World Cup Buzz Archives for January 2017

Guardiola fears New Year hangover

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has expressed concern that Manchester City could stumble significantly in the New Year as they chase success in four competitions.

The City manager is worried that he does not have the experence to cope with the kind of schedule his side are likely to face over the next couple of months.

Dybala scores brace as Juve, Napoli pull clear in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Paulo Dybala scored a brace as champions Juventus won 3-1 at Verona to keep pace with Napoli as Serie A’s leading duo pulled clear of pursuing Inter Milan, Roma and Lazio on Saturday.

Napoli won 1-0 at Crotone on Friday to secure the symbolic title of winter champions as they top the table halfway through the season with 48 points from 19 games, one more than six-time defending champions Juventus.

Lukaku adds to Mourinho’s woes as United lose ground

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho’s recent frustrations continued at Old Trafford as he lost Romelu Lukaku to a worrying head injury in Manchester United’s goalless Premier League draw with Southampton on Saturday.

Paul Pogba had a late effort ruled out for offside and a third successive league draw over the holiday period has effectively ended United’s hopes of competing with league leaders Manchester City for the title in the new year.

Inter, Roma held as Benevento finally win

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan and Roma lost ground on leaders Napoli on Saturday after both title-chasing sides were held at home, while at the other end of the table Benevento got their first ever Serie A win.

Inter, in third, are now seven points behind Napoli after a goalless draw against Lazio at San Siro as Roma, in fourth, drew 1-1 against Sassuolo in the capital.

Lukaku injured in United draw, Salah fires Liverpool

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London (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku was stretchered off after a clash of heads as Manchester United drew 0-0 with Southampton, while Mohamed Salah fired Liverpool to a 2-1 win over Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.

Lukaku crashed into Southampton’s Wesley Hoedt as the pair contested an aerial challenge early in the first half at Old Trafford.

Roma held as Benevento get first Serie A win

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Milan (AFP) – Roma suffered a 1-1 stalemate on Saturday which could see them lose ground on leading trio Napoli, Juventus and Inter Milan as newcomers Benevento made history with their first ever Serie A win.

Roma took the lead when Lorenzo Pellegrini scored against his old club Sassuolo just after the half-hour in Rome only for Simone Missiroli to level after 78 minutes at the Stadio Olympico.

Lukaku carried off after clash of heads

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku was stretchered off after the Manchester United striker clashed heads with Southampton’s Wesley Hoedt in the teams’ Premier League clash on Saturday.

Lukaku crashed into Hoedt as the pair contested an aerial challenge in the first half of the encounter at Old Trafford.

Salah inspires Liverpool, Chelsea crush Stoke

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London (AFP) – Liverpool celebrated Virgil van Dijk’s arrival at Anfield by coming from behind to beat Leicester City 2-1 thanks to Mohamed Salah’s brace, while Danny Drinkwater scored his first Chelsea goal in a 5-0 rout of Stoke City.

Van Dijk, signed from Southampton for a world record fee for a defender of £75 million ($100 million), isn’t able to play for Liverpool until January, but the flaws the Dutch centre-back will be asked to fix were on display as Leicester took a third minute lead at Anfield on Saturday.

Chelsea outclass Stoke in five-goal drubbing

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London (AFP) – Chelsea demonstrated the yawning chasm in squad depth that exists in the Premier League with a 5-0 canter past Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

While both sides rotated their squads after a hectic series of fixtures, Chelsea maintained their quality on the pitch in a scintillating opening half-hour, racing into a 3-0 lead and effectively winning the match through goals from Antonio Rudiger, Danny Drinkwater and Pedro.

Salah shines as Liverpool down Leicester

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Liverpool (AFP) – Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool came from behind to maintain their push for a Champions League place with 2-1 victory over Leicester on Saturday.

Jamie Vardy put Leicester ahead but Liverpool, who had new £75 million ($100 million) signing Vigil van Dijk watching from the Anfield stands, fought back after the interval to secure the points.

Honours even in vibrant Old Firm clash

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Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers earned a rare point against Celtic as a pulsating Old Firm derby ended goalless at Parkhead on Saturday.

The hosts dominated the first half with Scott Sinclair and French striker Moussa Dembele coming closest for Celtic.

But it was Rangers who ran the show in the second half with Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos missing two gilt-edged opportunities for the visitors as they claimed only their second point against the champions since returning to the top flight in 2016.

Milan’s Calhanoglu snatches point in Florence

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Milan (AFP) – Hakan Calhanoglu snatched a point for under-pressure AC Milan with a crucial 1-1 draw against Fiorentina in Tuscany on Saturday.

The Turkish midfielder equalised three minutes after Giovanni Simeone had headed in for the hosts in the 71st minute.

It was the first time this season that Milan have come from behind after conceding a goal.

Guardiola may lack Kompany for visit to Crystal Palace

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola is hopeful Vincent Kompany’s latest injury setback is not too serious as he looks to continue Manchester City’s extraordinary winning run at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Club captain Kompany suffered his third injury of the season when he limped off with a calf problem just 11 minutes into Wednesday’s 1-0 victory at Newcastle United, and is a doubt for the trip to Selhurst Park.

Wilshere peaking as Wenger eyes Fergie record

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London (AFP) – Jack Wilshere believes he is nearing a return to his best form as he prepares to make a fifth successive Premier League start when Arsenal visit West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

The game will see manager Arsene Wenger in charge for a record 811th Premier League game, passing the mark previously set by Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and give the Gunners an opportunity to strengthen their push for a top-four spot.

FA to pressure UEFA to act on Brewster racism claims

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London (AFP) – The Football Association lent its full support to Rhian Brewster, the leading scorer in England’s Under-17 World Cup victory earlier this year, over his claims of suffering racial abuse and said it would push for “appropriate response from the relevant authorities”.

The 17-year-old - who is yet to make his debut for Liverpool’s first team - claimed Thursday UEFA “don’t really care” about racism.

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

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

Originally scheduled for CNBC, the game between Liverpool and Leicester has been bumped up to NBCSN for viewers in the United States. With no 7:30am ET match being played, fourth-place Liverpool takes on eighth-place Leicester in the important Premier League match.

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

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

Originally scheduled to air on NBCSN, the Chelsea-Stoke game has been moved to CNBC. Here’s how you can watch the match on US television and streaming:

Match: Chelsea vs.

Manchester City’s spending power too much for Manchester United – Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says he is happy with the financial backing of the Manchester United board but fears it will be difficult for his club to challenge rivals Manchester City given their massive spending power.

The United manager was expanding on comments he made following the 2-2 draw with Burnley on Tuesday, a result which allowed Premier League leaders City to open a record 15-point lead at the top of the table 24 hours later.

Hamsik ensures Napoli end year on top

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Milan (AFP) – Napoli’s record goal-scorer Marek Hamsik scored again to keep his side top of Serie A with a 1-0 win at Crotone on Friday as they sealed the symbolic title of Winter Champions.

It was the 1l7th goal in a Napoli shirt for the Slovakian international who last week overtook Diego Maradona as the club’s all-time leading scorer.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for December 7-23, 2017

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Tigres’ 3-2 aggregate victory over Monterrey in the Liga MX Apertura final averaged 2.35 million viewers across two matches on Univision and Univision Deportes, down 23% from 3.05 million average viewers across both legs of the 2016 Apertura final featuring Club América and Tigres but up 16% from 2.

Football: FA to pressure UEFA to act on Brewster racism claims

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London (AFP) – The Football Association lent its full support to Rhian Brewster, the leading scorer in England’s Under-17 World Cup victory earlier this year, over his claims of suffering racial abuse and said it would push for “appropriate response from the relevant authorities”.

The 17-year-old - who is yet to make his debut for Liverpool’s first team - claimed Thursday UEFA “don’t really care” about racism.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 21

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NBC Sports Group’s Premier League packed holiday season of 40 “festive fixtures” in 14 days continues this week, as Kevin De Bruyne and Manchester City enter the weekend on an 18-match Premier League winning streak, the longest streak in top-flight history. Manchester City, who are 15 points clear at the top of the table, next visit Crystal Palace this Sunday, December 31, at 7 a.

Krstajic set to coach Serbia at World Cup

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Belgrade (AFP) – Former defender Mladen Krstajic will coach Serbia at next year’s World Cup in Russia, a senior official at the country’s football federation (FSS) announced on Friday.

“Krstajic has our confidence to lead the team in the coming period into the World Cup in Russia,” Goran Bunjevcevic said, according to the agency Tanjug.

Kane can be Tottenham’s Totti: Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane could become as emblematic a player for Tottenham Hotspur as Francesco Totti was for Roma, his manager Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday.

The 24-year-old England striker - who has been with Tottenham since 2009 - established a new Premier League record of goals in a calendar year with a hat-trick against Southampton earlier this week to move to 39 in 2017.

Conte keen not to lose Hazard and Courtois

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte wants both Belgian star duo playmaker Eden Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to remain with champions Chelsea despite speculation they would like to move to Spain.

Hazard’s father told a Belgian newspaper his son doesn’t wish to commit to a new contract - he still has over two years left on his present one - because of apparent interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Van Dijk a good investment, says Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool have spent well in paying £75million ($100million) for Virgil van Dijk, because he thinks high-qualy players work out cheaper in the long run.

Guardiola was interested in signing Van Dijk from Southampton, but missed out after Liverpool agreed a deal on Wednesday, with the player making the move officially when the transfer window opens on January 1.

Real Madrid-Barcelona el Clásico nets 845,000 viewers on beIN SPORTS

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beIN SPORTS’ live coverage of el Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona on December 23 averaged 845,000 viewers in the United States across the English-language beIN SPORTS and Spanish-language beIN SPORTS en Español networks.

beIN SPORTS’ December broadcast of el Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona was always going to be a struggle due to the exceptionally early kickoff time of 7am ET/4pm PT.

Mourinho highlights Klopp inconsistency over Van Dijk

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has mischievously highlighted the changing view of Jurgen Klopp after his Liverpool counterpart spent £75 million to sign Southampton’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk this week.

The Manchester United manager cheekily suggested on Friday that if he were a member of the media, he would ask Klopp about his comments, 18 months ago, when the German claimed he would not want to spend huge amounts of money even if it were available to him.

4 Arsenal January transfers that make sense

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Whether it is financial reasons or just a good fit, some transfers just make sense. While these moves listed below have not occurred just yet, here are four Arsenal transfers during the January transfer window that make sense for the parties involved.

Theo Walcott to Southampton

Walcott actually had a very underrated 2016/17 campaign with the Gunners.

Manchester City want trophies not records, says Sterling

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London (AFP) – Raheem Sterling says Manchester City are motivated by the pursuit of silverware rather than the promise of breaking more records as the Premier League leaders chase another landmark at Crystal Palace this weekend.

Pep Guardiola’s side have already turned the title race into a lengthy coronation party after winning 18th successive league matches to open up a 15-point lead over second placed Manchester United.

Sanchez future anyone’s guess, says Wenger

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger admits he is no nearer to establishing where Arsenal’s Chilean star Alexis Sanchez’s future lies.

Wenger praised the 29-year-old’s two-goal display that helped secure a 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace on an evening where the French manager equalled Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson’s Premier League record of 810 matches in charge.

Mourinho needs cure for winter blues

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – December has been a disappointing month for Jose Mourinho, who needs Manchester United to beat Southampton at Old Trafford on Saturday in order to restore some optimism for the New Year.

Mourinho has seen United fall 15 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City in the Premier League title race, as well as suffer an embarrassing League Cup exit against Championship side Bristol City.

Conte tells Chelsea to focus on top four

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has urged Chelsea to take a significant step towards a top four finish in the Premier League by beating Stoke on Saturday.

Conte’s side know their chances of retaining the Premier League title are slim given Manchester City’s record-breaking run has left Chelsea 16 points adrift of the leaders.

Van Dijk arrival boosts Liverpool

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London (AFP) – Liverpool’s successful pursuit of Virgil van Dijk will end the year on a high note for Jurgen Klopp’s club as they face Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday.

The £75 million fee ($100 million) – a world record for a defender – which Liverpool agreed with Southampton for the Dutch international this week addresses some of their shortcomings at the back.

Murty eyes rare Rangers win over Celtic

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Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers manager Graeme Murty says his side are capable of claiming a shock Old Firm derby win against Celtic - but only if they deliver their best performance of the season.

Murty’s side, who have taken just one point off their bitter rivals since returning to the top tier in 2016, head into Saturday’s clash trailing 11 points behind Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.

‘Room for more’ as Ronaldo wins another Globe award

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Dubai (AFP) – Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was Thursday named Globe Soccer’s Best Player for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall although he wasn’t present in person to receive his trophy.

The Portuguese international also won the prize, organised by the EFAA (European Association of Football Agents) and ECA (European Clubs Association) in 2011, 2014 and 2016.

Sanchez gives record-equalling Wenger victory

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London (AFP) – Alexis Sanchez scored twice in four second half minutes to give Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger victory on the night he equalled Alex Ferguson’s Premier League record of matches in charge with a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace.

Sanchez’s brace - the second a beauty from Jack Wilshere’s superb pass - added to Shkodran Mustafi’s first ever away goal for the Gunners was just enough to get them past the Eagles in Wenger’s 810th Premier League game as a manager.

UEFA ‘don’t care’ about racism, says England Under-17 World Cup star

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London (AFP) – Rhian Brewster, the leading scorer in England’s Under-17 World Cup victory earlier this year, claimed Thursday that UEFA “don’t really care” about racism.

The 17-year-old, who is yet to feature for Liverpool’s first team, says he has witnessed racial abuse - either aimed at him or a teammate - seven times this year.

Sevilla name Montella to replace axed cancer-stricken coach

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla on Thursday said they had reached an agreement in principle with experienced Italian coach Vincenzo Montella to replace Eduardo Berizzo who was sacked just a month after it was announced he was suffering from prostate cancer.

Montella was sacked by AC Milan in November after just 17 months in charge with the Italian giants marooned in mid-table.

USA, Mexico, Canada World Cup bid is “positive message”: Infantino

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Dubai (AFP) – FIFA chief Gianni Infantino said Thursday the joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the United States for the 2026 World Cup sends a “positive message”.

Speaking at a sports business conference in Dubai, Infantino also admitted that the decision to award two World Cups simultaneously (Russia in 2018 and Qatar 2022) was a mistake.

Swansea don’t need miracle to escape drop, says new boss Carvalhal

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London (AFP) – Premier League strugglers Swansea City don’t need a miracle to avoid relegation - they simply need to notch up some wins, said new manager Carlos Carvalhal on Thursday.

Carvalhal was sacked by second-tier Sheffield Wednesday on Christmas Eve, but Swansea surprisingly chose the Portuguese coach to replace Paul Clement, who lost his job on December 20 with the club languishing at the bottom of the Premier League.

Leicester-Man United scores 1.17 million viewers on NBC Sports

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Saturday’s broadcast of Leicester City against Manchester United averaged 1.179 million viewers across NBC and Telemundo in an entertaining 2-2 game.

The 2:45-4:45pm ET broadcast averaged 991,000 viewers on the over-the-air NBC network, while Telemundo averaged 188,000 viewers for a combined audience total of 1,179,000.

Guardiola refuses to start fresh Mourinho war of words

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Newcastle (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola refused to be drawn into a war of words with Jose Mourinho after Manchester City maintained their impressive progress towards the Premier League title.

City stretched their commanding advantage at the top to 15 points over Manchester United as Raheem Sterling sealed a 1-0 win at Newcastle to record an 18th consecutive league victory, one short of Bayern Munich’s current best for Europe’s top five leagues of 19 straight wins.

Brotherly gloves as Donnarumma senior stars in Milan win

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Milan (AFP) – Teenager Patrick Cutrone scored an extra-time winner and goalkeeper Antonio Donnarumma emerged from the shadow of his star brother Gianluigi as Milan dumped city rivals Inter out of the Italian Cup on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old Cutrone broke through after 104 minutes at the San Siro after the match had ended 0-0 in regular time to set up a two-legged semi-final against Lazio, who saw off Fiorentina 1-0 on Tuesday.

Brazil’s road to redemption faces Euro resistance in Russia

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Madrid (AFP) – A rejuvenated Brazil looking to heal the wounds of home soil humiliation four years ago will lead the South American charge for the World Cup in 2018, but a slew of European powerhouses stand in the way of redemption in Russia.

Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 en route to becoming world champions four years ago and will also be comfortable with their surroundings, having added the Confederations Cup to their honours list in Russia earlier this year.

Record breaker Kane fuelled by doubters

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London (AFP) – Tottenham striker Harry Kane says his record-breaking year was fuelled by a desire to silence the doubters by earning his place alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Kane’s hat-trick in Tottenham’s 5-2 win over Southampton on Tuesday proved a landmark moment for the England star.

Sterling sparkles as City claim 18th successive win

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Newcastle (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City surged 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League as Raheem Sterling fired the runaway leaders to a 1-0 win at Newcastle on Wednesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side look certain to lift the title after extending their Premier League record winning streak to 18 matches.

Liverpool land ‘honoured’ Van Dijk in world record deal for defender

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London (AFP) – Liverpool signed Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk on Wednesday for a reported £75 million ($100 million, 84 million euros) in a deal that makes him the world’s most expensive defender.

Van Dijk has been linked with a move to Liverpool for several months and the Anfield club were forced to issue an apology after an alleged illegal approach for the Netherlands international earlier this year.

Liverpool land Van Dijk in world record deal for defender

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London (AFP) – Liverpool signed Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk on Wednesday for a reported £75 million ($100 million, 84 million euros) in a deal that makes him the world’s most expensive defender.

Van Dijk has been linked with a move to Liverpool for several months and the Anfield club were forced to issue an apology after an alleged illegal approach for the Netherlands international earlier this year.

Hapless Zimbabwe may cut back on Tests, says Heath

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Port Elizabeth (South Africa) (AFP) – Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak said his team might have to accept playing more limited overs cricket or settle for a lower level of Test cricket after they suffered an innings defeat inside two days against South Africa at St George’s Park on Wednesday.

South Africa thrash Zimbabwe in two days

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Port Elizabeth (South Africa) (AFP) – South Africa crushed Zimbabwe by an innings and 120 runs inside two days in their one-off day-night Test at St George’s Park on Wednesday.

Forced to follow on after being bowled out for 68 in their first innings, Zimbabwe were shot out for 121 runs in their second innings.

Liverpool’s Flanagan charged with common assault

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London (AFP) – Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan has been charged with common assault, British police said on Wednesday.

Flanagan, 24, was charged following an incident in Liverpool city centre on Friday.

“Merseyside Police can confirm that Jonathan Patrick Flanagan, aged 24, from Cressington in Liverpool has been charged with Section 39 common assault following an incident on Duke Street in Liverpool city centre at around 3.

Mutko steps down as 2018 World Cup organising committee chief

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Moscow (AFP) – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was banned for life from the Olympic Games this month over doping, said on Wednesday that he is stepping down as chairman of the 2018 World Cup organising committee.

“(Organising committee director Alexei) Sorokin will be the chairman,” Mutko was quoted by Russian agencies as saying, two days after suspending his role as president of the Russian Football Union.

£300 million spent is not enough for Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says Manchester United are struggling to compete with Manchester City’s financial might and the sum of nearly £300 million he has spent on transfers is not enough to win the Premier League.

A 2-2 draw with Burnley on Tuesday saw United lose further ground in the table to Pep Guardiola’s runaway leaders, who are 12 points clear with a game in hand.

Chelsea still have plenty to achieve, says Conte

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte insists the battle for a top four finish is providing Chelsea with all the motivation they need, even if Premier League leaders Manchester City out of reach.

Conte’s side recovered from the disappointment of a pre-Christmas draw at Everton by beating Brighton 2-0 on Tuesday to move within a point of second-placed Manchester United.

More than Messi — record-breaker Kane eyes getting better

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane insists he still has room for improvement after the Tottenham striker’s treble set a Premier League record and took him above Lionel Messi to finish as Europe’s leading scorer.

Kane’s 22nd-minute header in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Southampton at Wembley was his 37th goal of the year, moving him past Alan Shearer’s previous Premier League record, which was set when he played for Blackburn in 1995.

Klopp refuses to be star struck at Liverpool

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he is not interested in the individual goal tallies of his attacking players because they will all get opportunities to find the net.

Two goals from Roberto Firmino and one each from Philippe Coutinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain helped Liverpool to an emphatic 5-0 win over Swansea City at Anfield.

Arsenal face test from resurgent Crystal Palace

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger knows Arsenal cannot afford a repeat of their last trip to Selhurst Park when they face Crystal Palace on Thursday.

The Gunners have benefitted from extra rest compared to their rivals in the battle for a top four place and face the Eagles six days after the pulsating 3-3 draw with Liverpool that marked the start of the holiday fixtures.

Carvajal confident Real can still win La Liga

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Madrid (AFP) – Defender Dani Carvajal insists Real Madrid can still win the Spanish league, despite the 3-0 El Clasico defeat by Barcelona that left them 14 points adrift in the La Liga title race.

“We have not lost it nor has Barcelona won it. It is a lot of points. But we are going to try to win the matches that remain and see if we can lift the title.

Coutinho inspires Liverpool rout

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho underlined his importance to the Reds ahead of the transfer window with a fine individual display in a comfortable 5-0 win over Premier League strugglers Swansea City on Tuesday.

The Brazil international scored his 12th goal of the season with a fine curling effort and provided an assist for compatriot Roberto Firmino.

Yaya Toure ends international retirement

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London (AFP) – Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure has agreed to come out of international retirement, according to the Manchester City star’s agent.

Dimitri Seluk, who represents Toure, said on Tuesday that the 34-year-old is willing to return to Ivory Coast duty if called upon, having last played for his country in September 2016.

Chelsea close on United after Brighton win

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London (AFP) – Alvaro Morata struck his 10th goal of the Premier League campaign as Chelsea secured a 2-0 victory over Brighton that moved Antonio Conte’s side to within one point of second-placed Manchester United.

After struggling to break down Chris Hughton’s side during a poor first half, the Blues took control with Morata heading the opening goal immediately after the restart before Marcos Alonso added the second on the hour.

Lingard saves United as Burnley add to Mourinho woes

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho’s troubles mounted as Manchester United needed a 91st minute equaliser from substitute Jesse Lingard to rescue a point in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Burnley on Tuesday.

First-half goals from Ashley Barnes and Steven Defour had put Burnley on course for their first victory at Old Trafford in over 55 years.

Last chance for DIRECTV NOW $25 discount for all new subscribers

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DIRECTV NOW’s special $25 discount for new subscribers to set to expire any day.

With the DIRECTV NOW streaming service, you can get $25 off the first month of any package when you sign up, you need to use the promo code BDAY2017 at checkout.

DIRECTV NOW allows you to cut the cord from your satellite or cable TV provider and access a ton of your favorite channels through your computer, smart phone, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV (4th generation), Chromecast (for Android only) and other devices.

Lingard rescues United, record breaker Kane hits treble

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London (AFP) – Manchester United came from two goals down to rescue a dramatic 2-2 draw against Burnley thanks to Jesse Lingard’s double, while Tottenham striker Harry Kane shattered a Premier League record with a hat-trick in a 5-2 rout of Southampton on Tuesday.

With Manchester City not in action until Wednesday’s trip to Newcastle, United are now 12 points behind the runaway leaders.

FIFA trial: New York jury acquits former Peru soccer boss

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New York (AFP) – A US jury on Tuesday acquitted a Peruvian former soccer boss at the FIFA corruption trial in New York, just days after convicting two South American co-defendants.

The panel found 60-year-old Manuel Burga, who led football in Peru until 2014 and once served as a FIFA development committee member, not guilty on one count of racketeering conspiracy, a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s office in Brooklyn confirmed.

Football agent Stein traces contracts from trout farm to ‘art form’

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London (AFP) – Having once attempted - unsuccessfully - to get Lazio to furnish Paul Gascoigne with his own trout farm, Mel Stein knows more than most about the quirks and curiosities of footballers’ contracts.

Lazio were unable to meet Gascoigne’s demands following his 1992 move from Tottenham Hotspur, explaining simply that there were “no trout in Rome”, and made amends to the keen fisherman with a bonus payment.

Crimean football in limbo after Russia’s land grab

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Simferopol (AFP) – In the heyday of his favourite Crimea club Tavriya Simferopol, supporter Gennady Malakhov went all over Ukraine, watched home games at a packed stadium and even saw the team compete in the Champions League in the early 1990s.

But annexation of the peninsula by Moscow in 2014 has “destroyed, broken, and buried our club,” said the 42-year-old railroad worker.

Mourinho takes dig at City’s ‘extra day’

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho aimed a Christmas Day dig at Manchester City, claiming the runaway Premier League leaders have been handed an unfair advantage by playing their next match more than a day later than his United team.

United welcome Burnley to Old Trafford on Tuesday but City, who have a huge 13-point lead over their city rivals, won’t play again until Wednesday night when they travel to Newcastle.

Mutko suspends Russian football role to fight Olympic lifetime ban

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Moscow (AFP) – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who has been hit with a lifetime ban from the Olympic Games over doping, on Monday said he is suspending his role as president of the Russian Football Union while he contests the ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“I have decided to file the claim in the CAS tomorrow,” he said.

Future bright for City as rivals aim to bridge class gap

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London (AFP) – With Manchester City on a record-breaking sprint towards the Premier League title, the leaders have reached the halfway point of the season looking simply unstoppable.

The future is bright for Pep Guardiola’s side, but City’s rivals face a more uncertain time in 2018 as they try to bridge the gulf in class.

Morata return boosts spluttering Chelsea

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London (AFP) – Alvaro Morata’s return will be welcomed by Antonio Conte but the Chelsea manager knows his side face Brighton at Stamford Bridge with their Premier League title defence all but over.

Morata was forced to sit out the visit to Everton on Saturday while he served a one-match suspension and in his absence, the Blues lacked the firepower to break down Sam Allardyce’s side in a goalless draw.

