World Cup Buzz Archives for January 2017

Lallana blow gives Klopp derby headache

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Liverpool (AFP) – Adam Lallana’s thigh injury is a significant setback for Jurgen Klopp as he seeks to strengthen Liverpool’s Champions League qualification chances with victory over Everton in Saturday’s Merseyside derby.

Lallana is expected to be out for a month, having suffered the injury during the closing stages of England’s 2-0 victory over Lithuania at Wembley last Sunday.

Hazard and Chelsea look to switch focus back to title race

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London (AFP) – Chelsea will aim to resume their steady march towards the Premier League title after an international break in which the focus was on the future of Eden Hazard.

The 26-year-old Belgian star sat out Chelsea’s last game at Stoke City as well as Belgium’s fixtures during the recess with a calf problem but should return for the visit of Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge.

Revived Leicester face make or break month

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Leicester’s clash with Stoke on Saturday marks the beginning of another potentially historic month for the champions as they target domestic survival and shock European glory.

Eight games are ahead in a busy period for Craig Shakespeare’s rejuvenated side, who continue to combine their fight against Premier League relegation with a quest for further surprises in the Champions League.

Mkhitaryan reaps rewards of United’s patience

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan insists he was never concerned about his Manchester United career despite making a slow start to life at Old Trafford.

The United playmaker made just one substitute appearance in two and a half months earlier this season as he struggled for fitness and form following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund.

Monaco princes primed to snatch PSG’s crown

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Paris (AFP) – Monaco have a real chance to end two years of complete domestic dominance by Paris Saint Germain when they face the title holders in Saturday’s French League Cup final.

Owned by billionaire Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev, Monaco have banked on recruiting the cream of French youth whilst their Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim has unleashed Europe’s highest scorers on the pitch.

Drugs ban came from spiked drink: Berahino

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London (AFP) – Stoke City striker Saido Berahino says he was an innocent party and did not take drugs claiming to the BBC someone spiked his drink which led to an eight week ban earlier this season.

The 23-year-old - who moved to Stoke from Premier League rivals West Brom in the January transfer window for £12million ($15 million, 13.

Monchi leaves Sevilla amid Roma reports

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla said Thursday that highly respected sporting director Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, better known as “Monchi”, was leaving the club after guiding it through its most successful era.

Spanish media reports say Monchi, who has admirers across Europe, will go to Roma in Italy in a similar role.

Wrinkles aside Ronaldo liked my work – bust sculptor

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Lisbon (AFP) – The man behind the grinning and now-infamous bronze bust of Cristiano Ronaldo said Thursday the Real Madrid superstar liked the sculpture - but did ask him to remove the wrinkles.

Emanuel Santos defended his work following less-than-flattering reviews on social media after the bust was unveiled on Wednesday at Madeira’s international airport, as it was renamed in honour of Ronaldo, the Portuguese island’s most famous son.

Blatter said I’d be his ‘last scalp’ at FIFA – Platini

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Paris (AFP) – Michel Platini laid bare his anger at his spectacular downfall on Thursday, breaking his silence to accuse FIFA bosses of wanting to destroy him and claiming Sepp Blatter “always said I’d be his last scalp”.

Former UEFA boss Platini and erstwhile ally Blatter - once the most powerful man in football as FIFA president - were both banned from football in December 2015 over a payment of two million Swiss franc ($2 million, 1.

FIFA’s Blatter said I’d be his ‘last scalp’ – Platini

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Paris (AFP) – Michel Platini laid bare his anger at his spectacular downfall on Thursday, breaking his silence to accuse FIFA bosses of wanting to destroy him and claiming Sepp Blatter “always said I’d be his last scalp”.

Former UEFA boss Platini and erstwhile ally Blatter - once the most powerful man in football as FIFA president - were both banned from football in December 2015 over a payment of two million Swiss franc ($2 million, 1.

All regions get more slots in 2026 World Cup – FIFA plan

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Zurich (AFP) – All football regions will see their World Cup slots increased when the tournament expands to 48 teams in 2026, with Africa the biggest winner, according to FIFA recommendations released Thursday.

The plan to expand the competition beyond its current 32-team format, which is subject to approval at FIFA’s May Congress in Bahrain, guarantees Africa nine places, marking an increase of four.

English FA invites brain disease research

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London (AFP) – England’s football authorities on Thursday invited applications for independent research into whether playing the sport heightens the risk of degenerative brain disease in later life.

It follows a campaign by the family of former West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle, whose 2002 death from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was linked to repeatedly heading heavy leather footballs.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino rules out Barcelona switch

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London (AFP) – Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has quashed speculation linking him with the Barcelona job by insisting he could never manage the Spanish giants.

Pochettino was pictured meeting with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu in the Catalan city last week amid reports he is a leading contender to replace Luis Enrique when he leaves at the end of the season.

Real seal multi-million Telefonica deal

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid signed a 15-million-euro ($16 million) sponsorship deal with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica on Thursday, the European champions said.

The two-year agreement will swell Real’s coffers once more - Deloitte’s Football Money League 2017 puts the Champions League winners third only to Manchester United and then great rivals Barcelona for annual revenue.

Telemundo and Universo net 1.41 million viewers for Panama-USA World Cup qualifier

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Tuesday’s broadcast of the Panama-USA game netted 1.41 million viewers across Telemundo and Universo combined, which ranked as the most watched show in Spanish-language television in its time period among Adults 18-49 in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver and Boston.

The game averaged 257,000 on Universo (formerly known as NBC Universo) as well as 1,153,000 on Telemundo for the combined 1.

Everton’s Funes Mori set to miss rest of season

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London (AFP) – Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori is set to miss the rest of the season after suffering a serious knee injury playing for Argentina.

Funes Mori was stretchered off with a torn meniscus in the first half of Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against Bolivia in La Paz earlier this week.

Caipirinhas for Russia-bound Brazil football team

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Sao Paulo (AFP) – When Tite found out the Brazil team he has coached back from the abyss had become the first to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, he gave thanks to God.

Then he said he was ready for a giant caipirinha.

Most Brazil fans would agree the 55-year-old coach deserves a celebratory drink.

Wenger says Arsenal future ‘not sorted completely’

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London Colney (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his future was “not sorted completely” on Thursday as he ducked another opportunity to make an announcement about what he intends to do.

Wenger, Arsenal’s manager since 1996, has come under fire from fans after the club were humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League and dropped out of the Premier League top four.

Carlton Cole joins Essien at Indonesia’s Persib

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Bandung (Indonesia) (AFP) – Former West Ham United and Chelsea striker Carlton Cole has signed for Indonesia’s Persib Bandung, the club announced Thursday.

Cole joined Persib just two weeks after his former Chelsea teammate and ex-AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder Michael Essien signed for the club - the highest-profile player to make the move to Indonesia for years.

Bayern ‘keeper Neuer out for two matches

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Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be out for two matches after sustaining an injury in training, but should be fit for the Champions League showdown with Real Madrid, the Bundeliga giants said Thursday.

“Manuel Neuer underwent a successful minor operation … on Wednesday evening after sustaining an injury to his left foot in training,” Bayern said in a statement.

Why the Bundesliga won’t grow in popularity in the USA: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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

In the NEW episode, number 20, we cover a range of topics including:

• Why the Bundesliga won’t grow in popularity in the USA

• The comedy of errors from FOX Sports and US Soccer in their coverage of the World Cup qualifiers,

• Our analysis of the TV coverage of the USA games on beIN SPORTS and FS1,

• Atlanta United makes a big announcement for their broadcast team,

• Plus questions from YOU, the listeners and much more.

Mourinho ‘totally against’ international friendlies

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London (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he is “totally against” international friendlies following injuries to key central defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones on England duty.

Mourinho expects to be without five first-team players against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, including the injured Paul Pogba and suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Schweinsteiger eager to start MLS career

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Chicago (AFP) – German star Bastian Schweinsteiger said he is ready to make an immediate start to his Major League Soccer career with Chicago Fire at a formal presentation before journalists here Wednesday.

The 32-year-old former Bayern Munich and Manchester United midfielder told reporters he was available to make his debut in Chicago’s clash with Montreal Impact this Saturday if selected.

Why truTV may be Turner Sports’ ticket to UEFA Champions League success

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While many English-language sportswriters and sports business reporters in the U.S. were caught by surprise by Turner Sports’ $180 million winning bid for the U.S. English-language media rights for the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League for August 2018-May 2021, this seemingly bold move by Turner Sports appears to this long-time observer of the U.

Video technology ‘fair but kills spectacle’

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Paris (AFP) – The experiment with video assistance that backfired on France against Spain earned mixed reviews on Wednesday, praised by most for being more fair but condemned by some for killing the spectacle.

France lost 2-0 in Paris on Tuesday in a game in which the Spanish side benefited twice from crucial video assistant referee decisions.

Crisis-hit Argentina risk missing World Cup

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – The world’s top-ranked football nation Argentina risk failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1970 after Lionel Messi’s suspension and a humiliating defeat to Bolivia.

The two-time world champions’ woes deepened just as the Argentine Football Association (AFA) named new executives on Wednesday.

Sevilla ordered to close terrace over Ramos abuse

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Madrid (AFP) – Obscene chants from Sevilla fans targeting former favourite Sergio Ramos earned the La Liga team a one-match partial stadium closure, Spanish football authorities ruled on Wednesday.

The incidents took place at a highly charged January 16 La Liga encounter when Sevilla ended Real Madrid’s 40-match unbeaten streak at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Madeira Airport renamed in Ronaldo honour — and ‘bizarre’ bust

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Lisbon (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo had an international airport renamed in his honour on Wednesday but it was a newly unveiled bust of him that soon became a major talking point.

Five thousand screaming fans, the Portuguese talisman himself and the country’s prime minister and the president were all in attendance at the airport of Madeira, the island where Ronaldo was born.

Germany’s Hoewedes ruled out of Confed Cup

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany defender Benedikt Hoewedes will miss June’s Confederations Cup in Russia to undergo surgery on a long-standing groin injury, his club Schalke 04 confirmed on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Schalke captain, who was part of Germany’s World Cup-winning side in 2014, has delayed an operation to see out the rest of the season with the Royal Blues.

Pique’s Madrid comments ‘a mistake’ – La Liga boss

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Madrid (AFP) – La Liga’s president says Gerard Pique should choose his words more carefully after the Barcelona and Spain defender lashed out at perceived preferential treatment of Real Madrid players.

Javier Tebas said Pique’s comments after a 2-0 win against France on Tuesday in Paris would only create “tension” between Spain’s two biggest clubs.

Spurs could stay at White Hart Lane – chairman

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur could remain at White Hart Lane next season instead of moving to Wembley for the campaign, chairman Daniel Levy revealed on Wednesday.

Spurs have until Friday to activate an option to play at Wembley while their new stadium, due to open next year, is being built on the site of the current one in north London.

Messi ban ‘totally disproportionate’ – Barcelona

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Barcelona (AFP) – Lionel Messi’s four-match international ban for swearing at an assistant referee was “unfair and totally disproportionate”, his Spanish club Barcelona said Wednesday.

“FC Barcelona expresses its surprise and indignation at the decision by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to suspend Leo Messi following the FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture between Argentina and Chile,” Barca said in a statement.

Ibrahimovic hints at extending United stay

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London (AFP) – Zlatan Ibrahimovic has indicated he could prolong his time with Manchester United after saying Wednesday he will “never leave a job unfinished”.

The 35-year-old striker has quickly established himself as a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford, having so far scored 26 goals in 41 appearances in his debut season after joining on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain.

Madeira airport renamed after island son Ronaldo

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Lisbon (AFP) – The airport of Madeira, the Atlantic Ocean island birthplace of Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, was renamed in his honour on Wednesday.

“To see this airport bear my name is a very special thing,” said Ronaldo, who skippered Portugal to victory in the European championships last year.

Sanchez stars as Chile down Venezuela in 2018 World Cup qualifier

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Santiago (AFP) – Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez powered Chile to a 3-1 victory over Venezuela on Tuesday as the South American champions edged ahead of Argentina in the battle for places at the 2018 World Cup.

Sanchez opened the scoring with a magnificent curling free-kick after only four minutes to give Chile the lead against bottom team Venezuela.

Loew frustrated by bench-warming Germany stars

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Berlin (AFP) – Joachim Loew says Germany duo Joshua Kimmich and Andre Schuerrle need more matches - and to spend less time on the bench - for their Bundesliga clubs ahead of next year’s World Cup defence.

Neither Kimmich nor Schuerrle are first-choice starters for their clubs with both facing stiff competition at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

US held by Panama in FIFA World Cup qualifier

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Panama City (AFP) – United States coach Bruce Arena accused Panama of targeting teenage star Christian Pulisic after a rugged CONCACAF World Cup qualifying battle ended in a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Clint Dempsey scored his fourth goal in two games to give the US a precious point on the road as they aim to get their World Cup qualification campaign back on track under Arena following the sacking of Jurgen Klinsmann in November.

Brazil book FIFA World Cup berth, Argentina tumble

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Montevideo (AFP) – Brazil became the first team to qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday after beating Paraguay to clinch an eighth consecutive victory as Argentina’s campaign stumbled after the shock suspension of Lionel Messi.

Five-time champions Brazil had been left waiting in suspense after goals from Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Marcelo handed them a 3-0 win over the Paraguayans at Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians.

Iran’s Esteghlal fined over laser beams

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Iran’s Esteghlal FC have been fined $51,000 after fans flashed laser beams at opposing players and referees during AFC Champions League games, Asia’s football body said on Wednesday.

Esteghlal supporters flashed lasers during their Champions qualifier against Al Sadd in February, and again in their group stage game against Uzbekistan’s PFC Lokomotiv, the Asian Football Confederation said.

Loew sees Nagelsmann as possible Germany successor

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s World Cup-winning head coach Joachim Loew has named rising Bundesliga star Julian Nagelsmann, 29, as a possible future successor to take charge of the national team.

Hoffenheim’s Nagelsmann is the youngest head coach in Bundesliga history and was last week named coach of 2016 in Germany.

Messi-less Argentina slump to Bolivia loss

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La Paz (AFP) – An Argentina side reeling from the shock suspension of captain Lionel Messi crashed to a 2-0 defeat against Bolivia on Tuesday, dealing a fresh blow to their 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.

Goals from Juan Carlos Arce and Marcelo Martins secured a deserved win for Bolivia, who retain a slender hope of qualification for next year’s finals despite remaining second from bottom of the table.

Video replay aids Spain as Sweden foil Ronaldo

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Paris (AFP) – Spain twice benefited from the use of video assistance to defeat France 2-0 on Tuesday, while Sweden rallied from two goals down to beat Portugal 3-2 and spoil Cristiano Ronaldo’s homecoming in Madeira.

Antoine Griezmann headed in what appeared to be the opening goal at the Stade de France shortly after half-time, but it was ruled out for offside after consultation with the video assistant referee.

USA-Honduras game scores 1.6 million viewers on Univision

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Univision’s broadcast of the World Cup qualifier between the US Men’s National Team and Honduras on Friday night averaged 1.62 million viewers across Univision, Univision Deportes and UniMas.

The broadcast featured a 6-0 win by the United States, which was televised live from Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.

FIFA probes Ivory Coast, Senegal crowd trouble

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Geneva (AFP) – FIFA said Tuesday it had launched an investigation into incidents which led to the abandonment of a friendly match between Ivory Coast and Senegal in Paris following a series of pitch invasions.

The sides were level at 1-1 late Monday when French referee Tony Chapron called off the match in the 88th minute as fans from both sides flooded onto the pitch.

CAF chief Ahmad backs Morocco 2026 World Cup bid

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Rabat (AFP) – New African football chief Ahmad Ahmad gave his backing on Tuesday to a potential bid from Morocco to host the 2026 World Cup.

The north African country has bid to host the global showpiece on four previous occasions but missed out on the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.

Sidibe adds to Monaco injury woes for PSG final

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Monaco (AFP) – France international full-back Djibril Sidibe is a major doubt for Monaco ahead of Saturday’s French League Cup final against Paris Saint-Germain, his club said on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old injured his ribs in the 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory in Luxembourg last Saturday.

Bukharov saves Russia in first Sochi match

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Moscow (AFP) – Alexander Bukharov netted an injury-time equaliser as Russia battled back from two goals down to draw 3-3 with Belgium in the first ever match at Sochi’s Fisht Arena on Tuesday.

Bukharov and Alexei Miranchuk came off the bench to cancel out the visitors’ two-goal lead after Everton forward Kevin Mirallas scored from the spot and Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke added a first half brace.

Foul-mouthed Messi banned for four Argentina games

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Zurich (AFP) – Barcelona star Lionel Messi was suspended for four Argentina matches by FIFA on Tuesday for swearing at an assistant referee, a ban that will see the striker miss out on decisive qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.

Messi was found guilty of “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee” in the World Cup qualifier against Chile last Thursday which Argentina won 1-0 thanks to a penalty from the Barcelona hitman.

Record Real move all down to Hazard says Calderon

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London (AFP) – Chelsea’s Eden Hazard will decide on a move to Real Madrid at the end of the season, with the Spanish giants prepared to pay a world record transfer fee, according to former club president Ramon Calderon.

The Belgium midfielder is under contract with Premier League leaders Chelsea until June 2020 but Hazard, a childhood fan of Real coach Zinedine Zidane, has been repeatedly linked with a move to the Bernabeu.

Nigeria could shun London after visa hassle – Rohr

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Abuja (AFP) – Nigeria could avoid playing friendlies in London from now on because of problems obtaining visas for staff and players, coach Gernot Rohr has said.

The Super Eagles played Senegal at non-league Barnet’s ground in north London last Friday, drawing 1-1, but a second scheduled match against Burkina Faso on Monday had to be called off.

Iran beat China, Australia get crucial win

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Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s Mehdi Taremi dealt China’s World Cup hopes a major blow on Tuesday, as Australia grabbed a crucial win over UAE to stay in the hunt for an automatic spot at Russia 2018.

Japan ended Thailand’s campaign with a 4-0 victory in Saitama, and South Korea squeezed past Syria 1-0 to get back on track after last week’s upset to China.

Costa return bolsters Bayern’s treble bid

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s hopes of securing a second treble in four years received a boost on Tuesday with Douglas Costa back in training after the club confirmed he does not need knee surgery.

The Brazil winger did some stability exercises at Bayern’s training ground as Carlo Ancelotti’s squad gathered after the international break.

Okazaki fires 50th for Japan in 4-0 Thai rout

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Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki celebrated his 50th international goal Tuesday as Japan brushed aside Thailand 4-0 to edge closer to a sixth successive World Cup.

Shinji Kagawa gave the hosts the lead in their Asian Group B qualifier with a sharp finish after eight minutes, before Okazaki thundered home a diving header to bring up his half-century in swashbuckling style.

Lionel Messi banned for four Argentina games

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Zurich (AFP) – Barcelona star Lionel Messi was suspended for four Argentina matches by FIFA on Tuesday for swearing at an assistant referee.

Messi was found guilty of “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee” in the World Cup qualifier against Chile last Thursday which Argentina won 1-0 thanks to a penalty from the Barcelona hitman.

Top European football clubs drop Super League proposal

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Athens (AFP) – Europe’s top clubs have dropped a proposal for a Super League made up of the continent’s strongest teams amid opposition by UEFA, their association said Tuesday.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), said the teams had approved a Champions League reform format after talks in Athens with UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti.

Iran blow hole in China’s World Cup bid

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Tehran (AFP) – Mehdi Taremi’s second-half strike condemned China to a 1-0 defeat to Iran on Tuesday in a major blow to their hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup.

Marcello Lippi’s team raised Chinese hopes by upsetting South Korea last week, but they were unable to overturn Iran’s flawless home record in Group A.

South Korea squeeze past Syria 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

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Seoul (AFP) – Hong Jeong-Ho’s early goal gave South Korea a 1-0 win over war-torn Syria on Tuesday to put their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.

China-based Hong struck in the fourth minute but it was an unconvincing margin of victory for the Koreans, who were upset 1-0 by China last week.

Okazaki scores 50th for Japan in 4-0 rout of Thailand

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Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Leicester City striker Shinji Okazaki celebrated his 50th international goal Tuesday as Japan brushed aside Thailand 4-0 to edge closer to a sixth successive World Cup.

Shinji Kagawa gave the hosts the lead in their Asian Group B qualifier with a sharp finish after eight minutes, before Okazaki thundered home a diving header to bring up his half-century in swashbuckling style.

Japan crush Thailand 4-0 in World Cup qualifier

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Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki celebrated his 50th international goal Tuesday as Japan brushed aside Thailand 4-0 to edge closer to a sixth successive World Cup.

Shinji Kagawa gave the hosts the lead in their Asian Group B qualifier with a sharp finish after eight minutes, before Okazaki thundered home a diving header to bring up his half-century in swashbuckling style.

Australia beat UAE to boost World Cup hopes

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Sydney (AFP) – Australia boosted their World Cup qualifying hopes on Tuesday with a tense, 2-0 win over UAE, whose under-pressure coach Mahdi Ali announced his resignation after the match.

Goals from Jackson Irvine and Mathew Leckie handed Australia a crucial victory which kept them in touch with the top two spots in Group B and an automatic berth at Russia 2018.

Where to find Panama vs. USA on US TV and streaming

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

After the US Men’s National Team’s explosive 6-0 victory on Friday night against Honduras, Bruce Arena’s team faces a much tougher test away against Panama on Tuesday night. The hugely important game will be televised live exclusively in English on beIN SPORTS in the United States.

Where to find Brazil vs. Paraguay on US TV and streaming

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

Brazil is on the verge of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. At the same time, Paraguay sits in seventh place in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, so Paraguay will be focused on trying to score an upset win in order to stay in the pack of teams trying to qualify from South America.

Where to find Peru vs. Uruguay on US TV and streaming

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

Now that Uruguay lost to Brazil last week, it looks like Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile will be battling it out to determine who advances from the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying group to FIFA Russia 2018.

James Rodriguez causes middle finger storm

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Bogota (AFP) – Controversy engulfed Real Madrid star James Rodriguez in his native Colombia on Monday after he was photographed making an obscene gesture to journalists covering a Colombian national team training session.

Rodriguez gave the middle finger to journalists gathered outside the team’s practice on Friday in Bogota ahead of their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday against Ecuador.

Southgate irked by Palace chief’s Zaha remark

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate has taken issue with Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish’s views on the international tug-of-war involving Ivory Coast winger Wilfried Zaha.

Zaha was capped twice by England, in 2012 and 2013, but switched allegiances to Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, late last year and has since made six appearances for them.

Euro heartache and vegan lifestyle fuel Defoe

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London (AFP) – Fuelled by the pain of past rejections and revitalised after turning vegan, Jermain Defoe insists he can defy father time by firing England to the World Cup.

Less than a year ago, Defoe feared his England career was over after Roy Hodgson ignored the striker’s fine form with Sunderland and left him out of the Euro 2016 squad.

Pitch invasions end I.Coast-Senegal match early

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Paris (AFP) – Numerous pitch invasions forced Monday’s friendly between Ivory Coast and Senegal in Paris to be abandoned before full-time.

The sides were level at 1-1 when French referee Tony Chapron called off the match in the 88th minute as fans from both sides flooded onto the pitch.

Panama vs. USA preview, TV times and team news

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After Friday night’s overwhelming win over Honduras, many US fans are breathing a massive sigh of relief. Had the US not picked up all three points, they would have been in extremely dire straits trying to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year. But nobody needed to worry as the US went up after less than five minutes and the rout was on from there.

Where to find Ecuador vs. Colombia on US TV and streaming

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

Fourth meets fifth in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying group as both Ecuador and Colombia fight it out to try to gain an edge in the qualifying stages for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Spain are rediscovering domination – Ramos

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Saint-Denis (France) (AFP) – Spain are rediscovering their old dominance, captain Sergio Ramos said on Monday ahead of a friendly against France on Tuesday.

Spain reigned supreme from 2008 to 2012, winning three straight major international tournaments - two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup - before falling on harder times recently.

Where to find Bolivia vs. Argentina on US TV and streaming

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

Argentina’s impressive 1-0 victory against Chile last week raises their hopes of qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but they still have a long way to go before they can book their tickets to Russia.

Manchester City fined £35,000 over Liverpool protest

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London (AFP) – Manchester City have been fined £35,000 ($44,000, 40,000 euros) by the Football Association for a failure to control their players against Liverpool earlier this month.

City pleaded guilty to a misconduct charge last week after several players were seen protesting against the award of a penalty to Liverpool in a Premier League match at Eastlands on March 19.

Kickoff time for el Clasico confirmed for Real Madrid and Barcelona on April 23

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The kickoff time for the April 23, 2017 el Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona has been confirmed. The match is scheduled to begin at 2:45pm ET. For viewers in the United States, the live Sunday broadcast will be shown live across beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español.

With the viewing time starting on a Sunday afternoon, the TV viewing audience should be greater for this game than the previous el Clasico, which had a 10:15am kickoff time on Saturday, December 3.

Ireland’s O’Neill hopes injured Coleman can follow Larsson example

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Dublin (AFP) – Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill hopes injured captain Seamus Coleman will be able to follow the example of former Celtic star Henrik Larsson in recovering fully from a broken leg.

