwent emergency medical treatment and was rushed to hospital after suffering convulsions in training.

Stoke’s Crouch earns share of spoils against Leicester

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Former England striker Peter Crouch came off the bench to rescue a point for Stoke City in a 2-2 draw on Saturday, denying new Leicester manager Claude Puel a second consecutive win of his young managerial reign.

The 2015-16 Premier League champions parted company with Craig Shakespeare last month after slipping into the relegation zone but have recovered strongly under caretaker boss Michael Appleton and ex-Southampton boss Puel.

Free-scoring Valencia put pressure on Barcelona

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia swept aside Leganes 3-0 on Saturday to continue their stunning form with an eighth straight win to close to within a point of La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side also moved ahead of Barca as the league’s top scorers with 30 goals in their first 11 games as Dani Parejo, Rodrigo and Santi Mina found the net.

Cerezo Osaka lift J-League Cup

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Tokyo (AFP) – Japan’s Cerezo Osaka celebrated their first-ever domestic title after a 2-0 victory over Kawasaki Frontale in the J-League Cup final on Saturday.

Japan striker Kenyu Sugimoto stunned Kawasaki with a clinical finish after just 47 seconds before Brazilian midfielder Souza put the result beyond doubt deep into injury time in Saitama.

Bale to sit out Wales friendlies with France, Panama

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Madrid (AFP) – Gareth Bale will be kept in Madrid to work on his fitness rather than meeting up with the Wales squad for friendlies against France and Panama next week, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed on Saturday.

Bale returned to training with the European champions this week after five weeks on the sidelines with a calf injury.

Morata, Lukaku seek return to form as Chelsea face Manchester United

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London (AFP) – Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku will be under pressure to fire their teams back into the Premier League title race when the misfiring strikers clash in Chelsea’s showdown with Manchester United on Sunday.

Chelsea forward Morata and United front man Lukaku were the toast of their clubs after celebrating their close-season transfers with a barrage of goals.

Pochettino keeps Spurs grounded for Palace visit

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has vowed his Tottenham Hotspur players will remain grounded when they face Crystal Palace, the Premier League’s bottom side, at Wembley on Sunday.

Tottenham are still basking in the adulation that has come their way since they beat Champions League holders Real Madrid 3-1 beneath the Wembley arch on Wednesday.

Guardiola wary of Gunners repeating FA Cup triumph

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Unbeaten Manchester City’s season shows no sign of losing momentum with 15 wins from 16 in all competitions after Wednesday’s 4-2 Champions League victory at Napoli.

City have not lost a competitive match anywhere since April, but that defeat came in the FA Cup semi-finals against Arsenal, the team who visit the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday.

Cahill cleared of ankle fracture, still in doubt for Honduras playoff

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Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer Tim Cahill has been cleared of a fractured ankle but remains in doubt for next week’s World Cup qualifying play-off against Honduras.

The former Everton attacker twisted his right ankle challenging for the ball and was substituted during the first half of his Melbourne City side’s 1-0 A-League loss to Sydney FC on Friday.

Celebrating Scolari beaten as Brazilian heads for Guangzhou exit

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Guangzhou (AFP) – Luiz Felipe Scolari lost what is expected to be his final game at freshly crowned Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande, beaten 2-1 Saturday by the side managed by the man who could replace him.

The final-day away victory for Fabio Cannavaro’s Tianjin Quanjian, coupled with defeat for Hebei China Fortune, propelled them into a third-place finish in the Chinese Super League (CSL) and means they will contest the AFC Champions League play-offs next season.

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

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, you’ve come to the right place.

FOX Sports are sending sideline reporters Thomas Hitzlsperger and Adam Hunt to cover the game for the network. Dortmund are three points behind Bayern Munich, so a win for Christian Pulisic and his teammates could take BVB back to the top of the table in Germany.

Sterling rises in Guardiola’s esteem

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Raheem Sterling has been told that improving his goalscoring record is the key to securing his long-term Manchester City future.

Sterling could have moved to Arsenal in August as City tried to secure the £60million ($78million) signing of Alexis Sanchez, but both deals ended up falling through.