Mata expects strong response from angry United

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata admits his team-mates are furious after dropping two points at Leicester City, but he hopes they can channel that frustration into a strong response against Burnley on Tuesday.

Jose Mourinho’s side were stunned by a late goal from 10-man Leicester in a 2-2 draw that saw United fall a staggering 13 points behind leaders Manchester City at the halfway stage of the campaign.

Pochettino urges Spurs to block out top four talk

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino insists Tottenham cannot allow themselves to be distracted by the fluctuating form of their nearest rivals as they step up their bid for a top four spot.

Pochettino’s side welcome Southampton to Wembley after a round of weekend matches that strengthened the position of the north London club.

Klopp tells Liverpool to focus on Euro ambitions

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to stay motivated to reach their target of a place in next season’s Champions League by the end of the season.

Klopp has acknowledged ahead of Liverpool’s clash with bottom side Swansea at Anfield on Tuesday that a Premier League title challenge is beyond them given they trail leaders Manchester City by 20 points.

Austin banned for three matches for keeper kick

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London (AFP) – Southampton striker Charlie Austin was Sunday banned for three matches after kicking Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl in the face, the Football Association announced.

Lossl was left with a bloodied face and a suspected broken nose following the incident in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at St Mary’s.

Real president Perez insists 2017 a ‘great year’ despite Barca blip

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said on Sunday that the club’s fans have to be proud of their team’s achievements in 2017, despite the 3-0 El Clasico defeat by Barcelona that left them 14 points adrift in the La Liga title race.

The Spanish giants completed a double of Champions League and La Liga titles last season and have since added the Club World Cup trophy and the European and Spanish Super Cups.

Mourinho lashes United after Leicester frustration

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho slammed his Manchester United stars after they conceded a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw against 10-man Leicester that left them 13 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

United were already trailing in City’s wake, but Harry Maguire’s 94th-minute leveller at the King Power Stadium on Saturday was another hammer blow to their title hopes just hours after their rivals had beaten Bournemouth.

Manchester City’s Guardiola says Aguero will decide own future

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola said Sergio Aguero had earned the right to determine his own Manchester City future after the Argentinian striker scored a brace in a 4-0 demolition of Bournemouth.

The build-up to Saturday’s contest was dogged by talk of Aguero’s supposed discontent at the Etihad Stadium as Guardiola continues to rotate his starting XI.

Pochettino hails ‘fantastic’ Kane and Alli

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino saluted “fantastic” duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli after Tottenham revived their challenge for Champions League qualification with a 3-0 win at Burnley.

Kane scored a hat-trick to take his total of Premier League goals in the calendar year to 36, equalling the competition record set by Alan Shearer with Blackburn in 1995.

Chelsea’s Conte defiant over Batshuayi snub

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Liverpool (AFP) – Antonio Conte defended his tactical approach in Chelsea’s goalless draw at Everton as he limited stand-in forward Michy Batshuayi to a 20-minute substitute appearance.

Conte was without suspended striker Alvaro Morata on Saturday but opted to start with a forward line that featured Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard rather than an orthodox number nine.

Rodgers salutes Celtic spirit

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Glasgow (AFP) – Brendan Rodgers has praised his Celtic players for the way the Scottish champions have responded since suffering their first domestic defeat under his reign.

Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to eight points on Saturday as they saw off nearest challengers Aberdeen with a 3-0 victory at Celtic Park.

New rules for South Africa’s 4-day Test with Zimbabwe

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Port Elizabeth (South Africa) (AFP) – The one-off day-night Test between South Africa and Zimbabwe, starting on Tuesday, will be staged under experimental playing conditions.

The International Cricket Council gave permission to Cricket South Africa to stage a four-day Test.

There are several variations from standard Test playing conditions.

Carvalhal leaves Sheffield Wednesday

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London (AFP) – Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal left the Championship strugglers by mutual consent on Sunday.

Carvalhal guided Wednesday to the play-offs in his first two seasons at Hillsborough, but a miserable seven-match winless run has cost him his job.

The Portuguese coach’s exit came just hours after Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri released a statement of support after fans chanted for Carvalhal’s dismissal in the wake of Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough.

Southampton’s Austin charged with violent conduct

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London (AFP) – Southampton striker Charlie Austin has been hit with a violent conduct charge after he kicked Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl in the face.

Lossl was left with a bloodied face and a suspected broken nose following the incident in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at St Mary’s.

Juventus keep pressure on Napoli in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Champions Juventus kept pace with Serie A leaders Napoli on Saturday after a hard-fought 1-0 win over title-rivals AS Roma with Inter Milan suffering a second consecutive defeat.

Moroccan Medhi Benatia scored the only goal against his former club after 18 minutes in Turin.

Middlesbrough axe Monk just hours after victory

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London (AFP) – Middlesbrough sacked manager Garry Monk just hours after his Championship side’s 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Monk only took charge at Middlesbrough in June, but the former Swansea and Leeds boss was unable to mastermind the expected promotion challenge.

Manchester United denied by late leveller, slip 13 points behind City

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United will spend Christmas 13 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race as Harry Maguire’s dramatic late equaliser earned Leicester City a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Juan Mata looked set to inspire a United victory as Jose Mourinho’s side fought back from conceding Jamie Vardy’s 50th Premier League goal on 27 minutes.

Milan problem bigger than me, says defiant Gattuso

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Milan (AFP) – Gennaro Gattuso insisted he would not quit after the former European heavyweights fell to a another defeat, a 2-0 loss to Atalanta at the San Siro on Saturday.

“If I thought that I was the problem, then I would resign immediately. But that’s not it,” said Gattuso who took over last month.

Hamsik eclipses Maradona to put Napoli top for Christmas

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Milan (AFP) – Marek Hamsik scored his 116th goal on Saturday to overtake Diego Maradona as Napoli’s all-time record goalscorer and keep the Serie A leaders top for Christmas, as Inter Milan and AC Milan both suffered defeats.

Hamsik’s strike before the break ensured a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Sampdoria to give Napoli 45 points from 18 games with second-placed Juventus on 41 ahead of their game against title rivals Roma, in fourth.

Kane matches Shearer record with treble at Burnley

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Harry Kane scored a hat-trick that equalled a Premier League record as Tottenham Hotspur won 3-0 at Burnley on Saturday to end a three-month wait for an away win.

Kane added two calm second-half finishes to an early penalty to take his goal total in the Premier League to 36 for the calendar year, equalling the record set by Alan Shearer with Blackburn Rovers in 1995.

Wolves cement lead, Bristol City held after Cup heroics

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London (AFP) – Championship leaders Wolves maintained their charge towards the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Ipswich, while Bristol City settled for a 1-1 draw at QPR just days after their shock success against Manchester United.

Ivan Cavaleiro’s first half goal at Molineux moved Wolves seven points clear of second placed Cardiff, who lost 2-0 at Bolton thanks to Gary Madine’s 75th-minute penalty and Josh Vela’s goal.

Five conclusions from Barcelona’s El Clasico cruise

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona further tightened their vice-like grip on the La Liga title by sweeping aside eternal rivals Real Madrid 3-0 on Saturday to leave the European champions 14 points adrift down in fourth place.

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal were on target for the visitors in the second half as Madrid paid for not taking their chances when on top before the break.

Hamsik passes Maradona’s mark to put Napoli top for Christmas

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Milan (AFP) – Marek Hamsik scored his 116th goal in all competitions on Saturday to overtake Diego Maradona as Napoli’s all-time record goalscorer and keep the Serie A leaders top for Christmas.

Hamsik’s strike before the break ensured a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Sampdoria to give Napoli 45 points from 18 games with second-placed Juventus on 41 ahead of their game against title rivals AS Roma, in fourth.

Dominant Barcelona move 14 points clear of Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona took a huge step towards regaining the La Liga title as goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal beat bitter rivals Real Madrid 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday to open up a 14-point lead over the European champions.

In a recurring theme of this season Madrid were made to pay for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema missing first-half chances as Barca took control after half-time.

Aguero brace extends Manchester City’s winning run

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City recorded a 17th straight Premier League victory in a ruthless 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday as Sergio Aguero scored twice, with Raheem Sterling and Danilo also finding the net.

Pep Guardiola’s team are ripping up the record books this season and Bournemouth had no answer to their all-round dominance on an afternoon when hard work rather than flair was the key to success.

Celtic crush title rivals Aberdeen

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic crushed title rivals Aberdeen 3-0 to move eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.

Mikael Lustig’s deflected shot gave Celtic a 40th minute lead before Jonny Hayes came back to haunt his former club as he added a second in the 69th minute at Parkhead.

Hurting Madrid refuse to throw in the towel – Zidane

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane accepted responsibility for a bruising 3-0 El Clasico defeat on Saturday that left the European champions 14 points adrift of Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Saturday.

However, the Frenchman insisted Madrid will come back stronger in the new year after La Liga’s winter break and refused to concede the league to Barca.

Hamsik passes Maradona’s Napoli scoring record

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Marek Hamsik on Saturday scored his 116th goal in all competitions to overtake Diego Maradona as Napoli’s all-time record goal scorer.

The 30-year-old Slovakian attacking midfielder has been at Napoli for 10 years and set the new mark just before the break in the Serie A leader’s game against Sampdoria.

Chelsea’s Conte bemoans ‘unfair’ draw at Everton

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Liverpool (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte felt the Premier League champions’ 0-0 draw at Everton on Saturday was not a fair reflection of the game.

Chelsea controlled proceedings at Goodison Park, registering a total of 25 attempts at goal, including eight on target, but could find no way past Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Chelsea frustrated in Everton stalemate

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Liverpool (AFP) – Chelsea wasted a chance to move level on points with second placed Manchester United as Everton maintained their improvement under Sam Allardyce in a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday.

It marked a sixth game unbeaten for Everton under former England boss Allardyce, but Chelsea’s failure to convert possession into goals will not have pleased Blues manager Antonio Conte.

Dominant Barca win El Clasico 3-0, move 14 points clear of Real

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona took a huge step towards regaining the La Liga title as goals from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal beat bitter rivals Real Madrid 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday to open up a 14-point lead over the European champions.

In a recurring theme of this season Madrid were made to pay for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema missing first-half chances as Barca took control after half-time.

Klopp plans to keep attacking after Arsenal thriller

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp insisted he won’t ditch his go-for-broke game plan after Liverpool blew a two-goal lead in their thrilling 3-3 draw at Arsenal.

Klopp’s side were on course for an early Christmas present at the Emirates Stadium on Friday after goals from Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah put the visitors in control.

Where to find Real Madrid vs. Barcelona el Clásico on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch el Clásico featuring Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, you’ve come to the right place.

The biggest club soccer game of the year kicks off on Saturday with a very early kickoff between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Not only does the match have an impact on the league standings, but el Clásico also will determine who will have the bragging rights in Spain from the one team that can win this game against this hated rival.

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

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

Everton and Chelsea clash at Goodison Park on Saturday morning in one of the biggest Premier League matches of the day. Thankfully the match will be shown live on US TV.

From Cruyff to Cristiano – the boot deal bonanza

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Paris (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and the rest of the world’s top footballers may earn eye-popping salaries but the sums they make from long-running boot deals can be equally astounding.

In July 2017 the new face of French football, Kylian Mbappe, pursued by Europe’s elite clubs, caused a frenzy of excitement by announcing on Twitter he had a big announcement to make.

Ghosts add new twist to transfer lore

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Nicosia (AFP) – The ghost players of Apollon Limassol have added a new twist to football’s complex transfer lore and attracted the scrutiny of the sport’s world governing body.

Under deals first disclosed by investigative reporters last year, players under contract with the Cypriot former champions have never played or trained with the club and some have never even set foot in the country.

Where to find Juventus vs. Roma on US TV and streaming

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

Two of the most historic teams in Italian soccer kick off on Saturday in a must-watch game in Serie A. Will it be Juventus or Roma that will be victorious?

Game: Juventus vs.

Madrid obliged to keep title race alive in El Clasico

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid are “obliged” to beat Barcelona on Saturday (1200GMT) if they are to maintain any hope of retaining their La Liga title, according to Real captain Sergio Ramos.

The European champions picked up a record fifth trophy of the year to cap a fine 2017 at the Club World Cup last weekend, but trail Barca by a mammoth 11 points at the top of La Liga albeit with a game in hand.

Montenegro a stepping stone for Japanese football dreamers

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Podgorica (Montenegro) (AFP) – Montenegro is an unlikely magnet for Japanese footballers hoping to catch the eye of the major European leagues.

Some 40 Japanese are playing in 22 professional clubs in the Balkan country with a population of just over 600,000 amd around 140 have so far played in the former Yugoslav republic.

Real Madrid ‘obliged’ to keep title race alive in El Clasico

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid are “obliged” to beat Barcelona on Saturday (1200GMT) to maintain any hope of retaining La Liga in an El Clasico clash handed extra intrigue by the political cloud overshadowing “the biggest game in world football”.

Barca could face an even more hostile atmosphere than normal in the capital in the wake of regional elections in Catalonia.

Everton without ill Rooney against Chelsea

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Liverpool (AFP) – In-form forward Wayne Rooney was left out of the Everton squad for their Premier League home game with defending champions Chelsea on Saturday, reportedly due to illness.

Rooney, 32, has scored six goals in his last five league games as Everton have climbed to ninth place in the table under new manager Sam Allardyce.

Guardiola calls for refs to clamp down on dangerous play

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has suggested referees must do more to protect players from serious injury, even if it means red and yellow cards for his own players.

Guardiola was angered by challenges on Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling during City’s 4-1 Premier League victory over Tottenham last weekend.

Manchester United ‘punished’ over fixtures: Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United are being “punished” by the Premier League fixture list as they embark on the busy festive period, desperately trying to cling onto Manchester City’s coat-tails.

In a period that starts on December 22 and ends with the third round of the FA Cup on the weekend of January 6, all top-flight clubs will play five fixtures.

Espanyol inflict Atletico’s first league defeat

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid failed to put pressure on La Liga leaders Barcelona ahead of Saturday’s El Clasico at Real Madrid as they slumped to a first La Liga defeat of the season 1-0 at Espanyol.

Sergio Garcia struck the only goal two minutes from time when he swept Esteban Granero’s cross past a helpless Jan Oblak to hand Espanyol a much-needed win to ease their relegation fears.

Super sub Babacar rescues Fiorentina

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Milan (AFP) – Senegalese striker Khouma Babacar came on as a late substitute to score the only goal as Fiorentina moved closer to European action with a 1-0 win at Cagliari on Friday.

The Tuscany side had been frustrated in Sardinia before Babacar came on after 70 minutes and picked up a Federico Chiesa cross with eight minutes to go.

Liverpool survive Arsenal fightback in six-goal thriller

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London (AFP) – Liverpool survived an incredible Arsenal fightback as Roberto Firmino rescued a thrilling 3-3 draw in a strong contender for the Premier League’s game of the season on Friday.

Philippe Coutinho’s first half opener and Mohamed Salah’s strike after the interval appeared to have put Liverpool on course for an early Christmas present at the Emirates Stadium.

Galtier replaces sacked Bielsa at struggling Lille

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Relegation-haunted Lille named former Saint-Etienne boss Christophe Galtier on Friday to replace the sacked Marcelo Bielsa.

The 51-year-old Galtier, who left Saint-Etienne at the end of last season, returns to the club where he played as a defender from 1987-1990.

MLS increases Kljestan ban over playoffs scuffle

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New York (AFP) – Major League Soccer has doubled Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan’s ban for a half-time incident in the MLS Cup playoffs last month to two games.

MLS said on Friday that it had concluded a thorough internal investigation of the bust-up during a game between the Red Bulls and Toronto FC and issued Kljestan with an additional game suspension and an increased fine “as a result of an interaction with stadium security personnel”.

Sevilla sack cancer-stricken coach Berizzo

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla sacked coach Eduardo Berizzo on Friday just a month after it was announced the Argentine is suffering from prostate cancer, the club said, citing poor results.

“The Sevilla board… has taken the decision to sack the coach of the first team due to the bad form of the team,” Sevilla said in a statement, without making reference to Berizzo’s illness.

FIFA trial: US jury convicts two ex-soccer bosses

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New York (AFP) – A US jury convicted two South American ex-soccer bosses of corruption on Friday but will return after Christmas to deliberate on the fate of a third defendant in the FIFA trial in New York.

The panel returned guilty verdicts against Jose Maria Marin, former head of Brazil’s Football Confederation and Juan Angel Napout, former head of Paraguayan football, on the sixth day of deliberations following an extraordinary seven-week trial.

Guardiola calls on Spain to note Catalonia result

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London (AFP) – Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola on Friday called on Spain’s central government to take heed after it was defeated by Catalan separatists in regional elections.

The separatists won an overall majority on Thursday in a vote called by Spain’s government after weeks of turmoil triggered by an independence referendum in October.

Iceland’s Hallfredsson extends Udinese deal

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Milan (AFP) – Iceland international Emil Hallfredsson has extended his contract with Serie A side Udinese until June 30, 2020, the Italian club announced on Friday.

The 33-year-old centre-back - in his second season with the north-eastern outfit - made his 50th appearance for the club in the Italian Cup loss midweek against Napoli.

Pro-Catalonia Guardiola linked to independence probe

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London (AFP) – Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said Friday he will wait to “see what happens” following reports he has been named in a Spanish police investigation into the Catalonia independence crisis.

Catalan-born Guardiola has previously voiced his support for imprisoned Catalan politicians and for the past two months has worn a yellow ribbon to highlight their plight.

Swansea pin hopes on new manager bounce

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London (AFP) – Swansea City’s decision to sack manager Paul Clement reflected the mounting anxiety in the Premier League’s lower reaches as the frenetic festive period begins.

Clement was dismissed on Wednesday with Swansea four points adrift of safety at the foot of the table, becoming the sixth manager to have lost his job in the English top flight this season.

Dybala back as Juventus chase Christmas number one

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Milan (AFP) – Paulo Dybala has regained his goal scoring form just in time as champions Juventus tackle rivals AS Roma for top spot at Christmas in a clash which could prove decisive in the Serie A title race.

A slim four-point margin separates the leading quartet in the Italian championship with Napoli top with 42 points from 17 games, one point ahead of Juventus.

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

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

While both Arsenal and Liverpool have had ups and downs this season in the Premier League, Friday’s match presents an opportunity for either side to fix things and get a huge victory.

Five keys to Real Madrid vs Barcelona

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid realistically need to end Barcelona’s 24-match unbeaten run to maintain hopes of retaining their La Liga title when Spanish football’s two behemoths meet in El Clasico on Saturday (1200GMT).

Barca lead fourth-placed Madrid by 11 points at the top of the table, albeit Real do have a game in hand.

Barcelona tempted by Griezmann as transfer window set to open

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Paris (AFP) – Barcelona are making moves to bring Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann to the Catalan capital while Manchester City are eyeing Alexis Sanchez as clubs around Europe prepare for the January transfer window.

The winter window opens at one minute past midnight on January 1, but Barca are looking for a belated Christmas present in the France international.

‘Emperor’ Terim to manage Galatasaray for 4th time

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Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish football icon Fatih Terim will Friday return to Istanbul giants Galatasaray for a fourth stint, following the dismissal of Croatian coach Igor Tudor.

“And just where we left off … He is back #FatihTerim,” the club announced on its official Twitter account.

Ronaldo back in Real training ahead of El Clasico

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo returned to full training on Friday with his Real Madrid teammates to quash fears he could miss Saturday’s huge El Clasico clash with Barcelona at Real’s Santiago Bernabeu.

The world player of the year received rough treatment as he scored the winner in the Club World Cup final over Brazilians Gremio last weekend, but Ronaldo had insisted he would be fit for the lunchtime visit of league leaders Barca.

Mario Gomez heads back to Stuttgart

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Berlin (AFP) – Experienced German international striker Mario Gomez is to move to Stuttgart from Wolfsburg, rejoining the team he left eight years ago.

Gomez, 32, came through the Stuttgart youth system and won the 2007 Bundesliga title with the club.

“I am very happy to return home, to the place where it all began,” he said.

Man Utd should have signed Jesus and Mbappe – Giggs

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London (AFP) – Ryan Giggs says he advised Manchester United to sign Gabriel Jesus and Kylian Mbappe before they became stars and believes the club are paying the price for an inconsistent transfer policy.

The United legend joined the club’s backroom staff when his stellar playing career ended in 2014, serving as Louis van Gaal’s assistant after spending a year as player-coach under David Moyes.

Capello rules out Italy job, focus on China

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Milan (AFP) – Former England manager Fabio Capello on Friday ruled himself out as the Italian national team coach saying his focus was on his job in China.

The Italian signed last June with Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning, a club which is owned by Suning Group and businessman Zhang Jindong, who also controls Serie A giants Inter Milan.

Manchester City sign second FIFA eSports player

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London (AFP) – Manchester City on Friday announced the signing of FIFA eSports player Marcus “ExpectSporting” Jorgensen, who will represent the club around the world on the PlayStation 4 (PS4) console.

Jorgensen, 18, becomes the Premier League leaders’ second eSports signing, following Xbox player Kieran “Kez” Brown, who joined the club in 2016.

Mourinho escapes FA sanctions for pre-derby comments

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London (AFP) – The English Football Association said Thursday that Jose Mourinho will face no sanctions following an investigation of comments he made before the recent Manchester derby.

The FA said it has decided to take “no formal action” after reviewing evidence provided by Mourinho’s club Manchester United, understood to be relating to suggestions that Manchester City players make “tactical fouls” to break up opponents’ attacks.

Bergkamp out as Ajax dismiss manager Keizer

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The Hague (AFP) – Dutch giants Ajax sacked manager Marcel Keizer and assistant coach Dennis Bergkamp on Thursday, saying the club had “lost confidence in their abilities” after a string of poor performances.

“Ajax has suspended Marcel Keizer, assistant coach Hennie Spijkerman and Dennis Bergkamp and management will meet them to discuss ending their contracts,” the club said in a statement.

Neymar wants ‘history’ with Real Madrid scalp

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Doha (AFP) – Neymar believes Paris Saint-Germain can “make history” by eliminating holders and record 12-time winners Real Madrid when the two clubs meet in the last 16 of the Champions League.

French league leaders PSG were paired with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real in the tie of the round, and big-spending PSG are looking for a rapid return on their massive summer investment.

Top-rated US women’s football to host Germany, England and France

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Chicago (AFP) – Defending champion France, top-ranked United States, world number two Germany and third-ranked England will meet in the third SheBelieves Cup women’s football tournament next March, host US Soccer announced Thursday.

Three double-headers will be staged over a week in the event, which saw the Americans win the inaugural 2016 edition and the French shock higher-rated rivals last year.

Jemez named as new Las Palmas manager

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Madrid (AFP) – Paco Jemez was on Thursday appointed the new coach of Las Palmas, the struggling La Liga side announced.

Jemez is the club’s third manager this season and the 47-year-old inherits a team that has won just one of their last 13 Liga outings and only three in all.

That poor run of form has left the Canary Islanders footing the table.

Giggs rules himself out of running for Swansea job

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London (AFP) – Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has ruled himself out of the running for the vacant manager’s job at Premier League strugglers Swansea following the dismissal of Paul Clement.

With the Swans looking for a third boss in less than 12 months, Giggs had been talked about in relation with the role along with Ronald Koeman, Tony Pulis and Louis van Gaal.

Madrid demands the best even of ‘Galactico’ groundsman

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Madrid (AFP) – “The expectations of Real Madrid are to have the best,” they could easily be the words of world famous player or coach, but it is the club’s English groundsman Paul Burgess who is reflecting on the demanding culture at the Spanish giants.

Burgess’s work will be seen by an estimated television audience of 650 million people when newly crowned world champions Madrid host Barcelona in El Clasico on Saturday (1200GMT).

Arsenal wasted Oxlade-Chamberlain says Klopp

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp has risked Arsene Wenger’s wrath ahead of Liverpool’s visit to the Emirates Stadium by claiming the Arsenal manager failed to get the best out of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool in August after Wenger decided to cash in before the England midfielder’s contract expired.

Celtic manager Rodgers proud at emphatic response against Thistle

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised his players for a perfect response as the Scottish champions returned to winning ways against Partick Thistle.

The Hoops’ record-breaking 69-match unbeaten domestic run came to a stunning end last Sunday when the Glasgow giants were hammered 4-0 by Hearts.

Independiente face new Brazil test in Libertadores draw

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Luque (Paraguay) (AFP) – Argentinian giants Independiente will face another test against Brazilian opposition after being drawn against Sao Paulo side Corinthians in the group stage of the 2018 Copa Libertadores here Wednesday.

Independiente sealed their place in the Libertadores draw last week after lifting the Copa Sudamericana following a 3-2 aggregate victory over Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro.

Birthday boy Mbappe stars as PSG down Caen

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe celebrated his 19th birthday on Wednesday with a goal and an assist as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 3-1 victory over Caen in Ligue 1.

The French teenager has enjoyed a stratoshperic rise in 2017 and rounded out a memorable year in style by setting up Edinson Cavani to fire PSG ahead on 21 minutes, before adding a goal of his own on the hour.

Vela scores farewell goal for Sociedad in Sevilla win

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla missed the chance to leapfrog Real Madrid into La Liga’s top four as Carlos Vela waved goodbye to Real Sociedad with a goal in a 3-1 win for the Basques on Wednesday.

Vela will join new Major League Soccer club Los Angeles FC in January after 250 appearances for Sociedad.

Bristol City dump holders Man Utd out of League Cup 

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London (AFP) – Championship side Bristol City dumped Manchester United out of the League Cup on Wednesday, scoring with seconds remaining to beat the holders 2-1.

In the other quarter-final, Chelsea beat Bournemouth 2-1 with goals from Willian and a late strike from Alvaro Morata.