Coleman, 28, was still in a Dublin hospital on Monday, two days after he had surgery on the tibia and fibula bones in his right leg which were snapped by an appalling tackle from Wales’s Neil Taylor, who was promptly sent off in a goalless World Cup qualifying draw at Lansdowne Road.

Cristiano Ronaldo tops Lionel Messi in earnings, report says

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Paris (AFP) – Real Madrid’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo was the best paid footballer in 2016-17, with 87.5 million euros ($95.3m) in earnings, ahead of his Argentinian rival at Barcelona, Lionel Messi (76.5m), according to figures to appear in Tuesday’s edition of France Football.

Southgate opens World Cup door to Defoe

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate said there was no reason why Jermain Defoe could not play at next year’s World Cup after he marked his international comeback with a goal.

Sunderland striker Defoe, 34, scored the opener as England toiled to a 2-0 qualifying win over Lithuania on Sunday, following close to three and a half years in the international wilderness.

To Russia with Love? Buoyant Brazil on brink of World Cup

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Montevideo (AFP) – A buoyant Brazil could book their place at the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday while Argentina will attempt to give their qualifying campaign more breathing space with a game at altitude against Bolivia.

After sinking into a protracted depression after the trauma of their humiliating 2014 World Cup exit, Brazil have undergone a transformation since new manager Tite took over last year.

Resurgent US face Panama test in CONCACAF qualifiers

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Los Angeles (AFP) – A revitalised United States face Panama on Tuesday brimming with confidence after a record World Cup qualifying victory inspired by teenage star Christian Pulisic and veteran forward Clint Dempsey.

The pall of gloom enveloping the US national team following defeats against Mexico and Costa Rica in November was blown away on Friday, with Pulisic and Dempsey helping to deliver a 6-0 thrashing of Honduras.

Lippi says China must keep World Cup momentum

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Beijing (AFP) – China’s fledgling revival under Marcello Lippi will be tested by Asia’s top team Iran in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday, while Australia need to return to winning ways when they play UAE.

China shocked South Korea 1-0 last week for their first win of Asia’s final qualifying groups, and Lippi says there is much more to come from Team Dragon.

India’s first FIFA tournament to be staged in Delhi

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New Delhi (AFP) – The Under-17 World Cup will kick off in New Delhi, marking India’s first-ever FIFA tournament, world football’s governing body said Monday despite initial concern over air quality in the world’s most polluted capital.

After a week-long inspection, authorities selected six cities across the country including Mumbai and New Delhi for the U-17 matches, FIFA said.

England, Germany stay on World Cup course, Dutch axe Blind

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Paris (AFP) – England and defending champions Germany remained on course for the 2018 World Cup on Sunday while Danny Blind was sacked as Dutch coach after his misfiring team faced missing a second straight major finals.

At Wembley, Jermain Defoe marked his international comeback with a goal as England toiled to a 2-0 victory over Lithuania.

Blind sacked as Dutch coach after World Cup flop

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Amsterdam (AFP) – Danny Blind was sacked as Netherlands coach on Sunday after a 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria left the team’s chances of reaching the World Cup finals hanging by the slenderest of threads.

Blind, 55, had been in charge since July 2015, succeeding Guus Hiddink, but Saturday’s loss in Sofia left the Dutch in fourth place in qualifying Group A, six points behind leaders France.

England, Germany stay on course for Russia

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Paris (AFP) – England and defending champions Germany remained on course for the 2018 World Cup finals Sunday while Danny Blind was fighting to survive as Dutch coach after his team faced missing a second major finals.

At Wembley, Jermain Defoe marked his international comeback with a goal as England toiled to a 2-0 victory over Lithuania.

Defoe marks comeback as England toil to World Cup qualifier win

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London (AFP) – Jermain Defoe adorned his international comeback with a goal as England toiled to a 2-0 victory over Lithuania in a forgettable World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Sunday.

Defoe, 34, was making his first England appearance since November 2013, having been recalled by manager Gareth Southgate, and he marked his return with the opening goal midway through the second half.

Defoe marks comeback as England toil to win

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London (AFP) – Jermain Defoe adorned his international comeback with a goal as England toiled to a 2-0 victory over Lithuania in a forgettable World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Sunday.

Defoe, 34, was making his first England appearance since November 2013, having been recalled by manager Gareth Southgate, and he marked his return with the opening goal midway through the second half.

Schuerrle nets twice for five-star Germany

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Baku (AFP) – Germany leaked their first goal since July, but still extended their perfect record in World Cup qualifiers to five straight wins following Sunday’s 4-1 victory away to Azerbaijan with Andre Schuerrle scoring twice.

First-half goals by Schuerrle, Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez put the world champions 3-1 up at the break, although Azerbaijan midfielder Dimitrij Nazarov, who plays in Germany, had netted an early equaliser to the delight of the home crowd.

Five things learned from England v Lithuania

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London (AFP) – England beat Lithuania 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Sunday. Here AFP Sport looks at five things learned as Gareth Southgate’s team moved a step closer to next year’s finals in Russia:

Deadly Defoe

Handed his first England appearance since November 2013, Jermain Defoe made up for lost time as the Sunderland striker netted the opening goal in typically ruthless fashion.

England pay tribute to attack victims

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London (AFP) – England’s football team paid tribute to the victims of Wednesday’s London terror attack ahead of their World Cup qualifier at home to Lithuania on Sunday.

England’s players, led by captain Joe Hart, wore black armbands at Wembley and the game was preceded by the laying of wreaths in the centre circle and a minute’s silence.

Sportel continues to be where sports rights business gets done in the Americas

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SportelAmerica is the leading conference in the Americas where buyers and sellers of sports TV and streaming rights meet to get business done.

In the recent Sportel convention in Miami this month, all of the key players were in attendance to network with buyers and sellers. For example, when it comes to soccer rights, just some of the companies at the show in downtown Miami included the Premier League, FOX Sports, Bundesliga, beIN SPORTS, La Liga, Univision Deportes, Ligue Un, Sling TV, MLS, ESPN, Turner Sports and IMG.

Rooney still has role to play for club and country: Scholes

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London (AFP) – England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney can still play a useful role for both his country and club Manchester United, his former team-mate Paul Scholes told the BBC on Sunday.

Rooney, who has scored 53 goals in his 119 international appearances, is not definitively out of the England picture, according to coach Gareth Southgate, although lack of first team football at United is not helping his case for inclusion.

Southgate leaves door open for Rooney return

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Enfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Gareth Southgate insists he hasn’t fallen out with Wayne Rooney as the England star battles to save his international career.

Southgate left Rooney out of England’s squad for last week’s friendly defeat in Germany and Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania due to the striker’s knee injury and lack of first team action with Manchester United.

Southgate gives England stars chance to seize power

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Enfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Gareth Southgate has revealed he is giving more responsiblity to his England players in a bid to stop them freezing in the harsh glare of the international spotlight.

Southgate is keenly aware that many of his predecessors as England manager have preferred to impose their will on the squad rather than listen to the opinions of the players.

Dutch suffer World Cup shock, Ronaldo in 70-goal landmark

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Paris (AFP) – The Netherlands’ hopes of reaching the World Cup finals suffered a major setback on Saturday when the three-time runners-up slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria.

The loss left the Dutch six points behind Group A leaders France, who beat Luxembourg 3-1, and down in fourth spot, three back from Sweden and two off Bulgaria with just the group winners guaranteed a place in the 2018 finals in Russia.

South Africa achieve record unbeaten run

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Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa stretched an unbeaten run to a record 16 matches Saturday with a 3-1 friendly international victory over Guinea-Bissau in Durban.

Kermit Erasmus and Andile Jali converted penalties and Percy Tau scored on debut for Bafana Bafana (“The Boys”) at a wet and windy Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Sweden cruise, unbeaten Swiss on track for Russia

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Paris (AFP) – Sweden crushed Belarus 4-0 to keep the pressure on their rivals in qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup as Switzerland remain unbeaten with a 1-0 win over Latvia.

Sweden now have ten points from five games to go provisionally top of Group A ahead of France who travel to Luxembourg later Saturday with little room for manoeuvre for group rivals the Netherlands, third with seven points, who play Bulgaria.

Hart to captain England in Lithuania clash

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Enfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Gareth Southgate has named Torino goalkeeper Joe Hart as England captain for their World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

Hart, on loan at Torino from Manchester City, will lead England out at Wembley on Sunday instead of Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, who skippered the team in their midweek defeat against Germany.

Ireland lament ‘big loss’ as Coleman has surgery on broken leg

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Dublin (AFP) – Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman had surgery on his broken leg Saturday following a horror tackle by Wales’s Neil Taylor in Friday’s goalless World Cup qualifying draw in Dublin.

Taylor was sent off in the 71st minute at Lansdowne Road, with Everton full-back Coleman taken off on a stretcher after his right foot was left dangling by an ugly foul.

Former Dutch star Kluivert in betting probe

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The Hague (AFP) – Former Dutch star Patrick Kluivert, currently director of football at French club Paris Saint-German, owed up to one million euros to a criminal gang after racking up debts betting on football, a Dutch newspaper said Sunday.

De Volkskrant said the gang applied threats to pressure Kluivert in order to recoup the debt which he had repaid in part.

Silva leads stylish Spain’s upturn in Israel win

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Madrid (AFP) – Spain remained well on course to book their place at the World Cup in Russia as David Silva conducted another clinical win over Israel, cementing the 2010 world champions’ upturn in fortunes under Julien Lopetegui.

After the routine 4-1 win in Gijon on Friday the former goalkeeper is unbeaten in his seven games as national boss since replacing veteran Vicente del Bosque.

Bayern Munich bullish on growth of club in United States

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Bayern Munich Americas President Rudolph Vidal can point to a lot of metrics to illustrate the growth of the club’s reach in the United States as well as its impressive network of supporters throughout the country. But the challenge the club and Bundesliga faces in the United States is that almost all of its matches are played at the same time as the most popular English-language soccer league in the country - the Premier League.

Germany aim to ‘ruthlessly’ extend record run

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Baku (AFP) – Record-breaking Germany face Azerbaijan on Sunday with head coach Joachim Loew insisting their simple goal is to “ruthlessly” secure World Cup qualification as quickly as possible.

The defending champions are currently five points clear in Group C and a fifth straight win would take them a step closer to Russia 2018.

England’s Dier wary of Lithuania threat

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London (AFP) – England’s Euro 2016 humiliation by Iceland means they will never again underestimate teams like Sunday’s opponents Lithuania, according to Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier.

Dier was a member of the team stunned 2-1 by Iceland in Nice last year as England crashed to their most embarrassing defeat since a 1-0 loss to the part-timers of the United States at the 1950 World Cup.

Dempsey hat-trick, Pulisic shines as USA thrash Honduras

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San Francisco (AFP) – Clint Dempsey made a fairytale return to international duty with a hat-trick as the United States reignited their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 6-0 thrashing of Honduras.

Dempsey, playing his first international since recovering from a heart problem that forced a six-month layoff, scored goals in each half as the Americans romped to a crucial victory at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium.

Barca plan stadium, statue homage to Cruyff

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed on Saturday that a new stadium for the Barca B team will be named after Johan Cruyff and a statue of the Dutch great constructed at the club’s Camp Nou stadium.

Speaking a day after the first anniversary of Cruyff’s death, his son Jordi said the family were “very happy” with the agreement reached with Barcelona.

Flares can’t halt Italy as Immobile helps down Albania in World Cup qualifier

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Milan (AFP) – Lazio striker Ciro Immobile headed a superb second goal for Italy as the Azzurri maintained their 2018 World Cup qualifying bid with a controversial, interrupted 2-0 win over Albania on Friday.

Italy’s fourth win in five games leaves Gian Piero Ventura’s men second in Group G, on the same points as leaders Spain, who beat Israel 4-1.

Buffon reaches 1,000 as Italy and Spain cruise in World Cup qualifiers

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Paris (AFP) – Italy kept pace with Spain in European World Cup qualifying as goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon played his 1,000th professional match in a 2-0 victory over Albania on Friday.

A first-half Daniele De Rossi penalty and late second from Ciro Immobile was enough to earn the Azzurri three points but they remain behind Spain on goal difference at the top of Group G after La Rioja downed Israel 4-1.

Flares can’t halt Italy as Immobile helps down Albania in qualifier

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Milan (AFP) – Lazio striker Ciro Immobile headed a superb second goal for Italy as the Azzurri maintained their 2018 World Cup qualifying bid with a controversial, interrupted 2-0 win over Albania on Friday.

Italy’s fourth win in five games leaves Gian Piero Ventura’s men second in Group G, on the same points as leaders Spain, who beat Israel 4-1.

Coleman broken leg horror mars Ireland-Wales World Cup qualifying draw

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Dublin (AFP) – Wales were held to a 0-0 draw by the Republic of Ireland on Friday in a World Cup qualifier overshadowed by a sickening injury to Irish captain Seamus Coleman.

The Everton right-back was given oxygen and stretchered off in the 71st minute after his right leg was broken by a crude lunge from Wales left-back Neil Taylor, who was sent off.

Coleman horror injury mars Ireland-Wales World Cup qualifying draw

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Dublin (AFP) – Wales were held to a 0-0 draw by the Republic of Ireland on Friday in a World Cup qualifier overshadowed by a serious-looking injury to Irish captain Seamus Coleman.

The Everton right-back was given oxygen and stretchered off in the 71st minute after his right foot was left flopping at an unnatural angle by a crude lunge from Neil Taylor, who was sent off.

African champions Cameroon start reign with win

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Cameroon began their reign as African champions with a 1-0 friendly victory over Tunisia in Monastir Friday thanks to a Vincent Aboubakar goal.

The Turkey-based striker took advantage of his first scoring opportunity to beat Aymen Mathlouthi after 14 minutes in the Mediterranean resort.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for March 13-19, 2017

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Liga MX returned to the top of the most-viewed soccer on US TV charts this week by drawing more than 1 million viewers in three consecutive windows. Starting on Saturday March 18 at 9pm ET with 1.083 million watching a Liga MX match on Univision’s networks, the viewing figure grew to 1.

Manchester City hit with UEFA fine, accept FA charge

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London (AFP) – Manchester City have been fined 18,000 euros by UEFA for three offences during their Champions League tie with Monaco at the Etihad Stadium last month, European football’s governing body said on Friday.

City were found guilty of three charges concerning a pitch invasion, the throwing of objects from the crowd and a delayed kick-off during the last-16 first leg match on February 21.

England-based pair give Ivory Coast win in Russia

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Moscow (AFP) – England-based pair Jonathan Kodjia of Aston Villa and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha fired Ivory Coast to a 2-0 win over Russia in a friendly at Krasnodar on Friday.

It was Russia’s third defeat in six matches since Stanislav Cherchesov took over as manager in August - the other two coming against Costa Rica and Qatar last year.

England-based pair give Ivory Coast football win in Russia

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Moscow (AFP) – England-based pair Jonathan Kodjia of Aston Villa and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha fired Ivory Coast to a 2-0 win over Russia in a friendly at Krasnodar on Friday.

It was Russia’s third defeat in six matches since Stanislav Cherchesov took over as manager in August - the other two coming against Costa Rica and Qatar last year.

Dier wants England football fans to be ‘respectful’

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London (AFP) – Eric Dier has called on England fans to back the team in the “right way” following the offensive behaviour of some travelling supporters during Wednesday’s friendly international loss in Germany.

England’s 1-0 defeat in Dortmund was overshadowed by away fans booing the German national anthem and singing unsavoury songs about the Second World War.

French football boss Deschamps refuses to be drawn on exiled Benzema

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Luxembourg (AFP) – A day after Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema demanded talks with the France coach over his ongoing international exile, Didier Deschamps flatly refused to discuss the matter.

“I have nothing to say about this now, simply because right now we’re focussed on Saturday’s game (against Luxembourg) and Tuesday’s game (against Spain),” Deschamps said when asked at a press conference if he had something to say to Benzema, who won 81 caps before his exile.

Ex-Germany football striker Kuranyi retires

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Berlin (AFP) – Former Germany international striker Kevin Kuranyi said Friday he was calling time on his career despite money-spinning offers to play overseas in Qatar and China.

The 35-year-old, who scored 19 goals in 52 appearances for Germany, had been a free agent since last year after a career spent at clubs including Stuttgart and Schalke 04 in Germany and Russian side Dynamo Moscow.

Turner Sports and FOX Sports acquire Argentine Primera Division rights, says report

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Turner Sports and FOX Sports have teamed up in South America to acquire the rights to the Primera Division, according to a report by Reuters.

Media in Argentina is reporting that FOX Sports Latin America and Turner Broadcasting System Latin America will pay $206 million per year for the rights to the league over a period of five years.

Africa elected Ahmad for change – FIFA chief

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Estoril (Portugal) (AFP) – FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Friday the election of Ahmad Ahmad as Confederation of African Football chief was “a vote for change” after almost 30 years under Cameroonian Issa Hayatou.

Ahmad, head of Madagascar’s football federation, won the election in the Ethiopian capital this month by 34 votes to Hayatou’s 20.

NBC Sports scores more than 1 million viewers for Man City-Liverpool game

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Sunday’s Premier League game between Manchester City and Liverpool averaged 1.022 million viewers on the NBC over-the-air network.

The 1-1 draw was shown live on NBC network television from 12:30 to 2:30pm ET. The later than usual kickoff time for a high profile Premier League game on a Sunday was a result of the US moving to Daylight Saving Time last week, while the UK doesn’t recognize DST until March 26.

Where to find Mexico vs. Costa Rica on US TV and streaming

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

Before today’s matches kick off, Costa Rica and Mexico are first and second in the CONCACAF Hexagonal standings, so a victory for Mexico at their national stadium could push them up into the top spot depending on the results of the other games.

England’s Smalling out of Lithuania qualifier

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London (AFP) – Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is injured and will play no part in England’s World Cup qualifier with Lithuania on Sunday, the Football Association said on Friday.

In his place Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson got his first senior England call-up for the match at Wembley.

3 full backs Arsenal should consider signing this summer

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Arsenal could be set for a massive transformation this summer. With their manager of 21 years and their two best players, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil, all possibly on the way out, there might be some big holes to fill during the summer transfer market. Sanchez and Özil have their current contracts expire following the 2017/18 campaign, and have yet to agree to terms on a new deal.

Where to find USA vs. Honduras on US TV and streaming

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

With the United States Men’s National Team sitting at the bottom of their World Cup qualifying group after a string of disappointing results under then head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the US will be desperate for a win tonight in San Jose under the guidance of head coach Bruce Arena.

Arsenal, Bayern fined for troublesome fans

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Arsenal and Bayern Munich were on Friday fined by UEFA for their fans behaviour during this month’s Champions League last-16 clash at the Emirates Stadium.

European football’s governing body had opened disciplinary proceedings the day after the game which was held up by toilet paper thrown on the pitch and a fan who ran onto the playing surface.

USA vs. Honduras preview, TV times and team news

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November’s pair of World Cup qualifiers was an unmitigated disaster for the US Men’s National Team (USMNT), so much so that it cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job. The US saw their winning streak over Mexico in Columbus snapped and then got mauled 4-0 down in Costa Rica. Bruce Arena had an interesting January Camp and is ready for his third go round in the Hexagonal.

Paulinho hat-trick as Brazil thrash Uruguay

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Montevideo (AFP) – China-based midfielder Paulinho scored a hat-trick as Brazil thrashed Uruguay 4-1 to move to the brink of the World Cup finals here Thursday.

Barcelona superstar Neymar scored Brazil’s other goal with a cheeky lob as the five-time world champions opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the South American qualifying standings.

Spot on Messi fires Argentina over Chile in World Cup qualifier

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Lionel Messi scored from the penalty spot as Argentina revived their World Cup qualifying campaign with a battling 1-0 win over rivals Chile on Thursday.

Barcelona star Messi stroked home his penalty on 16 minutes after veteran Chile defender Jose Fuenzalida brought down Angel Di Maria with a clumsy challenge.

Brazil on brink, Messi revives Argentina

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Montevideo (AFP) – Brazil thrashed Uruguay to move to the brink of the World Cup finals on Thursday as Lionel Messi got Argentina’s faltering qualification campaign back on track with the only goal to sink Chile.

A superb hat-trick from China-based midfielder Paulinho powered Brazil to a 4-1 drubbing of the Uruguayans in Montevideo to leave the five-time world champions all-but-certain of a place at next year’s finals in Russia.

Don’t blow it, says Japan coach after UAE win

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Al-Ain (United Arab Emirates) (AFP) – Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic warned his players not to get “silly” after a 2-0 win in the United Arab Emirates moved them closer to a sixth successive World Cup.

Goals from Yuya Kubo and Yasuyuki Konno on Thursday kept the Blue Samurai level at the top of Group B with Saudi Arabia in the final round of Asian qualifiers for next year’s Russia World Cup with 13 points from six games.

Brazil on brink, Messi revives Argentina in World Cup qualifiers

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Montevideo (AFP) – Brazil thrashed Uruguay to move to the brink of the World Cup finals on Thursday as Lionel Messi got Argentina’s faltering qualification campaign back on track with the only goal to sink Chile.

A superb hat-trick from China-based midfielder Paulinho powered Brazil to a 4-1 drubbing of the Uruguayans in Montevideo to leave the five-time world champions all-but-certain of a place at next year’s finals in Russia.

South Korea say football coach’s job safe despite loss to China

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Seoul (AFP) – South Korea’s top football official promised on Friday that coach Uli Stielike’s job was safe despite the national team’s shock 1-0 loss to China in World Cup qualifying.

Chung Mong-Gyu, head of the Korea Football Association, said South Korea “didn’t play such a bad match” and that talks of any coaching changes were unwarranted.

China hails coach Lippi after upset win in World Cup qualifier

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Beijing (AFP) – Chinese fans and state-run media heaped praise on coach Marcello Lippi on Friday after a stunning win over South Korea kept their World Cup qualifying campaign alive.

“Thanks Lippi,” gushed state broadcaster CCTV, after China climbed off the bottom of Group A following Thursday’s 1-0 victory in Changsha.

Spurs’ Alli banned for three European matches for horror tackle

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London (AFP) – Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been suspended for three European club matches for his sending off against Gent last month, UEFA announced on Friday.

Alli, 20, received a straight red card for his horror tackle on Gent’s Brecht Dejaegere during the Premier League club’s shock Europa League exit.

Spurs’ Dele Alli hit with three match UEFA ban for horror tackle

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London (AFP) – Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli was banned for three European club matches by UEFA on Friday for his sending off against Gent last month.

Alli received a straight red card in the 2-2 draw at Wembley for his horror tackle on Gent’s Brecht Dejaegere, which saw the Premier League club knocked out of the Europa League with a 3-2 aggregate loss.

Kenya stretch unbeaten run in draw with Uganda

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Kenya stretched an unbeaten run to nine matches by drawing 1-1 at home against Uganda on Thursday.

Michael Olunga gave the “Harambee Stars” a 35th-minute lead in a friendly at Kenyatta Stadium in eastern town Machakos.

Kenya retained the lead against their long-time east African rivals until three minutes from time when Moses Waiswa levelled.

Is FOX Sports losing the European soccer audience?: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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

In the NEW episode, number 19, we cover a range of topics including:

• Whether FOX Sports is losing the European soccer audience now that their UEFA Champions League rights are going away?

Wales’ Coleman summons Euros spirit against Ireland

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Dublin (AFP) – Wales manager Chris Coleman believes the experience his side gained in their shock run to the semi-finals of last year’s Euros will help them in Friday’s key World Cup qualifier in the Republic of Ireland.

Both Wales and Ireland are unbeaten in UEFA qualifying group D.

Qatar doomed as Iran close on World Cup

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Doha (AFP) – Iran all but ended Qatar’s hopes of reaching the World Cup for the first time with a 1-0 victory in Doha on Thursday that exploded at the final whistle when staff and players from both sides clashed.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, formerly an assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, further inflamed the home crowd afterwards when he responded to their baiting by blowing a kiss and he was booed all the way down the tunnel.

FOX Sports bumps Mexico-Costa Rica game from FS1 to FS2

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Although originally scheduled to air live on FS1, FOX Sports has moved the Mexico vs. Costa Rica game from FS1 to FS2 for Friday night’s important World Cup qualifier.

The match was originally scheduled to air beginning at 8:30pm ET on FS1, but FOX Sports will instead show the game at 8:30pm ET on FS2 and will then a replay of the game on FS1 following the USA vs.

Lippi’s China keep World Cup dream alive, Qatar slump

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Doha (AFP) – Marcello Lippi’s China stunned South Korea 1-0 in a politically charged World Cup qualifier on Thursday to give themselves a glimmer of hope of reaching next year’s tournament in Russia.

Yu Dabao stooped unmarked to head in the game’s only goal on 34 minutes, prompting rapturous celebrations as China registered their first win in the final group qualifying stage.

Benzema refuses to give up on France recall

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Paris (AFP) – Frozen-out star forward Karim Benzema wants showdown talks with France coach Didier Deschamps about his international future and said Thursday he hasn’t given up hope of a recall.