I should moan about Pogba more, says Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes he deserves credit for not complaining more about Paul Pogba’s injury problems and those affecting the rest of his squad.

France midfielder Pogba has been absent for almost two months because of a hamstring injury sustained during a 3-0 Champions League victory over Basel on September 12.

Peru striker misses Kiwi qualifiers after ‘abnormal’ dope test

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Lima (AFP) – Peru’s hopes of reaching the World Cup suffered a setback Friday when striker Paolo Guerrero was banned for 30 days for returning an “abnormal result” from a drugs test, ruling him out of his country’s play-off against New Zealand.

The Peruvian football federation (FPF) said that the suspension had been ordered by world governing body FIFA.

Peru World Cup striker returns ‘abnormal’ dope test result

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Lima (AFP) – Peru’s hopes of making the World Cup finals suffered a potential setback on Friday when it was reported Brazil-based striker Paolo Guerrero had returned an “abnormal result” from a post-match drugs test.

Media reports in Peru and Brazil, where 33-year-old Guerrero plays club football for Flamengo, claimed that the test took place after a World Cup 0-0 qualifying draw against Argentina on October 5.

Football: Karate kick Evra suspended by Marseille, charged by UEFA

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Marseille (AFP) – Patrice Evra was handed an initial one-match ban by UEFA and suspended by his club Marseille on Friday after the veteran defender aimed a karate kick at the head of one of his team’s own supporters.

The former Manchester United star was red-carded for the assault during the pre-match warm-up at Thursday’s Europa League clash at Guimaraes in Portugal.

‘Monstrous’ Messi to enter Barca’s 600 club

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Barcelona (AFP) – Lionel Messi will celebrate his 600th start for Barcelona on Saturday in what his manager Ernesto Valverde hails as “a monstrous” achievement.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner becomes only the third player to reach the milestone for the Catalan club after ex-playmaker Xavi Hernandez (767 appearances) and the current captain Andres Iniesta (642).

Zaha ready for Ivory Coast do-or-die World Cup bow

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Abidjan (AFP) – Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha will make his long-awaited debut for Ivory Coast in a do-or-die World Cup qualifier against Morocco on November 11.

The 24-year-old has never played for the African nation which he left with his family when he was just four.

However, Zaha will need to hit the ground running as Ivory Coast have to defeat Morocco in the final qualifying game to ensure a fourth successive World Cup appearance after making the finals in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 11

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This Sunday, NBC Sports Group presents two blockbuster matches, beginning with league leaders Manchester City, the only remaining unbeaten team in the Premier League, hosting fifth-place Arsenal at 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and Telemundo. City and their joint-top scorer Sergio Aguero (seven goals, tied for second-most in PL) come off a 3-2 win at West Brom, their eighth consecutive Premier League victory.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on TV this weekend

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The Premier League scheduling on a Sunday can often make or break a weekend of football watching. This Sunday, there’s nothing else to do other than settle down and enjoy what promises to be a brilliant double header.

The top two in English football’s top flight will take on the teams currently occupying fifth and fourth, respectively.

Ronaldo to miss Portugal friendlies

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Lisbon (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo was surprisingly left out of the Portugal squad announced on Friday by coach Fernando Santos, who suggested it was merely to give his superstar a break.

Santos denied the omission was due to the four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s relatively meagre goal-scoring start to the Spanish league season.

Mane could make Liverpool return at West Ham

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London (AFP) – Sadio Mane could make his Liverpool comeback at West Ham United on Saturday after making encouraging progress in his recovery from a hamstring injury, manager Jurgen Klopp revealed on Friday.

The Senegal winger has not played for Liverpool since October 1 after getting injured on international duty, but he returned to training with his team-mates on Thursday.

Nainggolan in from the cold for Belgium friendlies

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Brussels (AFP) – Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was named in Belgium’s squad for upcoming friendlies on Friday after missing the Red Devils’ final four World Cup qualifiers.

Coach Roberto Martinez in September had explained his decision to leave Nainggolan out of his last two squads was for “tactical reasons” and because he wanted to “work with continuity”.