Mueller helps Bayern battle past Dortmund

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Berlin (AFP) – Thomas Mueller scored the decisive goal as Bayern Munich fought to a 2-1 victory over rivals Borussia Dortmund to reach the German Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Goals from Jerome Boateng and Mueller gave Bayern a comfortable lead before half-time, but Andriy Yarmolenko’s second-half header made it a nervy last 15 minutes for Bayern.

Struggling Swansea sack manager Clement

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London (AFP) – Swansea City on Wednesday sacked manager Paul Clement as the Premier League’s bottom club desperately search for way out of their relegation mire.

As the season approaches the halfway point, the Welsh side are already four points adrift of safety following Monday’s 3-1 defeat at Everton, with just three wins in their first 18 Premier League matches.

Peru’s Guerrero cleared for World Cup as ban cut

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Paris (AFP) – Peru captain Paolo Guerrero has had his one-year drugs ban reduced to six months, FIFA said in a statement sent to AFP on Wednesday, allowing him to play at next year’s World Cup.

“The FIFA Appeal Committee after taking into account all the circumstances of the case, in particular the degree of fault of the player, considered a six-month period of ineligibility to be a proportionate sanction,” FIFA explained.

Saint-Etienne appoint Gasset as third coach of season

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Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – Saint-Etienne named assistant Jean-Louis Gasset as their new head coach on Wednesday to replace Julien Sable, who did not hold the required qualifications to coach in Ligue 1.

Sable took charge when Oscar Garcia was sacked last month, but Les Verts have been fined 25,000 ($29,697) for every game played with the 37-year-old in charge.

Romario runs for head of Brazilian federation

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Brazilian former international star turned senator Romario said Wednesday he wants to run for the presidency of the country’s corruption-tainted football governing body.

Romario, a striker in the 1994 World Cup winning side, said he wants to clean up the Confederation of Brazilian Football (CBF) after FIFA’s suspension of the current head Marco Polo Del Nero, who is accused of graft.

Where to find Chelsea vs. Bournemouth League Cup quarter final on US TV and streaming

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

While the Blues might have kissed their chances goodbye of winning the Premier League, Antonio Conte’s side has an excellent chance to progress to the semi-final.

Politically divided Spain united by El Clasico rivalry

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Madrid (AFP) – Often symbolised as pitting the pride of Catalonia against Spain’s capital, the ‘El Clasico’ between Barcelona and Real Madrid is a match laced with political and social as much as sporting tension.

Even more so this week when the sides face off in Madrid on Saturday lunchtime just over 36 hours after polls will close in local elections in Catalonia that were called over the crisis caused by the region’s drive for independence.

Where to find Bristol City vs. Man United League Cup quarter final on US TV and streaming

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

Manchester United head to Ashton Gate on Wednesday to battle Bristol City in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal. With Bristol City doing well in the Championship, this should be a tough test for Jose Mourinho’s side.

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

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

The two most popular Bundesliga teams battle on Wednesday in a DFB-Pokal third round match. In their last game before the winter break, will it be Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund that’ll advance to the next round of the German cup?

Hong Kong fined for Chinese anthem booing

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Hong Kong (AFP) – Hong Kong have been fined $3,000 after fans jeered the Chinese national anthem during an Asia Cup match last month, the third time they have been punished for booing.

Fans have taken to booing the anthem as concerns grow that semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s freedoms are under threat from Beijing.

Duckett to miss England Lions tour after Perth bar incident

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London (AFP) – Batsman Ben Duckett has been left out of the England Lions squad to tour the West Indies after pouring a drink over James Anderson in a Perth bar.

Batsman Duckett, 23, had already been fined and suspended from Lions’ matches on the Australia tour after the late-night incident ahead of the third Test which infuriated the team’s management.

Manchester City join Arsenal in League Cup semis after penalty drama

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London (AFP) – A much-changed Manchester City held off a spirited challenge from Leicester on Tuesday to reach the League Cup semi-finals following a dramatic penalty shootout, as Arsenal also progressed.

Pep Guardiola showcased the riches at his disposal by making nine changes as his runaway Premier League leaders held their nerve to edge through 4-3 on spot-kicks after the two sides were locked at 1-1 following extra time.

Atletico Madrid to sell stake in Lens

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Lille (France) (AFP) – Atletico Madrid are due to sell their one third stake in French club Lens, the Ligue 2 outfit’s majority owners announced on Tuesday.

Luxemburger company Solferino is to buy the 34.6 percent share of the 2002 French champions currently held by La Liga giants Atletico and become Lens’ sole owners.

Mascherano close to China move: reports

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano is set to move to Chinese side Hebei China Fortune in January for 10 million euros ($11.8 million), Barcelona-based daily Sport reported on Tuesday.

Mascherano, 33, has made just 10 appearances in all competitions this season as he has fallen down the pecking order under new coach Ernesto Valverde and been sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Silva targets return as PSG mull winter moves

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery is hopeful captain Thiago Silva will return from injury for Wednesday’s final match of the year at home to Caen before the French league heads into its winter break.

The Brazil international hasn’t featured since hobbling off during a 3-1 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League a fortnight ago, but has resumed full training and could replace the suspended Presnel Kimpembe in central defence.

Where to find Arsenal vs. West Ham League Cup quarter final on US TV and streaming

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

After Arsenal and West Ham played a 0-0 draw last week in the Premier League, there’s more on the line this week as the winner of the League Cup quarter final will secure a semi final match.

Dortmund’s Stoeger eyes Bayern scalp in cup

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Berlin (AFP) – New Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stoeger has his sights set on glory as his team prepares for a heavyweight round of 16 German Cup tie with Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Cup holders Dortmund have won two games in two since Stoeger took over from Peter Bosz earlier this month, rediscovering their winning ways just in time to face Bayern in Munich this week.

Where to find Leicester vs. Man City League Cup quarter final on US TV and streaming

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

With Manchester City flying high in the Premier League, they’ll meet a much-improved Leicester City. Only one team will be able to make it through to the semi-final.

La Liga chases Asian cash with early Clasico kick-off

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Madrid (AFP) – For the first time, Spanish football’s showpiece event, El Clasico between giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, has been scheduled for a lunchtime kick-off (1200GMT) on Saturday as La Liga seeks to capture Asia’s attention and its cash.

“We are keen to provide our fans in Asia the opportunity to watch Real Madrid and Barcelona face off at a time that is convenient to them,” La Liga’s Chief Communications Officer Joris Evers told AFP.

Ex-Australia coach Postecoglou to manage J-League Yokohama

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Tokyo (AFP) – Former Australia coach Ange Postecoglou, who quit last month after guiding the Socceroos to the World Cup, will manage Yokohama F-Marinos in Japan next season, the club announced Tuesday.

Greek-born Postecoglou will replace French coach Erick Mombaerts, who said in early November he would be leaving the J-League club at the end of the season to return to Europe.

Chinese footballers come to Brazil for extra polish

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Porto Feliz (Brazil) (AFP) – Arriving in Brazil, Chinese footballer Long Yushuo took on the more easily pronounced name Thomas, but it’s the locals’ skills with the ball that he’s really hoping to adopt.

Thomas, 16, is one of a squad of youth players from Chinese team Shandong Luneng dispatched to polish their game at Desportivo Brasil club in Porto Feliz, near Sao Paulo, which Shandong bought in 2014.

Sigurdsson beauty adds to Swansea woes

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Liverpool (AFP) – Gylfi Sigurdsson’s stunning goal against his former club maintained Everton’s unbeaten record under Sam Allardyce with a 3-1 win on Monday that left Swansea rooted to the foot of the Premier League.

The 28-year-old Icelandic international left Swansea for a record £45 million ($60 million) in the close season and his 30-yard effort in the second-half illustrated why Everton wanted him so badly.

Egypt releases more than 200 football fans accused of rioting

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Cairo (AFP) – Egypt’s military prosecutors have released more than 200 football fans who had spent over five months in detention accused of vandalising a stadium and attacking police, a lawyer said Monday.

Police had detained hundreds of supporters of Cairo’s Zamalek club following a July 9 game against Libya’s Al Alhi SC, keeping 236 of them in detention ever since, said defence lawyer Mohamed Hafez, who represented more than 100 of them.

Peru announce pre-World Cup friendlies

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Lima (AFP) – Peru announced on Monday friendlies against fellow World Cup qualifiers Croatia and Iceland in the US ahead of the global showpiece in Russia next year.

Peru qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1982 by beating New Zealand 2-0 on aggregate in an inter-continental play-off last month.

Schedule of DFB-Pokal Round of 16 games on US TV and streaming

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We’re down to the last 16 teams competing in the DFB-Pokal, the German cup competition that features several of the major teams as well as a few minnows.

For viewers in the United States, four out of the eight games will be shown either on television and/or streaming. And, of course, the most eagerly anticipated match is Bayern Munich versus Borussia Dortmund which will be shown on ESPN2.

Russia in a rush to change World Cup pitch

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Saint Petersburg (AFP) – The troublesome pitch at the 2018 World Cup venue in Saint Petersburg will be relaid for a third time, officials said on Monday.

The state of the art 68,000-capacity stadium hosted this year’s Confederations Cup final, but the pitch was so cut up it was changed ahead of the tournament.

Juventus president Agnelli’s ticket scam ban reduced

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Rome (AFP) – Juventus president Andrea Agnelli saw his one-year ban over a ticket sales scandal ended after less than three months on Monday, following an appeal to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

However, his 20,000 euro ($23,600) fine for his role in the bulk sale of tickets to ‘ultras’ fans with links to organised crime, was increased to 100,000 euros.

Aubameyang, Mane, Salah to contest CAF award

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Prolific goalscorers Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon were named on Monday among the three finalists for the African Player of the Year award.

Sadio Mane of Senegal completes a list announced in Ghana for the highest annual Confederation of African Football (CAF) individual honour.

Leicester’s Puel has unfinished business in League Cup

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London (AFP) – Claude Puel says he has unfinished business in the League Cup ahead of Leicester’s quarter-final clash with Manchester City after a painful defeat in last season’s final as Southampton boss.

The Foxes host Pep Guardiola’s high-flying City on Tuesday, aiming to re-find their form after a surprise 3-0 Premier League defeat to Crystal Palace that ended an impressive run of results since the Frenchman took over at the club in October.

Barcelona’s Rafinha back after eight-month layoff

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona midfielder Rafinha was given the all clear to return to action on Monday after eight months on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

The Brazilian international hasn’t featured since limping off early in April’s 4-1 win at Granada with a meniscus problem.

Schedule of League Cup quarter finals on US TV and streaming

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We’re down to the final eight in the 2017/18 League Cup (also known as the Carabao Cup this season). And for viewers in the United States, we have the TV and streaming schedule of where you can watch the games.

Unfortunately none of the matches will be shown on TV, but you can always stream the games to your television set using a Chromecast or Airplay.

West Ham’s Lanzini charged over diving

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London (AFP) – West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini has been charged over diving to win a penalty against Stoke City, the second Premier League player to be targeted under new rules aimed at stamping out cheating.

The 24-year-old Argentine went down when challenged by Erik Pieters and West Ham captain Mark Noble converted from the spot to give the visitors a 1-0 lead on Saturday.

Tudor gets the chop at Galatasaray

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Istanbul (AFP) – Galatasaray sacked Croatian coach Igor Tudor on Monday after less than a year in charge, following a defeat that saw the side slip from the top of the Super Lig table.

A meeting of the club board voted to part company with Tudor, who had only joined the Istanbul giants in February, Galatasaray said in a statement.

Crystal Palace’s Puncheon charged with assault after brawl

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon has been charged with assault and possessing a weapon after a fight erupted near a nightclub at the weekend.

Puncheon was arrested in the early hours of Sunday and taken into custody after officers were called to the disturbance in Reigate, a town near London, Surrey Police said.

Man City ‘planning talks’ to extend Guardiola’s contract

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London (AFP) – Manchester City are planning talks with manager Pep Guardiola at the end of the season as the Premier League leaders seek to tie him to a long-term deal, reports said on Monday.

City are 11 points clear of nearest challengers Manchester United, are on a record run of 16 consecutive wins in England’s top flight and through to the Champions League knockout phase after comfortably winning their group.

Mourinho won’t give up on catching City

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho insisted Manchester United will not give up on the Premier League title race after his side cut Manchester City’s lead back to 11 points.

Mourinho’s side won 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard before Gareth Barry replied for the hosts.

Klopp sets sights on top four finish

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp admits Manchester City will be almost impossible to catch at the top of the Premier League, but the Liverpool boss would happily settle for a top-four finish as a lucrative consolation prize.

Goals from Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah, Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino sent the free-scoring Reds up to fourth place.

Red-hot City chase League Cup glory

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London (AFP) – With Manchester City romping away with the Premier League title race, this week’s League Cup quarter-final action offers Pep Guardiola’s side the chance to remain on course for a domestic treble.

City head to Leicester hoping to reach only the second semi-final of Guardiola’s 18-month reign after losing in the FA Cup last four against Arsenal in April.

Van Gaal has ‘unfinished business’ with Man Utd

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The Hague (AFP) – Firebrand football manager Louis van Gaal says he is “most likely done as a coach” but would step back into the ring for one exception: a chance to get back at Manchester United.

“I most likely won’t coach any club again,” Van Gaal, nicknamed the “Iron Tulip”, told popular daily tabloid De Telegraaf.

British police probe alleged racist attack on Man City’s Sterling

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London (AFP) – British police are investigating an alleged racially aggravated assault on Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling before the Premier League leaders’ victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

“On Sunday 17 December 2017, police were made aware that a 23-year-old man had been subject to a racially aggravated assault,” a police spokesman said.

Juventus go second, AC Milan’s troubles continue

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus moved second in Serie A after a trademark Miralem Pjanic free-kick led the reigning champions to a comfortable 3-0 win at Bologna on Sunday, while AC Milan were plunged further into crisis by a heavy loss at lowly Verona.

Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve are on 41 points, just a point behind leaders Napoli after leapfrogging Inter Milan, who suffered a shock first defeat of the season to Udinese on Saturday.

Manchester City spurred by Spurs friendly, says Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola believes the seeds for Manchester City’s extraordinary season were sown during a 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in a pre-season friendly in the United States.

City crushed Tottenham again on Saturday, a 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium giving Guardiola’s side a record 16th successive Premier League victory and keeping them 11 points clear at the top of the table.

Griezmann ‘blacked-up’ photo sparks controversy

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann was forced to remove a photograph from Twitter showing him blacked up and mimicking a Harlem Globetrotter basketball player after the post caused controversy on Sunday.

Griezmann was wearing a basketball jersey and a wig with his face, legs and arms blacked up alongside the caption “80’s party” in the photograph on his personal Twitter page.

Suarez, Paulinho move Barcelona 11 clear of Real Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona opened up an 11-point La Liga lead over Real Madrid ahead of next weekend’s El Clasico between the Spanish giants as Luis Suarez and Paulinho each scored twice in a 4-0 thrashing of Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday.

Lionel Messi also saw a penalty saved and hit the woodwork three times as Barca regained their six-point lead over Atletico Madrid in second place.

Mandanda blunder helps Lyon beat Marseille

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Paris (AFP) – A howler from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda helped Lyon beat Marseille 2-0 on Sunday and move clear of their opponents in third place in Ligue 1.

Visiting keeper Mandanda gifted Nabil Fekir an early opener, before Mariano Diaz headed in the second shortly after half-time.

Aubameyang extends Dortmund deal to 2021 – reports

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund’s prolific Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has extended his contract with the club until 2021, German media reported on Sunday.

The 28-year-old finished as the leading scorer in the Bundesliga last season with 31 goals, one ahead of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, and he has netted 13 times in 15 matches this term.

Leipzig slump to defeat by 10-man Hertha

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig dropped out of the Bundesliga top four on Sunday after Davie Selke fired 10-man Hertha Berlin to a shock 3-2 victory at the Red Bull Arena.

Former RB striker Selke grabbed a brace on his return to Leipzig, as Hertha battled to an astonishing triumph, despite going down to 10 men early in the game.

Manchester United down Albion, Reds rock Bournemouth

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London (AFP) – Manchester United kept their faint Premier League titles hopes alive with a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion, while Liverpool moved back into the top four with a 4-0 rout of Bournemouth on Sunday.

With Manchester City romping away with the title race, United had to win at the Hawthorns to have any chance of reeling in their local rivals.

Rampant Liverpool crush Bournemouth

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho inspired Liverpool to a 4-0 victory at Bournemouth as the Reds powered back into the Premier League’s top four on Sunday.

Egyptian winger Salah is the first Liverpool player since Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in 2013-14 to hit the 20-goal mark in all competitions, and he has done it in only 26 matches.

Brazilian star Kaka announces retirement

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Former Brazilian World Cup champion Kaka announced his retirement as a player Sunday, suggesting that a management career at his old club AC Milan could be on the cards.

“I am preparing to continue in football and to have a different role, but I will no longer be a professional player, an athlete,” the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner told Globo television.

United down Albion, Reds rock Bournemouth

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London (AFP) – Manchester United kept their faint Premier League titles hopes alive with a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion, while Liverpool moved back into the top four with a 4-0 rout of Bournemouth on Sunday.

With Manchester City romping away with the title race, United had to win at the Hawthorns to have any chance of reeling in their local rivals.

Bailey brace not enough for Leverkusen in thriller draw at Hanover

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Berlin (AFP) – A second half brace from substitute Leon Bailey was not enough for Bayer Leverkusen as they were held in a thrilling 4-4 draw at Hanover on Sunday.

Substituted on at half-time with his team trailing 3-2, Bailey scored twice to put Bayer in the lead, but Julian Korb’s 83rd-minute equaliser saved a point for Hanover.

Pjanic stars as Juventus rise to second with win at Bologna

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus climbed to second in Serie A after a star turn from Miralem Pjanic led the reigning champions to a comfortable win at Bologna on Sunday, while AC Milan sunk further into crisis with a loss at lowly Hellas Verona.

Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve are on 41 points, just a point behind leaders Napoli after leapfrogging Inter Milan, who suffered their first defeat of the season, 3-1 to Udinese, on Saturday.

Ranieri apologises after manhandling official

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Paris (AFP) – Nantes head coach Claudio Ranieri admitted he “deserved” to be sent to the stands after his dismissal during Sunday’s 1-0 win over Angers for putting his hands on the fourth official.

With the Italian’s side leading in the 50th minute, Ranieri was sent off for remonstrating with the official on the sidelines.

Lukaku, Lingard strike as United beat West Brom

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard gave Manchester United a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday as Jose Mourinho’s men kept their faint title hopes alive.

Lukaku put United ahead at the Hawthorns and Lingard netted with the aid of a deflection to double the visitors’ lead before half-time.

Rodgers salutes Celtic as record run ends

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Edinburgh (AFP) – Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to his Celtic stars for their “incredible” run after their record 69-game unbeaten streak ended in a shock 4-0 defeat at Hearts on Sunday.

Rodgers’ side had set a new British record for unbeaten domestic matches last month, but that amazing run was shattered at Tynecastle as the Scottish champions were beaten for the first time since May 2016.

Ruthless Man City won’t let up — Jesus

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London (AFP) – Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has warned his side’s rivals that the Premier League leaders won’t become complacent as they surge towards the title.

Pep Guardiola’s team were at their swaggering best on Saturday, crushing Tottenham 4-1 to extend their Premier League record winning streak to 16 games.

Barca reach agreement with Griezmann – reports

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has met with the family of Atletico Madrid’s star forward Antoine Griezmann ahead of a possible summer move, sports daily Mundo Deportivo reported on Sunday.

The French international, who has been Atletico’s top scorer for the past three seasons, has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United in the past.

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

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

Sunday’s match, live from the Hawthorns in the black country, features West Bromwich Albion at home against Manchester United.

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

Match: West Brom vs.

Conte upset by lack of credit for champions’ run

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes that Manchester City’s run of victories has denied his team the credit they deserve for their own recent good spell.

A narrow but deserved 1-0 victory for the Premier League champions over a defensive Southampton, which came thanks to Marcos Alonso’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time, made it eight victories and a draw from their last ten matches.

De Bruyne is my Man City blueprint – Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola said Kevin De Bruyne incarnated Manchester City’s future after the Belgian’s sublime display inspired his side to an emphatic 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

De Bruyne smashed in City’s second goal on Saturday and had a hand in their third, scored by Raheem Sterling, who went on to complete a brace as City registered a record-extending 16th successive Premier League win.

UK, Russian police team up to avoid World Cup trouble

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Ahead of a sell-out European football match, Manchester police tracked fans’ movements via CCTV and Russian security officials joined them in the control room to learn more about tactics.

Officers, tipped off about a group of potentially disruptive supporters in the hours before last week’s Champions League clash between Manchester United and CSKA Moscow, moved swiftly to intercept them.

Wenger expects Arsenal revival over Christmas

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Newcastle will breed the confidence they need to cope with a hectic Christmas schedule.

After seeing his side end a three-match winless run thanks to Mesut Ozil’s spectacular first-half goal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, Gunners boss Wenger has no worries about a potential lack of stamina.

VAR controversies raise tensions in A-League

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Sydney (AFP) – Football Federation Australia will cut down on the number of A-League video assistant referees as the on-trial VAR technology influenced several A-League games this weekend.

A-League boss Greg O’Rourke said match officials would steer clear of 50-50 calls following farcical scenes when two second-half yellow cards to Central Coast Mariners players Wout Brama and Jake McGing were upgraded to reds following VAR reviews.

Torres lifts Atletico above beaten Valencia

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Valencia into second in La Liga thanks to Fernando Torres’s first goal at the Wanda Metropolitano to edge out Alaves 1-0 on Saturday.

Valencia remain five points off leaders Barcelona in third after falling to a second defeat in three matches 2-1 at Eibar.

Torres lifts Atletico to second as Valencia falter

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Valencia into second in La Liga thanks to Fernando Torres’s first goal at the Wanda Metropolitano to edge out Alaves 1-0 on Saturday.

Valencia remain five points off leaders Barcelona in third after falling to a second defeat in three matches 2-1 at Eibar.

Eibar deal more damage to Valencia’s title hopes

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia missed the chance to close to within two points of La Liga leaders Barcelona as Joan Jordan’s towering header three minutes from time handed Eibar a 2-1 win at Ipurua on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid can now usurp Valencia and move into second when they host Alaves later on Saturday, while Barca can open up at least a six-point gap at the top with victory over Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday.

De Bruyne makes it sweet 16 for awesome Man City

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Kevin De Bruyne produced another virtuoso performance as Manchester City crushed Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 on Saturday to register a record-extending 16th consecutive Premier League victory.

The Belgian maestro scored City’s second goal, after Ilkay Gundogan had opened the scoring, and Raheem Sterling added two more in a thumping win that provisionally sent Pep Guardiola’s men 14 points clear at the summit.

Napoli capitalise on Inter Milan’s slip to move top

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Milan (AFP) – Marek Hamsik equalled Diego Maradona’s record as Napoli’s all-time top goalscorer as they took advantage of Inter Milan’s first defeat of the season and moved top of Serie A with a 3-1 win at Torino on Saturday.

Inter went down 3-1 to Udinese at the San Siro earlier in the day and Hamsik, who now has 115 Napoli goals in all competitions, led the way as Maurizio Sarri’s side made the most of Inter’s loss with a three-goal blitz in the first half-hour that saw off Torino and moved them top on 42 points, two ahead of Inter, who drop back to second.

City make it 16 in a row, Ozil cracker downs Newcastle

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London (AFP) – Manchester City racked up a 16th consecutive Premier League win as the runaway leaders routed Tottenham 4-1, while Mesut Ozil’s stunning strike fired Arsenal to a 1-0 success against Newcastle on Saturday.

Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring at Eastlands before Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling netted after the interval to ensure City opened up a 14-point lead over second placed Manchester United, who face West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Neymar shines on return as PSG beat Rennes

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar starred on his return to the Paris Saint-Germain line-up after two games out with two goals and two assists in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat of Rennes in Ligue 1.

The world’s most expensive player missed last weekend’s win over Lille due to suspension and sat out Wednesday’s French League Cup clash at Strasbourg after travelling back to Brazil to deal with a family matter.

Ronaldo retains Club World Cup for Real Madrid

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s second-half free-kick ensured Real Madrid picked up a fifth trophy of 2017 by beating Gremio 1-0 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday to retain the Club World Cup.

A third Club World Cup in four years brings Madrid level with rivals Barcelona as the most successful side in the competition’s history and adds to the La Liga, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup titles already won by Zinedine Zidane’s men this year.

Drama in Stuttgart as Bayern go 11 points clear

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Berlin (AFP) – Thomas Mueller came off the bench to score the winner and Sven Ulreich saved a 95th-minute penalty as Bayern Munich won 1-0 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday to go 11 points clear in the Bundesliga.

Mueller put the visitors ahead with 11 minutes remaining and keeper Ulreich saved Chadrac Akolo’s spot-kick as Bayern remained in pole position to win a sixth straight league title heading into the winter break.

Clasico too soon for Dembele: Valverde

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insisted throwing the club’s record signing Ousmane Dembele back into action for next weekend’s Clasico at Real Madrid would be “premature”.

Dembele hasn’t played since tearing his hamstring at Getafe on September 16, just three games into his Barca career following a 105-million-euro ($124 million) move that could rise to as much as 145 million from Borussia Dortmund.

Alonso edges Chelsea past Southampton

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London (AFP) – Marco Alonso’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time gave champions Chelsea their second Premier League win of the week with a 1-0 victory over Southampton on Saturday.

The hosts dominated but could not find a second against a Southampton team that defended resolutely, and needed a good save from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to deny Saints substitute Charlie Austin.

South Korea win East Asia title as North restore pride

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Tokyo (AFP) – Beanpole striker Kim Shin-Wook fired a quick-fire double as South Korea thrashed fierce rivals Japan 4-1 to capture a fourth East Asian championship title in Tokyo on Saturday.

Japan football chief Kozo Tashima ripped into the home side after an embarrassing defeat.

“It’s not just that they lost, it’s a deeper issue,” he told local media.