The 29-year-old Real Madrid striker has not been picked by Deschamps since October 2015 after being embroiled in a sex-tape blackmail scandal involving former international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Iran close in on World Cup as Qatar look doomed

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Doha (AFP) – Iran took a major step towards making the 2018 World Cup finals winning 1-0 in Doha on Thursday, a result which virtually ends Qatar’s hopes of reaching Russia.

A cool Mehdi Taremi finish in the 51st minute after breaking clear of the Qatar defence was the difference between the two sides and leaves Iran four points clear at the top of Group A with just four games to play.

Buffon set to make it 1,000 not out

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Rome (AFP) – Gianluigi Buffon will make his 1,000th career appearance when the legendary goalkeeper pulls on the gloves once more for Italy on Friday against Albania.

The 39-year-old Juventus stopper made his professional debut in 1995 as a 17-year-old in goal for Parma and has gone on to become a football icon at home and abroad.

Beckenbauer before Swiss prosecutors in corruption probe

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Berlin (AFP) – German football legend Franz Beckenbauer appeared before Swiss prosecutors on Thursday as part of a corruption probe into the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany.

“Today (Thursday) I was interviewed as part of a long scheduled hearing by the Swiss federal prosecutor and I answered his questions,” the former chairman of Germany’s 2006 bid committee said.

FA chairman condemns ‘disrespectful’ England fans

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London (AFP) – The chairman of England’s governing Football Association has deplored the “inappropriate, disrespectful and disappointing” behaviour of some travelling fans in Germany on Wednesday.

Some England supporters in Dortmund for a friendly international against Germany could clearly be heard singing songs about World War I and II, with the chants loud enough to be picked up by television microphones.

Champions Cameroon pick ‘rebels’ for friendlies

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Cameroon have chosen two stars who shunned the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations-winning campaign for their first match since defeating Egypt in the final last month.

Marseille midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Schalke striker Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting were recalled for a friendly against Tunisia in Monastir Friday.

‘Ball in Israeli court,’ says Palestinian FA chief

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Zurich (AFP) – Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub insisted on Thursday the ball is now in Israel’s court after a meeting at FIFA headquarters to discuss Israeli clubs playing in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians argue that the presence of six Israeli football clubs playing on land containing settlements seen as illegal under international law is in breach of FIFA statutes.

Wanyama stars as Kenya stretch unbeaten run

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama starred for Kenya as they stretched an unbeaten run to nine matches Thursday by drawing 1-1 at home against Uganda.

Wanyama set up Michael Olunga to give the “Harambee Stars” a 35th-minute lead in a friendly at Kenyatta Stadium in eastern town Machakos.

La Liga chief tells China ‘not just about cash’

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Singapore (AFP) – China’s cash-rich Super League needs to work on improving local talent as well as dipping into its deep pockets to attract top foreign players, the La Liga chief said Thursday.

Javier Tebas told AFP he was “not worried at all” about the best La Liga players being tempted by lucrative salary offers as the level of competition in Spain was already a strong incentive for them to stay on.

Iraq equaliser dents Australia World Cup hopes

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Tehran (AFP) – Ahmad Yaseen’s second-half equaliser earned Iraq a 1-1 draw with Australia on Thursday in Tehran and left the Socceroos with work to do to reach next year’s World Cup.

Matthew Leckie scored five minutes before half-time but Yaseen’s finish on 76 minutes condemned Australia to a fourth draw in six games in the final group stage of qualifying.

Lippi’s China keep World Cup dream alive

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Changsha (China) (AFP) – Marcello Lippi’s China stunned South Korea 1-0 in a politically charged World Cup qualifier on Thursday to give themselves a glimmer of hope of reaching next year’s tournament in Russia.

Yu Dabao stooped unmarked to head in the game’s only goal on 34 minutes, prompting rapturous celebrations as China registered their first win in the final group qualifying stage.

McGhee expects Scotland response after Canada flop

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Glasgow (AFP) – Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee expects a strong response as his team look to bounce back from an embarrassing draw to Canada in a crucial World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.

Gordon Strachan’s side trailed to the Canadians before Steven Naismith’s equaliser gave them an unconvincing 1-1 draw at Easter Road on Wednesday.

Cologne reject 50 mn Chinese offer for Modeste

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Berlin (AFP) – Cologne say they rejected a bumper offer of 50 million euros ($54 million) from China for prolific French striker Anthony Modeste - but admit he could move to the English Premier League.

The 28-year-old has scored 22 of Cologne’s 37 goals this season to leave his side sixth in Germany’s top flight.

Coleman backs Republic of Ireland to shut down Wales star Bale

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Dublin (AFP) – Seamus Coleman has warned Wales star Gareth Bale that the Republic of Ireland are capable of shutting him down in Friday’s vital World Cup qualifier.

The Republic’s attempts to subdue Real Madrid forward Bale will form a major part of the Group D leaders’ game-plan in Dublin.

China stun Koreans to keep World Cup hopes alive

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Changsha (China) (AFP) – Yu Dabao struck in the first half as Marcello Lippi’s China stunned South Korea 1-0 to keep their slim World Cup hopes alive on Thursday.

The Beijing Guoan forward’s header ensured China’s first win of in the final qualifying group - and only their second victory over the Koreans in 32 attempts.

UEFA competitions director rejects Super League

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Estoril (Portugal) (AFP) – UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti on Thursday rejected the idea of a European Super League made up of the continent’s top clubs, but said the format of the Champions League could evolve.

“If the Super League is a competition for an elite, closed, then it’s not our competition,” said Marchetti on the sidelines of a football congress organised at Estoril, near Lisbon.

Bale seeks World Cup lift-off against Ireland

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London (AFP) – Gareth Bale’s Wales hope to recapture the spirit of Euro 2016 when they attempt to revive their flagging World Cup qualifying campaign against Ireland in Dublin on Friday.

Having stunned Europe by reaching the semi-finals of last year’s European Championship in France, Wales trail leaders Ireland by four points after four games in UEFA qualifying Group D.

Italy look to insatiable ‘Rooster’ Belotti

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Milan (AFP) – He’s known as the ‘Rooster’ with the insatiable appetite for goals, and Albania coach Gianni Di Biasi, for one, will be hoping Italy sensation Andrea Belotti goes hungry on Friday.

“I would have preferred it if there was a foreign striker on top of the Serie A scoring charts right now,” De Biasi told La Stampa earlier this week.

US look for mental edge in crucial World Cup test

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San Francisco (AFP) – Veteran coach Bruce Arena believes a tougher mental approach can help the United States reignite their 2018 World Cup qualification campaign on Friday as the Americans prepare to face Honduras in a must-win tie in California.

Arena, who replaced sacked coach Jurgen Klinsmann in November, is targeting six points from Friday’s game in San Jose and next week’s trip to face Panama in the CONCACAF regional qualifiers.

Football: La Liga chief tells China ‘not just about cash’

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Singapore (AFP) – China’s cash-rich Super League needs to work on improving local talent as well as dipping into its deep pockets to attract top foreign players, the La Liga chief said Thursday.

Javier Tebas told AFP he was “not worried at all” about the best La Liga players being tempted by lucrative salary offers as the level of competition in Spain was already a strong incentive for them to stay on.

Ex Disney chief in Portsmouth takeover talks

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London (AFP) – The billionaire former chairman of US entertainment giant the Walt Disney Corporation is in talks to buy English fourth-tier club Portsmouth, the south coast side has confirmed.

Following a report in The News, Portsmouth’s local newspaper, that American media mogul Michael Eisner was looking to complete a takeover, the Portsmouth Supporters Trust, which owns the club, said in a statement issued Wednesday: “Due to the current interest from Mr Eisner the PST are suspending voting rights for all new Members.

Where to find Uruguay vs. Brazil on US TV and streaming

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

In CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, first meets second in a match of huge importance to see who can take a commanding position in their attempt to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Where to find Argentina vs. Chile on US TV and streaming

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

Argentina faces a tough task to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Currently sitting in fifth place in qualifying from CONMEBOL, Argentina hasn’t won in four games and may miss out on automatic qualification if they’re unable to finish the qualifying in the top four spots.

Podolski hits Germany winner against England to sign off in style

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Lukas Podolski signed off his Germany career in style on Wednesday smashing home the winning goal with his trusty left boot to seal a 1-0 friendly victory over England.

It was only fitting that the Galatasaray forward, who joins Japan’s Vissel Kobe next season, should claim his 49th goal on his 130th - and final - international appearance.

Podolski smashes Germany winner to sign off in style

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Lukas Podolski signed off his Germany career in style on Wednesday smashing home the winning goal with his trusty left boot to seal a 1-0 friendly victory over England.

It was only fitting that the Galatasaray forward, who joins Japan’s Vissel Kobe next season, should claim his 49th goal on his 130th - and final - international appearance.

When do International Champions Cup tickets go on sale?

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Now that we know who the eight teams are that are playing in the 2017 International Champions Cup, the prospect of seeing many of these in action across the United States will be top of mind for most soccer fans in the United States. But when do tickets for the International Champions Cup go on sale, and how can you make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to see teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus and AS Roma in action?

Palestinian, Israeli football officials in ‘heated’ meeting

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Zurich (AFP) – Palestinian and Israeli football officials were involved in “heated” talks Wednesday as FIFA attempted to mediate complaints that Israeli clubs are illegally playing in the occupied West Bank, a source told AFP.

Palestinians argue that the presence of six Israeli football clubs playing on land containing settlements seen as illegal under international law is in breach of FIFA statutes.

Tottenham Hotspur announces 2017 summer tour of United States

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Tottenham Hotspur have announced that the club will be playing several friendlies in the United States this summer as part of their 2017 preseason tour.

The Lilywhites have confirmed three friendlies thus far, all part of the 2017 International Champions Cup. It’s quite possible that the club may announce additional friendlies against MLS teams, but no plans have been publicly announced yet.

Child’s birth could rule Ledley out of Ireland football clash

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London (AFP) – Joe Ledley could miss Wales’s World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland if his pregnant wife Ruby gives birth to the couple’s third child earlier than expected ahead of Friday’s match in Dublin.

Joe and Ruby Ledley are already the parents of two daughters, with their third child expected a few days after the Group D Clash at Lansdowne Road.

Manchester City announces 2017 summer tour of United States

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Manchester City has announced that they’ll be playing three friendlies in the United States this summer, but with no indication that they’ll be adding any additional games at this time.

All three matches will be in the International Champions Cup including the first-ever Manchester derby played outside of England in addition to friendlies against Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid.

UEFA football boss vows transfer system reform

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Estoril (Portugal) (AFP) – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin vowed on Wednesday to reform the transfer system to stem the talent flow towards the richest clubs.

“We’ll develop something akin to tax on luxury goods or limits on squad size,” Ceferin said on the sidelines of a UEFA congress in Portugal.

Qatar, Iran coaches clash ahead of World Cup tie

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Doha (AFP) – A simmering spat between the Qatar and Iran coaches broke out into the open on Wednesday ratcheting up tensions 24 hours ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier.

Jorge Fossati and Carlos Queiroz clashed over alleged comments made by the former Real Madrid coach ahead of the qualifier in Tehran last September which saw Iran win 2-0 with goals in the 94th and 96th minutes.

Injury rules Khedira out of England football showdown

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Sami Khedira will miss Germany’s friendly international with England on Thursday as the Juventus holding midfielder has a swollen ankle, his football federation said on Wednesday.

“We decided to rest Sami for the England game, but it really is just a precaution,” Germany assistant coach Marcus Sorg said.

Eye surgery rules Abate out for season: AC Milan

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Milan (AFP) – AC Milan’s Ignazio Abate has been ruled out for the remainder of the season as he recovers from eye surgery following an injury suffered against Sassuolo last month.

Milan, currently seventh in Serie A at 20 points behind leaders Juventus, will welcome the defender back during the summer, according to a statement.

International Champions Cup announces stellar lineup for 2017 tournament in United States

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The 2017 edition of the International Champions Cup features the most impressive lineup of world-class soccer teams ever in its four-year history.

Featuring eight teams, the clubs participating are Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham Hotspur and AS Roma.

Manchester United announces 2017 USA summer tour

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Manchester United will be playing a series of friendlies this summer across the United States of America.

The Red Devils return to the States with a tour that opens up against MLS sides LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake before taking part in the International Champions Cup, kicking off the tournament against rivals Manchester City on Thursday July 20 with the venue to be revealed in due course for the highly anticipated Manchester derby.

Argentina face Chile test in South America World Cup race

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Montevideo (AFP) – The unthinkable prospect of a World Cup without Argentina or Lionel Messi could move a step closer to becoming reality on Thursday as the South American giants prepare to face arch-rivals Chile in a crucial battle on the road to Russia 2018.

Argentina, who last failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1970, saw their progress towards next year’s finals go awry in 2016 when back-to-back draws with Venezuela and Peru were followed by defeats against Paraguay and Brazil.

Shirley Cruz – Costa Rican dynamo and PSG star

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Paris (AFP) – Costa Rican Shirley Cruz never thought she would earn a living from football. But on Thursday she will lead out Paris Saint-Germain for their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.

“In Costa Rica football is just a way of getting an education,” she told AFP in the French capital, where PSG fans are haunted by the 6-1 humiliation of the men’s side at Barcelona in the Champions League earlier this month.

China steps up security for South Korea World Cup qualifier

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Changsha (China) (AFP) – Chinese authorities have stepped up security for Thursday’s tense World Cup qualifier against South Korea, whose fans will receive a police escort after protests over Seoul’s decision to deploy a controversial missile defence system.

The clash between the neighbouring countries is the most anticipated of Thursday’s Asian games, which also include Australia’s trip to face Iraq and Japan’s revenge mission against United Arab Emirates.

Death threats won’t affect Vardy: Southgate

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate says the death threats Jamie Vardy received in the wake of Claudio Ranieri’s sacking will not affect the striker in Wednesday’s friendly away to Germany.

In the international’s build-up, Vardy revealed his alleged role in getting Ranieri sacked at Leicester City has earned him death threats.

Bayern Munich opens China office

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Shanghai (AFP) – German powerhouse Bayern Munich opened a Shanghai office Wednesday in a bid to capitalise on China’s vast fan base and voracious hunger for top-flight football training.

Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge announced the opening of its office in the German Centre, a complex in Shanghai’s Pudong district, with support from the China Football Association and Shanghai’s soccer and education authorities.

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

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

The international friendly between Germany and England will be memorable for a number of different reasons. First, it’s Lukas Podolski’s last game for the German national team (he’ll be the captain for the side).

ESPN reaps benefits of FOX and NBC’s indifference to International Champions Cup TV rights

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A little over one year ago, it appeared that Relevent Sports’ Charlie Stillitano and Stephen Ross had overshot the runway. They had “gambled in overvaluing their product and had lost badly” went the narrative. While International Champions Cup executives wouldn’t confirm it, reports indicated that FOX Sports declined to renew its TV deal with ICC, and that NBC Sports wasn’t very interested in the property.

England can learn from Germany – Southgate

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Essen (Germany) (AFP) – Manager Gareth Southgate says England can learn from Germany’s consistent success under counterpart Joachim Loew ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against the world champions.

The clash in Dortmund is a chance for Southgate to start to impose his vision for England after four unbeaten games as caretaker coach led to his full time appointment in November.

Speed tests between Sling TV, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue and DIRECTV NOW

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Ever wonder who would win a speed test between Sling TV, fuboTV, PS Vue and DIRECTV NOW?

Several of our readers have posted comments on our website asking for us to do a laboratory test to determine which of the legal streaming services is the fastest and most reliable.

While we haven’t had a chance to do so yet, we did stumble across a speed test on YouTube.

Sanchez trains with Chile after ankle injury fear

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Santiago (AFP) – Chile star Alexis Sanchez took part in training with his international team-mates on Tuesday ahead of this week’s World Cup clash with Argentina, shrugging off fears an ankle injury would rule him out of the game.

Sanchez limped out of Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday after scoring the Gunners’ only goal.

Podolski captains Germany on farewell against England

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Lukas Podolski will captain injury-hit Germany on his farewell international appearance in Wednesday’s friendly against England, head coach Joachim Loew has confirmed.

Podolski, 31, will make his 130th and final appearance by wearing the captain’s armband against Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions in Dortmund.

No special plan to stop Bale: Keane

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Dublin (AFP) – Ireland have no special plan to nullify Welsh superstar Gareth Bale in Friday’s crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier because it would never work anyway, assistant manager Roy Keane said.

Keane, himself a standout if different type of player to Bale when he played for Manchester United and Ireland, said many teams had tried - and failed - to stop the Wales and Real Madrid forward.

Another CAN begins with spotlight on minnows

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations begins on Wednesday, just 45 days after Cameroon snatched victory over Egypt in the final of the previous edition.

The “Indomitable Lions” of Cameroon and the “Pharaohs” of Egypt will not be involved, however, as they are among 45 countries given byes to the group phase.

PSG contract offer ‘fake news’ – Wenger

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Paris (AFP) – Under-pressure Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger dismissed as “fake news” reports that Paris Saint-Germain had offered him a two-year deal at the French champions.

The Frenchman is facing a fan backlash at Arsenal after a rotten run of form and British tabloid The Sun said on Monday that PSG had offered him a contract to replace Unai Emery this summer.

Wales coach Coleman delighted to have Aaron Ramse back in squad

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Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey being fully fit for the crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier against Ireland in Dublin on Friday is a real filip for the Euro 2016 semi-finalists, manager Chris Coleman said.

Ramsey, instrumental in Wales’s fairytale run to the last four in France last year, has only been involved in one of their four qualifiers so far.

Belgium’s Marc Wilmots named new Ivory Coast coach

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Abidjan (AFP) – Former Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has been appointed to lead Ivory Coast’s World Cup qualifying bid, the country’s football authorities said on Tuesday.

Wilmots, 48, is one of an elite band of players to have played at four World Cups, and also led Belgium into the 2014 World Cup during his stint as coach with them between 2012-2016.

Cahill says privileged to follow Terry as Chelsea captain

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London (AFP) – Chelsea legend John Terry’s captaincy of the Premier League giants is an impossible act to follow, his successor Gary Cahill said in Tuesday’s London Evening Standard.

Terry, 36, is Chelsea’s most successful skipper, leading them to four Premier League titles and four FA Cup wins amongst others, but is no longer first choice with Cahill captaining the side that has opened up a commanding 10 point gap at the top of the table.

Carli Lloyd to feature in live stream of Manchester City Women’s Champions League game

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Carli Lloyd’s game for the Manchester City women’s team in the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarterfinal between Manchester City and Fortuna Hjørring will be streamed live to viewers in the United States and around the world on the legal streaming site mycujoo.

The first leg will stream live at 2pm ET on Thursday, March 23 from this web page.

Podolski to captain Germany on farewell against England

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Lukas Podolski will captain injury-hit Germany on his farewell international appearance in Wednesday’s friendly against England, the team’s head coach Joachim Loew has confirmed.

Podolski, 31, will make his 130th and final appearance by wearing the captain’s armband against Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions in Dortmund.

Southgate picks up pieces as England rebuild again

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London (AFP) – After a year scarred by scandal and sporting catastrophe, Gareth Southgate will begin his attempt to steer England into calmer waters in Wednesday’s friendly against Germany in Dortmund.

England began 2016 with a stirring 3-2 win over Germany, but they were humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016 before new manager Sam Allardyce was brought down by a newspaper sting after just one game in charge.

Germany, England to blood youngsters in glamour football friendly

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – World champions Germany host England in a prestige friendly in Dortmund on Wednesday with both coaches primed to give youth its head for one of football’s great rivalries.

But that is where the similarities end for Joachim Loew and Gareth Southgate, who is in charge for the first time as England’s permanent manager.

Japan’s Honda admits to ‘failure’ before UAE clash

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Tokyo (AFP) – Japan’s Keisuke Honda has blamed his own shortcomings for sparking debate on his international future before this week’s World Cup qualifier in the United Arab Emirates, domestic media reported Tuesday.

Once a talismanic figure for Japan, the 30-year-old squeaked into coach Vahid Halilhodzic’s squad for Thursday’s clash despite being buried deep on the bench at AC Milan for much of the season.

Schweinsteiger signs for Chicago Fire: report

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Chicago (AFP) – Former Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has signed for Major League Soccer side the Chicago Fire, the Chicago Tribune reported on Monday.

Schweinsteiger, a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning team, heads to the United States after an unhappy stint with Manchester United, where he has been frozen out by manager Jose Mourinho.

Schweinsteiger signs for Chicago Fire: Man Utd

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Chicago (AFP) – Former Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has signed for Major League Soccer side the Chicago Fire from Premier League giants Manchester United, the English club confirmed on Tuesday.

Schweinsteiger, a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning team, heads to the United States after an unhappy stint with Manchester United, where he has been frozen out by manager Jose Mourinho.

Arsene Wenger doesn’t deserve abuse but should step down

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Will he go or will he stay? The question of Arsene Wenger’s immediate future at Arsenal is certainly one of the biggest talking points in the soccer world at the moment. The Frenchman has been with the north London outfit since 1996, and is without a doubt the club’s best manager in their illustrious history.

Top four within reach for Liverpool

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For most fans of England’s current top six clubs, the lack of fixtures against other top six sides at this stage of the season would not only offer relief but also induce belief in their club’s ability to finish the season on a strong note to claim UEFA Champions League football. For Liverpool fans, however, clashes with clubs below the top six has been a somewhat worrying sight since the beginning of 2017.

Manchester City charged with failing to control players: FA

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London (AFP) – Manchester City face a charge of failing to control their players by the Football Association for their surrounding the referee Michael Oliver when he awarded a penalty in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday.

Oliver, the same referee who was surrounded by Manchester United players in the fractious FA Cup quarter-final with Chelsea last week and resulted in the club being fined £20,000 (23,000 euros, $24,700), awarded a penalty to Liverpool when he judged Gael Clichy to have fouled Roberto Firmino in the 50th minute.

Atlanta United average attendance could surpass Seattle Sounders in 2017 MLS season

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Now that the Seattle Sounders have been the MLS club with the highest average attendance by far for each of its eight MLS seasons, it’s quite possible that Atlanta United may knock the Sounders off their perch by the end of the season. So far this year, Atlanta is averaging 50,610 after two home games.

Italy coach wary of Albania slip-up

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Milan (AFP) – Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura has warned a slip-up against minnows Albania would dent the Azzurri’s 2018 World Cup qualifying hopes even before a likely group decider away to Spain.

Ventura, who succeeded Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after he led Italy to a commendable quarter-place finish at Euro 2016, has steered Italy to three wins and a draw in their four qualifiers so far.

Bayern domination threatens Bundesliga: league boss

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s domination threatens the Bundesliga’s reputation and their rivals must show more ambition in order to close the gap, the German Football League (DFL) boss has warned.

Bayern’s 1-0 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday left the reigning German champions 13 points clear of second-placed RB Leipzig with just nine games left.

Defoe sets sights on ‘dream’ 2018 World Cup

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Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Veteran striker Jermain Defoe has his sights on a “dream” place in England’s 2018 World Cup squad after returning to the fold following a near four-year absence, he said on Monday.

The 34-year-old Sunderland player was recalled by manager Gareth Southgate for Wednesday’s friendly against Germany in Dortmund and Sunday’s World Cup qualifier at home to Lithuania.

10 things we learned from MLS gameweek 3 of the 2017 season

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Here are the ten things we learned from Week 3 of the 2017 MLS season.

1. Timbers Continue To Fly High

The best game of the weekend was at Providence Park on Saturday night, and, though 45 minutes, the Houston Dynamo were stealing the show. At halftime, they deservedly led 2-1 behind goals from Cubo Torres and Romell Quioto.

First call-up for Monaco starlet Bakayoko

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Paris (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps on Monday called up highly rated Tiemoue Bakayoko for the first time, a week after the young Monaco midfielder played a major part in dumping Manchester City out of Europe.

The 22-year-old Bakayoko, who has been strongly linked with a move to Chelsea and Manchester United, replaces United’s Paul Pogba for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg and the friendly with Spain after the world’s most expensive footballer suffered a hamstring problem.

Tickets available for el Clasico Miami between Barcelona and Real Madrid

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Anyone trying to buy tickets to el Clasico Miami between Barcelona and Real Madrid on Ticketmaster’s website for the general sale for Monday, March 20 will have been disappointed by the lack of affordable seats available, and also the annoying Ticketmaster website and app. The “Sorry, no tickets match your search” message displayed on the Ticketmaster website was a common experience.

Roma offer olive branch to unsettled Spalletti

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Milan (AFP) – Roma president James Pallotta has called on Luciano Spalletti to stay at the club, amid reports the Serie A giants could plug his eventual departure with Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco.

“I’d love him to stay, you can see how strategically and tactically well we play with him around,” Pallotta told Italian television following a 3-1 win over Sassuolo on Sunday that left Roma eight points behind leaders Juventus.

Germany’s Neuer ruled out of England clash

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany captain Manuel Neuer has been ruled out of Wednesday’s home friendly against England while die Mannschaft’s shooting-star Timo Werner is set to make his debut.

A calf injury has sidelined Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer, who misses both the friendly against Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions in Dortmund and Germany’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in Baku on Sunday.