Lloris and Alderweireld sidelined for Tottenham

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London (AFP) – Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and centre-back Toby Alderweireld will both miss Tottenham Hotspur’s home game with Crystal Palace on Sunday due to injury, manager Mauricio Pochettino confirmed on Friday.

Lloris, the Spurs captain, sustained a groin injury and Alderweireld suffered a hamstring strain during Wednesday’s stunning 3-1 win over Real Madrid in the Champions League.

I’m not finished article, says Man Utd’s Lukaku

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London (AFP) – Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku believes it is unfair to judge him as the finished article as he plots to end the first goal drought of his Old Trafford career.

Having scored 11 goals in his first 10 games after joining United from Everton in a £75 million ($98.

Wenger vows Arsenal will attack Man City

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has pledged that his side will fight fire with fire when they tackle free-scoring Premier League pace-setters Manchester City on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s City are five points clear at the top of the table - and nine points above Arsenal - after amassing 35 goals in their opening 10 league fixtures.

New Zealand-Peru World Cup qualification match to be shown on beIN SPORTS

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beIN SPORTS has confirmed that it will televise the 1st leg of the World Cup qualification playoff between New Zealand and Peru on Friday, November 10.

The match will be shown live on both beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español with a 10:15pm ET kickoff. If you don’t get beIN SPORTS, you can watch the game via legal streaming services such as fuboTV or Sling World Sports.

Mourinho testifies in Madrid court over tax fraud allegations

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Madrid (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was grilled by a judge in Spain on Friday over accusations of a 3.3 million euro ($3.8 million) tax fraud during his time in charge of Real Madrid in 2011 and 2012.

After leaving the brief closed-door hearing, the 54-year-old told reporters he had paid everything he owed to the Spanish tax office.

Chelsea, United battle to stay in touch with runaway City

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London (AFP) – Chelsea and Manchester United go head to head this weekend in a match neither club dare lose as Manchester City entertain Arsenal eyeing a chance to stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten City are smashing records with impunity and are already five points clear of Jose Mourinho’s United after nine wins in 10 games.

Salah can fire Liverpool revival, says Klopp

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp believes in-form Egypt winger Mohamed Salah holds the key to Liverpool maintaining their recent revival at West Ham on Saturday.

After a spluttering start to the season, Klopp’s side have eased the pressure on their German coach with successive 3-0 wins over Huddersfield and Maribor.

Written-off Real Madrid will rebel, says Ramos

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos warned those writing off the European champions will be “put in their place” despite an alarming slump in form that has left them eight points off Barcelona at the top of La Liga after just 10 games.

A 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Wednesday followed hot on the heels of a shock 2-1 reverse at promoted Girona as for only the second time in his short managerial career, Zinedine Zidane’s side have lost back-to-back matches.

Full steam ahead for Lyon in derby showdown

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Paris (AFP) – Lyon head into Sunday’s Rhone-Alpes derby with fierce rivals Saint-Etienne on a terrific run of form sparked by the return to prominence of captain and leading scorer Nabil Fekir.

The 24-year-old has helped fill the considerable hole left by the sale of prolific striker Alexandre Lacazette in the summer and dragged Lyon out of an early-season rut.

Bayern plot more Dortmund woe as Lewandowski returns

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski is set to return to action for Bayern Munich this weekend as they look to score an important victory over troubled title rivals Borussia Dortmund.

The Polish star missed Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Celtic with a back problem, but is expected to be fit to face his former club at Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

Ghoulam blow as Napoli focus back on Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Leaders Napoli turn their focus back to Serie A after a bruising Champions League defeat to Manchester City midweek in which defender Faouzi Ghoulam picked up a serious knee injury.

Algerian international Ghoulam could be out for months after tearing a cruciate ligament in his right knee during the 4-2 defeat which effectively ends Napoli’s elite European challenge.

Wydad say ‘suicidal’ to shut up shop against Ahly in CAF Champions League final

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Wydad Casablanca coach Houcine Amotta said it would be “suicidal” to try and defend the 1-1 CAF Champions League final first-leg draw when they meet Al Ahly again Saturday.

A goalless second leg at the Stade Mohammed V would give the Moroccans victory over the Egyptians on the away-goal rule in the premier African club competition title decider.