Mueller fires Bayern 11 points clear

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Berlin (AFP) – Thomas Mueller came off the bench to score the only goal and Sven Ulreich saved a stoppage time penalty for Bayern Munich as they won 1-0 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday to go 11 points clear in the Bundesliga.

Mueller put Bayern ahead with 11 minutes remaining and keeper Ulreich saved Chadrac Akolo’s 95th-minute spot kick to break the home fans’ hearts.

Ozil gem gets Arsenal back on track

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London (AFP) – Mesut Ozil’s spectacular strike was enough to give Arsenal a 1-0 victory over Newcastle as the Gunners ended a three-match winless run in the Premier League on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger’s side boosted their bid to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish and in the process condemned relegation-threatened Newcastle to an eighth defeat in their last nine games.

Chelsea sink Saints, Ozil cracker downs Newcastle

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London (AFP) – Chelsea kept their faint Premier League title hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Southampton, while Mesut Ozil’s stunning strike fired Arsenal to a 1-0 victory against Newcastle United on Saturday.

With runaway leaders Manchester City in action against Tottenham Hotspur later on Saturday, the focus turned to the clubs desperately trying to hang onto their coat-tails.

Lille face hefty bill for Bielsa

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Lille (France) (AFP) – The acrimonious divorce between mercurial Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa and French club Lille has been finalised, but his departure is likely to cost the club millions.

Bielsa joined Lille in the summer, prompting a 60-million-euro ($71 million) outlay on new players, but he was suspended in November after just three wins in 13 matches.

Inter Milan lose unbeaten record with shock Udinese defeat

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan lost their Serie A unbeaten status after a shock 3-1 home defeat to Udinese on Saturday that puts their position at the top of the league under threat.

Inter stay temporarily top on 40 points after their first defeat of the season, which came thanks to a Rodrigo De Paul penalty and Antonin Barak tap-in adding to Kevin Lasagna’s opener after Mauro Icardi had equalised for the hosts.

Benteke ends 14-game goal drought

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Christian Benteke ended a 14-match goal drought with a 19th minute header for strugglers Crystal Palace in their Premier League victory at Leicester on Saturday.

It was Palace’s first away goal of the season and they went on to win 3-0 - Benteke creating the second for Wilfried Zaha - to move out of the bottom three.

Four police hurt in clashes with Saint-Etienne ultras

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Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – Four French police officers were hurt during clashes outside Saint-Etienne’s stadium after Monaco crushed the home team, police and local government said on Saturday.

The Ligue 1 game was played on Friday with the two stands behind the goals in the Stade Geoffroy Guichard closed as punishment for incidents involving Saint-Etienne’s ultras during another heavy home defeat in the derby against Lyon on November 5.

Brazilian far-right party deny Ronaldinho will be candidate

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – A far-right Brazilian party on Friday denied reports that World Cup-winning footballer Ronaldinho is to be one of its candidates in elections for the Senate.

“There is no agreement between the party and Ronaldinho for him to launch a bid for a Senate seat,” the party, Patriota, said.

Mourinho faces Ibrahimovic dilemma for West Brom clash

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho must decide whether now is the time to recall Zlatan Ibrahimovic to his starting line-up as Manchester United prepare to visit West Brom in the Premier League on Sunday.

The former Paris Saint-Germain striker has played 73 minutes in five substitute appearances since returning from cruciate knee ligament damage against Newcastle in November.

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

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

Saturday’s match between Arsenal and Newcastle United will be featured on US television. Hosted at Emirates Stadium, the match is an important for both sides given one team has a race to be in contention for the Champions League and the other is trying to avoid relegation.

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

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

With Chelsea’s straightforward win against Huddersfield midweek, the Blues now have an opportunity to continue getting back to winning ways with their home match against Southampton at Stamford Bridge.

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

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

Two of the top teams in the Premier League clash on Saturday in a huge match live from the City of Manchester Stadium. This one should be a cracker.

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

Match: Manchester City vs.

Monaco hit four to stay in PSG chase

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Paris (AFP) – Reigning French champions Monaco eased past struggling Saint-Etienne 4-0 on Friday to stay on PSG’s tail with the highly coveted Fabinho and Thomas Lemar among the scorers.

Djibril Sidibe curled in the opener after Keita Balde shot was blocked and Thomas Lemar - the target of a bid by Arsenal in the summer - scored on 32 minutes after weaving through the St Etienne defence.

Neves stunner edges Wolves past gutsy Wednesday

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London (AFP) – A wonderful strike by Portuguese star Ruben Neves was sufficient to see Wolverhampton Wanderers beat an unlucky Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 on Friday and extend their lead at the top of the Championship.

The 20-year-old - the most expensive player in the second tier with Wolves paying nigh on £16 million ($21.

Mourinho ready to cut fringe United players

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho will allow any unhappy fringe player to leave Manchester United in the January transfer window, which will spark speculation over the futures of the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Mourinho adopted the same policy in the last winter transfer window when he agreed to requests from Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay to leave the club to pursue regular first-team football elsewhere.

Guardiola backs flying Manchester City to keep improving

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Friday warned the rest of the Premier League that his runaway leaders still have room to get even better.

City set a new English top-flight record on Wednesday with a 16th successive win as they beat Swansea City 4-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

I let the Crystal Palace team down, says Benteke

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London (AFP) – Christian Benteke admitted he let his Crystal Palace team-mates down by missing a penalty he should not by rights have taken in the 2-2 draw with fellow Premier League strugglers Bournemouth last Saturday.

The 27-year-old Belgian international - who is yet to score in 12 appearances this season - should have let Luka Milivojevic take the penalty late in the game as he had already scored from the spot earlier in the game.

FIFA threatens to boot Spain out of World Cup

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Madrid (AFP) – The governing body of world football (FIFA) confirmed on Friday that it has written to the Spanish federation (RFEF) warning they could be suspended form the 2018 World Cup because of political interference.

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Spain had received “no such letter from FIFA.

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

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If a side boasts an 11-point lead at the top of any domestic division, suddenly games involving those outfits challenging for the title feel a little less significant.

Yet on the flipside, if the runaway leaders have strung together 15 wins playing irrepressible attacking football, then they’re always worth a watch, as is the case in the Premier League.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 18

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Weekend Premier League coverage begins this Saturday, December 16, at 6:30 a.m. ET with Premier League Live on NBCSN, followed by Leicester City v. Crystal Palace at 7:30 a.m. ET. Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN hosts coverage of Chelsea v. Southampton, with Arsenal v. Newcastle United at 10 a.

Walker needs brains not just brawn, says Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Kyle Walker has been told by Pep Guardiola he is physically one of the best full-backs in the world, but needs to improve his football brain to maintain his form into his thirties.

The 27-year-old Manchester City full-back has enjoyed an excellent season since arriving from Tottenham Hotspur in July for a fee that could rise to £52million ($69million) with performance-related bonus clauses.

AC Milan faces UEFA financial fair-play penalties

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Lausanne (AFP) – AC Milan face penalties from UEFA after European football’s governing body said on Friday it had failed to strike a deal with the Italian club over its spending.

Seven-time European champions Milan have run up losses of 255 million euros ($300 million) in the last three seasons, way above the 30 million euros permitted by the rules that are designed to stop clubs from over-spending.

Klopp ridicules idea the ‘dark days are back’

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp took issue on Friday with the notion that because Liverpool have drawn their last two games the “dark days are back” in terms of inconsistency.

The 50-year-old German - whose side have drawn successive games against Everton and West Brom which dampened spirits followed a stunning 7-0 Champions League humbling of Spartak Moscow - said his players had not lost their creative spark.

Neymar ready to face Rennes says Emery

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar, who made a three-day trip to Brazil earlier in the week, should be ready to play for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 this weekend, manager Unai Emery said on Friday.

Neymar flew home to Brazil for three days because of a “family problem” and returned to France on Wednesday.

Guardiola backs flying Man City to keep improving

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Friday warned the rest of the Premier League that his runaway leaders still have room to get even better.

City set a new English top-flight record on Wednesday with a 16th successive win as they beat Swansea City 4-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

Griezmann will leave Atletico: Simeone

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Paris (AFP) – Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone admitted on Friday that French forward Antoine Griezmann would likely leave the club in the near future.

The 26-year-old was heavily linked with a move in the close season, but with Atletico under a transfer ban, signed a new contract to stay until 2022.

Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom retires

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Stockholm (AFP) – Kim Kallstrom, who won 131 caps for Sweden, announced on Friday that he was hanging up his boots at the age of 35.

The left-sided midfielder had returned to one of his first clubs, Djurgardens, in Stockholm, on a two-year deal before the recently completed Swedish season.

Man Utd defeat left its mark, admits Wenger

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger admitted on Friday that his Arsenal team’s 3-1 defeat by Manchester United a fortnight ago has left his side psychologically scarred in their matches since.

Draws against struggling Southampton and West Ham United have seen Arsenal slip to seventh in the table, a massive 19 points behind leaders Manchester City but only a point outside the Champions League spots.

Manchester United’s Bailly set for ankle surgery

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho confirmed on Friday that Manchester United defender Eric Bailly will be forced to undergo surgery that will keep him out for up to three months.

Bailly, so dominant in United’s strong start to the campaign, has not played since the start of November after picking up an ankle injury while on international duty with the Ivory Coast.

Brazilian football chief Del Nero gets 90-day FIFA ban

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Paris (AFP) – FIFA handed Brazilian football confederation (CBF) president Marco Polo Del Nero a 90-day provisional ban from all football activities on Friday.

The 76-year-old, a former member of the FIFA Council, is the latest prominent South American official to be banned by the sport’s governing body as part of its investigation into a vast corruption scandal.

Beckham’s Miami MLS venture gets go-ahead for additional owners

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Miami (AFP) – English football icon David Beckham has a new trio of partners in his bid to bring a Major League Soccer club to Miami.

The league said Thursday it had approved the addition to Beckham’s ownership group of Jorge and Jose Mas, leaders of telecommunications giant MasTec, and Japanese entrepreneur and SoftBank founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son.

Champions League hurting Chelsea’s chances – Hazard

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London (AFP) – Eden Hazard admits Chelsea are experiencing a more gruelling December than during last season’s Premier League title-winning campaign because of the club’s involvement in the Champions League.

Antonio Conte’s side welcome Southampton to Stamford Bridge this weekend after recovering from the shock defeat at West Ham United with a convincing 3-1 midweek win at Huddersfield Town.

Wenger desperate for win in race for Champions League places

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger knows Arsenal cannot afford another slip-up when they face Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium aiming to end a damaging run of three Premier League games without a win.

Wenger’s team played a scoreless draw at West Ham United on Wednesday and is in seventh place going into Saturday’s meeting with Rafael Benitez’s team.

Record-breaker Guardiola relishes Tottenham test

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s hunger to make history with Manchester City remains undiminished after his side became the first in the history of the English top flight to win 15 successive games.

City reached the milestone with a ruthless 4-0 victory at Swansea City on Wednesday, which preserved their massive 11-point lead at the Premier League summit.

Schalke’ Tedesco heads crop of young Bundesliga coaches

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Berlin (AFP) – Domenico Tedesco has steered sleeping giants Schalke to second place in the Bundesliga with the 32-year-old part of a crop of young coaches enjoying success in Germany’s top flight.

The Royal Blues of Gelsenkirchen took a gamble at the start of the season by plucking Tedesco from second-division Erzgebirge Aue to revitalise their squad.

Donnarumma row reopens old wounds for AC Milan

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Milan (AFP) – The contract soap opera that engulfed AC Milan and their promising young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the summer has come back to haunt the Serie A giants just as they try to get their faltering season back on track.

Milan, seventh and 11 points off the Champions League places, travel to Verona on Sunday looking to build on two wins in a row in league and cup after a torrid first half to their campaign.

Juventus women ‘liberating passions’ in Italy

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – After 120 years, The Old Lady of Turin has finally opened its doors to an elite women’s team, which is shaking up the world of women’s football in Italy.

Since September, Rita Guarino’s Juventus women have swept aside their rivals with eight wins from eight league games so far, including the last two champions Brescia and Fiorentina.

In Manchester City’s shadow, Premier League top-four scrap begins

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London (AFP) – With Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking Manchester City team galloping away towards the Premier League title, attention is starting to shift to the jostling for Champions League positions.

Manchester United, 11 points below City in second place, and third-place Chelsea are well placed, but beneath them the picture is more fluid.

British MPs give sports whistleblowers a voice

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London (AFP) – Sports bodies are “massively lacking” when it comes to addressing the concerns of whistleblowers, says a lawmaker who helped expose failings at the Football Association and within British cycling.

Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sports parliamentary committee, told AFP that people often find it necessary to go outside their sport to get their voices heard.

Pulisic makes history as US men’s footballer of the year

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Christian Pulisic won US Soccer’s Male Player of the Year award for 2017 in a landslide, becoming at 19 the youngest footballer to earn the honor.

The Borussia Dortmund midfielder dominated the voting process, getting the nod from 94 percent of those polled.

“It really is a big honor and I just want to thank everyone who voted for me to win US Male Player of the Year,” Pulisic said in a statement on the US Soccer Federation website.

Anderson scores first Lazio goal since return in cup win

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Milan (AFP) – Felipe Anderson scored his first goal of the season on Thursday as Lazio cruised into the quarter finals of the Italian Cup after beating Serie B side Cittadella 3-1.

Lazio will face Fiorentina in the quarter finals, which are being played on December 27 and January 3.

Arsenal could be switching to yet another formation

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Eight months ago, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made a big change to his team’s formation in an effort to finish the remainder of the 2016/17 season on a strong note. The move from a back four to a three-man central defense paid off. With the new defense, the Gunners won nine of the final 10 games of the campaign, including an upset victory FA Cup final against Chelsea.

Video referees for French football next season

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Paris (AFP) – French football’s top division Ligue 1 is set for video assistant referees next season after several club chiefs revealed that they had agreed in principle to adopt the technology.

“Video technology will be in Ligue 1 next season,” said the president of Giungamp Bertrand Desplat after Thursday’s general meeting of the French football league (LFP).

FA asks Mourinho to explain pre-derby comments

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London (AFP) – England’s Football Association has asked Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho to explain comments he made in the build-up to last weekend’s 2-1 derby defeat by Manchester City.

“He has until 6pm (1800 GMT) on Monday 18 December to respond,” an FA spokesperson said on Twitter.

Wales FA to take no action over chief’s ‘not English’ remark

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London (AFP) – The Welsh FA confirmed on Thursday they will take no further action after chief executive Jonathan Ford’s comment that the next manager will “definitely” not be English.

Ford said last week that the Football Association of Wales (FAW) would prefer Chris Coleman’s successor to be Welsh and “definitely not English”.

PSG coach Emery’s house robbed on match night

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery’s Paris apartment was burgled on Wednesday evening as his side won a cup tie away at Strasbourg.

The robbery at the top floor flat of a chic Parisian street in the 16th arrondissement was discovered around 11pm by Emery’s wife.

Can MLS TV ratings improve without promotion/relegation?

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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 54, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• A discussion about whether MLS TV ratings can improve without promotion/relegation,

• News on how FOX Sports is planning to promote the 2018 FIFA World Cup,

• Our opinions about the MLS Cup final TV coverage,

• Big news from NBC Sports regarding more Premier League coverage,

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

Lewandowski shoots into Bundesliga’s top 10

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski has fired his way into 10th place in the list of the Bundesliga’s all-time top scorers as the Polish striker just keeps on hitting the net.

Lewandowski rescued Bayern with a second-half winner in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over bottom side Cologne as the league leaders struggled to break down a determined defence at the sold-out Allianz Arena.

Guardiola tells City history men to keep at it

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Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has demanded no let-up from his history-making Manchester City side after they recorded a record-breaking 15th straight Premier League win.

Guardiola paid tribute to his table-topping team after they brushed aside Swansea City 4-0 on Wednesday to set a new English top-flight record for successive victories.

Mourinho reveals Bailly could be out for season

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho admitted he is not certain if Manchester United defender Eric Bailly will play again this season after revealing he may need surgery on a persistent ankle injury.

Bailly, 23, has not played for United since a defeat at Chelsea at the start of last month, having sustained the injury while on international duty with the Ivory Coast.

Klopp defends rotation after Liverpool held again

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted he won’t ditch his rotation policy after the German’s decision to make six changes back-fired in a 0-0 draw against lowly West Bromwich Albion.

Klopp claimed Liverpool were unlucky as they were denied victory when Dominic Solanke had a goal ruled out for handball with eight minutes left at Anfield on Wednesday.

Wenger won’t abandon Arsenal title hope

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has refused to give up on the Premier League title despite a goalless draw at West Ham United that left Arsenal 19 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

Arsenal are seventh, below Burnley, having added just two points in three games after a 3-1 defeat at home to Manchester United and a 1-1 draw at Southampton before Wednesday’s stalemate.

‘Mourinho of Pyongyang’ Andersen plots North Korea revival

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Tokyo (AFP) – City slicker Jose Mourinho famously lives in a plush Manchester hotel, but he has nothing on North Korea coach Jorn Andersen - he has a suite in Pyongyang.

“It’s a very quiet city, it’s very clean, there’s no crime,” the former Norway international told AFP in an interview in Tokyo.

Monaco look to revive French Ligue 1 title challenge

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Paris (AFP) – Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco head to Saint-Etienne on Friday hoping to put a recent slump in form firmly behind them with a third straight Ligue 1 victory.

The reigning French champions sit nine points adrift of league leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who visit Rennes on Saturday, after following back-to-back defeats with successive wins over lowly Angers and Troyes.

Christmas congestion no excuse: Celtic manager Rodgers

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says his side’s hectic festive fixture list is not an excuse for any dip in performances from the Scottish champions.

A clinical first-half performance from the Glasgow giants saw them record a 3-1 win over Hamilton on Wednesday to extend their unbeaten domestic run to 69 matches.

Pochettino spies good omens for Manchester City trip

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino reflected with satisfaction on Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion despite the slightly fortunate nature of his side’s goals.

Serge Aurier’s freakish first goal for Tottenham after 40 minutes broke the deadlock at Wembley on Wednesday, his cross going straight into the net to break Brighton’s dogged resistance.

Man City hailed as Premier League greats after 15th straight win

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are being widely hailed as one of the best sides in Premier League history after they set a stunning new record of 15 straight wins.

In its 25-year history, the Premier League has boasted a series of outstanding sides including Manchester United’s treble-winners, Arsenal’s “Invincibles” and Jose Mourinho’s powerful Chelsea side in his first stint at the club.

Aurier, Son strike as Spurs down Brighton

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London (AFP) – Goals from Serge Aurier and Son Heung-Min fired Tottenham to a 2-0 victory against Brighton that moved them into fourth place in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Although nowhere near their best, Tottenham led thanks to Ivory Coast right-back Aurier, who scored a freak first goal for the club after 40 minutes with a cross that deceived Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

PSG cruise into League Cup quarters

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain brushed off the absence of Neymar to ease into the French League Cup quarter-finals with a 4-2 victory at Strasbourg on Wednesday.

The Ligue 1 leaders gained a measure of revenge for their shock 2-1 league defeat by Strasbourg less than a fortnight ago as they started their bid for a fifth straight League Cup title.

Silva shines as City power to record 15th successive win

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London (AFP) – Manchester City powered to a Premier League record 15th successive victory as David Silva’s double inspired a 4-0 demolition of rock-bottom Swansea on Wednesday.

Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero also found the net as the runaway leaders broke the previous Premier League record winning streak set by Arsenal between February and August 2002.

Arsenal held by improving West Ham

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London (AFP) – Arsenal lost ground on their rivals for a Premier League top-four place after a 0-0 draw at London Stadium on Wednesday that left West Ham United stuck in the relegation places.

The Gunners bossed possession but created few clear chances and are now seventh in the table, still below Burnley and now behind Tottenham Hotspur, having dropped seven points from their last three games.

Man City set win record, Lukaku lifts Man Utd

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London (AFP) – David Silva scored twice as runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City won 4-0 at Swansea City on Wednesday to set a new English top-flight record of 15 consecutive victories.

Pep Guardiola’s side, 2-1 winners at second-place Manchester United on Sunday, won comfortably at the Liberty Stadium to eclipse the mark of 14 successive wins set by Arsenal in 2002.

West Brom frustrate Liverpool but set unwanted record

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool suffered a frustrating night as a sturdy West Brom side held them to a goalless draw at Anfield and climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference.

Substitute Dominic Solanke thought he had won the match with eight minutes left when he turned in Joe Gomez’s cross from close range, but referee Paul Tierney ruled out the goal for handball.

Lukaku helps Man United over derby hangover

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku’s 14th goal of the season got Manchester United back to winning ways in a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth on Wednesday following their derby defeat by Manchester City.

United were far from convincing, but after Sunday’s loss to City and the ugly changing-room altercation that followed, they at least prevented Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders from increasing their 11-point lead.

Lewandowski strikes as Bayern open nine-point gap

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski bagged his 15th goal in 16 league games as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich went nine points clear despite struggling to beat bottom side Cologne 1-0 on Wednesday.

The Poland hot-shot has failed to score in only four of Bayern’s league matches this season and has netted 21 goals in all competitions.

17 fans hurt during Belgrade derby

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Belgrade (AFP) – A mass brawl between supporters of Belgrade rivals Red Star and Partizan resulted in 17 people suffering injuries, the Beta agency said on Wednesday.

AFP photographers at Partizan’s Stadion Partizana said the fight broke out in a section of the stadium housing home fans and lasted around 10 minutes.

Returning Bale rescues Real from Al Jazira upset

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Gareth Bale came off the bench to book Real Madrid’s place in the Club World Cup final as the European champions recovered from the shock of going behind to beat Emirati champions Al Jazira 2-1 on Wednesday.

Despite dominating throughout, Madrid trailed at half-time to Romarinho’s opener in a match also marred by use of the video assistant referee (VAR) that ruled out a goal for both sides.

Nagbe joins Atlanta in record-breaking deal

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Los Angeles (AFP) – US international Darlington Nagbe is heading from the Portland Timbers to Atlanta United in a deal worth up to a record $1.65 million (1.4 million euros).

The exact figure of the deal depends on contract incentives, but it could exceed the most allocation money ever exchanged between two Major League Soccer Clubs in a single trade - the $1.

FA gives United, City more time to explain bust-up

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London (AFP) – The Football Association on Wednesday gave Manchester United and Manchester City extra time to explain the ugly post-match scenes at Old Trafford following victory for Pep Guardiola’s team.

Runaway Premier League leaders City opened an 11-point gap over second-placed United with their 2-1 win on Sunday.

Neymar returns to Paris after Brazil trip

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has returned to the French capital and will train on Thursday after being allowed to visit his native Brazil on family matters, the Ligue 1 leaders said Wednesday.

The world’s most expensive player will miss Wednesday’s French League Cup tie at Strasbourg, after also sitting out last weekend’s 3-1 win over Lille through suspension.

Most fans comfortable with gay players

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London (AFP) – More than three-quarters of football fans across the globe would have no problem if a player in their national team came out as gay or bisexual, a poll showed on Wednesday.

Conducted by fan-opinion platform Forza Football and campaign group Stonewall, the survey asked more than 50,000 supporters in 38 countries about their attitudes towards inclusion and homophobia.

Fabinho expecting to leave Monaco next year

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Monaco (AFP) – Brazilian international Fabinho said on Wednesday that he will probably leave French champions Monaco at the end of the season, but that he has no intention of departing in January.

The 24-year-old was linked with a transfer in the close season after a stellar campaign in which he helped the principality club win the Ligue 1 title and reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Bayern maintain iron-grip as Leipzig falter

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig risk falling off the pace in the pack chasing run-away Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich with their coach Ralph Hasenhuettl admitting his side is flagging.

“We’re running close to empty and you can see the team is torturing itself,” said Hasenhuettl after his team scraped a 1-1 draw on Tuesday to just hold onto second place in the table.

Iniesta savours Barcelona’s Stamford Bridge return

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta admitted his late goal to knock Chelsea out in the Champions League semi-finals in 2009 is one of his best memories ahead of his club’s return to Stamford Bridge.

The sides were paired together again in Monday’s Champions League last 16 draw with Barca travelling to London for the first leg on February 20.

Aubameyang puts Lamborghini up for sale

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund fans can now drive off in one of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s distinctive luxury sports cars after the Gabon international put it on the market for 279,980 euros ($329,096).

German daily Bild report that the striker has put his silver-painted Lamborghini Aventador, advertised as a ‘celebrity vehicle’, up for sale with a car dealer in Dormagen, near Cologne.

Welsh FA chief faces probe over ‘not English’ remark

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London (AFP) – Welsh FA chief executive Jonathan Ford is to face a disciplinary commission over his comment that the next Wales manager will “definitely” not be English, potentially delaying the appointment of a new national team boss.

Ford said last week that the Football Association of Wales (FAW) would prefer Chris Coleman’s successor to be Welsh and “definitely not English”.

Where to find Flamengo vs. Independiente Copa Sudamericana final on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Flamengo vs. Independiente in the Copa Sudamericana final, you’ve come to the right place.

The final of the Copa Sudamericana kicks off tonight featuring Flamengo from Brazil against Independiente of Argentina. In the first leg, Independiente had a slender 2-1 lead, so it’s all still to play for in this second leg.

Nagatomo rescues Inter in Italian Cup

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Milan (AFP) – Serie A leaders Inter Milan squeezed into the quarter-finals of the Italian Cup on Tuesday, winning 5-4 on penalties after being held 0-0 after extra time by third division Pordenone.

Japanese defender Yuto Nagatomo nailed the winner from the spot after 120 minutes of frustration at the San Siro as home goalkeeper Daniele Padelli saved two penalties to put seven-time winners Inter through to a showdown with either AC Milan or Verona, who play on Wednesday.

‘Honest’ Conte says title still a pipe dream

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte says he would rather be honest than pretend he believes his team are realistic contenders for the Premier League title.