Manchester United confirm United States tour

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London (AFP) – Manchester United confirmed on Monday they will tour the United States during pre-season.

Jose Mourinho’s side, currently fifth in the Premier League, will play in five American cities including Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Santa Clara and Washington DC.

Dates and opponents for the matches have not been announced, but some of the games are likely to form part of the International Champions Cup friendly tournament.

Schedule of World Cup qualifiers and friendlies on US TV and streaming: March 22-28, 2017

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During the next 10 days, there will be more than 55 international games shown live to viewers in the United States on TV and/or streaming. Among those countries featured - some of whom will be playing World Cup qualifiers and friendlies - they include the United States, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, England and Argentina.

Alli has X-factor for Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says he is constantly surprised by Dele Alli after the Tottenham midfielder helped fill the gap left by the injured Harry Kane.

Kane, the club’s leading scorer, has been ruled out for six weeks after picking up an ankle injury, forcing Pochettino to rejig his team’s attack.

Manchester United accused after tunnel row at Middlesbrough

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Middlesbrough (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United players were accused of sparking an ugly clash in the tunnel in a stormy aftermath to their 3-1 win at Middlesbrough.

United remain in contention for Champions League qualification after a hard-fought victory on Sunday, which ended with rival players separated by security staff in the tunnel when punches were reportedly thrown.

Goals the missing ingredient for Manchester City: Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sharper finishing is all that is required to take Manchester City to the next level, manager Pep Guardiola said after his side’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Guardiola’s cavalier approach came under scrutiny after City fell to a 3-1 defeat at Monaco last week that saw them eliminated from the Champions League on away goals after a 6-6 aggregate draw.

Rodgers pleased with Celtic’s title focus

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised his players for showing the determination needed to dig out a 2-1 victory against Dundee that puts them on the verge of the Scottish Premiership title.

A first half strike from Jozo Simunovic and a second half header from Stuart Armstrong seemed to have the Hoops cruising to victory at Dens Park.

Wenger wants to stay on at Arsenal – reports

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London (AFP) – Beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has decided to stay at the club, according to British media reports on Monday.

The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror said Wenger will inform Arsenal’s board he wants to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season.

Mozambican footballer killed in croc attack

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Maputo (AFP) – A young Mozambican football player was snatched and killed by a crocodile while training along the banks of a river, his club said on Monday.

Estevao Alberto Gino, 19, who played for Mozambique’s second division club Atletico Mineiro de Tete, lived near the Zambezi river in the western province of Tete.

Werner set for Germany debut as Podolski bids farewell

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Berlin (AFP) – World champions Germany open their 2017 campaign by bidding farewell to veteran forward Lukas Podolski while rising star Timo Werner is set to make his debut against Gareth Southgate’s England on Wednesday.

Germany have struggled to settle on a striker to replace all-time top-scorer Miroslav Klose, who scored 71 goals in 137 internationals, and retired after they won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Allegri hails “important step” as Cuadrado saves Juventus

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Milan (AFP) – Massimiliano Allegri hailed an “important step forward” as jittery Juventus edged closer to a record sixth consecutive scudetto with a precious 1-0 win at Sampdoria on Sunday.

“This is an important step forward because we have a very difficult end to the season,” Allegri said after a 24th win of the campaign left the Turin giants eight points clear of Roma after their 3-1 win over Sassuolo later Sunday.

‘Phenomenon’ Mbappe keeps Monaco ahead of PSG

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Paris (AFP) – Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe was described as a “phenomenon” after inspiring Monaco to a 3-0 win at Caen on Sunday as the French Ligue 1 leaders maintained their three-point advantage over Paris Saint-Germain.

Monaco now have 71 points with eight games to play although Paris stayed in their slipstream after the four-time defending champions came back from a goal down to beat Lyon 2-1.

Dzeko strikes as Roma reclaim second spot

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Milan (AFP) – A late strike from Edin Dzeko helped secure the points as Roma came back from a goal down to beat a spirited Sassuolo 3-1 and stay in the Champions League hunt on Sunday.

Roma had dropped to third in Serie A at 11 points behind leaders Juventus after the Turin giants took another step towards a record six consecutive title with a hard-fought, 1-0 win at Sampdoria.

Messi double edges six-goal thriller Barcelona’s way

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona closed to within two points of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Lionel Messi scored twice in a thrilling 4-2 win over 10-man Valencia at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Earlier, Antoine Griezmann scored a stunning free-kick as Atletico Madrid compounded a week to forget for Sevilla with a 3-1 at the Vicente Calderon.

Marchisio, Chiellini out as Italy ring Albania changes

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus pair Claudio Marchisio and Giorgio Chiellini were left at home as Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura called five new players into an enlarged 27-man squad for upcoming games against Albania and the Netherlands.

Italy host Albania in Palermo in a 2018 World Cup qualifier on Friday before facing the Dutch in Amsterdam on March 28 as Ventura looks further ahead to a possible Group G qualifying decider away to leaders Spain on September 2.

Bayern Munich now 13 points clear as Mueller caps milestone

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich extended their Bundesliga lead to 13 points as Thomas Mueller capped his 250th league appearance with a rare goal in Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

After second-placed RB Leipzig crashed to a 3-0 win at Werder Bremen on Saturday, Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern took the chance to go further ahead in the table as they edge ever closer to a fifth straight league title.

Aguero leveller for Manchester City keeps Liverpool at bay

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero netted a 69th-minute equaliser in a gripping 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday to prevent Manchester City losing ground in the battle for a top-four Premier League finish.

Liverpool looked poised to leapfrog City into third place after James Milner silenced the boos from fans of his former club to give the visitors the lead with a penalty early in the second half.

Aguero leveller keeps Liverpool at bay

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero netted a 69th-minute equaliser in a gripping 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday to prevent Manchester City losing ground in the battle for a top-four Premier League finish.

Liverpool looked poised to leapfrog City into third place after James Milner silenced the boos from fans of his former club to give the visitors the lead with a penalty early in the second half.

Bayern now 13 points clear as Mueller caps milestone

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich extended their Bundesliga lead to 13 points as Thomas Mueller capped his 250th league appearance with a rare goal in Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

After second-placed RB Leipzig crashed to a 3-0 win at Werder Bremen on Saturday, Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern took the chance to go further ahead in the table as they edge ever closer to a fifth straight league title.

Griezmann stunner sees Atletico Madrid close on Sevilla

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Madrid (AFP) – Antoine Griezmann teed up Diego Godin’s opener then struck a stunning free-kick as Atletico Madrid compounded a week for Sevilla to forget in a 3-1 win on Sunday.

Koke added Atletico’s third before Joaquin Correa registered a consolation for Sevilla.

Sevilla were dumped out of the Champions League by Atletico’s quarter-final opponents Leicester City on Wednesday and have seen their lead over Atletico in third place in La Liga now whittled down to two points.

‘Phenomenon’ Mbappe keeps Monaco on Leagye 1 title trail

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Paris (AFP) – A dazzling double from teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe gave Monaco a 3-0 win at Caen on Sunday as the French Ligue 1 leaders opened a six-point gap on Paris Saint-Germain.

Monaco now have 71 points with eight games to play although Paris can close to within three points if they beat Lyon later.

Masked Kolasinac’s super strike seals Schalke’s win

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Berlin (AFP) – Schalke 04 climbed two places to ninth in the Bundesliga on Sunday as masked Bosnia defender Sead Kolasinac produced a superb individual goal in their 1-0 win at Mainz.

The Royal Blues of Gelsenkirchen are now unbeaten in their last four games including Thursday’s 2-2 draw at Moenchengladbach which put them in the Europa League’s quarter-finals on away goals.

Tottenham ignore Kane absence to down Southampton

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London (AFP) – Tottenham overcame the absence of leading scorer Harry Kane to beat Southampton 2-1 and close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday.

First half goals from Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli at White Hart Lane gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side the cushion they needed to hold onto victory after James Ward-Prowse halved the deficit early in the second half.

Allegri erupts as Cuadrado saves Juventus blushes

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Milan (AFP) – A first-half header from Juan Cuadrado delivered a 1-0 win for a jittery Juventus at Sampdoria Sunday during which infuriated coach Massimiliano Allegri kicked kit bags on the touchline.

Juve’s 24th league win of the campaign moved the champions 10 points clear of Napoli after their earlier 3-2 win at Empoli, while Roma can restore an eight-point deficit with a home win against Sassuolo later in the day.

Mbappe double keeps Monaco on League 1 title trail

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Paris (AFP) – A dazzling double from teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe gave Monaco a 3-0 win at Caen on Sunday as the French Ligue 1 leaders opened a six-point gap on Paris Saint-Germain.

Monaco now have 71 points with eight games to play although Paris can close to within three points if they beat Lyon later.

Mourinho salutes gritty Manchester United

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Middlesbrough (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho praised Manchester United’s refusal to let fatigue get the better of them as they kept their top four bid on course with a 3-1 victory at Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Having lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday and beaten Rostov in the Europa League on Thursday, Mourinho had predicted his team might struggle against a Middlesbrough team fighting to avoid relegation.

United on the up as Fellaini strikes

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Middlesbrough (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Marouane Fellaini scored his first Premier League goal for 15 months as Manchester United extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 18 games to move up to fifth with a 3-1 victory at relegation-threatened Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Jesse Lingard added a stunning second and Antonio Valencia a stoppage-time third after an embarrassing mistake by former United keeper Victor Valdes as Jose Mourinho’s side ended a 19-week stay in sixth by climbing a place.

Insigne at the double against Empoli

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Milan (AFP) – Lorenzo Insigne hit a brace as Napoli survived a late fightback by Empoli to claim a 3-2 win on Sunday that moved them up to second in Serie A seven points behind Juventus.

Napoli looked on their way to an easy but maiden win at the Carlo Castellani stadium after Insigne struck twice, once from the spot, and Dries Mertens added a third before half-time.

Where to find Man City vs. Liverpool on US TV and streaming

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

Both Manchester City and Liverpool are fighting not only to solidify a top four finish but to see which club can finish second in the league. Both clubs are in an enviable position, so today’s outcome could have a big impact on how the top four in the league this season will finish.

Wenger promises decision on future ‘very soon’

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he has made a decision on his future and will make it public very soon.

Wenger revealed after seeing his side humbled 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday that he has decided whether to stay with Arsenal when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Schmeichel one of the best, says Shakespeare

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London (AFP) – Craig Shakespeare believes Kasper Schmeichel must be viewed as one of the game’s top goalkeepers after his saves enabled Leicester City to record a fourth successive victory.

First-half goals by Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy gave the champions a 3-2 win at West Ham United on Saturday, easing the relegation fears that led to manager Claudio Ranieri’s sacking last month.

Conte hails Costa’s ‘discipline’ as Chelsea march on

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte described Diego Costa as an example to his team-mates after the Premier League leaders went 13 points clear with a 2-1 win at Stoke City.

The infamously feisty Costa, dropped in January after reports of a row with Conte, was left walking a disciplinary tightrope after being booked for simulation in the 16th minute of Saturday’s game at the Bet365 Stadium.

Hamilton stroll just the start, says Caixinha

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Glasgow (AFP) – New Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha said his side still have a lot of work ahead of them after they thrashed Hamilton 4-0 at Ibrox.

The 46-year-old declared himself happy to get his reign off to a winning start just a week after joining from Qatari club Al-Gharafa.

But the Portuguese said more must be done to restore a winning mentality, with the club having struggled on their return to the Scottish top flight this season.

Expansion Atlanta United post first home win

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Atlanta (AFP) – The expansion Atlanta United recorded their first home win in franchise history on Saturday with a convincing 4-0 win over the Chicago Fire at the Georgia Tech University stadium.

Forward Josef Martinez, the reigning Major League Soccer player of the week, scored twice for the United.

Juventus president Agnelli denies mafia ties

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, who faces a grilling by an Italian anti-mafia commission, on Saturday angrily denied claims he knowingly met bosses of a feared organised crime group.

Agnelli was summoned after wiretap evidence from an ongoing investigation into the ‘Ndrangheta linked staff at the Serie A champions to the Calabria-based criminal network.

Highs and lows for Hart in Torino point with Inter

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Milan (AFP) – England goalkeeper Joe Hart had a typically topsy-turvy evening as Torino took a point in a thrilling 2-2 home draw with Inter Milan on Saturday.

Inter travelled to the Stadio Olimpico looking for a precious win as they bid to maintain their drive for a top-three finish and a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2012.

Bournemouth on the rise as Swansea slump

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Bournemouth bolstered their bid for Premier League survival and pushed Swansea deeper into the relegation mire as Benik Afobe inspired a 2-0 home win on Saturday.

Eddie Howe’s side took the lead at Dean Court thanks to a first-half own goal from Alfie Mawson, who deflected in Afobe’s shot.

Burnley stalemate edges Sunderland nearer drop

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Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Bottom club Sunderland spurned a golden opportunity to make up ground in a 0-0 draw home to Burnley that left them seven points from Premier League safety on Saturday.

Tom Heaton denied Sunderland a dramatic late winner leaving David Moyes’ men deep in relegation trouble after spurning a series of chances at the Stadium of Light.

Casemiro sends Real Madrid five points clear

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Madrid (AFP) – Casemiro was Real Madrid’s unlikely hero as he hit the winner to open up a five-point lead on Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Karim Benzema fired the visitors into a half-time lead from Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross.

Aritz Aduriz briefly levelled for Athletic, but Ronaldo again was involved for the winner on 68 minutes as his flick-on was slotted home by the unmarked Casemiro for just his third goal of the season.

Rangers cruise to give Caixinha perfect start

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Glasgow (AFP) – Pedro Caixinha’s reign as Rangers manager got off to a perfect start as they thrashed Hamilton 4-0 at Ibrox in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.

American international Emerson Hyndman fired Rangers in front in the 26th minute before Clint Hill tapped home a second four minutes before the break.

Modeste eclipses Lewandowski in hot-shots battle

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Berlin (AFP) – Cologne’s Anthony Modeste hit a hat-trick on Saturday to eclipse Robert Lewandowski in second place behind top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the battle to be this season’s Bundesliga hot-shot.

Gabon’s Aubameyang leads the way for the most German league goals with 23 goals in as many games after netting Borussia Dortmund’s first-half winner in Friday’s lacklustre 1-0 victory over second-from-bottom Ingolstadt.

Balotelli frustrated as Nice falter in title race

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli endured a frustrating afternoon as Nice dropped two vital points in the French title race with a 1-1 draw at mid-table Nantes on Saturday.

Nice had plenty of the ball but Balotelli was well shackled by the home defence - not always fairly - and the maverick Italian striker won his side a series of free-kicks in dangerous areas that they failed to make the most of.

Cahill from zero to hero as Chelsea down Stoke

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Gary Cahill kept Chelsea’s title charge on track as the defender’s 87th-minute winner gave the Premier League leaders a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Stoke on Saturday.

Willian’s cheeky free-kick put Chelsea ahead in the 13th minute but Stoke equalised when Jonathan Walters converted a penalty conceded by Cahill seven minutes before half-time.

Calvert-Lewin, Lukaku lead Everton rout of Hull

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Liverpool (AFP) – Dominic Calvert-Lewin notched his first Premier League goal and unsettled star Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace in Everton’s 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Hull on Saturday.

With Kevin Mirallas in Belgium for the birth of his child, Calvert-Lewin made his second league start this season and the 20-year-old took full advantage with the opening goal in the first half at Goodison Park.

Deeney own goal gifts Crystal Palace precious win

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace recorded a third successive Premier League win for the first time since September after Troy Deeney’s own goal consigned Watford to a 1-0 defeat on Saturday.

Deeney, the Watford skipper, headed a free-kick by Yohan Cabaye into his own net midway through the second half to send Palace four points clear of the relegation zone.

Leicester sink West Ham to prolong Shakespeare surge

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London (AFP) – Leicester City made it four wins from four under new manager Craig Shakespeare as the Premier League champions squeaked home 3-2 at West Ham United on Saturday.

The win added to domestic home victories over Liverpool and Hull City plus Tuesday’s Champions League success over Sevilla, which set up a last-eight assignment with Atletico Madrid.

Wenger announcement ‘soon’, Cahill saves Chelsea

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger revealed he will make an announcement about his Arsenal future “very soon” after his side’s problems increased in a 3-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

“I know what I’ll do in my future, so you will know very soon,” Wenger told reporters after Arsenal’s fourth loss in five Premier League games.

Leipzig collapse again with Bayern out of sight

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Berlin (AFP) – Second-placed RB Leipzig crashed 3-0 at Werder Bremen on Saturday to suffer a shock second consecutive Bundesliga defeat which allows Bayern Munich the chance to extend their runaway lead.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern started the weekend 10 points clear in their seemingly unstoppable march to a fifth straight German league title, which will become 13 points if they win at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday.

Wenger reveals he’s decided on Arsenal future

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he had made a decision about his future following his side’s dispiriting 3-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Wenger, Arsenal’s manager since 1996, has come under heavy pressure since his team’s 10-2 Champions League thrashing by Bayern Munich and fans made renewed calls for him to step down at The Hawthorns.

Arsenal face ‘hell of a task’, says Wenger

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted his side face an uphill battle to finish in the Premier League top four after Saturday’s dispiriting 3-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.

Craig Dawson scored twice as West Brom condemned Arsenal to a fourth defeat in five league games, which left them five points off the Champions League places.

Dawson double darkens Wenger’s Arsenal gloom

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Craig Dawson scored two close-range headers as West Bromwich Albion piled the pressure on beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with a 3-1 victory in the Premier League on Saturday.

Dawson put West Brom ahead in the 12th minute, with substitute Hal Robson-Kanu restoring the hosts’ lead after Alexis Sanchez had equalised for Arsenal before Dawson netted his second goal with 15 minutes to play.

Difficult to rest Messi: Luis Enrique

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona boss Luis Enrique suggested Lionel Messi will have to be rested for some of an April packed with huge clashes, but that even the Catalan giants would struggle without the “best player in the world”.

Messi has started every Barca game in 2017 and will do so once more when Valencia visit the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for March 7-12, 2017

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MLS Soccer Sunday again saw huge viewership increases on ESPN2 and FS1 when compared to last season. Minnesota United’s snowy home opener against fellow expansion side Atlanta United was watched by 278,000 viewers on ESPN2, up 41% from 197,000 for New York City FC’s home opener in 2016, also on ESPN2.

Manchester City vs. Liverpool predicted lineups, TV times and preview

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Early in the Premier League season, when the campaign’s roadmap is drafted for the months to come, Liverpool’s match with Manchester City at Anfield on New Year’s Eve was billed as one of the decisive games of the top-flight campaign.

Under Pep Guardiola, the men from the Etihad Stadium swept all before them in the initial weeks of the campaign and their closest challengers looked set to be Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Reds, who were obliterating defences with their perpetual motion on the ball in the final third.

Arsenal fans fly ‘WENGER OUT’ banner before game

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Disgruntled Arsenal fans paid for a plane trailing an anti-Arsene Wenger banner to fly over The Hawthorns prior to their side’s game against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

The banner read “NO CONTRACT #WENGER OUT” and was seen flying above the stadium shortly before the Premier League game kicked off.

Pogba injury gives Mourinho fresh headache

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Middlesbrough (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Paul Pogba’s absence has given Jose Mourinho another headache as Manchester United look to revive their Champions League qualification hopes at managerless Middlesbrough on Sunday.

United midfielder Pogba will miss the Premier League fixture, plus France’s forthcoming matches against Luxembourg and Spain, with a hamstring problem sustained during Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League victory over Rostov.

Pochettino expects Spurs to thrive without Kane

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham are better equipped to cope without star striker Harry Kane than they were earlier this season, as they approach the defining point in their campaign.

Kane is sidelined for several weeks with ankle ligament damage sustained against Millwall in the FA Cup quarter-finals last weekend.

Guardiola on ropes as Liverpool come swinging

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London (AFP) – Manchester City launch themselves into a foreboding run of fixtures at home to Liverpool on Sunday with Pep Guardiola under pressure to prove he has not lost his magic touch.

Dumped out of the Champions League by Monaco on Wednesday, City face a five-way scrap with Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United over the three spots in next season’s competition.

Aubameyang nets winner as Dortmund labour to victory

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Bundesliga’s top-scorer, claimed his 23rd goal in as many league games as Borussia Dortmund laboured to a 1-0 home win over strugglers Ingolstadt on Friday.

Aubameyang’s first-half winner was his 30th goal in all competitions for Dortmund this season.

Aubameyang nets winner as Dortmund labour

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Bundesliga’s top-scorer, claimed his 23rd goal in as many league games as Borussia Dortmund laboured to a 1-0 home win over strugglers Ingolstadt on Friday.

Aubameyang’s first-half winner was his 30th goal in all competitions for Dortmund this season.

Eberl ends Bayern rumours, commits to Gladbach

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Berlin (AFP) – Max Eberl has ended speculation he will fill the vacant sports director’s role at Bayern Munich next season, saying he is staying at Bundesliga rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach.

“There is nothing else to say at the moment other than I will be sports director at Gladbach in the summer,” he said in a press conference on Friday.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 29

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Third-place Manchester City host fourth-place Liverpool this Sunday, Mar. 19, at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Telemundo, highlighting NBC Sports Group’s Premier League coverage this week. After a goalless draw against Stoke City last Wednesday, Manchester City look to gain the edge over second-place Tottenham, as the clubs are tied on points.

Man Utd fined after feisty Chelsea cup clash

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London (AFP) – Manchester United have been fined £20,000 (23,000 euros, $25,000) after accepting a Football Association (FA) charge of failing to control their players during Monday’s fractious FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea.

United, who saw their hold on the trophy ended with a 1-0 defeat by the Premier League leaders, were punished for several of their players surrounding referee Michael Oliver and arguing with him over the sending off of Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera in the 35th minute.

Stage set for ‘classic’ as Real draw Bayern

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Holders Real Madrid will face Bayern Munich and a reunion with “master” Carlo Ancelotti after Zinedine Zidane got his wish and avoided Leicester City in Friday’s Champions League quarter-final draw.

Leicester will play Atletico Madrid - “a massive challenge,” said Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare - and the Italian and Spanish champions clash with Juventus drawing the miracle men of Barcelona.

Arsenal should not let go of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain just yet

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Reports have recently surfaced that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is keen on a move away from Arsenal following the current campaign. The midfielder has been with the north London club since 2011, and is thought to want more regular time on the pitch. With the Gunners already embattled in contract talks with superstars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, the Oxlade-Chamberlain issue only further highlights a vital upcoming summer for the club.

Pep Guardiola says sweeping Man City changes ‘impossible’

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has said it would be impossible to make sweeping changes to his Manchester City squad in the wake of their shock Champions League exit.

City were dismissed from the tournament in the first knockout round by Monaco on Wednesday, losing the second leg 3-1 after winning their home tie 5-3.

Manchester United draw Anderlecht in Europa League last eight

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Manchester United will face Belgian club Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-finals after Friday’s draw in Nyon, which saw France’s Lyon land Turkish champions Besiktas.

Jose Mourinho’s side are the only English club left in the competition after labouring to a 2-1 aggregate win over Russian side FC Rostov in the last 16.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte hails Hazard’s gritty streak

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea’s Premier League rivals that Eden Hazard can’t be intimidated by rough tackles.

Hazard was subjected to some brutal challenges during Chelsea’s FA Cup quarter-final win over Manchester United on Monday.

United midfielder Ander Herrera was sent off for two fouls on Hazard, while Marcos Rojo appeared to stamp on the Chelsea midfielder’s chest in the closing stages at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool’s Klopp backs under-fire Manchester City boss Guardiola

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London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists Pep Guardiola doesn’t deserve to be questioned following Manchester City’s Champions League exit.

Guardiola was criticised after City squandered a two-goal first leg advantage against Monaco as they crashed out of the Champions League following a 3-1 defeat in France on Wednesday.

Real return fires up Bayern’s Alonso, Ancelotti

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s Carlo Ancelotti and Xabi Alonso are relishing facing their former club Real Madrid when two of the favourites for the Champions League title clash in the quarter-finals.

Holders Real play Bayern away on Wednesday April 12 at Munich’s Allianz Arena with the return at Madrid’s Bernabeu six days later in a clash of Europe’s titans.

Latest news about European soccer TV rights in USA: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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

In the NEW episode, number 18, we cover a range of topics including:

• The latest news about who is acquiring which European soccer TV rights in the USA,

• Reports of what we discovered at the Sportel America convention in Miami,

• How MLS TV ratings faired during a weekend when there was no Liga MX matches,

• How one US broadcaster’s coverage is getting better now that they’ve lost a major rights deal,

• Plus questions from YOU, the listeners and much more.

Real draw Bayern in Champions League quarter-final blockbuster

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Holders Real Madrid will face their former coach Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals as Juventus were drawn on Friday against comeback kings Barcelona.

English champions Leicester play their first quarter-finals in the top-tier European competition against Atletico Madrid as France’s Monaco clash with Borussia Dortmund over two legs in April.

Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare backs Euro stars to stay up

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London (AFP) – Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare is confident his Champions League heroes will be able to win their battle for Premier League survival.