Mourinho appears in Madrid court over tax fraud allegations

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Madrid (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was grilled by a judge in Spain on Friday over accusations of a 3.3 million euro ($3.8 million) tax fraud during his time in charge of Real Madrid in 2011 and 2012.

The 54-year-old did not speak to reporters as he arrived for the court hearing in Pozuelo de Alarcon, an upscale Madrid suburb where he used to live, which comes just over 48 hours before he is set to return to Stamford Bridge to face old side Chelsea on Sunday.

Wydad coach says ‘suicidal’ to shut up shop against Ahly in final

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Wydad Casablanca coach Hussein Amotta said it would be “suicidal” to try and defend the 1-1 CAF Champions League final first-leg draw when they meet Al Ahly again Saturday.

A goalless second leg at the Stade Mohammed V would give the Moroccans victory over the Egyptians on the away-goal rule in the premier African club competition title decider.

Marseille’s Evra charged by UEFA for kicking fan

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Marseille (AFP) – Marseille’s Patrice Evra was handed an initial one-match ban by UEFA Friday prior to a disciplinary hearing following his sending-off for launching a karate-style kick at a fan’s head before a Europa League match against Vitoria Guimaraes.

Marseille announced they had opened an inquiry after the 36-year-old full-back was handed a red-card on Thursday following the heated altercation with a group of the French club’s fans on the touchline before kick-off in Portugal.

River Plate-Boca Juniors Superclásico to be streamed live on Sunday in United States

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Sunday’s Superclásico between River Plate and Boca Juniors will be streamed free of charge to soccer fans in the United States.

The eagerly anticipated match between the two giants of Argentine soccer will be streamed via a company named Fanatiz, which owns the rights to several leagues from Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

Arsenal through, Everton out, Evra in karate kick red card

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Paris (AFP) – Arsenal reached the Europa League last 32 Thursday as Everton crashed out and Patrice Evra was red-carded for a karate kick at one of his own Marseille fans - before the match had even started.

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal fought out a drab 0-0 draw with Red Star Belgrade at the Emirates but the point was enough to make sure of qualifying for the knockout round with two games to spare in Group H.

Smalling doesn’t pass muster for Southgate’s England

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London (AFP) – Manchester United defender Chris Smalling’s international future is in doubt after England manager Gareth Southgate said he had been overlooked for the latest squad due to concerns about his passing.

Southgate on Thursday included uncapped Liverpool defender Joe Gomez in an experimental 25-man squad for England’s friendlies against Germany and Brazil later this month.

Eder extends Inter Milan contract

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Milan (AFP) – Italian international Eder has extended his contract with Serie A challengers Inter Milan until June 2021, the club confirmed on Thursday.

The deal adds a further twelve months to the 30-year-old forward’s deal at the San Siro.

The Brazilian-born player joined Inter on an 18-month loan deal from Sampdoria in January 2016 before an option to sign him to a permanent contract until 2020 was activated the following August.

Evra red-carded before game for karate kick on fan

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Guimaraes (Portugal) (AFP) – Marseille defender Patrice Evra was sent off after launching a karate-style kick at a supporter ahead of Thursday’s match against Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League.

Evra was engaged in a heated exchange with a group of fans from an area reserved for Marseille supporters in Portugal before aiming a head-high kick at one of them, an AFP reporter observed.

Evra red-carded before game for karate kick on own fan

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Guimaraes (Portugal) (AFP) – Marseille defender Patrice Evra was sent off after launching a karate-style kick at one of his team’s own supporters before Thursday’s Europa League match against Vitoria Guimaraes.

Evra, 36, was engaged in a heated exchange with a group of fans from an area reserved for around 500 Marseille supporters in Portugal before aiming a head-high kick at one of them, an AFP reporter observed.

Argentina call up Boca Juniors duo for Russia clash

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Boca Juniors strikers Dario Benedetto and Cristian Pavon were called into the Argentina squad on Thursday for the November 11 friendly international against World Cup hosts Russia in Moscow.

They join the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Maria in Jorge Sampaoli’s squad who will also face Nigeria in Krasnador four days later.