Conte claimed after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at West Ham United that his side’s defence of their title was effectively over.

Five areas to tackle for new Shanghai SIPG boss Pereira

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Shanghai (AFP) – Former Porto and Fenerbahce boss Vitor Pereira vowed to go one better than fellow Portuguese Andre Villas-Boas and win a trophy in his first season at big-spending Shanghai SIPG.

But the 49-year-old, who succeeded Villas-Boas at Porto in 2011 and was named his replacement at SIPG on Tuesday, will face a number of challenges on his first foray into China and its peculiarities.

Pochettino mulls tunnel re-think after derby brawl

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has joked the see-through tunnel at his club’s new stadium might need to be covered up following the fracas that marred Sunday’s Manchester derby.

England’s Football Association is investigating reports of a mass brawl that erupted in a corridor leading away from the Old Trafford tunnel following Manchester City’s 2-1 win at Manchester United.

Falcao’s 50-yard stunner seals Monaco win

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Paris (AFP) – An outrageous strike by Radamel Falcao was the highlight as a much-changed Monaco side eased to a 2-0 win over Caen to reach the quarter-finals of France’s League Cup on Tuesday.

Monaco were leading through Guido Carrillo’s first-half effort when Falcao - who had come off the bench - took a touch just inside the Caen half on the edge of the centre circle.

Mourinho defiant, Guardiola sorry for derby ruck

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has dismissed claims his Manchester United players were in the wrong during the chaotic post-match confrontation that overshadowed Sunday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

England’s Football Association is investigating claims around 15 people were involved in a physical altercation after Mourinho complained about the volume of Manchester City’s dressing-room celebrations.

Chelsea give Conte cheer, Burnley go fourth

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea responded perfectly to head coach Antonio Conte’s claim their Premier League title hopes are over with a convincing 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday.

Tiemoue Bakayoko opened the scoring midway through the first half with a deft clipped finish, offering an answer to supporters who have criticised him for a series of poor performances following his July move from Monaco.

Stoeger off to winning start with Dortmund

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Berlin (AFP) – New coach Peter Stoeger led Borussia Dortmund to their first victory in 10 games on Tuesday, as his side picked up a hard-fought 2-0 win away to Mainz.

It was victory at the first attempt for Stoeger, who replaced Peter Bosz as head coach of the struggling side on Sunday.

Zidane guards against Madrid complacency in Club World Cup

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has warned his side not to take Al Jazira lightly as the clubs prepare to meet in the semi-final of the Club World Cup on Wednesday.

Al Jazira are appearing at the tournament as champions of the host nation the United Arab Emirates, and reached the last four by edging out Auckland City of New Zealand 1-0 and then defeating the Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds by the same score-line at the weekend.

Struggling Lille hit with transfer ban

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Paris (AFP) – Ligue 1 strugglers Lille, who recently suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa, have been slapped with a transfer ban, the French league (LFP) announced on Tuesday.

A brief statement said that Lille were “banned from recruiting” following a hearing before French football’s financial watchdog, the DNCG, in Paris into their financial situation.

Leipzig stumble again with Wolfsburg draw

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig dropped more crucial points in the Bundesliga title race as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to Wolfsburg on Tuesday.

Wolfsburg took the lead against the run of play on 15 minutes, Paul Verhaegh coolly slotting home a penalty after Ibrahima Konate’s foul on Mario Gomez.

4.9 million watch Tigres-Monterrey Liga MX final on Univision

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It wasn’t as great as the record-breaking 6 million combined total that watched the 2016 Liga MX Apertura Final, but the 2017 final still produced impressive numbers for Univision Deportes.

For the two legs of the final combined, the 2017 Liga MX Apertura final between Monterrey and Tigres totaled 4.

Neymar to miss PSG Cup tie after returning to Brazil

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain will again be without Neymar for their League Cup tie at Strasbourg on Wednesday, the club confirmed.

Coach Unai Emery confirmed on Monday that the world’s most expensive player had been allowed to return to his native Brazil to deal with a family matter.

UEFA and UN to stage ‘Match for Solidarity’ in April

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Paris (AFP) – UEFA and the United Nations will team up to stage a charity match in Geneva on April 21 next year, European football’s governing body said on Tuesday.

Two star-studded teams, managed by Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti and France coach Didier Deschamps and captained by Luis Figo and Ronaldinho, will take to the field at the Stade de Geneve in a match whose proceeds UEFA says will help “finance international humanitarian and development projects”.

Man Utd-Man City viewership beats MLS Cup final by 18%

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Sunday’s Manchester derby that aired on NBCSN and Telemundo averaged 1.4 million viewers, which was 18% greater than the viewership for the 2017 MLS Cup final that aired on ESPN, UniMas and Univision Deportes.

Manchester City won the match 2-1 in an impressive performance at Old Trafford to continue their unbeaten streak to 14 matches in the Premier League.

World Cup winner Goetze writes children’s book

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s World Cup winner Mario Goetze has started a sideline career as an author after releasing his illustrated children’s book “Mario’s Big Dream” on Tuesday to raise money for charity.

“I have so much to thank football for and it is my wish to give something back to others and share something with them,” the Borussia Dortmund midfielder told SID, an AFP subsidiary.

Bayern winger Ribery taken to court by ex-agent

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery briefly appeared in court in Germany on Tuesday over claims he owes 3.5 million euros ($4.1m) to his ex-agent before the case was adjourned until January.

The 34-year-old is contesting claims over unpaid commission from his 2007 transfer from Marseille to Bayern, which cost 25 million euros.

Mourinho accuses Manchester City of lack of ‘education’

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has accused Manchester City players of a lack of “education” over their celebrations at Old Trafford following Sunday’s derby win.

The Manchester United manager was reluctant to speak about the confrontation outside the dressing rooms that followed City’s 2-1 victory at Old Trafford.

Guardiola defends Manchester City celebrations after derby win

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has defended Manchester City’s celebrations after the Premier League leaders beat fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, saying they were “definitely not” over the top.

United boss Jose Mourinho was unhappy with City’s reaction after their 2-1 win on Sunday and made his feelings known outside the visitors’ dressing room on the way to his post-match interviews.

Tottenham defender Alderweireld out until February

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London (AFP) – Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino confirmed on Tuesday that Belgium international defender Toby Alderweireld’s hamstring problem will keep him out of action until February.

Alderweireld, 28, sustained the injury against Real Madrid on November 1 and the Belgian is expected to miss another eight weeks of competitive action.

Klopp admits passions ruled after derby draw

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp admitted on Tuesday that he got caught up in the heat of the moment after Liverpool conceded a late penalty to draw at home with Everton.

The Liverpool boss is known for his animated reactions but his behaviour came under extra scrutiny after a tetchy television interview minutes after Everton secured a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Sunday with a spot-kick he felt should not have been given.

Hoffenheim aiming to fend off Dortmund over Nagelsmann

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Berlin (AFP) – Hoffenheim’s backer has assured fans the club will keep star coach Julian Nagelsmann, 30, for at least another 18 months amidst reports Borussia Dortmund want him for 2018/19.

“The club have done their homework, Julian has a binding contract with us until June 30, 2019,” Hoffenheim’s billionaire backer Dietmar Hopp told supporters at the club’s annual general meeting on Monday.

2017 MLS Cup final viewership drops 43% across ESPN and Univision Deportes

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The 2017 MLS Cup final between Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders averaged 1.1 million viewers across ESPN, UniMas and Univision Deportes combined, which is a 43% drop compared to last year’s final.

On the English-language ESPN broadcast, the match averaged 803,000 viewers. Meanwhile, the game averaged 304,000 viewers on UniMas and Univision Deportes.

ESPN could be go-to network for World Cup analysis instead of rights holder FOX Sports

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For immediate analysis on TV after the FIFA World Cup Draw wrapped up on December 1, soccer fans in the United States had several choices to choose from. For most of them, the easiest way was to continue watching the coverage on FOX Sports 1. However, the viewers “voted” by watching the analysis on a completely different network - one that doesn’t even have the rights to the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

Giroud gives Wenger selection poser for West Ham clash

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London (AFP) – Olivier Giroud came to Arsenal’s rescue against Southampton but it remains to be seen whether the striker has done enough to earn his first Premier League start of the season at West Ham United.

The 31-year-old French international came off the bench for the 13th time in the league to head a late equaliser that ensured Arsene Wenger’s side left St Mary’s Stadium with a point.

Celtic are still sharp, says Dembele

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic striker Moussa Dembele says his side’s focus remains on winning with Hamilton due to visit on Wednesday despite dropping points in two of their past three Scottish Premiership outings.

The champions extended their record-breaking domestic unbeaten run to 68 games with a 2-2 draw with Hibernian on Sunday but came close to seeing it end as Hibs came close to a late winner after battling back from two goals down.

Spurs sharpshooter Kane prays a corner has been turned

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane hopes the 5-1 victory over Stoke on Saturday is proof his side are back to their best after going four matches without a league win.

Kane, whose brace on Saturday took his tally to 50 goals for the calendar year, will get a quick response as Spurs host Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

Mata rallies United in wake of Mourinho defeatism

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United players will have to motivate themselves at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday after manager Jose Mourinho suggested their Premier League title challenge was probably over.

The 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City on Sunday leaves United second in the table but a daunting 11 points behind their city rivals.

Rejuvenated Real Madrid eye fifth prize of 2017

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid can round off the most successful year in the club’s already glorious history by claiming a fifth trophy in 2017 at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi this week.

They won La Liga, the Champions League, UEFA and Spanish Super Cup in a thrilling fashion after hitting top form in a four-month spell between April and August, but since then the European champions have faded, understandably fatigued by a heavy schedule.

Gomez urges Liverpool team-mates to make West Brom suffer

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has urged his team-mates to bounce back from the draw in the Merseyside derby when they host West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday.

The Reds were held 1-1 by Everton at Anfield despite having the bulk of possession in the match after Wayne Rooney’s penalty cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s opening goal.

Manchester City eye record against Swansea

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City look unstoppable in their relentless surge towards the Premier League title, and only have lowly Swansea standing in the way of Pep Guardiola’s men setting a new record of consecutive wins on Wednesday.

City are 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League and the managers of Manchester United and Chelsea both effectively conceded defeat in the title race at the weekend.

Shanghai SIPG name Pereira as Villas-Boas successor

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG on Tuesday unveiled former Porto and Fenerbahce boss Vitor Pereira as their new coach after fellow Portuguese Andre Villas-Boas left the big-spending Chinese Super League (CSL) side.

The 49-year-old Pereira, who was once assistant to Villas-Boas at Porto, has been out of football management since leaving 1860 Munich following their relegation to the third tier in May.

New Shanghai SIPG boss Pereira vows to go one better

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Shanghai (AFP) – Vitor Pereira wants to go one better than predecessor Andre Villas-Boas by winning a title after being named coach of big-spending Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG on Tuesday.

The 49-year-old, who was once assistant to Villas-Boas at Porto, has been out of football since leaving 1860 Munich following relegation to the German third tier in May.

North Korea tumble to defeat by South in Tokyo dust-up

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Tokyo (AFP) – North Korea fell to a 1-0 defeat by South Korea on the football pitch Tuesday in a full-blooded international given added spice by simmering political tensions between the two countries.

A freak own goal by defender Ri Yong-Chol 25 minutes from time in Tokyo proved the difference in a tempestuous East Asian championship clash bristling with testosterone and pent-up emotion.

Russia on alert for returning IS jihadists ahead of World Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – Russia’s security service on Tuesday said it was on alert for the possible return of jihadists from Syria ahead of the World Cup and the presidential election in 2018.

The FSB’s warning came after the Russian military last week declared Syria “liberated” from the Islamic State group, and after a visit on Monday by President Vladimir Putin to Russia’s airbase in the war-ravaged country.

North Korea’s footballers floored by South in Tokyo dust-up

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Tokyo (AFP) – North Korea fell to a 1-0 defeat by South Korea on the football pitch Tuesday in a full-blooded international given added spice by simmering political tensions between the two countries.

A freak own goal by defender Ri Yong-Chol 25 minutes from time in Tokyo proved the difference in a tempestuous East Asian championship clash bristling with testosterone and pent-up emotion.

PSG hope Neymar will return in 3-4 days

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain are hoping Neymar will return from Brazil in three or four days after he travelled home for personal reasons, coach Unai Emery said on Monday.

“We gave him permission to make this journey. I hope he will come back in three or four days’ time,” Emery said.

Lazio crash as Immobile sees red against Torino

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Rome (AFP) – Ciro Immobile was sent off as 10-man Lazio crashed to a 3-1 Serie A defeat against Torino in Rome on Monday.

Italian international Immobile saw red just before the break for a headbutt aimed at Torino defender Nicolas Burdisso.

The defeat ended Lazio’s hopes of joining city rivals Roma in fourth.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 17

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Mid-week match coverage begins Tuesday, December 12, at 2 p.m. ET with Premier League Live, followed by Huddersfield Town v. Chelsea at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage on Wednesday, December 13, begins at 2 p.m. ET with Premier League Live on NBCSN followed by Swansea versus Manchester City at 2:45 p.

Salah named BBC African player of the year

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London (AFP) – Egypt star Mohamed Salah won the prestigious BBC African Player of the Year award on Monday, rewarded for a 2017 packed with sparkling displays for Liverpool, Roma and his national team.

The 25-year-old topped a poll that saw a record number of votes cast after firing Egypt to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations and almost single-handedly taking Egypt to their first World Cup finals since 1990, scoring five and setting up their other two goals in qualifying.

Spalletti embarrassed by Mourinho comparisons

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti admitted Monday that he was embarrassed by constant comparisons with the Serie A club’s former treble-winning coach Jose Mourinho.

Spalletti’s side are the only unbeaten team in Serie A this season and sit top of the league a point ahead of Napoli with six-time defending champions Juventus two points behind in third.

Stoeger looks to reboot faltering Dortmund

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Berlin (AFP) – Peter Stoeger starts his colossal task of arresting Borussia Dortmund’s freefall down the Bundesliga table on Tuesday while former employers Cologne face a daunting trip to leaders Bayern Munich.

Stoeger has had little time to assess Dortmund’s problems ahead of his first match in charge, away to strugglers Mainz.

Chelsea battling for Champions League future: Conte

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte says Chelsea are battling to secure their Champions League future and warned of a “bad surprise” after weekend results left them 14 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

After a fourth loss in 16 games against West Ham on Saturday, the Chelsea boss thinks a title challenge is now all but over and spoke of a revised target ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League clash at Huddersfield.

Chinese-owned Inter offer 300m bonds

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Milan (AFP) – Italian Serie A giants Inter Milan on Monday officially announced the issuing of secured bonds worth 300 million euros ($353 million), maturing in 2022.

The former three-time European champions released a statement via its media administrator, Inter Media and Communication (IMC), confirming the bond offer.

Real Madrid tie a ‘wonderful opportunity’ for PSG – Emery

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery is confident his side have what it takes to get the better of title holders Real Madrid after the teams were drawn together in the Champions League on Monday.

The sides will meet in the last 16, surely not the tie PSG would have wanted after winning their group ahead of Bayern Munich.

Leverkusen rubbish Leno to Bayern reports

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayer Leverkusen’s director of sport Rudi Voeller denounced as “gibberish” media reports on Monday that their Germany international goalkeeper Bernd Leno is set to join Bayern Munich in January.

“That is gibberish,” said Voeller of any move for Leno, who has more than two years left on his Bayer contract.

Champions League – will the English 5 survive?

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London (AFP) – Chelsea’s mouthwatering tie with five-time European champions Barcelona is the standout fixture for English clubs in the Champions League last 16 as the Premier League sides scent blood.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea all progressed from the group stage, making England the first country to have so many sides through to the knockout phase.

Arsenal’s Europa League hopes to be tested by Swedish minnows

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Arsenal’s hopes of Europa League glory will be tested in the last 32 by Swedish minnows Ostersunds, ironically coached by the only English manager left in European competition and founded in the same month Arsene Wenger took over the Gunners.

In the draw made Monday, the Gunners were pitched against the central Swedish club coached by Graham Potter, who played for Southampton in the Premier League as part of a long career that saw him win one under-21 England cap and make 307 Football League appearances.

Real Madrid eye January swoop for Bilbao ‘keeper Arrizabalaga – reports

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid’s first foray into the January transfer market will be to snap up Athletic Bilbao’s promising goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Madrid-based sports daily Marca reported on Monday.

Arrizabalaga’s contract expires in June meaning he could leave Bilbao for free at the end of the season.

Ronaldo v Neymar as Real draw PSG in Champions League

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid will continue their bid for a first European Cup treble in 40 years against Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain after the big-spending duo were on Monday drawn together in a mouth-watering Champions League last 16 clash.

No club has won the European title three years running since Bayern Munich in the mid-1970s, underlining how big an achievement it would be if Madrid - 12 times winners overall - won the trophy again in the final in Kiev in May.

Mourinho clashes with Manchester City players: reports

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho became involved in a physical confrontation with Manchester City’s players after complaining about their post-derby celebrations, according to British media reports late on Sunday.

The Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph said Mourinho went to City’s changing room following United’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford because he felt their noisy celebrations were disrespectful.

Guardiola says derby win a triumph of honesty

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola said Manchester City’s triumph in the Manchester derby was a victory for the honesty of his players and their football following criticism from Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Set-piece goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi earned City a 2-1 win at a snow-flecked Old Trafford on Sunday that propelled Guardiola’s side a yawning 11 points clear of United at the Premier League summit.

Goal hero Giroud not for sale says Wenger

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger insists Olivier Giroud will not leave Arsenal in January despite the France striker’s lack of starting opportunities.

Giroud has yet to start a Premier League game this season, but he showed his value coming off the bench when he headed a late equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday.

Don’t blame my changes, insists fuming Klopp

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has defended his rotation policy after the Merseyside derby with Everton ended in a frustrating 1-1 draw.

Mohamed Salah had put the Reds ahead on Sunday with a stunning curling effort but the Toffees were awarded a spot-kick late in the second half when Dejan Lovren nudged over Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Chelsea face reality check as title hopes fade

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea’s powers of recovery will be tested as Antonio Conte’s side attempt to bounce back from a painful weekend defeat when they visit Huddersfield on Tuesday.

Conte claimed Chelsea were no longer in the Premier League title race in the wake of the 1-0 defeat at struggling West Ham on Saturday.

English quintet await Champions League last-16 draw

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – A record five English clubs will feature in the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League on Monday, amid talk that the Premier League is ready to dominate Europe once again.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea all progressed from the group stage, making England the first country to have so many sides through to the knockout phase.

Ex-Portugal boss Bento named Chongqing coach

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Shanghai (AFP) – Chinese Super League (CSL) side Chongqing Lifan on Monday unveiled former Portugal coach Paulo Bento as their new manager, nine months after he was sacked by Greek side Olympiakos.

A tough-tackling defensive midfielder during his playing career, Bento replaces South Korea’s Chang Woe-Ryong at Chongqing, which finished 10th in the 16-team CSL in the season that just ended.

Arteta left bloodied after Manchester derby bust-up – report

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London (AFP) – Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta was left with blood streaming down his face after a bust-up involving up to 20 players and members of staff following the Manchester derby, a report said on Monday.

Media reports on Sunday said Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho became involved in a physical confrontation with City’s players after complaining about their celebrations following a 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

FA demands answers after Old Trafford bust-up leaves Arteta ‘bloodied’

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London (AFP) – The Football Association demanded answers from Manchester United and Manchester City on Monday following reports of ugly scenes that reportedly left City assistant coach Mikel Arteta bloodied after a fracas.

The Guardian newspaper said Arteta was left with blood streaming down his face after a bust-up involving up to 20 players and members of staff from the two clubs after Sunday’s Manchester derby, which City won 2-1.

Bonaventura double gives Gattuso first win

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Milan (AFP) – Giacomo Bonaventura struck twice as AC Milan bounced back from last week’s embarrassing draw at Benevento by beating Bologna 2-1 on Sunday to give Gennaro Gattuso his first win as coach.

Midfielder Bonaventura opened the scoring early on before Simone Verdi’s leveller, but grabbed the winner 14 minutes from time.

Suarez, Messi maintain Barcelona’s La Liga lead

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona restored their lead at the top of La Liga to five points as Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi struck in the final 20 minutes to edge out 10-man Villarreal 2-0 on Sunday.

Daniel Raba’s red card on the hour mark for a wild lunge on Sergio Busquets handed Barca the initiative.

Turkey remembers victims of double bombings one year on

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Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish football giants Besiktas paid tribute Sunday to 46 people killed in twin bombings near the team’s stadium, as others held commemorations to mark the first anniversary of the attacks.

“The pain is as raw as the first day,” the club said in a statement.

Lyon and Marseille win, Balotelli Nice’s hero

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Paris (AFP) – Lyon and Marseille kept the pressure firmly on Monaco in the race for Champions League qualification in France as Mario Balotelli fired Nice to another victory on Sunday.

Teenage midfielder Houssem Aouar scored twice, including a last-gasp winner, as Lyon came from behind to triumph 2-1 at Amiens and go second on goal difference above both Monaco and Marseille.

Otamendi wins derby to fire Manchester City 11 points clear

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United’s defensive deficiencies gifted Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City a 2-1 derby victory on Sunday that allowed them to establish a massive 11-point lead in the Premier League.

Romelu Lukaku was United’s fall guy, his failure to clear two set-pieces enabling David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi to score either side of Marcus Rashford’s opportunistic equaliser in first-half injury time.

Freiburg win basement battle in seven-goal thriller

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Berlin (AFP) – Freiburg came from three goals down to win Sunday’s thrilling Bundesliga basement battle 4-3 at Cologne as visiting striker Nils Petersen wrapped up his hat-trick with a 95th-minute penalty.

A heavy overnight snowfall created testing conditions at bottom side Cologne, but the hosts charged into a 3-0 lead with just half an hour gone.

Otamendi gives Manchester City derby delight, Rooney denies Reds

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London (AFP) – Manchester City took a giant step towards the title as the leaders beat Manchester United 2-1 to clinch a record-equalling 14th successive Premier League victory, while Wayne Rooney’s late leveller gave Everton a 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Sunday.

City drew level with Arsenal’s previous record winning streak, set between February and August 2002, thanks to Nicolas Otamendi’s second-half winner.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for November 21-December 3, 2017

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Liga MX’s Liguilla has nearly come to an end, averaging 1.051 million viewers per match through the semi-final round. Single-match viewership peaked in the quarter-final round as 2.174 million viewers tuned in as Club América closed out the aggregate 0-0 series to advance and to face Tigres in the semi-finals via the high seed tiebreaker.

Lyon leave it late, Balotelli with Nice winner

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Paris (AFP) – Teenage midfielder Houssem Aouar scored with the last kick of the game as Lyon kept their charge towards the top of Ligue 1 going with a 2-1 win at Amiens on Sunday.

Aouar had earlier cancelled out Serge Gakpe’s opener for Amiens, setting up a grandstand finish that saw Gael Kakuta miss a penalty for the hosts before Lyon won it.

Injured Neuer vows to be fit for World Cup

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Berlin (AFP) – Captain Manuel Neuer insisted he will be fit for Germany’s World Cup title defence next year despite lingering doubts over his fractured foot.

The goalkeeper broke his left foot for the third time this year in September and does not expect to return to training with Bayern Munich until January.

Saul strike keeps Atletico on Barca’s tails

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid bounced back from the disappointment of being dumped out of the Champions League in midweek to keep their La Liga title challenge afloat by grinding out a 1-0 win at Real Betis on Sunday.

In the absence of top scorer Antoine Griezmann through injury, Saul Niguez once again provided a big goal for Atletico that takes Diego Simeone’s men to within three points of league leaders Barcelona.

Aouar the hero as Lyon leave it late

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Paris (AFP) – Teenage midfielder Houssem Aouar scored with the last kick of the game as Lyon kept their charge towards the top of Ligue 1 going with a 2-1 win at Amiens on Sunday.

Aouar had earlier cancelled out Serge Gakpe’s opener for Amiens, setting up a grandstand finish that saw Gael Kakuta miss a penalty for the hosts before Lyon won it.

Serie A top four all draw goalless blanks

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Milan (AFP) – It’s as you were at the top of Serie A after the top four all played out goalless draws this weekend, leaving unbeaten Inter Milan still leading the pack.

Napoli stay second on 39 points after their stalemate with Fiorentina on Sunday, one point behind Inter, who drew 0-0 at arch-rivals Juventus on Saturday night.

Saul strike keeps Atletico Madrid on Barcelona’s tails

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid bounced back from the disappointment of being dumped out of the Champions League in midweek to keep their La Liga title challenge afloat by grinding out a 1-0 win at Real Betis on Sunday.

In the absence of top scorer Antoine Griezmann through injury, Saul Niguez once again provided a big goal for Atletico that takes Diego Simeone’s men to within three points of league leaders Barcelona.

Rooney gives Everton a share of derby spoils

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Liverpool (AFP) – Wayne Rooney scored his first goal in a Merseyside derby as his late penalty earned Everton a 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday.

Liverpool had taken the lead in the 229th meeting of the old rivals when Mohamed Salah spectacularly curled a shot home just before half-time, but the Reds were unable to find a killer second goal at Anfield.

Freiburg win Bundesliga basement battle in seven-goal thriller

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Berlin (AFP) – Freiburg came from three goals down to win Sunday’s thrilling Bundesliga basement battle 4-3 at Cologne as visiting striker Nils Petersen wrapped up his hat-trick with a 95th-minute penalty.

A heavy overnight snowfall created testing conditions at bottom side Cologne, but the hosts charged into a 3-0 lead with just half an hour gone.

Napoli miss out on top spot with Fiorentina draw

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Milan (AFP) – Napoli missed out on the chance to reclaim top spot in Serie A after drawing 0-0 with Fiorentina on Sunday.