Shakespeare’s side enjoyed a memorable 2-0 victory over Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday as the English champions extended their impressive run in the competition.

Zidane relishes showdown with Ancelotti

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists he will be the “pupil” to Carlo Ancelotti’s “master” when the European champions face Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Zidane was Ancelotti’s assistant when Madrid won their 10th European Cup in 2014 before going onto match the Italian’s achievement by winning the Champions League in his debut season as coach last year.

Real draw Bayern; Juve faces Barca in Champions League quarters

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Holders Real Madrid will face their former coach Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals as Juventus were drawn on Friday against comeback kings Barcelona.

English champions Leicester play their first quarter-finals in the top-tier European competition against Atletico Madrid as France’s Monaco clash with Borussia Dortmund over two legs in April.

Karanka walked away to save Middlesbrough says owner

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London (AFP) – Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson claims Aitor Karanka agreed to part company with the Premier League strugglers in a bid to save them from relegation.

Karanka left Middlesbrough on Thursday, but Gibson insists he didn’t sack the Spaniard because he was willing to leave of his own accord.

Diego Costa, Pedro handed Spain recall

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Costa and Pedro Rodriguez were rewarded for Chelsea’s march towards the Premier League title on Friday with a recall to Julien Lopetegui’s Spain squad for a World Cup qualifier against Israel and a friendly against France.

However, there is no place for their Chelsea teammate Cesc Fabregas, whilst Juan Mata also misses out despite securing Manchester United’s place in the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday.

Real draw Ancelotti’s Bayern; Juve v Barca in CL quarters

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Holders Real Madrid were drawn to face their former coach Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday as Juventus take on comeback kings Barcelona.

English champions Leicester play their first quarter-finals in the top-tier European competition against Atletico Madrid as France’s Monaco clash with Borussia Dortmund over two legs in April.

Mourinho blames Premier League for Euro shortfall

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – The Premier League is partly responsible for English clubs’ underachievements in European competitions this season, according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Continuing a recent trend, there are only two English sides left in Europe - Leicester City in the Champions League, United in the Europa League - compared to four from Spain and three from Germany.

Eleven Sports acquires distribution assets of One World Sports

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Eleven Sports today officially announced that it has acquired the distribution assets of One World Sports. By doing so, it marks the launch of the UK-based sports broadcaster into the United States.

It’s important to stress that Eleven Sports has acquired the programming of One World Sports, but not the One World Sports company itself.

Euro stars Leicester look to boost survival bid

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London (AFP) – Leicester will feed off the momentum from their dramatic Champions League victory over Sevilla as they return to the battle for Premier League survival at West Ham on Saturday.

After overseeing Premier League victories over Liverpool and Hull following the shock sacking of Claudio Ranieri, Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare led the Foxes into the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday as their campaign of wildly contrasting fortunes continued.

Firmino urges Liverpool to cement top four berth

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London (AFP) – Roberto Firmino has urged Liverpool to cement their place in the Premier League’s top four by taking advantage of Burnley’s away-day struggles on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are right back in the hunt for Champions League qualification after last weekend’s crucial 3-1 win over Arsenal.

Conte won’t let Chelsea rest on their laurels

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Antonio Conte will not permit any complacency as Chelsea attempt to take their next step towards the Premier League title at Stoke on Saturday.

Conte confirmed he has his sights firmly set on a league and FA Cup double when he abandoned his policy of rotating his team and fielded a full-strength side in Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United.

Presale codes announced for el Clasico Miami between Barcelona and Real Madrid

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The organizers of this summer’s el Clásico Miami between Barcelona and Real Madrid have announced the ticket presale codes.

The eagerly anticipated game between the two Spanish giants will be played as part of the International Champions Cup on Saturday, July 29 at 7:30pm at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Sagna calls for City response, Chelsea on title march

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London (AFP) – Bacary Sagna insists Manchester City will make amends for their Champions League misery by securing a crucial win against Liverpool, while leaders Chelsea aim to move a step closer to the Premier League title this weekend.

Pep Guardiola’s side were eliminated from Europe’s elite club competition in stunning fashion on Wednesday as they blew a 5-3 first leg advantage to go out on away goals following a 3-1 defeat at Monaco.

Wenger grapples for glimpse of Arsenal revival

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West Bromwich (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger takes his Arsenal side to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday knowing that anything other than victory will spark fresh calls for him to go after two decades in north London.

A 5-0 FA Cup victory over minnows Lincoln last Saturday briefly lifted the pressure on the Frenchman and sent Arsenal into the semi-finals, welcome relief after a turbulent 2017.

Balotelli backs Monaco ahead of PSG in title tussle

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli says Manchester City’s mid-week slayers Monaco have the stars and the spirit to edge a reeling Paris Saint-Germain in a tight French title race.

With nine games to go it is a three-way tussle between Balotelli’s Nice, PSG and Monaco, with the latter underlining their rich promise by ejecting Pep Guardiola’s City in the Champions League last 16.

Five things to look for in La Liga

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Madrid (AFP) – Ahead of a huge round of La Liga action at both ends of the table, AFP Sports looks at five things to watch out for this weekend:

Valverde’s Barca audition

Real Madrid’s trip north to the Basque country to face Athletic Bilbao is always a fixture laced with tension based on decades of political divide.

Kimmich – Germany star, Bayern benchwarmer

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Berlin (AFP) – Joshua Kimmich started the season as Germany’s first-choice right-back after making the Team of the Tournament at Euro 2016 - yet now cuts a dejected figure warming Bayern Munich’s bench.

Should he face Borussia Moenchengladbach in Sunday’s Bundesliga clash, it would be his first Bayern start since January, yet Kimmich could still face England for Germany in next Wednesday’s friendly.

Torino’s Hart in Inter Milan’s firing line

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Milan (AFP) – The attacking threat of Inter Milan should present a severe test to Serie A-loving England goalkeeper Joe Hart as his side Torino host on form vistors on Sunday.

With 15 goals from their past three league outings, Inter’s bid for a top three finish and a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2012 is taking shape.

Chapecoense lose first Libertadores home match

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Chapecó (Brazil) (AFP) – Chapecoense made an emotional but ultimately disappointing home debut in the Copa Libertadores losing their biggest hometown match since a plane crash all but wiped out the Brazilian club.

The team, which is trying to rise from the ashes of the November 28 crash, lost to Argentine side Lanus 3-1 on a rainy night at Arena Conda, in the small southern city of Chapeco.

Champions League rivals running scared of Leicester City

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Holders Real Madrid, comeback kings Barcelona and the mighty Bayern Munich are all in the hat for Friday’s Champions League quarter-final draw, but Zinedine Zidane knows who he wants to avoid.

“No coach wants Leicester as a rival,” the Real boss admitted, a view echoed by Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon: “Leicester, because they’re a dangerous side, they’re full of enthusiasm and can hurt you.

Shooting star Timo Werner called up by Germany

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig’s 21-year-old striker Timo Werner has been called up by Germany for the first time ahead of next week’s friendly against England and World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan.

Werner is set to make his debut when Germany host Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions in Dortmund next Wednesday before flying to Baku for a World Cup 2018 qualifier against Azerbaijan.

Southgate eases Rooney out of England picture

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Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Wayne Rooney is no longer guaranteed a place in every England squad, manager Gareth Southgate declared on Thursday, as he painted a stark picture of the team’s true global standing.

Rooney, 31, was left out of the 26-man squad announced by Southgate for next week’s friendly against Germany in Dortmund and World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley.

GolTV acquires US media rights to Portugal’s Primeira Liga for 2017/18 season

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EXCLUSIVE: GolTV has acquired the US media rights to Portugal’s Primeira Liga for the 2017/18 season, according to a World Soccer Talk source who is close to the situation.

The popular Portuguese league features historic teams such as Benfica, Sporting CP and Porto.

Pogba injured as Man Utd labour to Rostov win

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Juan Mata scored the only goal as Manchester United recorded an underwhelming 1-0 victory over FC Rostov on Thursday to reach the Europa League quarter-finals.

Mata struck 20 minutes from the end of a subdued game, completing a 2-1 aggregate win that sent United into the last eight of Europe’s second-tier club competition for the first time since 1985.

Neymar hails multi-million euro tax victory

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Barcelona superstar Neymar claimed “a great victory” on Thursday after seeing a 50 million euro fine imposed by Brazilian tax authorities reportedly halved on appeal.

Neymar, who has also been fighting a legal battle over his transfer from Santos to Barcelona in 2013, had argued that he was within his rights to have his family control his lucrative image rights.

Ronaldinho, James to play exhibition games in Pakistan

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Karachi (AFP) – Brazil’s Ronaldinho, England’s David James and Dutch star George Boateng will be among seven top former players to feature in exhibition games in Pakistan in July, organizers said Thursday.

The games are part of plans to build on the “comfort zone” from the successful staging of the Pakistan Super League cricket final in Lahore earlier this month.

Leicester boss defends Vardy over Nasri cheat claim

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London (AFP) – Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare has rubbished Samir Nasri’s claim that Jamie Vardy cheated to get him sent off during the English champions’ dramatic Champions League win over Sevilla.

Referee Daniele Orsato gave Nasri a second yellow card after he and England striker Vardy butted heads on Tuesday, and Leicester went on to secure a 2-0 victory and a place in the quarter-finals.

Africa elects new football chief after three decades

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Addis Ababa (AFP) – Madagascan Ahmad Ahmad was elected president of the Confederation of African Football Thursday, ousting veteran leader Issa Hayatou after 29 years in office to usher in a “new dawn” for the sport on the continent

Ahmad, head of Madagascar’s football federation, won the election in the Ethiopian capital by 34 votes to Hayatou’s 20, official results showed.

Guardiola vows to stick with ‘attacking DNA’

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Monaco (AFP) – Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola vowed his team will not abandon their attacking DNA despite crashing out of the Champions League on Wednesday.

City led Monaco 5-3 after the first leg of their last-16 tie but the French Ligue 1 side hit back to win 3-1 in the return match to reach the quarter-finals on away goals.

Dallas rally for win in CONCACAF Champions League

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Dallas (AFP) – Kellyn Acosta scored off a second half free kick as FC Dallas rallied for a 2-1 win over Mexican side Pachuca in the first-leg semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

The 21-year-old homegrown Dallas product, who was also called up to the US national team on Wednesday, curled a shot into the top half of the net in the 58th minute to beat a diving Alfonso Blanco.

Romelu Lukaku says Everton aren’t matching his ambitions

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London (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku claims his desire to play in the Champions League and Everton’s failure to attract top-class players has convinced him not to sign a new contract with the Premier League club.

Lukaku, who is the joint top-scorer in the Premier League with 19 goals, has told Everton he will not sign a new deal which would have made him the club’s first £100,000-plus-a-week player.

African football supremo Hayatou in fight for eighth term

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Addis Ababa (AFP) – Issa Hayatou, the last of the old generation leaders in world football, faces a rare challenge Thursday as he seeks an eighth term as head of the Confederation of African Football.

The leaders of football federations across the continent gathered in Addis Ababa to choose who will lead the CAF for the next four years.

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

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

In the first leg, Manchester United achieved what they wanted, which was a draw on a very rough pitch in the cold climate of Russia last week. Today, United will play the second leg on the much more playable surface at Old Trafford in front of a huge crowd that will be cheering them on as they try to advance to the quarterfinals of the European tournament.

Pep Guardiola faces test of resolve after Manchester City Euro woe

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola faces the biggest crisis of his managerial career after spluttering Manchester City hit a new low in their dismal Champions League exit against Monaco.

City’s woeful defending cost them dearly as Monaco recovered from a 5-3 first leg deficit with a 3-1 win on Wednesday that took them through to the quarter-finals on away goals.

Struggling Middlesbrough axe Karanka

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London (AFP) – Aitor Karanka was sacked as Middlesbrough manager on Thursday as the Premier League strugglers made a last-ditch bid to avoid relegation.

Karanka paid the price for Middlesbrough’s slump into the relegation zone after a miserable run of 10 league games without a win.

Madagascan Ahmad elected African football chief

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Addis Ababa (AFP) – Madagascar’s football chief Ahmad Ahmad was elected president of the Confederation of African Football Thursday, ousting veteran leader Issa Hayatou after 29 years in office.

Ahmad won the election in the Ethiopian capital by 34 votes to Hayatou’s 20, official results showed.

Monaco, Bakayoko deliver Manchester City knockout blow

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Monaco (AFP) – Tiemoue Bakayoko’s superb header fired Monaco into the Champions League quarter-finals as Wednesday’s 3-1 victory condemned Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to a painful exit on away goals.

Trailing 5-3 from the first leg in England, teenage starlet Kylian Mbappe put Monaco ahead on the night after just eight minutes at the Stade Louis II and Brazilian midfielder Fabinho converted the home side’s second just before the half hour.

Monaco stun Manchester City to reach Champions League quarters

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Monaco (AFP) – Tiemoue Bakayoko’s superb header fired Monaco into the Champions League quarter-finals as Wednesday’s 3-1 victory condemned Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to a painful exit on away goals.

Trailing 5-3 from the first leg in England, teenage starlet Kylian Mbappe put Monaco ahead on the night after just eight minutes at the Stade Louis II and Brazilian midfielder Fabinho converted the home side’s second just before the half hour.

Monaco dump Man City out of Champions League

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Monaco (AFP) – Tiemoue Bakayoko’s superb header fired Monaco into the Champions League quarter-finals as Wednesday’s 3-1 victory condemned Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to a painful exit on away goals.

Trailing 5-3 from the first leg in England, first-half strikes from teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe and Fabinho put the home side in control of the return clash at the Stade Louis II.

Atletico Madrid stroll into Champions League quarters

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Madrid (AFP) – Last year’s runners-up Atletico Madrid eased into the quarter-finals of the Champions League after snuffing out Bayer Leverkusen with a 0-0 draw at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.

Leading 4-2 from the first leg in Germany, Atletico join their city rivals and holders Real Madrid and the miracle men from Barcelona in Friday’s last-eight draw.

Oblak stars in stalemate as Atletico Madrid progress in Champions League

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals for a fourth consecutive season but had goalkeeper Jan Oblak to thank for avoiding defeat in a 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

Oblak produced a remarkable triple save midway through the second half as Atletico held on to their 4-2 first-leg advantage to take their place in Friday’s draw for the last eight.

US national football team calls Dempsey, Howard for WC2018 qualifying

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Chicago (AFP) – US coach Bruce Arena called upon forward Clint Dempsey and goalkeeper Tim Howard, both veterans coming off serious injuries, for World Cup qualifying duty Wednesday ahead of crucial matches.

Seattle Sounders’ Dempsey had been sidelined due to an irregular heartbeat and rejoins the US squad for the first time since Copa America Centenario last June.

Redknapp applies for Ghana football job – source

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Accra (AFP) – Former Tottenham and West Ham manager Harry Redknapp and ex-Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli have applied for the vacant coaching job with Ghana, a source at the African giants said Wednesday.

Redknapp, 70, whose most recent managerial post was with Jordan, is one of five candidates looking to succeed Avram Grant, who stepped down after Ghana finished fourth at the Africa Cup of Nations in February.

Injured Falcao sidelined for Manchester City showdown

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Monaco (AFP) – Monaco striker Radamel Falcao failed to recover from a hip injury in time to face Manchester City in the second leg of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 tie.

The Colombian scored twice in Monaco’s 5-3 first-leg defeat but was hurt at the weekend and left out of the squad by Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim for the return clash at the Stade Louis II.

Torres made to wait for Atletico Madrid return

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Madrid (AFP) – Fernando Torres was made to wait for his return to action by Diego Simeone as the former Spanish international was named among Atletico Madrid’s substitutes for Wednesday’s Champions League last 16, second leg against Bayer Leverkusen.

Torres returns to the Atletico squad for the first time since being knocked unconscious in a sickening head clash at Deportivo la Coruna two weeks ago.

Kasper Schmeichel saves Leicester’s Champions League dreams

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has spoken of the “relief” the team felt after they reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Goals from club captain Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton saw Leicester to a 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday, with Schmeichel making a key penalty save on the night as they sealed a 3-2 aggregate win over Sevilla following a 2-1 first-leg loss in Spain.

Bale wants Wales football to build on Euro 2016 glory

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London (AFP) – Gareth Bale is determined that Wales’s success in getting to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 won’t be a one off as they try to qualify for a first World Cup finals in 60 years.

The Real Madrid star has had a tough time at club level in recent months, with injuries and suspensions limiting him to a mere five appearances since November.

‘Goetze’s season over’: Dortmund

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund admitted on Wednesday the season is over for Germany’s fallen star Mario Goetze as the World Cup winner continues his battle against an unspecified metabolism disorder.

The world appeared to be at the gifted Goetze’s feet in 2014 when his extra-time goal won the World Cup final at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana stadium.

Schmeichel reveals ‘relief’ as Leicester maintain Champions League bid

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has spoken of the “relief” the team felt after they reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Goals from club captain Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton saw Leicester to a 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday, with Schmeichel making a key penalty save on the night as they sealed a 3-2 aggregate win over Sevilla following a 2-1 first-leg loss in Spain.

MLS reported attendances down 6.5% after first 21 games of 2017 season

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Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Cold weather ruined attendances at most venues for gameweek 2 of the 2017 MLS season. So much so, in fact, that reported attendances are down 6.5% for the first 21 games of the 2017 MLS season compared to last season.

It was cold enough last weekend that New England rescheduled its match with Orlando to September.

Elkeson leads China’s Brazilian carnival in AFC Champions League

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG’s prolific marksman Elkeson scored with an outrageous 45-yard effort as China’s Brazilian imports justified their expensive price tags in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.

Hulk, a 55 million euro signing from Zenit St Petersburg, was another Brazilian on the scoresheet as Andre Villas-Boas’s SIPG kept their 100 percent record in Group F with a 3-2 win against Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds.

Mourinho says under-fire Pogba deserves ‘respect’

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has hit back at the mounting criticism being heaped upon Paul Pogba, saying the France midfielder is the victim of jealousy from former professional players now working in the media.

Pogba has been under an understandably intense spotlight since his world record £89.

Sampaoli’s Sevilla rue self-inflicted Leicester City wounds

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Madrid (AFP) – Coach Jorge Sampaoli admitted Sevilla had only themselves to blame after being left to reflect on missed opportunities as Leicester City’s Champions League fairytale continued into the quarter-finals.

Sevilla dominated possession in both legs against the English champions but after missing a penalty in both matches, hitting the woodwork three times and having playmaker Samir Nasri sent-off, Wednesday’s 2-0 second leg loss condemned Sampaoli’s men to a 3-2 aggregate defeat.

African football chief Hayatou faces challenger in bid for 8th term

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Addis Ababa (AFP) – Issa Hayatou, the last of the old generation leaders in world football, faces a rare and determined challenge when he bids for an eighth term as head of the Confederation of African Football in Thursday’s election.

Ahmad Ahmad, head of the Madagascar Football Assocation, has picked up key votes with his calls for “change” against the 70-year-old Hayatou.

Jardim demands Monaco fix errors for Man City return

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Monaco (AFP) – Leonardo Jardim has implored his Monaco players to iron out the mistakes that cost them dearly in the first leg as they attempt to overturn a 5-3 defeat in Wednesday’s Champions League last 16.

The Portuguese coach is drawing inspiration from Didier Deschamps’ Monaco side that made an unlikely run to the 2004 Champions League final, but Monaco face a tall order at the Stade Louis II against Pep Guardiola’s men.

Ramires keeps big-spending Jiangsu perfect in Asia

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Osaka (Japan) (AFP) – Former Chelsea midfielder Ramires scored the goal that kept China’s big-spending Jiangsu Suning on top of their AFC Champions League group with a 1-0 win at Japan’s Gamba Osaka on Wednesday.

The Brazilian midfielder, who cost Jiangsu 28 million euros from the London club in January 2016, struck a gorgeous finish with his left foot from 20 yards six minutes before half-time.

Which Manchester City will turn up for the remainder of the season?

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Manchester City’s form has varied this season. They claimed ten consecutive victories across all competitions in their excellent start to the campaign before a draw at Celtic began a six game winless streak, which saw them humiliated by Barcelona, outplayed by both Spurs and Manchester United, and took only a point each from their fixtures with Everton and Southampton.

Leicester’s Shakespeare eyes Champions League surprise

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare believes his team could become the Champions League’s surprise package after they eliminated Sevilla to reach the quarter-finals.

Toiling domestically and beaten 2-1 in the first leg of the last 16 tie, Leicester roared back to win 2-0 in Tuesday’s return leg, sending them into Friday’s last-eight draw.

Mourinho patches up Manchester United for Rostov reunion

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho hopes Manchester United’s players will shrug off the effects of the stormy FA Cup loss to Chelsea when they resume Europa League hostilities with a depleted Rostov on Thursday.

Ander Herrera’s 35th-minute dismissal in Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final obliged United to toil with 10 men for an hour as they succumbed to a sapping 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mourinho’s former club.

Africa’s football emperor Hayatou kicks out controversy

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Yaoundé (AFP) – Issa Hayatou, born a prince and emperor of African football for three decades, has been at the centre of scandal - but never wounded - for much of his life.

The 70-year-old Cameroonian, seeking an eighth term as head of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in an election on Thursday, defied his royal roots early on when he chose sport as a career.

Tigres pounce as Vancouver sunk in CONCACAF Champions League

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Mexico City (AFP) – Mexican side Tigres UANL took a giant stride towards the final of the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday after defeating Major League Soccer outfit the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 in their semi-final first leg.

An own goal from Costa Rican international Kendall Watson and a late volleyed strike from Chile star Eduardo Vargas sealed a deserved win for Tigres, the beaten finalists in last year’s tournament.

North Korea vs Malaysia football match set for June 8

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – An Asian Cup qualifier between Malaysia and North Korea which was postponed after their diplomatic ties soured will now be held on June 8, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced Wednesday.

The killing of Kim Jong-Nam in Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month triggered a bitter row between Malaysia and North Korea, which have expelled each other’s ambassadors and refused to let their citizens leave.

Leicester’s Champions League breakthrough keeps fairytale alive

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – In progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time, Leicester City preserved a golden thread stretching back all the way to last season’s miraculous Premier League title success.

The thread has worn close to breaking in recent weeks, with Leicester’s perilous slide towards the relegation zone costing popular manager Claudio Ranieri his job.

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

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

Even though Manchester City defeated Monaco 5-3 in the first leg, this encounter is far from over. With Monaco having scored three away goals, all they have to do is win 2-0 today and they will advance to the quarter-finals.

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

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

In the first leg, Atletico Madrid demolished Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in Germany to take a convincing aggregate lead into the second leg. Bayer Leverkusen will need to win by a three goal margin in order to advance to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.

Top Brazilian women’s footballer Marta takes Swedish nationality

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Stockholm (AFP) – Five-time World Player of the Year Marta said on Wednesday she would continue to play for Brazil internationally after taking Swedish nationality.

The Brazil born 31-year-old has spent 10 years living in Sweden, is a fluent Swedish speaker and plans to settle in the Scandinavian nation after her playing days end.

Juve stroll into Champions League quarters

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Paulo Dybala struck from the penalty spot as Juventus beat 10-man Porto 1-0 on Tuesday to complete a 3-0 aggregate victory and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Italian giants Juve led 2-0 from the first leg of the last-16 tie and Porto’s slim hopes of overturning the deficit in Turin were extinguished when Maxi Pereira was sent off for handball on 40 minutes.

Schmeichel thwarts Sevilla as Leicester rekindle fairytale

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Kasper Schmeichel pulled off a dramatic late penalty save as Leicester City sank Sevilla 2-0 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, after which Claudio Ranieri was sacked as manager, Leicester scored through Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton before Schmeichel repelled Steven N’Zonzi’s spot-kick.

Dybala fires Juve past depleted Porto

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – A first-half penalty from Paulo Dybala helped fire Juventus into the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday after a 1-0 win sent the Serie A champions through 3-0 on aggregate.

Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo had hailed Juve’s 20-game unbeaten home run in Europe as he played down the Portuguese side’s chances of overturning a 2-0 first leg defeat at the Estadio do Dragao.

Leicester through to Champions League quarter-finals

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Kasper Schmeichel saved a late penalty as Leicester City beat Sevilla 2-0 on Tuesday to win their Champions League last-16 tie 3-2 on aggregate.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Spain three weeks ago, Leicester opened the scoring on the night when Wes Morgan bundled the ball in from close range on 27 minutes.

Spurs confirm ankle ligament damage for Kane

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur hinted that Harry Kane could return before the end of the season as they confirmed the England striker had suffered ankle ligament damage in last weekend’s FA Cup win over Millwall.

“We can confirm that @HKane sustained ligament damage to his right ankle during Sunday’s FA Cup win against Millwall,” the Premier League club tweeted on Tuesday.

PSG condemn Barca collapse ref in letter to UEFA

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain have sent a letter of complaint to UEFA about the referee who oversaw their spectacular collapse to Barcelona, accusing him of ruining their Champions League campaign.

The Spanish champions’ historic win was overshadowed by a series of controversial calls from German referee Deniz Aytekin and he awarded them two penalties on the way to a 6-1 hammering last week to surge into the quarter-finals.