Everton dumped out of Europe, Milan must wait

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Paris (AFP) – Struggling Everton crashed out of the Europa League group stage on Thursday with two matches still to play after a 3-0 defeat in Lyon, while AC Milan missed a chance to clinch a spot in the last 32.

Languishing in the relegation zone in the Premier League and without a permanent manager since the sacking of Ronald Koeman last week, Everton succumbed to three second-half goals in France.

Everton dumped out of Europa League, AC Milan must wait

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Paris (AFP) – Struggling Everton crashed out of the Europa League group stage on Thursday with two matches still to play after a 3-0 defeat in Lyon, while AC Milan missed a chance to clinch a spot in the last 32.

Languishing in the relegation zone in the Premier League and without a permanent manager since the sacking of Ronald Koeman last week, Everton succumbed to three second-half goals in France.

Turkey’s Sahin quits internationals — at 29

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Istanbul (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin on Thursday announced his international retirement after Turkey’s failure to reach the World Cup, despite being just 29 years old.

“I’d like to announce that I am putting an end to my career with the national team,” Sahin wrote on Twitter and Instagram, adding that he wanted “to give way to a new generation” of players.

Germany calls for more video referee interventions

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Berlin (AFP) – After more than two months of testing video assistant referees (VAR) in the Bundesliga, the German Football Association (DFB) has ruled that video referees should intervene more often, even if the onfield referee did not commit an obvious error.

“In complicated situations, in which the referee’s decision cannot be classified as an ‘obvious error’, but where the video assistant has strong doubts about the validity of the decision, he must then immediately report it to the referee,” said a DFB October 25 statement made public on Thursday by Kicker magazine.

Dyche departure would be ‘blow’ for Burnley

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London (AFP) – Burnley’s Jack Cork said it would be a “massive blow” for the club if manager Sean Dyche leaves for Premier League strugglers Everton.

Dyche celebrated five years in charge last week but remains heavily linked with the Toffees, whose caretaker boss David Unsworth is striving to make an impression before this month’s international break.

Columbus Crew controversy is best thing that could happen to MLS: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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

In the NEW episode, number 49, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• Why the Columbus Crew controversy could be the best thing that happened to MLS,

• News about the River Plate-Boca Juniors game being streamed in the US,

• Details about YouTube TV being added to new streaming devices,

• How the Bundesliga is leading the way with new audio technology,

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

Chelsea will forget me, says Man Utd’s Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says nobody will remember he was ever Chelsea manager in five years’ time despite the success he brought to the club.

The Manchester United manager takes his team to Stamford Bridge on Sunday to face the club where he had two spells as manager between 2004 and 2015, winning three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League Cups.

Swansea’s Abraham among uncapped trio in England friendlies squad

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London (AFP) – Swansea City striker Tammy Abraham was one of three uncapped players named in a youthful England squad on Thursday for their forthcoming friendly matches against Germany and Brazil.

Abraham, who is on loan at Swansea, received his first call-up along with his Chelsea club-mate Ruben Loftus-Cheek, currently on loan at Crystal Palace, and Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.

Leicester’s Demarai Gray pens new deal

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London (AFP) – Leicester City’s Demarai Gray has ended lingering speculation over his future by signing a new four-year contract, the former Premier League winners announced on Thursday.

The England Under-21 international joined the Foxes in January 2016 from Birmingham City and went on to help the team lift the 2015-16 Premier League title just months later.

Liverpool learning to break teams down, says Klopp

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side are learning to deal with ultra-defensive teams who set out to frustrate them after a second successive 3-0 victory.

The Reds beat Slovenian side Maribor on Wednesday to consolidate their position at the top of Champions League Group E in a game that had many parallels with Saturday’s match against Huddersfield.

Swaggering Spurs return to European big time with Real win

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London (AFP) – With their swashbuckling 3-1 dismantling of defending champions Real Madrid in the Champions League group phase, Tottenham Hotspur announced themselves as European heavyweights.

The most consistently impressive team in England over the past two years, Spurs had the misfortune of running into the Leicester City miracle in 2015-16 and a Chelsea juggernaut in 2016-17.

What’s going wrong at Chelsea?

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte’s Chelsea turned the Premier League title race into a procession in his first season, but worrying cracks are appearing that threaten to fatally undermine the current campaign.