Napoli stayed second on 39 points, one behind unbeaten leaders Inter Milan, who drew 0-0 at arch-rivals Juventus on Saturday night, after a below-par performance that did not live up to their reputation as Serie A’s most attractive side.

Roma’s title hopes dented by Chievo stalemate

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Milan (AFP) – Roma failed to take their chance to close the gap on Serie A leaders Inter Milan wasting a host of chances and ending with just a goalless draw in Chievo on Sunday.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are on 35 points and five behind unbeaten Inter, who drew 0-0 at arch-rivals Juventus on Saturday, following a frustrating display in Verona that saw the away side force Chievo’s veteran goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino into some excellent saves.

5 things we learned from MLS Cup 2017

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Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the five things we learned from MLS Cup 2017.

1. Toronto Claims Its Place in History

It hadn’t been the easiest of journeys through the playoffs for Toronto FC, but on Saturday evening at BMO Field, they left no doubt as to their place as one of the best MLS team ever assembled.

Giroud strikes late to rescue Arsenal

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Olivier Giroud’s last-gasp header salvaged a point for Arsenal in a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday as Arsene Wenger’s side avoided a second successive Premier League defeat.

Wenger’s team appeared destined to follow last weekend’s home loss to Manchester United with another setback when they trailed to Charlie Austin’s third minute goal.

Altidore, Vazquez seal MLS Cup for Toronto

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Montreal (AFP) – Toronto FC claimed their maiden MLS Cup crown on Saturday, capping a magical Major League Soccer season with a 2-0 triumph over Seattle Sounders in Toronto.

Jozy Altidore fired Toronto into the lead in the 67th minute and Victor Vazquez sent the crowd at BMO field into a frenzy when he sealed the win in the fourth minute of second-half injury time.

Conte concedes title chances are gone

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte said Chelsea’s Premier League title defence is effectively over following his team’s 1-0 defeat to West Ham United on Saturday.

The loss at the London Stadium was the champions fourth in their opening 16 league games and left them 11 points behind Manchester City 24 hours before the leaders face second-placed Manchester United.

Son shines in Pochettino’s eyes

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London (AFP) – Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino heaped praise on Son Heung-Min after he inspired them into returning to winning ways with a 5-1 hammering of Stoke in Saturday’s Premier League clash.

The 25-year-old South Korean gave arguably his finest display in a Spurs shirt as they emphatically ended a four-match winless streak, scoring one and having a say in Ryan Shawcross’ opening own goal, the first of Harry Kane’s brace and the Christian Eriksen strike that completed the rout.

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

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

Liverpool’s unbeaten home run against Everton stands at 17 league games. Can new Everton boss Sam Allardyce do what is seemingly impossible? Defeating the Reds at Anfield?

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

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

The biggest match of the season so far will determine whether City will take an eleven point lead at the top of the table or if United will narrow the gap to five points.

Football: Altidore, Vazquez seal MLS Cup for Toronto

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Montreal (AFP) – Toronto FC claimed their maiden MLS Cup crown on Saturday, capping a magical Major League Soccer season with a 2-0 triumph over Seattle Sounders in Toronto.

Jozy Altidore fired Toronto into the lead in the 67th minute and Vazquez sent the crowd at BMO field into a frenzy when he sealed the win in the fourth minute of second-half injury time.

Man Utd, Man City face clash of ice and fire

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London (AFP) – Manchester United and Manchester City will have to contend with snow and sub-zero temperatures - as well as each other - in Sunday’s Premier League title showdown at Old Trafford.

Snow is forecast to fall across northwest England in the hours leading up to kick-off and temperatures are set to drop to -1 degree Celsius (30 Fahrenheit).

Fergie couldn’t put me off Manchester City: Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says Manchester City were always his first-choice club when he decided to come to the Premier League, despite Alex Ferguson’s attempt to lure him to Manchester United.

Former United manager Ferguson wrote in his 2015 book ‘Leading’ that he asked Guardiola to contact him before accepting his next job during a dinner in New York in 2012.

Inter Milan escape Juventus to stay top

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Milan (AFP) – Unbeaten Inter Milan maintained their lead at the top of Serie A after a hard-fought goalless draw at arch-rivals Juventus on Saturday.

Luciano Spalletti’s Inter leave Turin two points ahead of second-placed Napoli, who are level on 38 points with Juventus and have the chance to reclaim top spot at home to Fiorentina on Sunday.

Ronaldo stars as rejuvenated Real thrash Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid sent a warning to Barcelona just two weeks ahead of El Clasico by storming back into form as Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla on Saturday.

Sevilla had started the afternoon on the same number of points as Madrid in joint fourth, but the sides looked worlds apart as Real scored all five goals before half-time to close to within five points of Barca at the top of the table.

Bosz set to be sacked as Dortmund crash again

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Berlin (AFP) – Peter Bosz is on the verge of being sacked, according to reports, after Borussia Dortmund’s latest failure left them winless in their last eight Bundesliga games.

Dortmund’s miserable run continued on Saturday as they crashed to a 2-1 home defeat against third-bottom Werder Bremen.

Vidal fires Bayern Munich eight points clear

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Berlin (AFP) – Arturo Vidal’s fourth goal in as many league games shot Bayern Munich to a 1-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt and an eight-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Bayern’s win means that they cannot be caught before the winter break, which starts on December 17, and makes them ‘Herbstmeister’ (Autumn champions) for the seventh season in a row.

Real to play Al Jazira in Club World Cup semis

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Al Jazira set up a Club World Cup semi-final against Real Madrid after an Ali Mabkhout goal saw the Emiratis past Japan’s Urawa Reds 1-0 on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real will take on the local side on Wednesday.

The other semi-final, on Tuesday, will pitch Pachuca from Mexico against Copa Libertadores winners Gremio of Brazil.

PSG sink managerless Lille to halt slide

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Paris (AFP) – Runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain shook off the absence of the suspended Neymar on Saturday to end their recent wobble with a 3-1 win over managerless Lille in Ligue 1.

Argentine winger Angel Di Maria nodded in a cross from Kylian Mbappe on 28 minutes at a chilly Parc des Princes, with Pastore powering in a second just after half-time.

Wolves held by 10-man Sunderland

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London (AFP) – Wolverhampton Wanderers could see their lead in The Championship reduced to two points if Cardiff beat Reading on Monday after they were held 0-0 by 10-man Sunderland on Saturday.

Wolves dominated the game with 24 shots against second from bottom Sunderland who showed a resilient side to their character lacking in the first part of the season especially after Lee Cattermole was sent off in the 62nd minute.

Ronaldo stars as rejuvenated Real Madrid thrash Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid sent a warning to Barcelona just two weeks ahead of El Clasico by storming back into form as Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla on Saturday.

Sevilla had started the afternoon on the same number of points as Madrid in joint fourth, but the sides looked worlds apart as Real scored all five goals before half-time to close to within five points of Barca at the top of the table.

Vidal fires Bayern eight points clear

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Berlin (AFP) – Arturo Vidal’s fourth goal in as many league games shot Bayern Munich to a 1-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt and an eight-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Bayern’s win means that they cannot be caught before the winter break, which starts December 17, and makes them ‘Herbstmeister’ (Autumn champions) for the seventh season in a row.

Son sinks Stoke to get Spurs back on track

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London (AFP) – South Korean forward Son Heung-Min sparkled as Tottenham Hotspur returned to winning ways in style by crushing sorry Stoke City 5-1 at Wembley on Saturday.

After a four-game winless streak in the Premier League, Tottenham took their frustrations out on a poor Stoke side to provisionally climb to fifth place in the table.

Arnautovic strikes Hammer blow to Chelsea title bid

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London (AFP) – David Moyes claimed his first win as West Ham United manager after Marko Arnautovic’s goal gave the Premier League strugglers a shock 1-0 win over champions Chelsea on Saturday.

Arnautovic, the Hammers’ £24 million ($32.1 million, 27.3 million euros) record signing, struck in the sixth minute to earn Moyes his first win in his fifth game since succeeding Slaven Bilic.

Ronaldo presents fifth Ballon d’Or to Bernabeu

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo paraded his record-equalling fifth Ballon d’Or to an adoring Santiago Bernabeu before Real Madrid’s clash with Sevilla on Saturday.

Ronaldo pulled level on Thursday with Barcelona rival Lionel Messi as the only two men to have won the annual award for the best player in the world five times.

Guardiola fears Mourinho rope-a-dope in derby dust-up

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London (AFP) – The eyes of the football world will turn to a wintry corner of northwest England on Sunday when Manchester United tackle Manchester City in a mid-season Premier League title showdown.

City, the leaders, are gunning for a 14th successive league win - which would equal the all-time record in the English top flight - and can put a huge 11 points between themselves and second-place United if they prevail.

Liverpool not just the ‘Fab Four’, says Klopp

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp claims there is more to his side than his devastating “Fab Four” attack ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby with Everton.

The Beatles-inspired nickname has been given to the front quartet of Philippe Coutinho, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane after some eye-catching performances this season.

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

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

After a tiring midweek Champions League fixture, Chelsea returns to Premier League action in the early game against West Ham United that are in danger of sinking to the bottom of the table depending on other results.

Wenger looks for Gunners to rebound from United reverse

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London (AFP) – Arsenal demonstrated their powers of recovery midweek but Arsene Wenger knows a greater test lies ahead when they return to Premier League action at Southampton on Sunday.

Wenger and his players were left crushed following last weekend’s home defeat by Manchester United when they dominated periods of the game, producing 33 shots on goal, only to see Jose Mourinho’s team run out 3-1 winners.

Where to find Juventus vs. Inter Milan on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Juventus vs. Inter Milan in Serie A, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s first against third in the Serie A title race, which will be a game that Napoli will be watching with interest. A win for Juve will see them jump over Napoli into second place.

Where to find River Plate vs. Atlético Tucumán Copa Argentina final on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch River Plate vs. Atlético Tucumán in the Copa Argentina final, you’ve come to the right place.

Saturday’s Copa Argentina final will be available to viewers in the United States. Featuring River Plate against Atlético Tucumán, in previous years it’s been difficult to find the game on US airwaves, but not this year.

England goalkeeper Hart dropped by West Ham

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London (AFP) – England goalkeeper Joe Hart was dropped by manager David Moyes for West Ham United’s Premier League home game with Chelsea on Saturday.

Moyes instead opted for Adrian after the Spaniard shone last weekend in West Ham’s 2-1 defeat at Hart’s parent club Manchester City, for which Hart was ineligible.

Man City players knocked over by wind – Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has launched a pre-derby attack on Manchester City’s players by claiming it only takes a “little bit of wind” for them to go to ground.

Pep Guardiola’s City travel to Old Trafford on Sunday looking to extend their eight-point advantage over second-place United at the top of the Premier League table.

MLS confident over Miami team: Garber

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said Friday the league remained determined to launch a team in Miami but acknowledged the task had been the toughest challenge of his 18-year reign.

Garber told reporters on the eve of Saturday’s MLS Cup final in Toronto that he was confident the long-awaited arrival of an MLS team in the Florida metropolis would happen eventually.

Flint fires Bristol City to last-gasp victory

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London (AFP) – A goal in stoppage time by Aden Flint gave Bristol City a 2-1 win over 10-man Sheffield United in an enthralling match in the English Championship on Friday.

Flint’s sixth goal of the season - the most for a defender in England’s second tier this term - sent City three points clear of United in third place and seven behind leaders Wolves, who host struggling Sunderland on Saturday.

Mourinho beats the retreat in criticism of Manchester United fans

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has drawn a line under his recent feud with Manchester United fans and vowed to only make the supporters happy in future.

Mourinho sparked a row with the fans after he criticised them for their voicing dissatisfaction with striker Romelu Lukaku during October’s 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford which saw him fail to score for the fifth successive match.

Germany to open new national team academy

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Berlin (AFP) – The German Football Association (DFB) announced on Friday that it has been given legal permission to build a new national training centre and academy in Frankfurt, which it hopes to open by 2021.

After years of planning, the DFB will finally open the 150-million-euro ($176.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 16

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Top-flight history is at stake this Sunday, December 10, as second-place Manchester United host first-place Manchester City in the Manchester Derby at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and Telemundo. Raheem Sterling and Manchester City look to win their 14th straight Premier League match when they face Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United in a matchup of the top-two teams in the Premier League.

Wembley denting Spurs chances, says Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says playing at Wembley is hurting Tottenham’s Premier League title chances as their opponents are doubly motivated to perform at the national stadium.

Stuttering Spurs - who have slipped out of the title reckoning - play Stoke at their temporary home on Saturday before hosting Brighton next Wednesday and they cannot afford to lose further ground in the race for the top four.

Mourinho says too early to predict Premier League winners

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says it is too early to say the Premier League title will end up at one of the Manchester clubs as he played down the hype ahead of Sunday’s showdown.

Pep Guardiola takes his table-topping Manchester City side to Old Trafford with a hefty eight-point lead over their rivals and United cannot afford to lose further ground.

Allardyce hails ‘genius’ Liverpool strikeforce

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London (AFP) – New Everton boss Sam Allardyce has hailed the “genius” of Liverpool’s attackers as he prepares to take on Jurgen Klopp’s free-scoring team in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Allardyce takes his side to Anfield hoping to repeat the feat he managed with Crystal Palace in April, when the Eagles came from a goal down to claim victory.

Conte refuses to discuss Hazard, Luiz transfer talk

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte batted away questions over the future of Real-Madrid linked pair Eden Hazard and David Luiz on Friday, saying his focus was on beating struggling West Ham to close the gap at the top of the Premier League.

Chelsea visit the London Stadium on Saturday, trailing Manchester City by 11 points and with a three-point deficit to second-placed Manchester United, who host the leaders on Sunday.

Bale and Varane to travel to Club World Cup

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Madrid (AFP) – Gareth Bale and France international Raphael Varane will travel with the Real Madrid squad to the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday.

Zidane made the announcement after injury-plagued Bale returned to training on Friday morning, but despite being available for the Club World Cup, which started on Wednesday with host club Al Jazira’s 1-0 win over New Zealanders Aukland City, both the Wales winger and Varane will miss Saturday’s visit of Sevilla in La Liga.

Mourinho and Guardiola ‘twinned’ in hunt for glory

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says he and Jose Mourinho’s obsession with winning trophies makes them “twins” despite the perceived difference in their styles as the two great rivals prepare for the Manchester derby.

Guardiola is renowned for his philosophy of possession-based, passing football, which has he slowly instilled at Manchester City since his arrival as coach in 2016.

West Ham’s Moyes set to drop England goalkeeper Hart

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London (AFP) – West Ham boss David Moyes looks set to drop Joe Hart from his starting line-up for Saturday’s match against Chelsea, putting the England goalkeeper’s World Cup ambitions in serious jeopardy.

Adrian is in contention to feature after impressing against Manchester City last weekend, stepping in when Hart was ineligible to face his parent club.

Mexico’s attendances for games in US were 48% greater than USMNT’s in 2017

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Photo credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

For the year 2017, Mexico’s matches that were played on US soil had an average attendance that was 48% greater than the average attendance for matches played by the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) in their own country, according to our research.

Surprise witness at FIFA trial — singer Kevin Jonas

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New York (AFP) – Boy band star Kevin Jonas testified Thursday as a surprise witness for the prosecution at the FIFA corruption trial.

The member of the Jonas Brothers, dressed all in black, took the stand for less than three minutes to confirm that a concert allegedly attended by one of the suspects had actually taken place.

United eye City derby scalp, Everton face Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City travel to Old Trafford for the toughest test of their Premier League title credentials so far, while new Everton boss Sam Allardyce bids to defy Liverpool’s “Fab Four” as the northwest derbies take centre stage on Sunday.

City are eight points clear at the top of the table and victory at their fierce rivals could realistically end Jose Mourinho’s hopes of landing the club’s first league title since Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden reign.

Willian warns Chelsea can’t afford slip-ups

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London (AFP) – Willian says Chelsea have no margin for error if the reigning champions are to maintain their Premier League title challenge at West Ham United this weekend.

Antonio Conte’s side fell short in their bid to wrap up the opening stage of their Champions League campaign as group winners following a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.

Pochettino looks for up turn in Premier League form

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino will hope Tottenham Hotspur’s success in topping their Champions League group will fire up a faltering Premier League campaign.

The 3-0 victory over Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday ensured Pochettino’s side ended the group stage three points clear of Real Madrid.

Juventus trip title test for unbeaten Inter Milan

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Milan (AFP) – After expertly dealing with flamboyant Napoli last Friday and securing a spot in the Champions League last 16, Juventus can make it a perfect week by denting Serie A leaders Inter Milan’s title credentials on Saturday.

Massimiliano Allegri’s defending champions choked Napoli as they ran out 1-0 winners at the San Paolo Stadium thanks to a goal from former Napoli man Gonzalo Higuain, and on Saturday they face hated rivals Inter, unbeaten and flying under new coach Luciano Spalletti.

Five things to look out for in Spanish La Liga

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid will have to overcome a mounting list of injuries and suspensions if they are to keep themselves in the La Liga title race when Sevilla visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Win and the European champions can close to within five points of leaders Barcelona, who themselves face a tough trip to Villarreal on Sunday night.

Five things to look out for in German Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich will be out to extend their formidable lead at the top of the Bundesliga when they face Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, with veteran Franck Ribery leading the way.

After two months out injured, the 34-year-old Frenchman captained Bayern to a 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, making him the man of the moment in Munich.

Pressure on PSG after back-to-back defeats

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain will be without Neymar as they look to end their worst week of the season with a win at home to managerless strugglers Lille in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

The world’s most expensive player is suspended for the game at the Parc des Princes, where anything other than a victory is unthinkable for the capital club.

Sky not the limit for live English Premier League TV rights?

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London (AFP) – The bulging wallets of Amazon and Facebook could drive up the cost of TV rights for the next English Premier League deal as sport braces for a global broadcasting revolution.

Sky and BT shelled out more than £5 billion ($6.7 billion) for the privilege of keeping the jewel in the crown of British sports broadcasting for three seasons from 2016-17 but the new kids on the block are flexing their muscles.

Dempsey raring to go as Sounders eye MLS repeat

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Clint Dempsey is looking forward to playing a leading role as the Seattle Sounders prepare to revisit history in a repeat Major League Soccer Cup final showdown against Toronto FC on Saturday.

Twelve months after stunning Toronto in a penalty shoot-out to lift the MLS crown for the first time, Seattle will again line up against their Canadian rivals as the curtain comes down on the North American season.

Japan’s Urawa Reds pin hopes on Brazilian goal machine Silva

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Tokyo (AFP) – As Japan’s Urawa Reds aim to tackle the likes of Real Madrid in the World Club Cup, they will look again to Brazilian sharp-shooter Rafael Silva, whose goals got them to such lofty heights.

The 25-year-old Sao Paulo native smashed a superb last-minute winner last month against Al Hilal to sweep the J-League side to a second Asian Champions League title.

North Korea prize money frozen at Asian football tournament

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Tokyo (AFP) – North Korea will not be entitled to any prize money at this month’s East Asian football championships due to economic sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, tournament organisers have said.

Visiting North Korea kick off the men’s competition against hosts Japan in Tokyo on Saturday in a politically charged clash played against the backdrop of a string of missile launches and the communist state’s sixth nuclear test in September.

Hope Solo joins race for US Soccer Federation president

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Former US women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo joined the crowded race for the US Soccer Federation presidency on Thursday.

Solo, 36, announced her candidacy with a post on Facebook titled “Why I’m running for President of U.S. Soccer”.

Solo, a World Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion, last played for the USA at the 2016 Olympics.

Where will the Manchester derby be won?

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London (AFP) – Old Trafford will be at the centre of the football universe on Sunday when Manchester United face Manchester City in a crucial top-of-the-table Premier League clash.

Second-placed United trail leaders City by eight points and must win to have a realistic chance of overhauling their fierce local rivals.

Arsenal-Manchester United game surpasses 1 million viewers on NBC and Universo

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One of the most entertaining soccer games of the 2017/18 season was rewarded with more than 1 million viewers on US television, according to the latest Nielsen numbers.

The match between Arsenal and Manchester United aired on Saturday, December 2 from 12:30-2:30pm ET on NBC and Universo.

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

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The definition of a derby alters across world soccer. But when any game is slapped with that tag, typically it’s going to be a 90 minutes worth watching.

This weekend, three of the five selections on offer fall into that category. In Italy on Saturday there’s the Derby D’Italia between two of the main contenders for the Serie A title, while on Sunday, rivalries from Merseyside and Manchester will be ignited.

Arsenal thrash BATE Borisov, Marseille qualify

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Paris (AFP) – Jack Wilshere starred as Arsenal romped to a 6-0 thrashing of BATE Borisov at a half-empty Emirates Stadium in their final Europa League group game on Thursday, while Marseille booked their place in the last 32.

Arsene Wenger made 11 changes to the team that were beaten by Manchester United at the weekend, but the Frenchman’s second string put in promising displays to give him a 700th win as Arsenal manager.

Atalanta beat Lyon to top Europa League group

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Paris (AFP) – Andrea Petagna’s early strike saw Atalanta complete an unbeaten Europa League group-stage campaign with a 1-0 win over Lyon on Thursday, while AC Milan were beaten by Rijeka in Croatia.

Atalanta, coming off the back of a stunning 5-1 win at Everton a fortnight ago, edged out in-form Lyon to finish top of Group E as former Milan striker Petagna scored his fourth goal of the season in the 10th minute.

Fifth Ballon d’Or fitting record for great Ronaldo

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Paris (AFP) – For much of Cristiano Ronaldo’s career he has been in direct competition with Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, both for club and individual honours, so it’s fitting that the Real Madrid superstar has the same number of Ballon d’Or awards.

Ronaldo beat Messi and seven of his Champions League-winning Real teammates on Thursday to claim the award for the second straight year and fifth time overall, drawing level with Messi and reaffirming his place as equal partner in the greatest player rivalry the game has ever seen.

Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or award

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Paris (AFP) – Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo won a record-equalling fifth Ballon d’Or award for the year’s best player on Thursday.

The Real Madrid forward’s second successive win drew him level alongside Barcelona rival Lionel Messi on five Ballon d’Ors, after beating the Argentinian and Brazilian Neymar.

ESPN producer discusses MLS Cup final, USSF debate and World Cup sans ESPN

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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 53, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• An exclusive interview with ESPN soccer producer Amy Rosenfeld to discuss the network’s coverage of the 2017 MLS Cup final, as well as their coverage of the UEFA Nations League and the possibility of a USSF Presidential debate,

• Exciting news for this weekend’s coverage of the Premier League,

• How one major network may be losing their regional channels that broadcast a lot of soccer,

• News about an exclusive interview with MLS Commissioner Don Garber,

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

Tottenham’s Rose quashes fresh talk of Pochettino rift

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London (AFP) – Tottenham defender Danny Rose has played down fresh talk of a rift with manager Mauricio Pochettino, calling for an end to “silly” rumours after he was substituted against Apoel Nicosia.

The England player was taken off in the 70th minute at Wembley on Wednesday after a tussle with Roland Sallai left him needing stitches around the top of his left eye.

Galthie and Urios banned for a month over slap spat

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Paris (AFP) – French coaches Fabien Galthie and Christophe Urios were given a four-week touchline ban on Thursday over a physical altercation between the pair when their sides met two weeks ago.

Castres boss Urios slapped Toulon’s Galthie after the former’s assistant Frederic Charrier and the latter got embroiled in an angry argument.

UEFA to reject Milan’s voluntary settlement – reports

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Rome (AFP) – European football governing body UEFA is set to refuse AC Milan’s application for a voluntary agreement regarding Financial Fair Play rules, Italian press said on Thursday.

With a loss of some 255 million euros ($300m) over the last three seasons, fallen Italian giants Milan are some way from complying with UEFA’s limit of 30 million euros in losses over that same period.

Liverpool’s Coutinho refuses to rule out January move

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London (AFP) – Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has refused to commit his future to the Premier League club, saying he does not know whether he will be the subject of a transfer bid in January.

Barcelona made repeated efforts during the summer window to land the Brazil international but were rebuffed each time, leaving him frustrated.

Video ref to be used in FA Cup ties

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London (AFP) – Video assistant referees will be used for the first time in English competitive football in this season’s FA Cup, the Football Association said on Thursday.

Brighton’s third-round clash with Crystal Palace on January 8 has been selected for the trial of the technology, otherwise known as VAR, which is also to be used in selected fixtures throughout the rest of the competition.

Mutko to continue in World Cup role – UEFA official

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko’s lifetime Olympic ban will not affect his World Cup involvement, Russia’s UEFA executive committee member Alexei Sorokin told AFP on Thursday.

Mutko is head of the Russia 2018 organising committee but his involvement in the World Cup was thrown into doubt on Tuesday when he was banned from the Olympic Games for life by the IOC due to his implication in a state-sponsored doping scandal.

Brussels loses Euro 2020 matches to Wembley

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Wembley Stadium in London will host four Euro 2020 matches originally set to be staged in Brussels, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Thursday.

The European football governing body’s executive committee decided “unanimously” to strip Brussels of its four matches due to the inability of Belgian organisers to guarantee the new stadium to the north of the capital where they would have been held could be built in time.

Klinsmann’s son to make football debut with Hertha Berlin

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Berlin (AFP) – Jonathan Klinsmann, the son of Germany great Jurgen Klinsmann, will make his professional debut in goal for Hertha Berlin in their Europa League match against Ostersund, coach Pal Dardai said.

“Our goalkeeping coach Zsolt Petry convinced me we could play him,” Dardai said, quoted by German daily Bild on Thursday.

Aaron Ramsey is getting back to his best

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Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is quite the polarizing player. Many fans and pundits will acknowledge that the 26-year-old Wales international is certainly a talented player. The knock, however, is the fact that he has shown to be inconsistent at times during his career. At his best, Ramsey was the club’s most outstanding player during the 2013/14 campaign.

Klopp calls for Liverpool focus after Euro spree

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp urged his Liverpool players not to succumb to the hype generated by their own scintillating performances after they crushed Spartak Moscow to reach the Champions League knockout rounds.

Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ shone in a 7-0 trouncing of Spartak on Wednesday, with Philippe Coutinho scoring a hat-trick, Sadio Mane claiming a double and both Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah finding the net.

Portugal producing the world’s best footballers on grass, sand, concrete

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Madrid (AFP) – Portugal’s favourite son Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to collect a record-equalling fifth Ballon d’Or on Thursday, but the Real Madrid star is not the only Portuguese footballer to be crowned the best in the world.

The lesser known Ricardinho and Madjer have dominated their respective disciplines of futsal, an indoor five-a-side version of football, and beach soccer thanks to the same mixture of talent and dedication that has made Ronaldo a worldwide phenomenon.

FIFA trial hears of dancing, private jet, massages

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New York (AFP) – A Brazilian businessman told a US Federal Court on Wednesday that he helped set up a huge bribe to South American football officials to secure the rights for a new tournament.

Fabio Tordin testified in New York at the trial of three South American football executives charged in connection with the largest graft scandal in world soccer history.

Liverpool through in Champions League, Ronaldo claims new record

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Paris (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho’s hat-trick inspired Liverpool to score seven in their win over Spartak Moscow on Wednesday as they joined Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto in qualifying for the Champions League last 16.

That quartet completed the line-up on the final night of group-stage action that was also notable for another Cristiano Ronaldo goals record in the competition.

Late defeat confirms Champions League exit for Leipzig

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) – A late strike from Talisca saw RB Leipzig end their first Champions League campaign with a bitter 2-1 defeat at home to Besiktas on Wednesday night.

Porto’s comprehensive 5-2 victory over Monaco in the other Group G game meant that even a win would not have been enough for Leipzig to progress from the group stage.

Brazilians fire Shakhtar into last 16

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Kharkiv (Ukraine) (AFP) – Inspired by Brazilians Bernard and Ismaily, Shakhtar Donetsk qualified for the Champions League last 16 with a 2-1 victory over a much-changed and subdued Manchester City on Wednesday.

First-half goals from Shakhtar’s Brazilian pair, both created by Brazilian-born Ukraine international Marlos, proved enough to ensure the Ukraine champions would go into the draw on Monday with a plum tie against the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain on the cards.

Brazilians fire Shakhtar into Champions League last 16

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Kharkiv (Ukraine) (AFP) – Inspired by Brazilians Bernard and Ismaily, Shakhtar Donetsk qualified for the Champions League last 16 with a 2-1 victory over a much-changed and subdued Manchester City on Wednesday.

First half goals from Shakhtar’s Brazilian pair, both created by Brazilian-born Ukraine international Marlos, proved enough to ensure the Ukraine champions would go into the draw on Monday with a plum tie against the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain on the cards.

‘Fab Four’ fire seven-goal Liverpool into last 16

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Liverpool (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho’s first Liverpool hat-trick propelled Jurgen Klopp’s side to a 7-0 thrashing of Spartak Moscow on Wednesday that swept the Merseyside club into the Champions League last 16.

Sadio Mane scored twice and Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah both found the net as Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ emphatically returned the five-time champions to the knockout rounds after a nine-year absence.

Ronaldo breaks new ground as Madrid edge out Dormund

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to ever score in all six Champions League group games in one season as Real Madrid edged out a dispirited Borussia Dortmund 3-2 on Wednesday.

Lucas Vazquez grabbed the winner nine minutes from time for the European champions, who were already guaranteed to go through to the last 16 as runners-up in Group H to Tottenham Hotspur.

Five things we learned from the Champions League

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Paris (AFP) – Five-time winners Liverpool romped into the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, while Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto and Sevilla also joined them in the knockout stage.

Here, AFP Sport looks at five things we learned from the final day of group-stage matches:

Liverpool’s ‘fab four’ ready for latter stages

Needing only to avoid defeat against Spartak Moscow at Anfield to reach the last 16 for the first time in nine years, Liverpool hammered the Russian champions 7-0 to win Group E and send out a statement of intent to future opponents.

Liverpool report Spartak over youth game ‘racism’

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool have reported Spartak Moscow to UEFA, the English club confirmed on Wednesday, after teenage striker Rhian Brewster was allegedly subjected to racist abuse by the Russian club’s players.

Brewster, who won the Under-17 World Cup with England in October, was visibly irate at the end of Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Spartak in the UEFA Youth League and had to be restrained by team-mates and coaching staff.

UAE’s Al Jazira win in Club World Cup opener

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Romarinho’s goal allowed Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates to beat Auckland City 1-0 in the opening game of the Club World Cup on Wednesday, keeping them on course to meet Real Madrid.

Al Jazira were making their debut at the tournament as champions of the host nation, and the Brazilian’s rasping drive from 25 yards in the first half was enough to take them through to the second round.

French Federation chief blocks path to Benzema return

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Paris (AFP) – The president of the French Football Federation (FFF) has effectively ruled out any prospect of a return to the national team for Karim Benzema ahead of next year’s World Cup.

“You would need to be a bit blind or deaf to not understand that it will be difficult to select him, that seems unquestionable,” the FFF’s Noel Le Graet told RMC radio on Wednesday.

Nicola quits Serie A strugglers Crotone

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Milan (AFP) – Davide Nicola has resigned as coach of Serie A strugglers Crotone, the club confirmed on Wednesday.

The 44-year-old took over in June 2016 leading the promoted side from Calabria in their maiden Serie A campaign.

They dramatically survived last season by finishing 17th but this season are just one place higher with 12 points from 15 games.

Final Europa League knockout places up for grabs

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Paris (AFP) – There will be some jangling nerves as the Europa League group stage concludes on Thursday – but not many, with the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan and Lyon already through.

Of the 48 teams in the 12 groups, 16 have already ensured qualification and 15 are eliminated.

That leaves 17 clubs scrapping for the remaining eight spots in the round of 32 draw on December 11.

FIFA ends Kuwait’s suspension for political meddling

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Kuwait City (AFP) – World football governing body FIFA announced on Wednesday it was lifting its suspension of Kuwait, after the Gulf state’s parliament adopted a law meant to end government interference in the sport.

“The suspension of the Kuwait football association is lifted,” FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino announced alongside a Kuwaiti official in a short video shared widely on Twitter.

Mourinho pledges only ‘the truth’ on injuries

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has aimed a subtle dig at Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger by declaring he would only tell “the truth” about the fitness of his players.

United, who beat CSKA Moscow 2-1 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time since 2013-14, face Guardiola’s Manchester City on Sunday seeking to cut their eight-point lead in the Premier League.

Roma coach delight at proving doubters wrong

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Rome (AFP) – Eusebio Di Francesco hailed his Roma side for proving the doubters wrong after the Serie A runners-up qualified for the Champions League last 16 top of their group ahead of Chelsea on Tuesday.

There was double celebrations for Di Francesco’s side on the night after it was announced just before kick-off that the construction of their new stadium had been given the green light.

Real deal Ronaldo set for fifth Ballon d’Or

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Paris (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to match his great rival Lionel Messi on Thursday by claiming a fifth Ballon d’Or as recognition for leading Real Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double last season.

Barcelona’s 30-year-old Argentinian superstar won the coveted award from 2009 to 2012 and in 2015.

Chelsea don’t fear Euro superpowers – Conte

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte insists Chelsea have nothing to fear in the Champions League last 16 even though his side could face a crunch clash with Barcelona or Paris Saint Germain.

Conte’s team blew their chance to finish top of Group C as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Shanghai Shenhua face tough Asian Champions League

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Chinese FA Cup winners Shanghai Shenhua face a tough test in the 2018 Asian Champions League after being drawn Wednesday against top Japanese club Kashima Antlers and Australian A-League leaders Sydney FC.

The Chinese side unexpectedly beat expensively assembled rivals Shanghai SIPG in last month’s FA Cup final, without Argentine forward Carlos Tevez whose future in China is in doubt after a poor run of form.

Coppell against match in Delhi smog for ISL players

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New Delhi (AFP) – Steve Coppell said he did not want his Indian Super League side Jamshedpur FC to play in smog-tainted Delhi later Wednesday but insisted the players would not wear masks if the game goes ahead.

The former England winger said medical authorities must decide whether the evening game against Delhi Dynamos should take place but “common sense should prevail”.

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

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

Liverpool will qualify with a draw, and will clinch first place with a win, or a draw if Sevilla fail to win. If Liverpool lose they are out unless Sevilla are also defeated (as Liverpool would be below Spartak in a two-way head-to-head or would be third in a three-way head-to-head on nine points).

Manchester United secure Champions League passage as Bayern down PSG

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Paris (AFP) – Manchester United and Juventus were among the sides to clinch a place in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday, while Bayern Munich gained a measure of revenge over Paris Saint-Germain.

United, Juventus, Roma and Basel all went through with victories in their final group games, but Atletico Madrid, beaten finalists in 2014 and 2016, were eliminated.

Leipzig’s Werner out to purge Besiktas pain

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) – Germany striker Timo Werner hopes to purge painful memories of Istanbul with a win over Turkish champions Besiktas on Wednesday that would fire RB Leipzig into the Champions League’s last 16.

When the teams last met in September Werner had to leave the field, feeling dizzy and in clear distress, after only 32 minutes of his side’s 2-0 defeat at Besiktas’ Vodafone Park.

Cuadrado, Bernardeschi send Juventus through

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi scored in either half as Juventus sealed a berth in the Champions League knockout rounds on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos in Piraeus.

Colombian international Cuadrado turned in Alex Sandro’s cross after 15 minutes with Italian Bernardeschi getting the second in the final minute as last year’s finalists advanced to the last 16 for the fourth straight year.

Atletico crash out, Chelsea sink to second place

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London (AFP) – Atletico Madrid were eliminated from the Champions League after a 1-1 draw at Chelsea that denied the English side top spot in Group C.

It was a depressing evening for both clubs at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday as neither got what they wanted from their final group fixture.

Bayern gain revenge, but PSG win group

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Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Corentin Tolisso struck twice as Bayern Munich avenged September’s defeat at Paris Saint-Germain with a 3-1 victory in Bavaria on Tuesday, but the French side finished top of Group B.

With both teams already through to the last 16, Bayern needed to win by four goals to usurp PSG having lost 3-0 at the Parc des Princes.

Lukaku, Rashford send Man Utd into last 16

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford scored as Manchester United defeated CSKA Moscow 2-1 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time since 2013-14.

A contentious goal awarded to Vitinho gave CSKA a shock lead on half-time, but Lukaku and Rashford struck twice in two second-half minutes to send Jose Mourinho’s side into the last 16 as Group A winners.

Cuadrado, Bernardeschi send Juve through

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi scored in either half to seal Juventus’s berth in the Champions League knockout rounds on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos in Piraeus.

Colombian international Cuadrado turned in Alex Sandro’s cross after 15 minutes with Italian Bernardeschi getting the second in the final minute as last year’s finalists advanced to the last 16 for the fourth straight year.

Atletico Madrid crash out, Chelsea sink to second place

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London (AFP) – Atletico Madrid were eliminated from the Champions League after a 1-1 draw at Chelsea that denied the English side top spot in Group C.

It was a depressing evening for both clubs at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday as neither got what they wanted from their final group fixture.

Atletico crash out of Champions League, Chelsea sink to second place

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London (AFP) – Atletico Madrid were eliminated from the Champions League after a 1-1 draw at Chelsea that denied the English side top spot in Group C.

It was a depressing evening for both clubs at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday as neither got what they wanted from their final group fixture.

Lukaku, Rashford send Manchester United into last 16

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford scored as Manchester United defeated CSKA Moscow 2-1 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time since 2013-14.

A contentious goal awarded to Vitinho gave CSKA a shock lead on half-time, but Lukaku and Rashford struck twice in two second-half minutes to send Jose Mourinho’s side into the last 16 as Group A winners.

Leipizg missing Forsberg for Besiktas clash

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig will be without playmaker Emil Forsberg amid a trio of injuries for Wednesday’s crunch Champions League clash at home to Besiktas.

The Sweden international is suffering from an abdominal injury, while midfielder Marcel Sabitzer has a shoulder injury and teenage French defender Dayot Upamecano has a thigh problem.

Much-changed Barcelona still too good for Sporting

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona rounded off an unbeaten Champions League group stage as Paco Alcacer’s header and a late own goal from Jeremy Mathieu secured a 2-0 win over Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday.

Juventus will join the Spanish giants in the last 16 after they too were 2-0 victors away at Olympiakos, relegating Sporting to the consolation of a place in the Europa League in the new year.

Peru striker Guerrero has doping ban extended

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Lima (AFP) – Peru striker Paolo Guerrero has had a 30-day ban for doping extended by a further 20 days, Peru’s football federation announced Tuesday.

Federation president Edwin Oviedo told reporters in Lima that FIFA had informed them of the extension at the weekend.

The extension means the Flamengo player will miss the final of the Copa Sudamericana against Argentina’s Independiente, the first leg of which is being played on Wednesday.

Roma get green light for new stadium

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Rome (AFP) – Serie A side Roma were given the green light on Tuesday by Italian authorities to build their own stadium which they hope to occupy by the 2020/21 season.

The club’s American president James Pallotta officially launched the project in March 2014 but there were numerous setbacks before the four main governing bodies involved finally approved plans to build the Stadio della Roma.

Rocco Commisso speaks out about Steve Malik and USSF

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Rocco Commisso on buying the Cosmos, NASL’s sanctioning and North Carolina FC’s Steve Malik

New York Cosmos Owner and Chairman Rocco Commisso recently spoke exclusively to World Soccer Talk about the state of the North American Soccer League (NASL) that his club plays in, which has been sanctioned as a second division by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) since 2011.

FIFA Club World Cup TV schedule for viewers in the United States

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The 2017 FIFA Club World Cup will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and features defending champions Real Madrid as well as CONCACAF Champions League winners Pachuca, the Copa Libertadores winners Gremio plus Urawa Red Diamonds, Wydad Casablanca, Auckland City and Al Jazira.

In the United States, Telemundo Deportes has the rights to the tournament.

Salah’s armada gets Liverpool shipshape

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London (AFP) – Mohamed Salah has hogged the headlines this season, but as Liverpool’s 5-1 demolition of Brighton and Hove Albion demonstrated, he is but one component in a scintillating attacking armada.

Salah took a back seat at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, contenting himself with an assist as Roberto Firmino scored twice and Philippe Coutinho found the net with a delightful free-kick beneath the jumping Brighton wall.

Ben Yedder leads a Sevilla playing for Berizzo

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Madrid (AFP) – Barely an hour after the elation of a historic fightback to draw 3-3 against Liverpool, news that Sevilla’s coach Eduardo Berizzo is suffering from prostate cancer was made public.

The reaction of the Sevilla players to Guido Pizarro’s 92nd minute equaliser - having trailed 3-0 at half-time of their last Champions League match - as they raced to embrace Berizzo was therefore all the more understandable, if tinged with sadness.

Leipzig’s Werner out to purge Besiktas pain

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) – Germany striker Timo Werner hopes to purge painful memories of Istanbul with a win over Turkish champions Besiktas on Wednesday that would fire RB Leipzig into the Champions League’s last 16.

When the teams last met in September Werner had to leave the field, feeling dizzy and in clear distress, after only 32 minutes of his side’s 2-0 defeat at Besiktas’ Vodafone Park.

Where to find Man United vs. CSKA Moscow Champions League on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Manchester United vs. CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League, you’ve come to the right place.

Manchester United would qualify in first place with a point (and can afford to lose by six goals and still go through). If they lose to CSKA and Basel do not win, United and CSKA will go through with first place determined by head-to-head results between the two.

US soccer chief Gulati to step down

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Los Angeles (AFP) – United States Soccer Federation chief Sunil Gulati said Monday he will not seek re-election next year as the fallout from the USA’s failure to qualify for the World Cup claimed another victim.

Gulati told ESPN in an interview that he had decided not to enter the battle for the presidency of the USSF, which has seen several candidates enter the running.

Fabregas delighted to have proved Conte wrong

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London (AFP) – Veteran Spanish international Cesc Fabregas is happy he has proved Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wrong and shown he is an indispensable part of the Premier League champions’ side.

The 30-year-old midfielder - who has played 18 times already this season compared to just the four appearances he had at a similar stage last term - is hoping this season might yield him one of the few winners medals he is lacking: the Champions League.

Prolific Bonatini gives Wolves edge over Birmingham

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London (AFP) – Leo Bonatini’s 12th goal of the season was sufficient to give Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers a 1-0 win over struggling Birmingham City on Monday for their sixth successive victory.

Bonatini’s first-half effort - which was given thanks to goal line technology - saw Wolves restore their four point lead over Cardiff, who beat Norwich 3-1 on Friday, and a 10 point advantage over third-placed Bristol City.

PSG face cup trip to Rennes

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Paris (AFP) – Holders Paris Saint-Germain face a trip to fellow Ligue 1 outfit Rennes in the French Cup last 64 following Monday’s draw.

The two sides faced each other in the last 32 a year ago, with PSG romping to a 4-0 success in Brittany.

Champions Monaco face a trip to fourth tier Yzeure while Ligue 1’s other powerhouses Lyon and Marseille are up against Ligue 2 pair Nancy and Valenciennes respectively.

MLS audience jumps 38% for MLS Cup Playoffs across ESPN and ESPN2

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Buoyed by the increased interest in watching MLS games because of the Columbus Crew controversy, ESPN’s audience for the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs is up 38 percent entering this weekend’s MLS Cup Final. The seven playoff matches on ESPN and ESPN2 to date have delivered an average audience of 343,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, up from 249,000 viewers for the six playoff matches in 2016.

Buffon, Pjanic doubts for Juventus in Champions League

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Athens (AFP) – Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri revealed captain Gianluigi Buffon and midfielder Miralem Pjanic were both in doubt for Tuesday night’s crunch Champions League game against Olympiakos.

Juventus - runners-up twice in the last three seasons - head to Athens needing a win to ensure their passage to the knockout phase.

FA Cup hots up with Liverpool-Everton derby draw

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London (AFP) – Liverpool will host city rivals Everton for the second time inside a month when they face-off in the third round of the FA Cup in early January after the draw was made on Monday.

Liverpool - who beat Everton in the 2012 semi-final, their last FA Cup meeting - also host their struggling neighbours in the Premier League next Sunday.

Guardiola escapes sanctions over Redmond rant

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London (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will face no sanctions following a bizarre post-match rant aimed at Southampton’s Nathan Redmond after the Premier League leaders stole a late win.

Guardiola harangued the Southampton midfielder following his side’s last-gasp 2-1 victory last week and the Football Association gave him until Monday to respond.

Valencia outcast Orellana joins Eibar

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia midfielder Fabian Orellana will join Eibar on loan until the end of the season, the Basque club confirmed on Monday.

The temporary move for the Chilean international will be made permanent if Eibar stay up at the end of the season.

“The interest of the club and their sporting project attracted me,” said Orellana, who claimed to have turned down other offers.

Europa League schedule for December 7 matches on US TV and streaming

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All of Thursday’s Europa League games will be aired either on US TV and/or streaming for soccer fans in the United States.

Already qualified for the Round of 32 are Villarreal, Dynamo Kyiv, Partizan, Braga, AC Milan, Atalanta, Lyon, FCSB, Viktoria Plzeň, Arsenal, Salzburg, Östersund, Lazio, Nice, Zenit and Real Sociedad.

UEFA Champions League TV schedule for December 5-6

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For matchday 6 of the UEFA Champions League, there are several key matches remaining that will be aired on US television. The clubs that have an opportunity to make it into the Round of 16 are Atlético Madrid, Basel, CSKA Moskva, Juventus, Leipzig, Liverpool, Manchester United, Napoli, Porto, Roma, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk, Spartak Moskva, Sporting CP.

Southgate safe even if England fail in World Cup

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate has been told his job is safe even if his side lose all their group matches at next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Southgate took the reins on a permanent basis 12 months ago on a four-year contract and oversaw a successful qualification for the 2018 showpiece event, where England will face Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in the group stage.

Suarez cannot see Neymar joining Real Madrid

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona striker Luis Suarez insisted he cannot envisage former teammate Neymar moving to rivals Real Madrid due to his “admiration” for Barca.

Neymar spent four years at the Camp Nou before sensationally moving to Paris Saint-German in August for a world record 222 million euro ($264 million) fee.

Pochettino says Spurs will learn from poor run

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London (AFP) – Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says his struggling side can thrive on criticism over their patchy form, admitting the team have not yet learned the winning habit of teams such as Real Madrid.

Spurs laboured to a 1-1 draw at Watford on Saturday, their fourth Premier League match in a row without a victory, and are a whopping 18 points off top spot.

Guardiola regrets Pogba’s derby absence

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says he wishes Manchester City could face Paul Pogba when the Premier League leaders bid to re-write the history books in their huge derby with Manchester United.

Guardiola watched his side equal a Premier League record by winning their 13th straight match on Sunday when David Silva’s late volley snatched a 2-1 win for City over West Ham on Sunday.

Lukaku in Man Utd spotlight as goals dry up

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London (AFP) – With Zlatan Ibrahimovic fit again and closely scrutinising his performances from the substitutes’ bench, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is under pressure to rediscover his goal-scoring touch.

Having scored 11 goals in his first 10 games following his £75 million ($100.

Japan will struggle at World Cup, warns Troussier

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Tokyo (AFP) – Former Japan coach Philippe Troussier has cast doubt on the country’s hopes of surviving their group at next year’s World Cup, describing their draw as “bad news”.

The Frenchman, who led the Blue Samurai to the last 16 as 2002 co-hosts, fears that Colombia and Senegal could have too much firepower for Japan in their first two Group H games in Russia.

English eyes on Griezmann for crunch Chelsea clash

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Madrid (AFP) – As a red-hot Antoine Griezmann hopes to keep Atletico Madrid’s faint Champions League hopes alive at Stamford Bridge, the stage is also set for the Frenchman to showcase his talents to a host of Premier League suitors.

Atletico need to beat Chelsea in London on Tuesday and hope Roma don’t beat Champions League debutants Qarabag in the Italian capital if they are to make the last 16 for a fifth consecutive season.

Heynckes takes Bayern back to basics for PSG

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Berlin (AFP) – Jupp Heynckes, the 72-year-old disciplinarian who has steadied the ship at Bayern Munich, has urged his side to keep it simple for Tuesday’s crunch Champions League match at home to Paris Saint-Germain.

Bayern need to win by a four-goal margin in order to win their group, a situation they find themselves in because of the 3-0 thrashing by a Neymar-inspired PSG in the French capital that precipitated the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti.

Tevez told to return by December 26 as China saga drags on

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez has three weeks to resolve his future at Shanghai Shenhua with the handsomely paid Argentine forward expected back with the rest of the squad by December 26.

The 33-year-old, who earns some of the highest wages in world football on a reported 730,000 euros a week, has flopped in China and was a notable absentee when Shanghai Shenhua won the FA Cup late last month.

Ancelotti snubs Italy job

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Milan (AFP) – Italian Carlo Ancelotti has revealed that he turned down the role of Italy coach preferring to stay in club management.

Ancelotti, 58, was the favourite to take over after Giampiero Ventura was fired following Italy’s shock failure to reach the World Cup final for the first time in 60 years.

Wenger refuses to give up on Premier League title

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London (AFP) – Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is refusing to concede defeat in the Premier League title race even though his team are now 15 points adrift of Manchester City in top spot.

Mauricio Pochettino has ruled Tottenham out of contention but Wenger is refusing to throw in the towel despite Saturday’s painful 3-1 loss to Manchester United.

Klinsmann keen on Socceroos job – reports

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Sydney (AFP) – Former United States boss Jurgen Klinsmann is keen on leading Australia at the World Cup, replacing Ange Postecoglou who quit last month, reports said.

The German legend, who was sacked in 2016 after a poor start to the Americans’ World Cup qualifying campaign, commissioned one of his closest friends to scout out the Socceroos job, according to The Adelaide Advertiser and other media late Sunday.

Lyon go second as Marseille wobble

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Paris (AFP) – Lyon moved second in Ligue 1 as Marseille failed to take advantage of Paris Saint-Germain’s slip at Strasbourg after stumbling to a 1-1 draw at Montpellier on Sunday.

Rudi Garcia’s Marseille were fortunate to escape Montpellier with a point as Florian Thauvin’s disputed penalty negated Giovanni Sio’s opener for the home side at the Stade de la Mosson.

Gattuso licking ‘stab’ wounds after Benevento draw

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Milan (AFP) – New AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said Benevento goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli’s last-gasp equaliser against his team felt worse than being stabbed after the newly-promoted side gained their first ever Serie A point on Sunday.

Brignoli scored an improbable diving header in the fifth minute of injury time to draw 2-2 with Milan at the Stadio Vigorito and end the southern club’s record-breaking losing run, which has stopped at 14 consecutive defeats.

Perisic hat-trick sends Inter Milan top of Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Ivan Perisic fired unbeaten Inter Milan top of Serie A on Sunday with a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Chievo, after Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan reign began with goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli’s header giving Benevento their maiden Serie A point.

Croatian Perisic opened the San Siro goal blitz after 23 minutes and added two more in the second half, while Inter captain Mauro Icardi made it 16 for the season seven minutes before the break and defender Milan Skriniar found the net on the hour mark.

Record-equalling Manchester City savour Silva service

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City moved eight points clear at the top of the Premier League as David Silva’s superb late strike capped a dramatic 2-1 victory over West Ham on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side maintained their recent habit of finding dramatic, late winning goals, with Silva netting seven minutes from full-time at Eastlands to give City a record-equalling 13th successive Premier League victory.

Lyon second in Ligue 1 after Caen win

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Caen (France) (AFP) – Lyon moved second in Ligue 1 after taking advantage of Paris Saint-Germain’s slip at Strasbourg with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Caen on Sunday.

Maxwel Cornet’s tap-in and Mariano Diaz’s stunning 12th league goal of the season were enough for Lyon to blast away the blues of their shock home defeat to struggling Lille midweek and move up to 32 points.