Juve want Allegri stay amid Arsenal rumours

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus have urged Massimiliano Allegri to see out the remainder of his contract with the Serie A champions amid reports he could take over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

Allegri’s contract with Juventus ends in June 2018 and recently he has sent mixed messages about his future.

Jardim demands Monaco fix errors for City return

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Monaco (AFP) – Leonardo Jardim implored his Monaco players iron out the mistakes that cost them dearly in the first leg as they attempt to overturn a 5-3 defeat in Wednesday’s Champions League last 16.

The Portuguese coach is drawing inspiration from Didier Deschamps’ Monaco side that made an unlikely run to the 2004 Champions League final, but Monaco face a tall order at the Stade Louis II against Pep Guardiola’s men.

Dortmund set up German Cup semi against Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) – Christian Pulisic set Borussia Dortmund on their way to a comfortable 3-0 win over third-tier Sportfreunde Lotte on Tuesday that took them into the semi-finals of the German Cup.

All the goals came in the second half, with Ousmane Dembele and Marcel Schmelzer netting after Pulisic’s opener to take Thomas Tuchel’s team into a last-four tie against Bayern Munich.

Torres back as Atletico close on quarters

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Madrid (AFP) – Fernando Torres is set to make his return just two weeks after losing consciousness in a sickening head clash as Atletico Madrid look to seal their place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Atletico are strong favourites to reach the last eight for a fourth straight year as Torres was on target in a 4-2 first leg win against Bayer Leverkusen in Germany three weeks ago to give the Spanish side a commanding lead.

FIFA museum to remain open despite new cuts – official

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Zurich (AFP) – FIFA’s World Football Museum in Zurich, a landmark project of disgraced former president Sepp Blatter, is not under threat of closure despite a new round of redundancies according to its director.

A total of 36 jobs will be cut at the museum by June in the latest round of redundancies at the Zurich museum which only opened in February last year, but Marc Caprez insisted world football’s governing body would find a way of making it “sustainable”.

Last-gasp Kobayashi holds nerve to deny Guangzhou

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Guangzhou (AFP) – Kawasaki Frontale captain Yu Kobayashi coolly chipped home a penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time to grab a richly deserved 1-1 draw at Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday in the AFC Champions League.

The Japanese side laid siege to the two-time Asian champions’ goalmouth after the prolific Brazilian striker Alan put the home side ahead in the 26th minute with his third goal in three Champions League outings.

Attack the best form of defence for City in Monaco – Guardiola

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Monaco (AFP) – Monaco are “the best team in the world at scoring goals” in the eyes of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, so the only way to beat them is by taking them on at their own game, he says.

“I want to see a team from the first minute looking to win the game. After that, at this level everyone can beat you, but I don’t like my team to speculate,” Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the Champions League last 16, second leg between the teams.

Man Utd charged over FA Cup tie conduct

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London (AFP) – Manchester United were charged on Tuesday by the Football Association (FA) with failing to control their players during the explosive FA Cup quarter-final with Chelsea, English football’s ruling body said.

United’s Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera was sent off in the first half shortly after referee Michael Oliver warned captain Chris Smalling about the continual fouling of Chelsea’s playmaker Eden Hazard.

Swansea sign Eidur Gudjohnsen’s teenage half-brother

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London (AFP) – Swansea City signed the teenage half-brother of Icelandic football icon Eidur Gudjohnsen on Tuesday on a two-year scholarship.

Arnor Borg Gudjohnsen, 16, impressed on trial at the Premier League club earlier this season and will enter the Swansea academy later this year, British media said.

Jardim channels spirit of Monaco’s 2004 vintage

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Monaco (AFP) – Leonardo Jardim is drawing inspiration from Didier Deschamps’ Monaco side that made an unlikely run to the 2004 Champions League final as his team attempt to reverse a 5-3 deficit against Manchester City in the last 16.

Barcelona’s heroics against Paris Saint-Germain last week saw them become the first team to recover from four goals down in the competition and showed all is not lost for Monaco ahead of the return at the Stade Louis II on Wednesday.

Man United charged with failing to control players: FA

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London (AFP) – Manchester United were charged on Tuesday by the Football Association (FA) with failing to control their players during the explosive FA Cup quarter-final with Chelsea, English football’s ruling body said.

United’s Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera was sent off in the first half shortly after referee Michael Oliver warned captain Chris Smalling about the continual fouling of Chelsea’s playmaker Eden Hazard.

AFC Champions League: Kawasaki’s Kobayashi pegs back Guangzhou

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Guangzhou (AFP) – Kawasaki Frontale captain Yu Kobayashi coolly chipped home a penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time to secure a richly deserved AFC Champions League draw against Guangzhou Evergrande Tuesday.

The Japanese side laid siege to the two-time Asian champions goalmouth after the prolific Brazilian striker Alan put the home side ahead in the 26th minute with his third goal in three Champions League outings.

Brazilian club signs goalie convicted in murder

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Varginha (Brazil) (AFP) – A Brazilian football club brushed aside a storm of criticism Tuesday to sign a goalkeeper convicted for murdering his girlfriend, whose body was fed to the dogs.

Bruno Fernandes, 32, was presented before reporters at a hastily arranged press conference in the southeastern city of Varginha, where he pulled on Boa Esporte club’s black and red shirt, before going to a medical checkup.

Brazil football legend Ronaldinho to visit Pakistan

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Karachi (AFP) – Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho is set to visit Pakistan as part of a goodwill mission to promote the game in the cricket-mad country.

The recently retired 36-year-old, who won the World Player of the Year twice and was part of the 2002 World Cup winning team, issued a short video message on Twitter saying simply “Pakistan, I am coming” as he unfurled a Pakistani flag.

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

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

In the first leg in Portugal, Juventus overcame Porto to win 2-0. With Juventus in the driving seat in this game and Juve having scored two away goals, the advantage is certainly with the Italian side.

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

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

Leicester City and Sevilla go into the second leg with Sevilla having the 2-1 aggregate lead so far. What’s strange from the first leg is that Leicester cheered their away goal near the end of the game almost like a victory such was the way the Spanish team outplayed the Foxes in the game.

Fernando Torres returns as Atletico eye Champions League quarters

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Madrid (AFP) – Fernando Torres is expected to return just two weeks after losing consciousness in a sickening head clash as Atletico Madrid look to seal their place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Atletico are strong favourites to reach the last eight for a fourth straight year as Torres was on target in a 4-2 first leg win against Beyer Leverkusen in Germany three weeks ago to give the Spanish side a commanding lead.

Griezmann seeks end to Atletico Madrid’s ‘nearly man’ tag

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Madrid (AFP) – Propelled by an on-fire Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid stand on the brink of a fourth consecutive Champions League quarter-final, determined to finally end their tag as Europe’s nearly men.

Griezmann has experienced that feeling more than most.

In 2016 the Frenchman proved himself as one of world football’s most deadly forwards, but also missed out in agonising fashion in the Champions League and Euro 2016 finals, as well as finishing third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or.

Conte, Mourinho feud boils over after FA Cup clash

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte slammed Manchester United’s cynical attempts to intimidate Chelsea in his side’s bitter FA Cup quarter-final win, but Jose Mourinho hit back at his rival by insisting he remains the Blues’ best ever manager.

Chelsea boss Conte was furious with United’s aggressive approach after Ander Herrera was sent off for two fouls on Eden Hazard in Monday’s 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Fast-rising Mbappe puts Europe on alert

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Paris (AFP) – At just a tender 18 years of age, Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe is already turning heads around Europe after tormenting defences throughout France and scoring against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League.

With 16 goals in 30 appearances for the French league leaders this season, including nine in his past eight games, the teenage prodigy is drawing plenty of comparisons to former France star Thierry Henry.

Shenhua withhold Qin’s wages after ‘abominable’ stamp on Witsel

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Beijing (AFP) – Shanghai Shenhua will withhold the salary of China international Qin Sheng for the rest of the season after condemning the midfielder’s “abominable behaviour” in stamping on Belgium’s Axel Witsel at the weekend.

Qin received a straight red card for stamping on the foot of Tianjian Quanjian’s Witsel as they jockeyed for position in front of Quanjian’s goal while waiting for a corner to be taken in Saturday’s bad-tempered encounter.

Ex-Chelsea star Essien joins Indonesia’s Persib

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Bandung (Indonesia) (AFP) – Former Chelsea, AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder Michael Essien has signed for Indonesia’s Persib Bandung, the club announced Tuesday, the highest-profile player to join a team in the country for years.

The Ghanaian signed a one-year contract for an undisclosed sum to join Persib, which is one of the best clubs in the country.

United’s Rojo in eye of the storm over Hazard ‘stamp’

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London (AFP) – Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo could face a Football Association charge for what appeared to be a stamp on Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard during an explosive FA Cup quarter-final.

The 26-year-old Argentinian international - who had been involved in feisty exchanges with Chelsea striker Diego Costa throughout the game - was caught on camera treading on Hazard’s chest in the second-half of Monday’s match which Chelsea won 1-0 to oust the holders.

Shanghai Shenhua threat to drop footballer for rest of career

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai Shenhua will withhold Qin Sheng’s salary for the season as their chairman threatened Tuesday to drop the China international for the rest of his career after his “abominable” stamping on Belgium’s Axel Witsel.

Qin received a straight red card for stamping on the left foot of Tianjian Quanjian’s Witsel as they waited for a corner to be taken in Saturday’s bad-tempered encounter.

Antonio Conte’s feud with Jose Mourinho boils over

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte slammed Manchester United’s attempts to “intimidate” Chelsea in his side’s bitter FA Cup quarter-final win but Jose Mourinho hit back at his rival by insisting he remains the Blues’ best-ever manager.

While the Chelsea crowd taunted Mourinho as a “Judas”, Chelsea boss Conte was furious with United’s no-holds-barred approach.

Leicester boss Shakespeare insists no Ranieri grudge as Sevilla loom

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Craig Shakespeare said there were “no grudges” between him and Claudio Ranieri after he succeeded the Italian as Leicester City manager as Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 second leg at home to Sevilla loomed.

Ranieri was sacked last month, nine months on from Leicester’s fairytale Premier League title triumph, after the club slid towards the relegation zone.

Dynamic Kante leaves Pogba in his wake

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London (AFP) – N’golo Kante’s sublime performance in Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United in Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final prompted former England great Frank Lampard to dub him the best central midfielder in the world.

Kante - whose superb goal ended United’s hold on the trophy - escaped his opponents roughhouse treatment of playmaker Eden Hazard and allowed the 25-year-old French international to dominate the encounter.

Balde stunner helps Lazio to precious win

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Milan (AFP) – A stunning late strike by Keita Balde helped Lazio to a 3-1 win over Torino on Monday that keeps the capital side in the hunt for Champions League qualification in Serie A.

Lazio, who reclaim fourth spot from Inter Milan and sit four points behind Napoli in third, took the lead at the Stadio Olimpico through Ciro Immobile in the 56th minute.

Conte, Mourinho feud as Kante sinks Manchester United

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London (AFP) – N’Golo Kante blasted Chelsea to a fiery 1-0 win over 10-man Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Monday as Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho feuded on the touchline.

Kante’s superb second-half strike that eliminated the holders came after they had midfielder Ander Herrera sent off before the interval for two fouls on Chelsea star Eden Hazard.

Massive overbilling for Rio’s Maracana stadium rebuild

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – The major refurbishment of Rio’s famous Maracana football stadium ahead of the 2014 World Cup was marred by millions of dollars in overbilling, a government watchdog says.

The renovation of the stadium cost about $500 million, more than double the original bid.

Blue ‘Loons’ lick wounds after MLS mauling

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Another game, another brutal, one-sided defeat.

Two games into their existence as a Major League Soccer franchise, and Minnesota United FC have done little to dispel grim predictions they may turn out to be one of the worst teams in league history.

On Sunday, the “Loons” launched their home season in near-arctic conditions, with snow blanketing the field at the TCF Bank Stadium as they faced fellow 2017 expansion side Atlanta United FC.

Juventus up for ‘incredible’ Champions League title: Dybala

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Paulo Dybala said Juventus will give Porto no chance to overturn their 2-0 first leg, last 16 deficit on Tuesday as they seek to land an “incredible” Champions League title.

“Conceding an early goal isn’t in our plans. We hope it doesn’t happen but if it does we’ll put the ball back on the centre spot and hope not to concede any more,” Dybala said in Turin on Monday.

Barcelona-style comeback unlikely, admits Porto coach

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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – If Porto overturn a 2-0 deficit at Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday it would be a sensation to rival that of Barcelona’s comeback last week, but coach Nuno Espirito Santo has admitted such a prospect is slim.

Juventus, unbeaten over 20 consecutive home games in Europe, are expected to secure a quarter-final place after beating 10-man Porto 2-0 in Portugal in the first leg of their last-16 tie three weeks ago.

Sevilla’s Sampaoli pained by Ranieri sacking

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli was upset by Leicester City’s decision to sack manager Claudio Ranieri following the first Champions League encounter between the teams, he said on Monday.

Leicester lost 2-1 at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in the first leg of the last 16 tie three weeks ago and Ranieri was sacked following their return to England.

Tickets go on sale for el Clasico Miami between Barcelona and Real Madrid

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Tickets for el Clásico Miami between Barcelona and Real Madrid will go on sale on Thursday, March 16 at 10am ET via an exclusive pre-sale. Another pre-sale will open on Friday, March 17. Last but not least, tickets for the general public will go on sale at Monday, March 20 at 10am ET at internationalchampionscup.

Listless Bunyodkor lose again in Asia

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Hong Kong (AFP) – Uzbek giants Bunyodkor crashed to a third successive defeat in the Asian Champions League when they were beaten 2-0 at home by Iran’s Zobahan on Monday.

The Tashkent-based are still without a point in Group C after suffering earlier losses to Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli and the UAE’s Al Ain, leaving them with a mountain to climb in order to secure qualification for the next stage.

Return of Brazilian goalkeeper convicted in murder prompts uproar

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – A Brazilian football club’s plan to sign a goalkeeper convicted in the murder - and alleged feeding to dogs - of his girlfriend sparked outrage Monday.

Bruno Fernandes, commonly known as simply Bruno, was due to sign a contract later Monday with the second division club Boa Esporte.

Torres back training after nasty head clash

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres returned to training on Monday after recovering from a sickening head clash, suggesting he could play in Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Bayer Leverkusen.

Torres lost consciousness in a challenge with Deportivo la Coruna’s Alex Bergantinos in a 1-1 draw on March 2 but was later discharged from hospital with no serious injuries.

Atletico Madrid buy new stadium for 30 million euros

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid have reached agreement to buy La Peineta Stadium from city authorities for 30 million euros, Madrid Town Hall announced on Monday.

The Spanish giants will move from the Vicente Calderon, their home for 50 years, to the new stadium to be renamed Wanda Metropolitano after their sponsors Chinese property company Dalian Wanda Group.

No Ranieri grudge, says new Leicester man Shakespeare

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Craig Shakespeare said Monday there were “no grudges” between him and Claudio Ranieri after he succeeded the Italian as Leicester City manager.

Ranieri was sacked last month, nine months on from Leicester’s fairytale Premier League title triumph, after the club slid towards the relegation zone.

Rashford illness leaves United with no strikers

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London (AFP) – Manchester United could be without a recognised striker for Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea on Monday.

Marcus Rashford has reportedly been ruled out through illness, joining the already injured Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the sidelines.

Leicester City boss Shakespeare insists no Ranieri grudge

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Craig Shakespeare said there were “no grudges” between himself and Claudio Ranieri on Monday after he succeeded the Italian as Leicester City manager.

Ranieri was sacked last month, nine months on from Leicester’s fairytale Premier League title triumph, after the club slid towards the relegation zone.

United confident of avenging Chelsea misery, says Fellaini

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London (AFP) – Marouane Fellaini insists Manchester United are confident of avenging the worst moment of Jose Mourinho’s reign when they return to Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Monday.

Mourinho’s first visit to Stamford Bridge since his sacking as Chelsea boss last season ended in humiliation as his former club romped to a 4-0 victory over United in October.

10 things we learned from gameweek 2 of the 2017 MLS season

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Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the ten things we learned from Week 2 of the 2017 MLS season.

1. Nightmare Pt. 2 For Minnesota

Minnesota United made their MLS home debut in a blizzard on Sunday afternoon in front of more than 35,000 fans at TCF Bank Stadium, and, somehow, managed to get beat worse than they did in their first game in Portland.

Shakespeare pens new act in Leicester fairytale

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London (AFP) – A relative unknown on the global football scene just weeks ago, Craig Shakespeare now stands poised to steer Leicester City into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The jocular coach was promoted from his role as assistant manager following Claudio Ranieri’s shock dismissal last month, which he said left him feeling like a “pantomime villain”.

Juventus’ wedding-shy Allegri married to beautiful game

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Milan (AFP) – A “tormenting” decision to ditch his bride-to-be may still haunt Massimiliano Allegri, but as the Champions League quarter-finals loom the Juventus coach should be more than ready for his next life-changing decision.

A talented midfielder who ultimately failed to reach the heights in Serie A, Allegri is set to steer the Turin giants into the last eight following a 2-0 last 16, first-leg win at Porto.

Klopp has no problems winning ‘ugly’

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he is happy for his team to win “ugly” during the remainder of the Premier League season if it brings results such as the fortunate 2-1 victory over Burnley at Anfield on Sunday.

Klopp’s team improved their chances of finishing in the top four, and qualifying for next season’s Champions League, thanks to Emre Can’s superb long-range shot after 60 minutes.

Tottenham’s Pochettino backs Son to shine in Kane’s absence

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says Son Heung-Min has proved he can replace the injured Harry Kane after the Tottenham forward’s hat-trick silenced Millwall’s racist taunts.

Son found himself thrust into the spotlight at White Hart Lane on Sunday as he scored his first goals since January in Tottenham’s 6-0 FA Cup quarter-final thrashing of third-tier Millwall.

Giantkillers Lotte next up for Dortmund in German Cup

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund hope to set up a mouth-watering clash against holders Bayern Munich by ending the run of third-division minnows Sportfreunde Lotte in Tuesday’s rescheduled German Cup quarter-final.

The tie has been moved to Osnabruck’s Bremer Bruecke stadium after the original fixture at Lotte’s tiny ground had to be postponed because a heavy snowfall before kick-off left the greasy playing surface unplayable.

Zidane defends under-fire Real Madrid goalkeeper Navas

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane hailed goalkeeper Keylor Navas’s contribution as the European champions leapfrogged Barcelona into top spot in La Liga despite the latest a series of blunders this season from the Costa Rican on Sunday.

Navas pulled off a stunning stoppage time save from Antonio Sarabia to secure a 2-1 win for Madrid over Real Betis.

Manchester City dream big as Leicester wrestle Sevilla

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Paris (AFP) – Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne is targeting another deep Champions League run, although Pep Guardiola’s side must first negotiate a tricky last 16 second leg against Monaco this week.

City recovered from twice falling behind to outgun the French league leaders 5-3 in the opening leg in Manchester, but Monaco’s formidable attacking threat could still shatter the Premier League club’s aspirations.

Tottenham and Millwall to assist FA with probe into Son abuse

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur and Millwall have both promised to assist a Football Association inquiry into the racist abuse directed towards Spurs forward Son Heung-Min during Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final.

South Korea star Son was taunted by Millwall supporters during Tottenham’s 6-0 victory at White Hart Lane and responded to the jibes with a hat-trick against the third-tier side.

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

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

In the final game of the FA Cup quarterfinal, it’ll be either Chelsea or Manchester United that will book their ticket to the semi-final to play one of three teams: Arsenal, Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.

Villa at the double as New York bounce back in MLS

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New York (AFP) – David Villa scored twice as New York City FC bounced back from their opening weekend defeat with a 4-0 rout of DC United in Major League Soccer on Sunday.

Former Spain and Barcelona star Villa scored once and created another in a dominant first-half display as New York responded to last week’s disappointing loss to Orlando City FC in emphatic fashion.

Wounded PSG grind out win at Lorient

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Paris (AFP) – Christopher Nkunku’s first Ligue 1 goal helped Paris Saint-Germain avoid further embarrassment with Sunday’s 2-1 win at Lorient providing some minor relief following their Champions League humiliation.

Four days after a historic meltdown in Barcelona, Edinson Cavani flicked on a corner that brushed Benjamin Jeannot and went down as an own goal to give PSG a 28th-minute lead at the Stade du Moustoir.

Dzeko leads Roma to second as Inter hit seven

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Milan (AFP) – Edin Dzeko came off the bench to hit his 20th goal of the campaign as Roma moved back up to second in Serie A on Sunday with a crucial 3-0 win at struggling Palermo.

Dzeko is still two behind Serie A leader Andrea Belotti, who will look to add to his impressive 22-goal tally for Torino at Lazio on Monday.

Ramos strikes again as Madrid prosper from Barca hangover

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos struck another late winner as the European champions usurped Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

Earlier, Barca boss Luis Enrique accepted his side had struggled to shrug off the euphoria of a remarkable Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain as the Spanish champions slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat at Deportivo la Coruna.

Ex-England boss McClaren sacked by Derby for second time

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London (AFP) – Former England manager Steve McClaren was sacked Sunday by Derby County for the second time with the English second-tier side saying the club had lacked “focus, passion and commitment”.

Friday’s 3-0 defeat by Championship high-flyers Brighton left Derby 10 points adrift of the top six in the division and with little realistic hope of being promoted to the lucrative Premier League this season.

Syria calls player who rallied opposition home

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Damascus (AFP) – Firas al-Khatib, once the pillar of Syria’s national team before joining the opposition, was Sunday called into the squad for 2018 World Cup qualification matches.

The 33-year-old forward, who hails from the central city of Homs, nicknamed the capital of the uprising that set off Syria’s six-year war, is now on a contract with Al-Kuwait Sports Club in the Gulf emirate.

Jordan gets women’s stadium for 2018 Asia Cup

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Amman (AFP) – The Jordan Football Association on Sunday inaugurated its first women’s stadium in the capital Amman that is to feature in next year’s Women’s Asian Cup.

Jordan will become the first Middle East nation to host a top Asian women’s football tournament when the cup is staged in April 2018.

Spartak go eight points clear in Russia

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Moscow (AFP) – Spartak Moscow went eight points clear in the Russian Premier League on Sunday as Alexander Samedov netted the winning goal in their hard-fought 1-0 win against Anzhi Makhachkala.

Reigning champions CSKA Moscow, who trounced bottom-placed Tomsk 4-0 on Saturday, are second equal on points with Zenit St Petersburg, who suffered a 1-0 defeat at Amkar Perm.

Wood’s winner sustains Hamburg’s revival

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Berlin (AFP) – US international Bobby Wood scored Hamburg’s winner on Sunday as their revival continued with a 2-1 comeback victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Hamburg, the Bundesliga’s only ever-present side since its inception in 1963-64, have picked up 13 points in their last six games under Markus Gisdol.

Can the man as Liverpool beat Burnley

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Liverpool (AFP) – Emre Can’s superb shot guided Liverpool to a 2-1 home win over Burnley on Sunday and maintained their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Ashley Barnes, with his club’s first goal at Anfield since 1975, had given Burnley a deserved early lead only for Georginio Wijnaldum to equalise in first-half injury-time.

Depay halfway line stunner caps Lyon rout of Toulouse

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Paris (AFP) – Memphis Depay scored from near the halfway line as Lyon rode their luck early before crushing Toulouse 4-0 on Sunday to remain in pole position for next season’s Europa League.

Toulouse struck the woodwork twice through Andy Delort and Corentin Jean in the first half before defender Christophe Jallet hammered Lyon into the lead on 36 minutes at Parc OL.

US star Morgan opens Lyon account in style

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Lyon (AFP) – The United States’s women’s star striker Alex Morgan scored a hat-trick for Lyon on Sunday, her first goals since moving to France on a six-month deal.

Morgan’s treble inspired Lyon to a 6-0 win over Rodez in the French Cup quarter-finals.

The 27-year-old joined the team in December in a deal which included the possibility of a one-year extension before rejoining Orlando Pride in June.

Barca suffer PSG hangover in Deportivo defeat

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Madrid (AFP) – Barcelona suffered a hangover from their remarkable Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain as Alex Bergantinos’s winner 16 minutes from time handed Deportivo la Coruna a famous 2-1 win on Sunday.

Joselu had fired Deportivo into a first-half lead before Luis Suarez levelled in the first minute of the second period.

Icardi, Banega hit hat-tricks as Inter pummel Atalanta

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Milan (AFP) – Argentinians Mauro Icardi and Ever Banega struck a hat-trick apiece as Champions League-chasing Inter Milan demolished high-flying Atalanta with a defiant 7-1 romp on Sunday.

Atalanta travelled to the San Siro confident of causing an upset having beaten Inter, Napoli and Roma at home in a season that is turning out to be their best to date.

Shakespeare manager of Leicester until end of season

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London (AFP) – Craig Shakespeare has been confirmed as manager of Leicester City until the end of the season after winning his first two games in charge as caretaker of the faltering Premier League champions, the club said Sunday.

Shakespeare, previously a Leicester coach, took over after Claudio Ranieri was sacked last month - less than a year after the Italian manager guided the 5,000/1 outsiders to the most improbable Premier League title triumph.