The Stamford Bridge club accrued 93 points - the second-highest tally in the Premier League era - to finish seven points clear of nearest challengers Tottenham Hotspur and a whopping 15 ahead of Manchester City in 2016-2017.

Tevez sheds bulk in bid to win over Chinese critics

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez has lost several kilos in weight and wants to prove himself to sceptical Chinese fans who have booed him and labelled him “very homesick boy”, his club Shanghai Shenhua said on Thursday.

The former Argentina international has endured a turbulent 10 months in China since arriving to a hero’s welcome from Boca Juniors, missing around half the matches this season injured or unavailable.

‘Legend’ Aguero hits record goal as Manchester City reach Champions League last 16

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero became Manchester City’s all-time record scorer and was described as “a legend” by coach Pep Guardiola whose side booked their place in the Champions League last-16 with a 4-2 win at Napoli on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Argentine beat the old mark of 177 set by Eric Brook during the 1930s when he netted City’s third goal in Naples after 69 minutes.

Dynamo goalie banned four days before MLS playoff match

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New York (AFP) – Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric was suspended indefinitely by Major League Soccer on Wednesday, a day after being arrested on misdemeanor assault charges in connection with an alleged domestic incident.

Deric made two saves for host Houston on Monday in a goal-less draw against Portland in the first leg of their Western Conference semi-final series, which concludes Sunday in Portland.

Sevilla back on track for last 16 after Spartak win

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla put themselves back in pole position to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League as goals either side of half-time from Clement Lenglet and Ever Banega secured a nervy 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.

Victory moves Sevilla back above the Russians in Group E on seven points to Spartak’s five with Liverpool in top spot on eight points after their 3-0 win over Maribor at Anfield.

‘Legend’ Aguero hits record goal as Man City reach last 16 Man City into last-16

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero became Manchester City’s all-time record scorer and was described as “a legend” by coach Pep Guardiola whose side booked their place in the Champions League last-16 with a 4-2 win at Napoli on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Argentine beat the old mark of 177 set by Eric Brook during the 1930s when he netted City’s third goal in Naples after 69 minutes.

Spurs stun Madrid, join Manchester City in Champions League last 16

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Paris (AFP) – Brilliant Tottenham Hotspur took Real Madrid apart in a 3-1 win over the reigning champions on Wednesday as they clinched their place in the Champions League last 16 along with Manchester City.

Dele Alli starred with a brace for Tottenham with Christian Eriksen also scoring before Cristiano Ronaldo’s late consolation.

Spurs advance as Alli double rocks Real Madrid

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London (AFP) – Dele Alli fired Tottenham Hotspur into the Champions League last 16 as his brace inspired a swaggering 3-1 win over Real Madrid that condemned the troubled holders to their first group-stage defeat in five years.

Alli put Tottenham ahead from close range in the first half and the England midfielder doubled their lead with a fine solo effort after the interval.

Dortmund’s Euro hopes hurt by home draw with APOEL

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund suffered a significant Champions League set-back on Wednesday when Peter Bosz’s team were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Cyprus’ APOEL.

Raphael Guerreiro’s superb early goal for Borussia was cancelled out by Mickael Pote’s second-half equaliser on a frustrating night for hosts Dortmund.

Dortmund’s Euro hopes hurt in home draw with APOEL

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund suffered a significant Champions League setback on Wednesday when Peter Bosz’s team were held to a 1-1 draw at home by APOEL of Cyprus.

Raphael Guerreiro’s superb first-half goal for Borussia was cancelled out by Mickael Pote’s equaliser after the break on a frustrating night for the hosts.

Aguero record goal as Manchester City reach Champions League last 16 Man City into last-16

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero became Manchester City’s all-time record scorer as Pep Guardiola’s side booked their ticket to the Champions League last-16 with a 4-2 win at Group F rivals Napoli on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Argentine beat the old mark of 177 set by Eric Brook during the 1930s when he netted City’s third goal in Naples after 69 minutes.

Aguero back from brink to become Man City icon

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London (AFP) – Having already supplied the single most gloriously heart-stopping moment in Manchester City’s history, Sergio Aguero has further embellished his legacy by becoming the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer.