Boateng strike breaks Hertha hearts in Berlin

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Berlin (AFP) – Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng hit a superb winning goal 10 minutes from time to seal Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 comeback victory at his ex-club Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

In falling snow at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, the 30-year-old Boateng unleashed a superb shot from the edge of the area to leave Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein with no chance.

Kuwait passes new sport law aimed at ending FIFA, IOC bans

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Kuwait City (AFP) – Kuwait’s parliament on Sunday endorsed a new law on sport which it hopes will end bans from international competitions over alleged government interference.

World sports bodies led by FIFA and the International Olympic Committee suspended Kuwait in October 2015 for the second time since 2010 over alleged government meddling in sports.

Perisic hat-trick sends Inter top of Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Ivan Perisic fired unbeaten Inter Milan top of Serie A on Sunday with a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Chievo, after Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan reign began with goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli’s header giving Benevento their maiden Serie A point.

Croatian Perisic opened the San Siro goal blitz after 23 minutes and added two more in the second half, while Inter captain Mauro Icardi made it 16 for the season seven minutes before the break and defender Milan Skriniar found the net on the hour mark.

Valencia fall to first defeat at 10-man Getafe

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Madrid (AFP) – Valencia blew a huge chance to move to within two points of Barcelona at the top of La Liga as they slumped to a first defeat of the season, losing 1-0 at Getafe.

The visitors’ disappointment was also compounded by the fact Getafe played for 65 minutes a man down after Mauro Arambarri was sent off midway through the first half.

Austin leveller rescues Saints

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – In-form Charlie Austin rescued Southampton with a second half equaliser in a 1-1 draw at south-coast rivals Bournemouth on Sunday.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s side trailed to Ryan Fraser’s goal late in the first half, but Austin nabbed an important point with his third goal in as many games.

Brignoli rescues Benevento to spoil Gattuso’s Milan debut

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Milan (AFP) – Goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli sealed the first ever Serie A point for newcomers Benevento to spoil Gennaro Gattuso’s debut as AC Milan coach in a 2-2 draw that was greeted like a victory by the hosts.

In a desperate scramble in front of goal Brignoli headed in five minutes into injury time to give the side from outside Naples their first point in 15 games.

Rock bottom Cologne fire coach

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Berlin (AFP) – Peter Stoeger was finally sacked as Cologne coach on Sunday, ending his 1,634-days reign with the club bottom of the Bundesliga and winless after a disastrous run of results.

Although Cologne earned a 2-2 draw at Schalke on Saturday, denying the hosts the chance to go second in the Bundesliga, it emerged Stoeger knew it was his last game following discussions on Friday.

Iniesta sidelined by calf strain

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta will miss Tuesday’s Champions League meeting with Sporting Lisbon, the Catalan giants confirmed on Sunday.

Iniesta asked to be replaced early in the second-half of Barca’s 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday, but he could return as early as next weekend for a testing La Liga visit to Villarreal.

Conte admits Premier League could be out of Chelsea’s reach

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte admits retaining the Premier League title may be out of Chelsea’s reach despite an impressive recent run of results ahead of their midweek Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.

The Blues fought back from a goal down on Saturday to beat Newcastle 3-1 courtesy of two goals from the impressive Eden Hazard either side of a headed effort from Alvaro Morata.

Pochettino confident ‘suffering’ will benefit Spurs

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino believes his Tottenham Hotspur side are coming of age despite their already-fading hopes of Premier League title glory suffering another setback with a 1-1 draw away to Watford.

Saturday’s result was Spurs’ fourth successive league game without a win they’ve now gone from vying for the title to facing a battle to qualify directly for next season’s Champions League in recent weeks.

Liverpool boss Klopp only has eyes for top four

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool’s immediate target is to establish themselves in the top four of the Premier League before they start looking towards leaders Manchester City.

Klopp’s side confirmed their recent progress with a 5-1 win away to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Pogba sees red over Koscielny reaction to dismissal

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho revealed Paul Pogba was furious with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny for his role in the red card that rules the Manchester United midfielder out of next weekend’s summit meeting with Manchester City.

Pogba was sent off in the 74th minute of United’s 3-1 win at Arsenal on Saturday for a crude challenge on Hector Bellerin.

Pep says early wins gave Man City huge boost

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says landmark early-season wins infused his Manchester City stars with the belief that they could beat all-comers but warned that his Premier League high-fliers they have won nothing yet.

The City boss, whose team host West Ham on Sunday, believes four victories in particular gave his players an injection of confidence.

Barca, Real Madrid held, Griezmann gives Atletico hope

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid remain eight points adrift of Barcelona at the top of La Liga after failing to break down Athletic Bilbao in a 0-0 stalemate as captain Sergio Ramos saw the 24th red card of his career.

Earlier, Celta Vigo became the first team this season to take points off Barcelona at the Nou Camp in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Emery shrugs off shock PSG loss

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery shrugged off concerns about next week’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich after his side fell to their first Ligue 1 defeat of the season at lowly Strasbourg on Saturday.

Neymar’s PSG travel to Munich knowing that they will top Group B as long as they don’t lose 4-0 to Bayern, and asked by reporters if he was worried about his team ahead of the clash, Emery replied “No”.

Man Utd stun Arsenal as Spurs slip up again

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London (AFP) – Manchester United ended Arsenal’s 12-match home winning run in a breathless encounter to close the gap on Manchester City on Saturday but Tottenham slipped further off the pace with a costly draw at Watford.

With Pep Guardiola’s pacesetters not in action until Sunday, United’s 3-1 victory took them to within five points of the Premier League summit following emphatic wins for Chelsea and Liverpool earlier in the day.

Sevilla’s Berizzo home after cancer operation

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo has been released from hospital just four days after undergoing an operation on a cancerous prostate tumour, the club confirmed on Saturday.

“Berizzo will continue his post-operative treatment at home,” Sevilla said in a statement.

The Argentine’s assistant Ernesto Marcucci took charge as Sevilla beat Deportivo la Coruna 2-0 to move above Real Madrid into fourth for a few hours at least ahead of Madrid’s trip to Athletic Bilbao later on Saturday.

Man Utd stun Arsenal in thriller as Spurs slip again

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London (AFP) – Manchester United blitzed Arsenal with two quick-fire goals in a breathless encounter to close the gap on Manchester City on Saturday but Tottenham slipped further off the pace with a costly draw at Watford.

With Pep Guardiola’s Premier League pacesetters not in action until Sunday, United’s 3-1 victory took them to within five points of the Premier League summit following emphatic wins for Chelsea and Liverpool earlier in the day.

Philipp, Castro add to Dortmund’s injury woes

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund are set to be without midfielders Maximilian Philipp and Gonzalo Castro for the foreseeable future after the pair picked up serious injuries on Saturday.

Dortmund already have German World Cup winner Mario Goetze sidelined for the next six weeks with damaged ankle ligaments.

Spurs stumble in Watford draw

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Ten-man Tottenham Hotspur stopped the rot with a 1-1 draw at Watford on Saturday but this result did little to revive an already faltering Premier League title bid.

Christian Kabasele’s early opener for Watford was cancelled out by Son Heung-Min’s equaliser in the first half.

Neymar’s PSG beaten by lowly Strasbourg

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Paris (AFP) – Newly-promoted Strasbourg put the brakes on Paris Saint-Germain by becoming the first team to beat the runaway Ligue 1 leaders this season with a shock 2-1 win on Saturday.

Stephane Bahoken downed Neymar and company with a bullet finish in the 65th minute to drag the lowly home side away from relegation trouble and up to 14th, and gave Marseille the chance to close the 10-point gap between Rudi Garcia’s in-form side and PSG when they face Montpellier on Sunday.

Barca slip in Celta thriller, Griezmann gives Atletico hope

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Madrid (AFP) – Celta Vigo breathed life into La Liga’s title race by becoming the first team this season to take points off Barcelona at the Nou Camp in a thrilling 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Iago Aspas gave Celta an early lead, but an inspired display from Lionel Messi appeared to have earned Barca another three points as he immediately equalised and then helped tee up Luis Suarez to put the hosts 2-1 in front.

Firmino double helps Liverpool down Brighton

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Roberto Firmino scored twice as Liverpool continued their recent fine run with a 5-1 win away to Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday.

Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho were also on target for the visitors at the Amex Stadium before a late own-goal from Lewis Dunk took Liverpool’s tally to 25 goals from their last eight games.

Chelsea, Liverpool dazzle as Spurs stumble

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London (AFP) – Eden Hazard sparkled as Chelsea swept Newcastle aside on Saturday to cling on to the coattails of runaway leaders Manchester City but 10-man Tottenham slipped further off the pace with a costly draw at Watford.

With Pep Guardiola’s Premier League pacesetters not in action until Sunday, Liverpool also took full advantage, demolishing Brighton 5-1 as Arsenal and second-placed Manchester United prepared for their evening blockbuster clash.

Mueller shines on return as Bayern extend lead

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Berlin (AFP) – Thomas Mueller marked his return from five weeks out with injury by creating two goals as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich went six points clear with a 3-1 win over Hanover on Saturday.

Germany forward Mueller provided the cross which Arturo Vidal headed home, then set up Kingsley Coman to put Bayern 2-1 up at the Allianz Arena after Charlison Benschop had equalised for Hanover.

World Cup 2018: What to expect from Groups A through H

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The World Cup draw took place at the Kremlin on Friday. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from all eight groups as the buildup to next summer’s tournament kicks into high gear.

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

This is a remarkably weak group.

Eden Hazard inspires Chelsea comeback against Newcastle

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London (AFP) – Eden Hazard gave England followers a glimpse of what to expect at next summer’s World Cup with a glorious display as Chelsea beat Newcastle United 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Less than 24 hours after the World Cup draw put Belgium and England in the same group, Belgian Hazard was in imperious form, scoring twice and running at defenders at will.

Guardiola fears bans could derail City

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola admits he is concerned about potential suspensions when leaders Manchester City face West Ham United looking to equal a Premier League record on Sunday.

Victory over West Ham would mark a 13th consecutive league victory for Guardiola’s team, equalling the record for the most straight wins in a single season, currently owned jointly by Chelsea last season and Arsenal in 2001-02.

World Cup travel no worry for England boss Southgate

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Moscow (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate is not fazed at the prospect of having to travel thousands of kilometres across Russia during the group stage of next year’s World Cup.

His side came out in Group G in Friday’s draw ceremony at the Kremlin State Palace in Moscow, along with Belgium, Tunisia and debutants Panama.

Allegri delight as Juventus trip up Napoli

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Milan (AFP) – Massimiliano Allegri could not hide his delight as Juventus tripped up Serie A leaders Napoli to deliver a psychological blow to their title challengers at their San Paolo Stadium.

In an key early clash in the battle for the Scudetto defending six-time champions Juventus move second just one point behind Napoli, who suffered their first defeat in 15 games this season.

Power shift in north London on hold as Arsenal rises and Tottenham sputters

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The annual supposed shift of power from the Arsenal side of north London to Tottenham is currently on hold. Although many experts claimed that a so-called transfer of power between the clubs temporarily separated by 11 miles was in full effect, the Gunners find themselves above Spurs in the standings.

Kawasaki batter Squirrels to win first J-League title

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Tokyo (AFP) – Captain Yu Kobayashi scored a hat-trick as Kawasaki Frontale crushed Omiya Ardija 5-0 on Saturday to capture the J-League championship, their first major Japanese title.

A lopsided home win over the ‘Squirrels’ saw Kawasaki pip Kashima Antlers on goal difference after the defending champions were held to a scoreless draw at Jubilo Iwata.

Juventus’ injury-stricken Higuain ends Napoli run

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Milan (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuain shrugged off a broken hand to inflict a first Serie A defeat of the season on his former club Napoli Friday, as champions Juventus moved a point behind the leaders with a 1-0 win.

Higuain had surgery on Monday, but insisted on starting in a key clash between league leaders Napoli and the six-time defending champions.

Mourinho wants Guardiola to get same treatment as rivals

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has hinted he believes Pep Guardiola received preferential treatment in avoiding being sent to the stands on Wednesday.

Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, ran onto the pitch to celebrate Raheem Sterling’s late winner as his team beat Southampton 2-1 to remain eight points clear of United at the top of the Premier League.

Juventus’ injury-stricken Higuain ends Napoli’s run

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Milan (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuain shrugged off a broken hand to inflict a first Serie A defeat of the season on his former club Napoli Friday, as champions Juventus moved a point behind the leaders with a 1-0 win.

Higuain had surgery on Monday, but insisted on starting in a key clash between league leaders Napoli and the six-time defending champions.

Conte fumes over Chelsea’s fixture schedule

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte claims Chelsea have been the victims of a fixture conspiracy this season.

Conte’s side play Newcastle United in the 1230 GMT kick-off at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, having beaten Swansea City 1-0 on Wednesday.

With Newcastle having played 24 hours earlier than Chelsea for their midweek draw at West Bromwich Albion, Conte is once again angry with his team getting less rest than their opponents.

Injury-stricken Higuain ends Napoli’s run

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Milan (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuain shrugged off a broken hand to inflict a first Serie A defeat of the season on his former club Napoli Friday, as champions Juventus moved a point behind the leaders with a 1-0 win.

Higuain had surgery on Monday, but insisted on starting in a key clash between league leaders Napoli and the six-time defending champions.

Messi’s Argentina on collision course with Spain

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Moscow (AFP) – Lionel Messi’s quest to deliver World Cup glory for Argentina could pit the two-time champions against a handful of familiar faces in a potential quarter-final showdown with Spain.

But neither 2010 World Cup winners Spain, who finished above Italy in qualifying, nor Argentina, indebted to a Messi hat-trick in the thin air of Quito as they scraped through the South American section, will have it easy in the group stage in Russia.

Russia breathe sigh of relief after drawing ‘ideal’ World Cup group

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Moscow (AFP) – Russia breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday after avoiding Spain and looking like favourites to make it out of their group in their first home World Cup.

“The ideal group,” the government-run R-Sport news agency shouted in a banner headline on its website after the State Kremlin Palace draw saw them paired with Saudi Arabia and Egypt for next year’s finals.

World Cup draw throws up Spain, Portugal showdown

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Moscow (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will come up against Spain in the standout fixture of the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, while England were handed an encounter with a dangerous Belgium side in Friday’s draw.

Spain, the 2010 World Cup winners, have been revitalised under Julen Lopetegui after underperforming in recent years and were seen as the team to avoid after missing out on a place among the top seeds.

Iberian derby delivers fast start to Russia 2018

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Madrid (AFP) – An explosive start to Russia’s 2018 World Cup was guaranteed when the past two European champions Spain and Portugal were paired together in Friday’s draw to clash on the second day of the tournament.

World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo will go head-to-head with Real Madrid teammate and Spanish captain Sergio Ramos in the all-Iberian clash in Sochi on the banks of the Black Sea on June 15, before both sides also face Iran and Morocco in Group B.

Spain and Portugal thrown together in 2018 World Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – The 2010 World Cup winners Spain were placed in the same group as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while England will face a talented Belgium side.

Spain’s clash with reigning European champions Portugal in Sochi on June 15 was an early highlight thrown up by the glitzy draw in the Kremlin.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 15

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Weekend Premier League coverage begins Saturday, December 2, at 6:30 a.m. ET with Premier League Live on NBCSN, followed by defending champions Chelsea v. Newcastle at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

Saturday’s coverage continues at 10 a.m. ET with Brighton & Hove Albion v. Liverpool on NBCSN, and Watford v.

Klopp buries hatchet with Allardyce

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London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he doesn’t harbour any grudges against Sam Allardyce despite his past clashes with the new Everton boss.

Klopp rowed with Allardyce after the then Sunderland manager branded him a “soft German” two seasons ago.

Klopp was so furious with a tackle by Sunderland’s Jeremain Lens on Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho that police stepped in to calm the tension between the two benches.

World Cup draw ‘could have been worse’ for France – Deschamps

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Moscow (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps said his side “have to win their group”, after Friday’s World Cup draw in Moscow pitted the 1998 champions against Australia, Peru and Denmark in Group C.

“I’m going to give a classic answer: It could have been worse,” Deschamps, who captained France to World Cup glory 19 years ago on home soil, told BeIN Sport.

England’s World Cup odds cut after draw

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London (AFP) – England’s odds of winning next year’s World Cup in Russia were cut Friday after Gareth Southgate’s side were given a favourable draw in Moscow.

The draw saw England chosen to face European rivals Belgium together with outsiders Panama and Tunisia in Group G.

England have not won a major international football tournament since the late Bobby Moore lifted the 1966 World Cup on home soil.

Japan coach eyes Colombia ‘revenge’ after World Cup draw

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Tokyo (AFP) – Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic promised to avenge his side’s humiliating 4-1 thrashing by Colombia at the 2014 World Cup following Friday’s draw for next summer’s finals in Russia.

The firebrand Franco-Bosnian admitted “it could have been worse” after the Blue Samurai were drawn alongside the Colombians, Senegal and Poland in Group H for their sixth successive World Cup appearance.

Southgate ‘won’t write off’ World Cup foes

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Moscow (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate refused to get carried away with what appeared to be a hugely favourable draw on Friday for his team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The draw in Moscow saw England given games against Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G.

It meant England, who have not won a major men’s international trophy since lifting the 1966 World Cup on home soil, avoided global giants Argentina, Brazil and Germany after Argentina great Diego Maradona picked them out of Pot 2 at the Kremlin’s State Palace.

Rocco Commisso discusses NASL-USSF antitrust case and TV rights

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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 52, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• An exclusive candid interview with Rocco Commisso, the New York Cosmos chairman and owner, about the NASL antitrust case against the US Soccer Federation, as well as the tangled web of MLS/SUM/USSF TV rights,

• Our thoughts on FOX Sports’ coverage of the FIFA World Cup Draw,

• News about a new timeslot that’s being proposed for Premier League games and how that’ll impact viewers in the US,

• Observations about NBC’s Premier League Fan Festival, and more

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

Russia coach happy to dodge Spain in World Cup draw

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Moscow (AFP) – Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov expressed his relief at avoiding 2010 champions Spain in Friday’s draw for next year’s World Cup.

Hosts Russia, the lowest ranked nation in the 32-team tournament, were placed alongside Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in Group A.

Spain and Portugal drawn in same 2018 World Cup group

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Moscow (AFP) – The 2010 World Cup winners Spain were placed in the same group as Cristiano Ronaldo’s European champions Portugal in an exciting draw for the 2018 tournament in Russia on Friday.

Neymar’s Brazil meanwhile will have to negotiate a group including Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia as they seek a sixth title.

Chelsea boss Conte accepts FA charge in referee row

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London (AFP) – Chelsea coach Antonio Conte said Friday he intends to accept a Football Association charge of misconduct after he was sent off against Swansea City.

The Italian was ordered off the touchline and into the stands by referee Neil Swarbrick towards the end of the first half of Chelsea’s eventual 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday after protesting against the award of a Swansea goal-kick.

Timo Werner not going to Real say RB Leipzig

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) – German international centre forward Timo Werner will not be leaving RB Leipzig for Real Madrid in the next year, the Bundesliga club’s sports director Ralf Rangnick said on Friday.

Asked about persistent rumours surrounding the 21-year-old, Rangnick replied: “Not this winter nor next summer.

City boss Guardiola regrets Redmond rage

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has admitted he regrets his extraordinary post-match exchange with Southampton’s Nathan Redmond that has brought him to the attention of the disciplinary department of the Football Association.

The FA have asked Guardiola for his observations after he was pictured in what looked like an angry exchange with the player following Premier League leaders Manchester City’s dramatic late win against the Saints on Wednesday.

‘Doping not a problem in football’ as World Cup draw takes place

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Moscow (AFP) – FIFA President Gianni Infantino denied Friday that doping was a problem in football shortly before the draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia took place in the Kremlin.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to address the footballing world that has descended upon Moscow, in the midst of a freezing winter, to find out who will play who, when and where at the competition next year.

World Cup TV schedule FAQ: Answering questions about Russia 2018 TV coverage

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For soccer fans in the United States, we’ve compiled all of the details about the World Cup TV schedule and World Cup TV coverage in one place. Plus we’ve answered several questions from you, the readers, so you have all of the information you need at your fingertips.

World Cup TV coverage FAQ:

Q: Who will be showing World Cup 2018 for viewers in the United States?

Doping not a big problem in the sport, says Infantino

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Moscow (AFP) – FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday sought to distance football from any suspicions of the widespread doping in other sports that has cast a cloud over World Cup hosts Russia.

Russia have been stripped of a third of the medals they won as hosts of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and last week a ban on the country taking part in international athletics was upheld by the sport’s governing body the IAAF.

Pochettino tells Spurs to face the flak

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says both he and his Tottenham Hotspur players must “accept the criticism” after dropping to seventh place in the Premier League table.

Spurs travel to Watford on Saturday with their hopes of winning the Premier League all but extinguished following defeats at Arsenal and Leicester City either side of a home draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Liverpool start ‘make or break’ run at Brighton

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool defender Joe Gomez admits the club face a run of games which will “make or break” their season ahead of a Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

The Reds are in fifth spot, a huge 14 points behind table-topping Manchester City, but they are in striking distance of Manchester United Chelsea and Arsenal immediately above them.

Five things to look out for in the Bundesliga this weekend

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund boss Peter Bosz will be fighting for his job once again when his struggling side visit a resurgent Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The pressure on the Dortmund coach is higher than ever following last weekend’s collapse against arch rivals Schalke, when Dortmund threw away a four-goal lead and saw their miserable winless run extend to six games.

Faltering Monaco need to show backbone, says coach Jardim

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Paris (AFP) – Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said his faltering French champions need players “with character” after slipping 12 points behind runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

The principality side made a strong start to the domestic season despite seeing their title-winning side decimated in the transfer window, with Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Kylian Mbappe and Tiemoue Bakayoko all leaving the club.

Fabregas vows to maintain Chelsea title charge

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London (AFP) – Cesc Fabregas has promised Chelsea will be dogged in their ongoing pursuit of Manchester City despite admitting Pep Guardiola’s side appear on course for the Premier League title.

Chelsea moved to back to within 11 points of the league leaders after labouring to a 1-0 win over struggling Swansea City and will attempt to close the gap when they face Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge this weekend.

Five things to look out for in La Liga this weekend

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona look to extend their four-point lead at the top of La Liga against an old friend turned foe in Celta Vigo coach Juan Carlos Unzue on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid travel to a struggling Athletic Bilbao with their eyes firmly on one of Athletic’s rising stars.

Russia ready for World Cup draw with Spain the team to avoid

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Moscow (AFP) – The real countdown to the 2018 World Cup in Russia begins on Friday as the draw for the tournament is held at a star-studded ceremony in the Kremlin.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to address the footballing world that has descended upon Moscow, in the midst of a freezing Russian winter, to find out who will play who, when and where at the competition next year.

Russian Premier League leaders Lokomotiv Moscow look to extend lead

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Moscow (AFP) – Russian Premier League leaders Lokomotiv Moscow host struggling Rubin Kazan on Saturday, hoping to extend their six-point advantage at the top of the table.

All eyes in Moscow will be on Friday’s World Cup draw, but three of the capital’s clubs are still in the Russian title race.

England, the eternal football mystery

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London (AFP) – Though untroubled in qualifying, England approach Friday’s 2018 World Cup draw harbouring the same eternal doubts about whether they will crack under pressure once the tournament comes around.

England have picked up the pieces impressively under Gareth Southgate since their humiliation by Iceland at Euro 2016, finishing unbeaten and eight points clear in their qualifying group.

England national football team, the eternal mystery

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London (AFP) – Though untroubled in qualifying, England approach Friday’s 2018 World Cup draw harbouring the same eternal doubts about whether they will crack under pressure once the tournament comes around.

England have picked up the pieces impressively under Gareth Southgate since their humiliation by Iceland at Euro 2016, finishing unbeaten and eight points clear in their qualifying group.

Magath latest big-name foreign coach to leave Chinese club

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Shanghai (AFP) – Felix Magath on Friday became the latest foreign coach in a matter of weeks to leave his post in the Chinese Super League (CSL), following Andre Villas-Boas and Luiz Felipe Scolari out the exit door.

Villas-Boas on Thursday departed as coach of Shanghai SIPG and the veteran Magath followed suit less than 24 hours later when Shandong Luneng said they would not renew the German’s contract.

France have the World Cup weapons

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Paris (AFP) – With a potent attack featuring teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe and Atletico Madrid hotshot Antoine Griezmann and a midfield stuffed with talent, France should be among the World Cup favourites.

With Alexandre Lacazette offering yet another attacking threat, a top-class goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris and depth at virtually every position, France coach Didier Deschamps will approach Friday’s draw in Moscow with confidence.

Spain rediscover style for new World Cup challenge

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Madrid (AFP) – They may not be a top seed for Friday’s World Cup draw in Moscow, but the fresh blood added by coach Julen Lopetegui has put Spain back among the favourites for glory next July.

Early exits at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 appeared to show the sun was setting on Spain’s most successful generation after three consecutive major tournament triumphs at Euros 2008 and 2012 either side of La Roja’s only ever World Cup title in South Africa in 2010.

Dempsey on target for Seattle as Dynamo fizzle in MLS

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Clint Dempsey got on the scoresheet as the Seattle Sounders defeated Houston Dynamo 3-0 to set up a repeat MLS Cup final showdown with Toronto FC on Thursday.

Veteran striker Dempsey rammed in Seattle’s second goal of the night as the defending champions completed an emphatic 5-0 aggregate victory to advance.

City taken a leaf out of United’s book, says Kompany

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London (AFP) – Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany says the Premier League frontrunners have taken a leaf out of their arch rival’s book and will never stop believing they can win games even in the dying seconds.

City have maintained an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League with last-gasp 2-1 victories over Huddersfield and Southampton in their past two games, both late winners scored by Raheem Sterling.