Shakespeare manager of Leicester City until end of season

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London (AFP) – Craig Shakespeare has been confirmed as manager of Leicester City until the end of the season after winning his first two games in charge as caretaker boss of the faltering Premier League champions, the club said Sunday.

Shakespeare, previously a Leicester coach, took over after Claudio Ranieri was sacked last month - less than a year after the Italian manager guided the 5,000/1 outsiders to the most improbable Premier League title triumph.

Hertha star taking legal action over Twitter pic

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Berlin (AFP) – Hertha Berlin’s Marvin Plattenhardt said Sunday he would take legal action against Germany’s right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) for posting a picture on Twitter of him alongside one of their politicans.

The 25-year-old’s defender happily posed for selfies with Hertha fans after his stunning second-half free-kick sealed Berlin’s 2-1 German league win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Son shines but Kane injury mars Spurs stroll

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London (AFP) – Son Heung-Min’s hat-trick fired Tottenham into the FA Cup semi-finals, but his side’s 6-0 victory against Millwall was overshadowed by Harry Kane’s potentially serious ankle injury.

Kane limped off in the 10th minute at White Hart Lane after his ankle twisted awkwardly.

United confident of avenging Chelsea misery says Fellaini

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London (AFP) – Marouane Fellaini insists Manchester United are confident of avenging the worst moment of Jose Mourinho’s reign when they return to Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Monday.

Mourinho’s first visit to Stamford Bridge since his sacking as Chelsea boss last season ended in humiliation as his former club romped to a 4-0 victory over United in October.

Guardiola eyes silverware on multiple fronts

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Middlesbrough (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola insists he is keeping all his options open as he pursues a trophy in his first season at Manchester City.

Guardiola’s side are still in contention in the Premier League and Champions League, but the City manager appears equally committed to success in the FA Cup.

My preference is to stay at Arsenal, says Wenger

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger revealed he hasn’t ruled out extending his Arsenal reign after his side eased the pressure on the troubled boss with a 5-0 FA Cup quarter-final win over minnows Lincoln.

Wenger has faced calls for his resignation from angry Arsenal fans this week and there were more protests against the beleaguered Frenchman before Saturday’s clash at the Emirates Stadium.

Ancelotti’s delight as Bayern’s rivals stumble

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Berlin (AFP) – Carlo Ancelotti cautiously admits the Bundesliga title is effectively Bayern Munich’s to lose after they opened a 10-point lead on Saturday as their two closest rivals slipped further behind.

Robert Lewandowski netted twice in a 3-0 home win against Eintracht Frankfurt while second-placed RB Leipzig crashed to a 1-0 defeat at home to Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund lost 2-1 at Hertha Berlin.

One World Sports relaunches as Eleven Sports in potential takeover by UK sports network

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EXCLUSIVE - Viewers of One World Sports awoke Saturday morning to the channel being relaunched as Eleven Sports.

By all accounts, this is not merely a name change but has the looks of a complete takeover of the beleaguered network. Reminder, back in November of last year, One World Sports furloughed much of its staff.

Sevilla hopes dented, Griezmann hits Atletico winner

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla’s La Liga title hopes suffered a fresh blow on Saturday as they were held 1-1 at home by lowly Leganes.

Atletico Madrid are now just five points adrift of Sevilla in third as Antoine Griezmann headed home the winner in a vital 1-0 victory at Granada for Diego Simeone’s men.

Sampdoria end 57-year wait for derby double

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Milan (AFP) – Sampdoria completed their first double derby triumph over city rivals Genoa in 57 years on Saturday thanks to a 1-0 win.

Luis Muriel scored the only goal of the game on 71 minutes after breaking away from a poor tackle from Ezequiel Munoz to drive the ball past Eugenio Lamanna in the Genoa goal.

Wenger off the hook as Arsenal crush Lincoln

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London (AFP) – Arsenal ended Lincoln City’s historic FA Cup run and eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger with a 5-0 victory over the valiant non-league side in Saturday’s quarter-finals.

After Tuesday’s humiliating Champions League exit against Bayern Munich, Wenger had endured calls for his resignation and the Gunners boss must have breathed a sigh of relief as Arsenal avoided even greater ignominy.

Wenger avoids more misery as Arsenal see off Lincoln

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London (AFP) – Under-fire Arsene Wenger avoided more humiliation as troubled Arsenal moved into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 5-0 win against minnows Lincoln City on Saturday.

Subjected to calls for his resignation after Tuesday’s dismal Champions League exit against Bayern Munich, Gunners boss Wenger was given some much-needed breathing space by his side’s quarter-final victory over the plucky non-leaguers.

Mbappe sparks Monaco as Man City loom

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Paris (AFP) – Teen prodigy Kylian Mbappe scored his 10th league goal of the campaign as Monaco beat Bordeaux 2-1 on Saturday to cement their place at the top of Ligue 1.

Mbappe opened the scoring midway through the second half at the Stade Louis II and a beauty from Joao Moutinho soon after doubled the principality side’s lead.

Arsenal ease pressure on Wenger, City stroll into semi-finals

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger avoided more humiliation as troubled Arsenal moved into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 5-0 win against minnows Lincoln, while Manchester City joined the Gunners in the last four after a 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Under heavy fire after Tuesday’s dismal Champions League exit against Bayern Munich, Wenger was given some much-needed breathing space by his side’s quarter-final victory over the plucky non-leaguers.

Boateng’s delight at Bayern return

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany defender Jerome Boateng was delighted to make his comeback on Saturday after shoulder surgery on a red-letter day for Bayern Munich, who went 10 points clear in the Bundesliga.

Robert Lewandowki netted twice in a 3-0 win at home to Eintracht Frankfurt at the Allianz Arena to leave Bayern with 28 goals from their last six games.

Mbappe, Moutinho keep Monaco on title track

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Paris (AFP) – Teen sensation Kylian Mbappe scored his 10th league goal of the campaign as Monaco beat Bordeaux 2-1 on Saturday to cement their place at the top of Ligue 1.

Mbappe opened the scoring midway through the second half at the Stade Louis II and a beauty from Joao Moutinho soon after doubled the principality side’s lead.

Sevilla title hopes dented by Leganes draw

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Madrid (AFP) – Sevilla’s La Liga title hopes suffered a fresh blow on Saturday as they were held 1-1 at home by lowly Leganes.

Gabriel Pires fired the visitors into a deserved early lead after just three minutes.

Stefan Jovetic levelled for Sevilla just before half-time, but it was Leganes who had the better chances in the second half to take all three points.

Neymar doubtful for Deportivo clash

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona are set to be without Neymar after his Champions League heroics against Paris Saint-Germain when the Spanish champions continue their quest for a third straight La Liga title at Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday.

Neymar scored twice and set up Sergi Roberto’s remarkable 95th-minute winner as Barca completed the biggest Champions League comeback of all time from a 4-0 first leg deficit in a 6-1 win.

Neymar misses Barca trip to Deportivo

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona will be without Neymar after his Champions League heroics against Paris Saint-Germain when the Spanish champions continue their quest for a third straight La Liga title at Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday.

Neymar scored twice and set up Sergi Roberto’s remarkable 95th-minute winner as Barca completed the biggest Champions League comeback of all time from a 4-0 first leg deficit in a 6-1 win.

Red hot Lukaku strikes again as Everton sink Albion

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Liverpool (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku improved his chances of winning the Premier League’s golden boot as Everton romped to a 3-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Belgian forward Lukaku followed first-half strikes from Kevin Mirallas and Morgan Schneiderlin with his 19th goal of the campaign in a one-sided affair at Goodison Park.

King hat-trick gets Bournemouth off mark for 2017

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Joshua King scored a hat-trick as Bournemouth rallied from two missed penalties to snatch a dramatic 3-2 win over West Ham on Saturday.

Eddie Howe’s side ended their nine-match winless run in all competitions as they finally grabbed all three points in their first win of 2017.

Hull boost survival bid, Bournemouth end winless run

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London (AFP) – Oumar Niasse boosted Hull’s chances of avoiding relegation from the Premier League as the Senegal forward inspired a crucial 2-1 victory over Swansea, while Bournemouth won for the first time in 2017 thanks to Josh King’s treble in a 3-2 success against West Ham.

Niasse, on loan from Everton, came off the bench to score twice in the second half at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday and Marco Silva’s side are now just one point from safety.

Niasse double is Hull’s Silva lining

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Kingston upon Hull (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Oumar Niasse proved an inspired substitution by Marco Silva as his second-half double boosted Hull’s hopes of retaining their Premier League status with a 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Swansea on Saturday.

Niasse, on loan from Everton, struck in the 69th and 78th minutes to give Hull their third win over Swansea this season - their other win coming in the FA Cup - and saw them rise to third from bottom just a point off Crystal Palace, although the latter have a game in hand.

Bayern go 10 points clear as rivals crash

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich went 10 points clear in the Bundesliga on Saturday as Robert Lewandowski netted twice in their 3-0 home win against Eintracht Frankfurt while their main rivals lost.

Bayern have now hit 28 goals in their last six games with Lewandowski claiming 10 of them as coach Carlo Ancelotti stays on course to steer Bayern to a fifth straight German league title in his first season.

CSKA keep in touch at top in Russia

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Moscow (AFP) – Brazilian striker Vitinho netted after just 32 seconds as reigning champions CSKA Moscow eased to a 4-0 win over bottom-placed Tomsk on Saturday to narrow the gap on Russian Premier League leaders Spartak Moscow.

The Red Army side are now level on points with Zenit St Petersburg, who visit Amkar Perm on Sunday, and five points behind Spartak, who take on Anzhi Makhachkala also on Sunday.

Glasgow Rangers confirm Caixinha as new boss

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Glasgow (AFP) – Scottish giants Rangers confirmed the appointment of Pedro Caixinha as their new manager on Saturday.

Caixinha arrived at Glasgow Airport on a flight from Dubai at midday on Saturday and his move to Ibrox was officially announced just hours later.

The 46-year-old Portuguese coach has agreed a three-year contract and will be tasked with ending Celtic’s long reign as Scotland’s preeminent force.

Title-chasing Nice suffer Cyprien injury blow

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Paris (AFP) – Ligue 1 title-chasing Nice suffered a fresh injury blow after Wylan Cyprien was ruled out for the season on Saturday with a knee injury.

The 22-year-old midfielder suffered ruptured cruciate ligaments during Friday’s 2-2 draw against modest Caen.

The injury “will require surgery in the coming days,” Nice said in a statement.

Madrid don’t need help from referees, says Zidane

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane had a pointed message for La Liga rivals Barcelona on Saturday by claiming the European champions “don’t depend” on anyone else to win.

Barca produced the biggest comeback in Champions League history on Wednesday with a remarkable 6-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain to complete a 6-5 aggregate win.

Manchester City cruise into FA Cup semi-finals

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Middlesbrough (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City cruised into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday as Pep Guardiola showed he is taking the competition seriously.

Goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero were scant reward for City as they easily out-classed Middlesbrough, who must have feared such an outcome when they witnessed the team named by Guardiola.

Mali face Football World Cup ban after officials fired

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Bamako (AFP) – Mali could be thrown out of the 2018 World Cup qualifying competition after the government sacked the national football federation leaders.

The bottom-of-the-table west Africans are scheduled to play Morocco twice, group leaders Ivory Coast and Gabon this year.

Global football body FIFA does not permit government interference in the sport, resulting in a number of African countries being banned previously.

Dortmund boss expects Aubameyang to stay… for now

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says he expects star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to remain with the Bundesliga giants, for now.

The Gabon hot-shot has hit 28 goals this season, including the hat-trick against Benfica on Wednesday which fired Dortmund into the Champions League’s quarter-finals.

Roma chief slams Spalletti as Juve rumours swirl

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Rome (AFP) – Speculation linking Roma coach Luciano Spalletti with a shock move to Serie A giants Juventus intensified Saturday after the Italian was slammed by club president James Pallotta.

Roma’s hopes of ending their 16-year wait for the Italian league title appear slim after champions Juventus opened up an 11-point lead at the top of the table thanks to a controversial 2-1 win over AC Milan on Friday.

Klopp keen to avoid familiar trap against Burnley

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool’s season in the Premier League has developed a pattern of success against the top teams and struggles against those sides lower down.

It is why last Saturday’s convincing 3-1 win over Arsenal, rivals for a top four place, was no great surprise, and why it would be no shock either if Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s team had a much tougher time at home to Burnley on Sunday.

Pochettino calls for calm in Millwall clash

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has pleaded with Tottenham and Millwall fans to keep the peace when the London rivals clash in a potentially volatile FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

Since being drawn to face Millwall at White Hart Lane, Tottenham officials have been liasing with police in a bid to a keep a lid on the hooligan gangs threatening to run riot in north London.

Referee strike halts Mexican football league

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Mexico City (AFP) – Mexican referees went on strike Friday in protest at light punishment for players who attack match officials, forcing the weekend league programme to be abandoned.

The programme “has been suspended because designated referees… refused to officiate,” said a statement from the Mexican Football Federation.

PSG boss gets ‘full support’ despite Barca horror show

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery received the “full and entire support” of the club’s demanding Qatari owners on Friday despite presiding over their 6-1 Champions League humiliation at Barcelona.

“Unai has the qualities in which we believe. He has my full and entire support,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi told Le Parisien newspaper.

Guardiola accepts silverware not style will dictate fate

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola indicated on Friday his tenure as Manchester City manager will not be a long one if his first season in charge ends without a trophy.

Sheikh Mansour, the club’s owner, gave Guardiola his full support when they met in Abu Dhabi last month, and there is no suggestion he faces the sack if he fails to win a trophy this season.

Nice cede ground in title race, Marseille up to fifth

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli helped Nice salvage a 2-2 draw against modest Caen on Friday in a result that could prove costly to the south coast side’s Ligue 1 title dream.

Balotelli’s strike deep in the second half followed minutes later by Anastasios Donis’ leveller pushed Nice into provisional second.

Injury-time penalty gives Juventus victory

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus went 11 points clear in Italy on Friday when a contentious injury time penalty gave them a 2-1 win over 10-man AC Milan and a 31st successive home triumph.

The defending champions looked set to be held by their old rivals, who had stunned the 32-time Serie A winners 1-0 at the San Siro earlier in the season, after Carlos Bacca had cancelled out Medhi Benatia’s opener for the league leaders.

Nice cede ground in title race

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli helped Nice salvage a 2-2 draw against modest Caen on Friday in a result that could prove costly to the south coast side’s Ligue 1 title dream.

Balotelli’s strike deep in the second half followed minutes later by Anastasios Donis’ leveller pushed Nice into provisional second.

Conte won’t change his style despite Mourinho moan

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte promised Friday he would have no qualms in celebrating another Chelsea win over Manchester United on Monday despite riling rivals boss Jose Mourinho the last time the Red Devils were at Stamford Bridge.

The two English powerhouses meet in the FA Cup quarter-finals for the latest chapter of a rivalry given added spice by the fact that Conte was eventually appointed as the permanent successor to the sacked Mourinho at Chelsea.

Neil’s confidence misplaced as Norwich sack him

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London (AFP) – Norwich sacked manager Alex Neil on Friday hours after the Scot stated he was the right man to take the second tier club forward in the long term.

The 35-year-old - who will be replaced in the interim by first team coach Alan Irvine - lost the confidence of the board with the Canaries nine points off the Championship play-off places.

ESPN to televise 2017 International Champions Cup including Barcelona-Real Madrid game

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For viewers in the United States, the 2017 International Champions Cup will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN2, which will include the highly-anticipated game between Barcelona and Real Madrid on Saturday, July 29 - the first time ever el Clasico has been played in the United States.

Out of the 12 games in the 2017 International Champions Cup, eight of them will be shown live on ESPN.

Barcelona, Real Madrid to play Miami ‘Clasico’

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Miami (AFP) – Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid will play each other in a one-off pre-season “El Clasico” in Miami in July, organizers confirmed Friday.

The La Liga arch-rivals will meet at the Hard Rock Stadium, the 65,000-seat home of the NFL Miami Dolphins, on July 29.

Lincoln ready for ‘1,000/1 shot’ against Arsenal

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London (AFP) – Lincoln manager Danny Cowley accepts his non-league side have just a “one in a thousand chance” of beating Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals but is determined they do more than just “enjoy the day”.

The Imps are the first non-league team to reach the last eight of the FA Cup, football’s oldest senior knockout competition, since 1914.

Torres set for Leverkusen return – Simeone

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes Fernando Torres will be free to return from a sickening head clash in time for next week’s Champions League meeting with Bayer Leverkusen.

Torres lost consciousness in a challenge with Deportivo la Coruna’s Alex Bergantinos eight days ago, but thankfully he was released from hospital a day later with no serious injuries.

Guardiola plays for time over Hart future

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has tried to play down talk of Joe Hart’s Manchester City future, despite previous indications that the goalkeeper is set to leave at the end of the season.

Hart told the BBC on Thursday that he is “surplus to requirements” at the Etihad and does not expect to play for City again, having joined Italian Serie A club Torino on a season’s loan last August.

PSG fan kills friend over mockery

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Libreville (AFP) – A Paris Saint-Germain fan in Gabon killed his friend after getting fed up with being mocked about the French club’s Champions League defeat over post-match drinks, a judicial source said Friday.

The 18-year-old stabbed his friend in the neck after watching the match late Wednesday in Libreville, the judicial source told AFP, confirming a front-page report in the daily L’Union.

Facebook scores deal to stream MLS matches

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Washington (AFP) – Facebook has struck a deal to stream matches from US-based Major League Soccer, in the latest social network tie-up for live sports.

At least 22 matches for the 2017 season which are broadcast in Spanish on Univision Deportes will be streamed on Facebook Live with English language commentators, under the deal announced by Major League Soccer and Univision.

Bournemouth’s Howe backs banned ‘gentle giant’ Mings over stamp

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London (AFP) – Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has come to the defence of “gentle giant” Tyrone Mings, saying Friday the defender did not deserve his five-match ban for stamping on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Mings was suspended by the Football Association on Wednesday for standing on the head of the veteran forward during last weekend’s 1-1 draw in the Premier League at Old Trafford.

Germany line up Spain, Brazil friendlies

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Berlin (AFP) – World champions Germany will host both Spain and Brazil in international friendlies next year ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the German FA (DFB) announced on Friday.

Joachim Loew’s side will play 2010 world champions Spain in Dusseldorf on March 23, 2018 before facing record five-time World Cup winners Brazil four days later in Berlin.

FIFA bars Russia’s Mutko after eligibility test failure

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Zurich (AFP) – FIFA has barred Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, chief organiser of the 2018 World Cup, from sitting on the world football’s ruling council after he failed an eligibility test.

Mutko, who has also been accused of involvement in Russia’s sports doping scandal, had been a candidate for a European seat on the FIFA Council to be decided in April.

Neymar steps out of Messi’s shadow to fuel treble talk

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Barcelona (AFP) – For a victory “defined by faith” according to Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, the Catalans rose from the dead inspired by the man who never stopped believing.

“As long as there’s a one percent chance, we’ll have 99 percent faith,” said Neymar before a ball had been kicked in Barca’s stunning revival from a 4-0 first leg deficit to beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1.

Mourinho eyes European progress for Manchester United despite Chelsea date

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Rostov-on-Don (Russia) (AFP) – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is hopeful the obstacle of a trip to Chelsea in the FA Cup does not hinder his side’s prospects of completing a Europa League last-16 win over Rostov.

United drew 1-1 in Russia in the first leg of their tie on Thursday after Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first-half opener was cancelled out by an Aleksandr Bukharov strike shortly after the break.

Wenger under siege as Lincoln chase FA Cup’s greatest shock

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London (AFP) – Just when Arsene Wenger thought life couldn’t get any more stressful, the Arsenal manager finds himself on a hiding to nothing as minnows Lincoln eye more FA Cup history in Saturday’s quarter-finals.

Wenger has endured a week from hell that started when Arsenal were thumped 3-1 at Liverpool following his decision to drop star forward Alexis Sanchez, who reportedly demanded a transfer in an angry row after that loss.

Lincoln dreaming of Arsenal scalp in fairytale quarter-final

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London (AFP) – Non-league Lincoln City have enjoyed a fairytale run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and are now dreaming of piling more misery on Arsene Wenger and Arsenal on Saturday.

The sides meet at the Emirates Stadium with under-pressure Wenger knowing an unthinkable defeat against fifth-tier opposition would surely spell the end for him in north London.

Skipper Silva a symbol of PSG’s failure

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Paris (AFP) – There may not have been the dramatic tears this time but there was a familiar feeling of agony for Paris Saint-Germain captain Thiago Silva on Wednesday as his side suffered their absurd Champions League humiliation.

Silva was derided for letting his emotions get the better of him as he captained Brazil at the 2014 World Cup, images of him in tears after a penalty shoot-out win over Chile seen as evidence of a mentally weak side.

German fans start to feel love for RB Leipzig

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Berlin (AFP) – The name ‘RB Leipzig’ remains a red rag for most hardcore German fans, but the controversial Bundesliga club is winning over mainstream supporters, and rightly so, says Michael Ballack.

RB Leipzig are second only to Bayern Munich in the German top flight and on course to qualify directly for the group stages of next season’s Champions League.

Guardiola faces FA Cup selection headache

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Middlesbrough (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola faces a selection headache in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough as the Manchester City manager juggles the demands of competing for silverware on two fronts.

Guardiola must decide how many of City’s best players to risk for at the Riverside Stadium as they have a crucial Champions League last 16 second leg clash with Monaco four days later.

Samp target Genoa derby, Inter battle Atalanta

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Milan (AFP) – Former Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella said respective positions in the league table will be ignored Saturday when Sampdoria face Genoa in a derby “battle for 90 minutes”.

With leaders Juventus hosting AC Milan Friday looking to extend their eight-point lead over second-placed Roma, who are in action Sunday at Palermo, the focus of this weekend’s Serie A action is on the Luigi Ferraris stadium.

Rangers turmoil won’t distract Celtic – Rodgers

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers insists the uncertainty at bitter rivals Rangers will not affect them in Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Parkhead.

Rangers have been in turmoil on and off the pitch in recent weeks since Mark Warburton and his backroom team departed Ibrox last month.

Russia’s Mutko ‘barred from FIFA post’

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Zurich (AFP) – FIFA has barred Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, chief organiser of the World Cup to be held in his country next year, from sitting on the world body’s ruling council, a source close to FIFA told AFP on Friday.

Mutko, who has also been accused of involvement in Russia’s sports doping scandal, is one of five European candidates for seats on the FIFA Council to be decided in April.

Zozulya gives up on Rayo move after ‘Nazi’ furore

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Madrid (AFP) – Ukraine international Roman Zozulya on Thursday has given up on his planned transfer to Rayo Vallecano and will remain at Real Betis until the end of the season after being caught up in a ‘neo-Nazi’ row.

Zozulya, 27, spent just 24 hours on loan at the Madrid club last month before being recalled by Betis after Rayo fans greeted his arrival with banners reading: “Vallekas is not the place for Nazis.

Mkhitaryan helps Manchester United to draw in Russia

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Rostov-on-Don (Russia) (AFP) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan bagged a precious away goal as Manchester United came away from their trip to Russia with a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against Rostov on Thursday.

On an awful pitch, the state of which had United manager Jose Mourinho fuming on the eve of the game, Mkhitaryan turned in the opener 10 minutes before half-time.

Juventus vs. AC Milan predicted lines, preview and TV times

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Juventus have the opportunity to move a whopping 11 points clear at the top of Serie A on Friday night when they welcome historical rivals AC Milan to the J Stadium.

The league leaders actually slipped up in their previous outing, saved by a second-half goal from Leonardo Bonucci and stumbling to a 1-1 draw against Udinese.

Mkhitaryan helps Man Utd to draw in Russia

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Rostov-on-Don (Russia) (AFP) – Henrikh Mkhitaryan bagged a precious away goal as Manchester United came away from their trip to Russia with a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against Rostov on Thursday.

On an awful pitch, the state of which had United manager Jose Mourinho fuming on the eve of the game, Mkhitaryan turned in the opener 10 minutes before half-time.

Arena cautious about Dempsey return

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Los Angeles (AFP) – United States coach Bruce Arena said he will take a cautious approach before recalling Clint Dempsey to the national team as the striker works his way back to fitness following a heart problem.

Dempsey scored in Seattle’s opening defeat against Houston last weekend, his first Major League Soccer game since being sidelined last year following the discovery of an irregular heartbeat.

Rakitic extends Barca deal to 2021

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic celebrated the Catalans’ extraordinary Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain by extending his contract at the Camp Nou until 2021 on Thursday.

Rakitic, 28, started on Wednesday as Barca recovered from a 4-0 first-leg thrashing to beat the French champions 6-1 and reach the quarter-finals for a 10th consecutive season.

“Nothing impossible” for impressed Messi

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Barcelona (AFP) – Five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi paid tribute on Thursday to Barcelona’s sensational Champions League comeback from a 4-0 first leg thrashing to beat Paris Saint Germain 6-1.