The Argentina striker created a timeless Premier League moment at the end of his first City season in 2011-12 when his stoppage-time goal against Queens Park Rangers on the final day ended their 44-year wait for the title.

Salah, Can, Sturridge keep Liverpool on course

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Liverpool (AFP) – Second-half goals from Mohamed Salah, Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge moved Liverpool closer to the Champions League knockout phase after the five-time European champions beat Maribor 3-0 on Wednesday.

Liverpool had crushed Maribor 7-0 in the reverse fixture two weeks ago, but had to be content with three goals at Anfield as the Slovenian champions belatedly tightened things up at the back.

Spartak win puts Sevilla back on track for Champions League last 16

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla put themselves back in pole position to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League as goals either side of half-time from Clement Lenglet and Ever Banega secured a nervy 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.

Victory moves Sevilla back above the Russians in Group E on seven points to Spartak’s five with Liverpool in top spot on eight points after their 3-0 win over Maribor at Anfield.

Besiktas made to wait for last-16 place

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Paris (AFP) – Turkish champions Besiktas missed a chance to secure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League as they drew 1-1 with Monaco in Istanbul on Wednesday.

The home side needed a penalty from Cenk Tosun in the second half to earn a point after Rony Lopes had given Monaco the lead just prior to the interval.

Kane starts for Tottenham in Real showdown

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane was named in the Tottenham starting line-up for their Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Kane had missed Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Manchester United, but the England striker demonstrated his fitness by training with his Tottenham team-mates on Tuesday.

Title-holder Mahrez excluded from CAF nominees

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Reigning African Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez of Algeria failed to make the 30-nominee list of contenders announced Wednesday for the 2017 award.

The winger was a key figure in the Leicester City side that defied 5,000-1 odds and stunned the football world by winning the 2015/16 English Premier League title.

FIFA 18 Ultimate Team: A beginner’s guide

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Are you new to FIFA 18 Ultimate Team? In need of help building your squad?

Read on for our simple guide to getting up and running on the latest version of the world’s best football game.

FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) is a collectible card game in which every card is a player that can be added to your team.

Man Utd fans seek meeting with Mourinho over tensions

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London (AFP) – Manchester United fans have invited manager Jose Mourinho to discuss his concerns around the atmosphere at Old Trafford after apparent tensions surfaced in recent games.

The Portuguese boss held a finger to his lips and told the doubters to calm down after his side beat Tottenham 1-0 on Saturday to remain five points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Wenger backs England recall for Wilshere

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London (AFP) – Injury-plagued midfielder Jack Wilshere is ready for a return to the England squad despite barely featuring in the Premier League this season, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said on Wednesday.

Wilshere’s last England cap came as a substitute in the shock 2-1 defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 which led to Roy Hodgson’s departure as manager.

Barca suffer Roberto, Gomes double injury blow

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona duo Sergi Roberto and Andre Gomes will be sidelined for around a month after picking up hamstring injuries in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Olympiakos, the club confirmed on Wednesday.

Roberto, who has featured more often at right-back than his preferred central midfield role under Ernesto Valverde, hobbled off at half-time in Athens, whilst Portuguese international Gomes only featured for the final 15 minutes.

Four big surprises after the first 10 Premier League gameweeks

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With the Premier League match week 10 officially over, and the season more than 25% in the books, now is a good time to take a look back at some early surprises in the 2017/18 campaign. Some of these happenings are positive, and some are negative. While the ‘big six’ are currently about where they should be, let’s focus on four particularly surprising instances when looking at the table right now.

Wales boss Coleman unsure over future

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London (AFP) – Wales manager Chris Coleman said on Wednesday he has “no idea” if he will stay in the job after holding initial talks with football chiefs.

Coleman’s current contract expires at the end of this month after friendlies away against France on November 10 and Panama in Cardiff on November 14.

French football chief ‘very careful’ over Deschamps threat

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Paris (AFP) – French football federation president Noel Le Graet said he was adopting a “very careful” approach after a photoshopped image of national team coach Didier Deschamps emerged accompanied by threats from Islamic State sympathisers.

France’s Interior Minister Gerard Collomb “is taking care of it very directly and therefore I can’t provide any more information.

PSG hat-trick hero Kurzawa toasts moment in limelight

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Paris (AFP) – Layvin Kurzawa enjoyed stealing the headlines from Neymar and co as he walked away with the match ball after scoring a second-half hat-trick in Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-0 Champions League demolition of Anderlecht on Tuesday.

Kurzawa, a left-back, scored three times in the space of 26 minutes after the break at the Parc des Princes as PSG ran away with the game following first-half strikes from Marco Verratti and Neymar.

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski set for return against Dortmund

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Glasgow (AFP) – Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski is in line to face Borussia Dortmund in their top-of-the-table Bundesliga clash this weekend, after he watched his side clinch their place in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

The Polish international missed the 2-1 Group B win over Celtic in Glasgow that saw the German champions reach the knock-out stage of Europe’s elite competition for the 10th successive season.

Mourinho defends lack of Lukaku charity

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho defended his decision not to allow misfiring striker Romelu Lukaku to take a penalty during his side’s 2-0 Champions League win over Benfica.

Lukaku made a blistering start to his United career after joining from Everton, scoring 11 goals in his first 10 games, but has now gone six matches without finding the net.

Simeone defends goal-shy Atletico’s style

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Simeone defended Atletico Madrid’s style as another profligate performance left his side on the brink of an early Champions League exit after being held 1-1 at home by 10-man Qarabag.

Back-to-back draws against the Azerbaijani champions, playing their first ever Champions League campaign, mean Simeone’s men have to beat Roma at home and Chelsea away in their final two games and hope Qarabag perform more miracles to progress to the last 16.

Serbia-Albania rivalry hangs over Europa League Belgrade clash

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Tirana (AFP) – It may not be one of Thursday’s Europa League glamour ties but Skenderbeu’s visit to Partizan is nonetheless steeped in the history of the bitter rivalry between Albania and Serbia.

Three years ago Partizan’s stadium in Belgrade was the stage for a Euro 2016 qualifier between the fractious neighbours that descended into chaos and violent clashes, forcing its abandonment.

Arsenal on brink of Europa League knockout rounds

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Paris (AFP) – Having made a perfect start to their Europa League campaign, Arsenal can secure a place in the knockout phase with two group games to spare by beating Red Star Belgrade on Thursday.

The Gunners play host to the 1991 European Cup winners in north London a fortnight after Olivier Giroud’s remarkable late goal secured a 1-0 win in Belgrade.

Conte blasts Chelsea after Roma Champions League rout

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Rome (AFP) – Antonio Conte blasted Chelsea’s lack of hunger after becoming the first English club to lose in the Champions League this season with a ruthless 3-0 rout by AS Roma.

Conte lamented that the English champions - who would have advanced to the last 16 with a win - “lacked everything” after a match where they went a goal down after 38 seconds, the first of a Stephan El Shaarawy double.

Crew rip New York City 4-1 in MLS playoffs

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New York (AFP) – Norwegian striker Ola Kamara scored in the sixth minute and the host Columbus Crew thumped 10-man New York City FC 4-1 Tuesday in a Major League Soccer playoff match.

Artur, Justin Meram and Harrison Afful added second-half goals after NYCFC lost Alexander Callens to a red card in the 52nd minute, putting the Manchester City-owned side in a major hole in the two-match, total goals series.

Where to find Spurs vs. Real Madrid Champions League on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Spurs vs. Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, you’ve come to the right place.

Both Tottenham and Real Madrid have plenty to play for in this game. A win for either team will guarantee qualification for the next round of the UEFA Champions League.

Where to find Napoli vs. Man City Champions League on US TV and streaming

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

In today’s game, Manchester City will qualify for the next round of the UEFA Champions League if they avoid defeat, so Napoli will want to ruin City’s plans with a win in Italy tonight.

Where to find Liverpool vs. Maribor Champions League on US TV and streaming

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

Maribor will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose and Spartak win.

Match: Liverpool vs. Maribor Kickoff: Wednesday, 3:45pm ET Looking to watch Liverpool vs.