Messi scored Barca’s third goal from the penalty spot as the Spanish champions struck three times in the final two minutes plus stoppage time to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Telemundo announces coverage plans for 2017 Confederations Cup

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Telemundo Deportes will be the official Spanish-language broadcaster of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, which will be held in Russia this summer from June 17 to July 2.

According to Telemundo, the lineup will include close to 200 hours of programming on Telemundo and NBC Universo, complemented by extensive news and analysis on TelemundoDeportes.

No reason to move World Cup from Russia – FIFA

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Saint Petersburg (AFP) – FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura on Thursday said there were no reasons to move the 2018 World Cup from Russia.

“The World Cup bid process was fair and there are no reasons to take away the event from Russia,” the top FIFA official told media at the ceremony that marked the 100 days before the Confederations Cup kick-off.

NBC to feature Manchester City vs. Liverpool on over-the-air network

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The Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool on Sunday, March 19 will be televised live on the over-the-air NBC network in the United States.

The match, would could have big implications on the top four in English soccer, will kick off at 12:30pm ET. The reason for the late kickoff time is due to Daylight Savings Time.

Spurs defender Davies signs new deal

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London (AFP) – Tottenham defender Ben Davies signed a four-year contract extension with the Premier League title challengers on Thursday.

Davies joined Tottenham from Swansea in July 2014 and has made 43 league appearances for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

The 23-year-old’s composed displays in second-placed Tottenham’s last four league games have helped them keep in touch with leaders Chelsea in the title race.

PSG supporter hurt in Motta car incident

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Paris (AFP) – After the humiliation of letting in six goals against Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Motta’s night went from bad to worse after he hit a supporter with his sportscar after flying back home early Thursday.

Around 30 supporters, furious about the team’s defeat, were waiting for the Paris players as they emerged from Le Bourget airport outside the French capital in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Caixinha set to become Rangers boss

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Doha (AFP) – Pedro Caixinha is set to become the new Rangers coach after getting clearance from his Qatari club on Thursday to move to Ibrox.

A deal is expected to be completed quickly between the 46-year-old Portuguese, Rangers and Qatar Stars League club Al Gharafa.

Caixinha emerged as Rangers’ number one choice to replace Mark Warburton last week although he won’t be fully in charge for Sunday’s clash with Celtic.

Barcelona celebrates ‘miracle’ upset over PSG

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Barcelona (AFP) – Joyous Barcelona fans mobbed Neymar and Lionel Messi, while Paris Saint-Germain counterparts vented their fury Thursday after Barca’s sensational 6-1 victory produced the greatest upset in Champions League history.

Trailing 4-0 going into the last 16 game, Neymar scored two of the three amazing goals in the final seven minutes that sent the nearly 100,000 crowd into raptures.

Ex-Crewe coach Bennell charged over child sexual abuse

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London (AFP) – Former Crewe coach Barry Bennell has been charged with four further counts of non-recent child sexual abuse, the Crown Prosecution Service announced on Thursday.

Bennell, 63, is due to appear at South Cheshire Magistrates’ Court via video-link on March 13 to face the four indecent assault charges, which relate to a boy aged 11 to 12 between 1981 and 1982.

Trump ban could hit World Cup bid: FIFA chief

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London (AFP) – American President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban could make it impossible for his country to host the 2026 World Cup, FIFA president Gianni Infantino warned on Thursday.

The United States is the favourite to stage the expanded 48-team tournament in 2026, either on its own or as part of a joint-bid with neighbours Mexico and Canada.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for February 28-March 6, 2017

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MLS Soccer Sunday made its return to ESPN and FS1 last week with both seeing big improvements over the first Soccer Sunday of 2016. Viewership on ESPN was up nearly 14% for Orlando-NYCFC when compared to last season’s Portland-Columbus rematch. FS1’s decision to air Atlanta’s opening match against the New York Red Bulls in primetime proved fruitful as the network saw viewership rise 40% from 267,000 in 2016 to 375,000 in 2017.

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

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

In the first leg of the Europa League Round of 16 match, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is concerned about the state of the pitch in Russia. Playing conditions aside, United also has one eye on their FA Cup quarterfinal game against Chelsea on Monday, so it’s possible that Mourinho may rotate the side a little today in order to come away with at least a draw, which will put United in the pole position to advance.

Why Premier League TV viewing numbers are plateauing in the US: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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

In the NEW episode, number 17, we cover a range of topics including:

• How FOX Sports stooped to a new low in its soccer coverage this week,

• News about a MultiView feature on PlayStation Vue,

• Why Premier League TV numbers are plateauing in the United States,

• Plus questions from YOU, the listeners and much more.

Bookies bashed by Barca’s miracle revival

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London (AFP) – Lucky punters rejoiced on Thursday after bookmakers were forced to pay out “millions” on Barcelona’s extraordinary 6-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain to pull off the biggest comeback in Champions League history.

Sergi Roberto’s 95th minute winner completed Barca’s comeback from a 4-0 first leg deficit at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Dortmund can name price for ‘sensational’ Aubameyang

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang says he had a point to prove after scoring his first Champions League hat-trick, but it leaves Borussia Dortmund wondering how long they can keep him.

The Gabon striker’s three goals against Benfica in Dortmund on Wednesday sealed a 4-1 aggregate last 16 win and capped a man-of-the-match display.

‘Best ever’ Neymar hails historic Barcelona win

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Barcelona (AFP) – Neymar described his two-goal display as the “best game” of his career as he inspired the greatest comeback in Champions League history after Barcelona thrashed Paris Saint-Germain 6-1.

The Catalans became the first side to come back from a 4-0 first leg deficit as Neymar scored twice in the final two minutes and then teed up a 95th-minute winner by Sergi Roberto to reach the quarter-finals 6-5 on aggregate.

Tuchel hail’s Dortmund’s ‘sensational’ Aubameyang

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Thomas Tuchel hailed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s ‘sensational’ hat-trick after Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 romp at home to Benfica saw the Germans steamroll their way into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Aubameyang has now scored seven times in his last three games and has seven Champions League goals in as many matches this season.

Guardiola fights on after Manchester City gamble fails

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has refused to concede the Premier League title to Chelsea despite a disappointing 0-0 home draw with Stoke City which left Antonio Conte’s league leaders with a 10-point lead at the top of the table.

The Manchester City manager gambled by resting key players John Stones, David Silva and Raheem Sterling ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough and next week’s Champions League last 16 second leg trip to Monaco.

PSG ‘nightmare’ as coach battles for survival

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Barcelona (AFP) – PSG coach Unai Emery was fighting for survival Thursday after his side were swept away 6-1 by Barcelona in a Champions League rout described as a “nightmare” and a “humiliation”.

The Spaniard had been hailed as a tactical genius last month when his French champions stunned mighty Barca 4-0 in Paris in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

PSG ‘nightmare’ as head coach battles for survival

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Barcelona (AFP) – PSG coach Unai Emery was fighting for survival on Thursday after his side were swept away 6-1 by Barcelona in a Champions League rout described as a “nightmare” and a “humiliation”.

The Spaniard had been hailed as a tactical genius last month when his French champions stunned mighty Barca 4-0 in Paris in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

PSG ‘nightmare’ as head coach battles for survival

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Barcelona (AFP) – PSG coach Unai Emery was fighting for survival on Thursday after his side were swept away 6-1 by Barcelona in a Champions League rout described as a “nightmare” and a “humiliation”.

The Spaniard had been hailed as a tactical genius last month when his French champions stunned mighty Barca 4-0 in Paris in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Head coach Tuchel hails Dortmund’s ‘sensational’ Aubameyang

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Thomas Tuchel hailed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s ‘sensational’ hat-trick after Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 romp at home to Benfica saw the Germans steamroll their way into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Aubameyang has now scored seven times in his last three games and has seven Champions League goals in as many matches this season.

Giants enter CAF Champions League title race

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Johannesburg (AFP) – The four most successful clubs in African competitions enter the 2017 CAF Champions League this weekend expecting to build first-leg leads at home in last-32 ties.

Record 19-time title winners Al Ahly of Egypt face South African league leaders Wits, who are playing in the elite African competition for the first time.

FIFA eyes India ‘revolution’ from U-17 World Cup

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New Delhi (AFP) – A top FIFA official believes hosting the Under-17 World Cup has the potential to spark a football revolution in India - and lead to lasting change in the global game.

The run-up to October’s tournament will see a programme called Mission XI Million aim to involve millions of children across the world’s second-most populous nation in trying out the “beautiful game”.

‘Best ever’ Neymar hails historic Barcelona comeback

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Barcelona (AFP) – Neymar described his two-goal display as the “best game” of his career as he inspired the greatest comeback in Champions League history after Barcelona thrashed Paris Saint-Germain 6-1.

The Catalans became the first side to come back from a 4-0 first leg deficit as Neymar scored twice in the final two minutes and then teed up a 95th-minute winner by Sergi Roberto to reach the quarter-finals 6-5 on aggregate.

Barcelona hailed as living legends after miracle win over PSG

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona were hailed as living legends Thursday after Neymar helped the Spanish giants pull off a Nou Camp miracle with a dying minutes Champions League win over stunned Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazilian forward played the game of his life as Barcelona made up a 0-4 first leg deficit by winning 6-1 in front of nearly 100,000 ecstatic fans at the Camp Nou stadium for an astonishing 6-5 aggregate triumph.

Luis Enrique turns ‘mourning’ into miracle after Barca comeback

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Barcelona (AFP) – First came the “mourning” then the opportunity for revenge, claimed vindicated outgoing Barcelona coach Luis Enrique after overseeing the greatest comeback in Champions League history by thrashing Paris Saint Germain 6-1.

Despite Barca’s galaxy of stars, it was the boss who was first in the firing line when the Catalans were torn apart 4-0 in the first leg in Paris three weeks ago.

Aubameyang hat-trick fires Dortmund into quarters

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – A hat-trick by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and teenager Christian Pulisic’s dazzling display fired Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-0 thrashing of Benfica on Wednesday.

The result saw Dortmund win the round-of-16 tie 4-1 on aggregate after Aubameyang’s early goal cancelled out Borussia’s 1-0 defeat in Lisbon last month.

Manchester City fail to fire in Stoke stalemate

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola saw his team squander the opportunity to gain ground on Premier League leaders Chelsea in a disappointing 0-0 draw with Stoke City at the Etihad on Wednesday.

It was a strangely subdued performance by City, the result perhaps of Guardiola having opted to rest David Silva and Raheem Sterling from his all-star cast of attacking talent.

Aubameyang hat-trick fires ‘sensational’ Dortmund into quarters

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – A hat-trick by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic’s dazzling display fired Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-0 thrashing of Benfica on Wednesday.

The result saw Dortmund win the round-of-16 tie 4-1 on aggregate after Aubameyang’s early goal cancelled out Borussia’s 1-0 defeat in Lisbon last month.

Barcelona hit PSG for six in historic late fightback

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Barcelona (AFP) – Sergi Roberto scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Barcelona capped a sensational Champions League fightback to thrash Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 and reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Despite Luis Suarez’s early opener, a Layvin Kurzawa own goal and Lionel Messi’s penalty, Barca, who lost the first leg 4-0, looked down and out when Edison Cavani volleyed home what seemed to be the vital away goal for PSG.

Last-minute Barcelona clinch miracle 6-1 triumph

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Barcelona (AFP) – A goal in the fifth-minute of injury time from Sergi Roberto gave Barcelona a miracle 6-1 win over Paris Saint Germain to reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday in breathtaking style.

Barca scored three times in the last few minutes to go through 6-5 on aggregate having lost 4-0 in Paris in the first leg.

Barca hit PSG for six in historic late fightback

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Barcelona (AFP) – Sergi Roberto scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time as Barcelona capped a sensational Champions League fightback to thrash Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 and reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Despite Luis Suarez’s early opener, a Layvin Kurzawa own goal and Lionel Messi’s penalty, Barca, who lost the first leg 4-0, looked down and out when Edison Cavani volleyed home what seemed to be the vital away goal for PSG.

Aubameyang hat-trick sends Dortmund through

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit a hat-trick to send Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League quarter-finals 4-1 on aggregate after finally breaking Benfica’s stubborn resistance on Wednesday.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg in Portugal, Benfica were under the cosh from the off and hot-shot Aubameyang needed just four minutes to head the home side in front.

Aubameyang hat-trick fires Dortmund into quarter finals

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – A hat-trick by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic’s dazzling display fired Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-0 thrashing of Benfica on Wednesday.

The result saw Dortmund win the round-of-16 tie 4-1 on aggregate after Aubameyang’s early goal cancelled out Borussia’s 1-0 defeat in Lisbon last month.

LA Galaxy make record Zlatan bid – report

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Los Angeles (AFP) – The Los Angeles Galaxy have made a bid to lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Major League Soccer in a record deal, Sports Illustrated reported on its website Wednesday.

The magazine’s soccer correspondent, Grant Wahl, reported that “multiple sources” had confirmed the Galaxy’s move to pry the striker away from Manchester United.

Pulisic replaces Reus for Dortmund against Benfica

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – Portugal midfielder Raphael Guerreiro was ruled out for Borussia Dortmund’s crunch last 16, second-leg tie at home to Benfica on Wednesday as Christian Pulisic replaced injured Germany star Marco Reus.

Dortmund are looking to overturn a 1-0 defeat from the first-leg when Kostas Mitroglou scored Benfica’s winner.

‘MSN’ lead Barca rescue mission against PSG

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona boss Luis Enrique put his faith in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to produce a historic Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in what could be his last European game in charge on Wednesday.

Barca need to do what no side has ever done in the Champions League by overturning a 4-0 first-leg deficit, to make the quarter-finals for a 10th straight season.

Bremen captain Fritz to miss rest of season

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Berlin (AFP) – Werder Bremen were dealt a blow Wednesday in their battle to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga as club captain Clemens Fritz was ruled out injured for the rest of the season.

The 36-year-old ex-Germany international has undergone surgery on his right ankle after being injured in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Darmstadt.

Mings gets five-game ban for Ibrahimovic stamp

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London (AFP) – Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings has been given a five-match ban for stamping on the head of Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Football Association said on Wednesday.

Bournemouth said they were “extremely disappointed” with the decision, which they described as “extraordinary”.

Real Madrid pay respects at Kopa funeral

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Angers (France) (AFP) – Club president Florentino Perez led a Real Madrid delegation paying their last respects at the funeral of former French great Raymond Kopa on Wednesday.

Kopa died aged 85 last Friday. He won the European Cup with Madrid in 1957, 1958 and 1959.

Perez was accompanied by two of Kopa’s former teammates at Real, Jose Santamaria and Pachin.

Arsenal must stop ‘fighting each other’ – Walcott

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London (AFP) – Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has acknowledged the disharmony within the club’s ranks by declaring it is time for Arsene Wenger’s players to stop “fighting each other”.

Reports emerged last week that star player Alexis Sanchez had become involved in a blazing training-ground row with some of his team-mates.

Chapecoense savor win on international return

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Maracaibo (Venezuela) (AFP) – Brazilian football team Chapecoense on Wednesday promised more surprises after an emotional 2-1 victory in their first international match since a plane crash wiped out their squad.

The side’s new team, rebuilt with 22 new signings since last November’s crash, surprised the crowds with their quality in beating Zulia FC of Venezuela in the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday night.

Mourinho slams Rostov pitch for Europa League tie

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Rostov-on-Don (Russia) (AFP) – Coach Jose Mourinho slammed the state of the Rostov pitch on Wednesday ahead of Manchester United’s Europa League tie in Russia, questioning whether the game should go ahead.

“It’s still hard for me to believe that we are going to play,” Mourinho said at a press conference in Rostov ahead of Thursday’s last 16, first leg.

Mourinho slams Rostov pitch for Europa tie

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Rostov-on-Don (Russia) (AFP) – Coach Jose Mourinho slammed the state of the Rostov pitch on Wednesday ahead of Manchester United’s Europa league tie, questioning whether the game should go ahead.

“It’s still hard for me to believe that we are going to play,” Mourinho said at a press conference in Rostov ahead of Thursday’s last-16 tie.

Australia keep faith with Cahill for World Cup qualifiers

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Sydney (AFP) – Australia coach Ange Postecoglou kept faith with team talisman Tim Cahill Wednesday by including the veteran in his squad for two pivotal World Cup qualifiers despite a lack of match practice.

The 36-year-old record scorer now plays for Melbourne City after 18 years abroad but has been unable to string together a series of games due to suspension and not being picked.

FOX Sports fakes soccer announcers being at Champions League games

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FOX Sports is faking their soccer announcers being at stadiums in England during UEFA Champions League broadcasts.

For the second Champions League gameweek in a row, the US broadcaster has gone to elaborate measures to trick viewers into thinking that their announcers are in the stadium when they are, in fact, in a studio in California.

No Rooney, no goals, Manchester United seek European salvation in Russia

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Rostov-on-Don (Russia) (AFP) – With no Wayne Rooney and a squad looking for confidence, Manchester United head for the uneven Olimp-2 stadium surface to take on Rostov on Thursday and keep alive hopes of becoming one of the few teams to have won all three European cups.

United fans have been told not to wear their team’s red colours in the Russian city to avoid re-igniting hooligan violence and Rostov coach Ivan Daniliants promised a “classy performance” against the illustrious English side.

France rout US women to lift She Believes Cup

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Washington (AFP) – Camille Abily scored twice as France stunned world champions the United States 3-0 to win the She Believes Cup four-nation tournament.

Needing only a draw to win the round-robin competition, France got off to a dream start when Abily stroked her first goal home from the penalty spot at RFK Stadium after only eight minutes.

Pressure mounts as Wenger mulls Arsenal future

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger is under unprecedented pressure to end his storied 21-year tenure as Arsenal manager following their humiliating 10-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Tuesday’s abject 5-1 defeat in the second leg was preceded by a fan protest and ended in front of swathes of empty red seats at the Emirates Stadium.

Germany down England in She Believes Cup

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Washington (AFP) – A first-half goal from Anja Mittag handed Germany a 1-0 victory over England in the final round of the She Believes quadrangular women’s football tournament in Washington on Tuesday.

Mittag bundled home the winner in the 44th minute at RFK Stadium as Germany secured their first win following a draw with France and defeat against the United States in their opening games last week.

Bayern blitz leaves Wenger with nowhere to hide

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London (AFP) – Bayern Munich condemned Arsene Wenger to more humiliation as 10-man Arsenal were eliminated from the Champions League with a crushing 5-1 defeat amid furious protests against the beleaguered Gunners boss on Tuesday.

Aiming to stage an incredible recovery from a 5-1 first leg deficit, Wenger’s side briefly looked capable of a famous escape act when Theo Walcott opened the scoring in the first half at the Emirates Stadium.

Ramos, Morata strike as Real crush Napoli hopes

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Captain Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Morata struck one apiece as 11-time winners Real Madrid secured a seventh successive Champions League quarter-final berth with a clinical 3-1 win over Napoli on Tuesday.

Real, who took a commanding 3-1 first leg lead at the Santiago Bernabeu last month, looked to be facing a tough night in Naples after Dries Mertens finished off a great attacking move to give the hosts a 24th minute lead.

Real Madrid oust Napoli to reach Champions League quarters

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Dries Mertens scored at both ends as Real Madrid beat Napoli 3-1 at the San Paolo to cruise into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 6-2 aggregate success.

Belgian Mertens had given Napoli a 24th minute lead to halve the 3-1 deficit they had suffered in the last 16 first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu three weeks ago.

Inter president brushes off Asiad graft claims

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan president Erick Thohir has confirmed he is collaborating with Indonesian anti-corruption authorities but brushed off allegations of graft in relation to the awarding of the 2018 Asian Games.

Reports on Tuesday claimed Thohir, a former majority owner of Serie A giants Inter and the current president of the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI), was being investigated along with three other Indonesian officials.

Mexico, Jamaica drawn together in Gold Cup

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San Francisco (AFP) – Jamaica will get the chance to avenge their 2015 Gold Cup final defeat to Mexico after being drawn Tuesday in the same group as the holders for this year’s edition.

The Jamaicans were surprise finalists at the last tournament, upsetting the United States 2-1 in the semi-finals before eventually losing 3-1 to Mexico in the final.

Barcelona can hit PSG for six, says Enrique

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Barcelona (AFP) – Outgoing Barcelona boss Luis Enrique claimed his side have the firepower to stick six goals past Paris Saint-Germain as they attempt to make Champions League history by overturning a 4-0 first-leg deficit on Wednesday.

“If they can score four goals against us, we can score six.

Disgraced UK coach facing eight more child abuse charges

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London (AFP) – A former youth coach at the heart of a child-sex scandal roiling English football has been charged with eight more counts of historical abuse, British prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Barry Bennell will appear in court in northwest England via video link on Monday to face the charges, which relate to two victims and are alleged to have taken place between 1980 and 1987.

UK coach Bennell facing eight more child abuse charges

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London (AFP) – Former football coach Barry Bennell has been charged with eight fresh counts of non-recent child sexual abuse, England’s Crown Prosecution Service announced Tuesday.

The 63-year-old is due to appear at South Cheshire Magistrates’ Court in northwest England via video-link on March 13 to face the charges, which relate to two victims and are alleged to have taken place between 1980 and 1987.

Dortmund out to add to Benfica’s Germany misery

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Berlin (AFP) – Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos says Borussia Dortmund must improve ‘300 percent’ in Wednesday’s Champions League showdown in their bid to reach the quarter-finals and add to Benfica’s miserable record in Germany.

Benfica arrive in Dortmund for the last 16, second-leg, clash holding a precious 1-0 lead after Konstantinos Mitroglou’s winning goal in the first-leg win in Lisbon.

Guardiola laments expense of English players

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has indicated he will look to Europe and beyond for new Manchester City players this summer because English talent costs too much.

Guardiola has signed eight players since becoming City’s manager last July but only one was produced in England, reflecting a larger issue in the Premier League - the small pool of homegrown players.

Maradona mural celebrates Naples ‘Saint Diego’

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Diego Maradona fans have another reason to make a pilgrimage to Naples: a new mural of the Argentine legend has gone up to mark 30 years since he led local club Napoli to its first Italian title.

Painted by artist Jorit Agoch, the giant, head-and-shoulders depiction of a middle-aged Maradona with grey-flecked hair and beard adorns the side of a building in San Giovanni Teduccio, a tough neighbourhood known locally as “The Bronx”.

Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic banned for three games

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London (AFP) – Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea after accepting a charge of violent conduct and an immediate three-match ban, England’s Football Association said Tuesday.

Both Ibrahimovic and Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings were charged on Monday following two incidents in Saturday’s bad-tempered 1-1 Premier League draw.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit with three match ban for violent conduct

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London (AFP) – Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea after accepting a charge of violent conduct and an immediate three-match ban, England’s Football Association said Tuesday.

As well as Monday’s FA Cup clash, the 35-year-old Ibrahimovic - United’s leading scorer this season with 26 goals - will also miss the Premier Leage matches against Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion.

Man Utd’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets three-match ban, misses Chelsea clash

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London (AFP) – Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea after accepting a charge of violent conduct and an immediate three-match ban, England’s Football Association said.

The 35-year-old, United’s leading scorer this season with 26 goals, will also miss the Premier League matches against Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion, dealing a significant blow to United’s hopes of snatching a top-four place and a Champions League spot.

Manchester United fans told don’t wear club colours in Russia

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London (AFP) – Manchester United warned supporters travelling to Rostov for Thursday’s Europa League tie not to wear club colours or travel alone while in the Russian city, which will host World Cup matches.

The advice comes after England and Russia supporters were involved in violent clashes during last year’s European Championships in France and Russian hooligans have said they will target English fans at the 2018 World Cup.

Barcelona can hit PSG for six, says boss Luis Enrique

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Barcelona (AFP) – Outgoing Barcelona boss Luis Enrique claimed his side have the firepower to stick six goals past Paris Saint-Germain as they attempt to make Champions League history by overturning a 4-0 first leg deficit on Wednesday.

“If they can score four goals against us, we can score six,” said Enrique on Tuesday.

Belief can spur Manchester City on to repeat 2014 Premier League win: Toure

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Yaya Toure says making up the ground on Chelsea to win the Premier League title is not beyond his club Manchester City if they retain belief in themselves as they did in 2014.

The 33-year-old Ivory Coast midfielder - who has battled his way back into favour with City manager Pep Guardiola after a public spat with his agent and the Spanish coach earlier this season - concedes the 11 point difference will be tough to overhaul.

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

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

In the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 game, Bayern Munich demolished the Gunners 5-1 in Germany. But don’t count Arsenal out yet. Arsene Wenger’s team have been known to bounce back in the second legs even this one looks almost insurmountable.

Kante confounds Conte as Chelsea sink West Ham

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte joked he is struggling to find ways to improve N’Golo Kante after the France midfielder starred in his side’s 2-1 win at West Ham United.

Kante’s interception laid the foundation stone for Eden Hazard’s 25th-minute opener at London Stadium on Monday and he harried his opponents from first minute to last.

Review of 2017 MLS opening weekend TV coverage

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The opening weekend of MLS featured two new clubs and a new stadium.

The action opened Friday night as Portland hosted new entrant Minnesota United FC, a team that has spent the last six seasons in the second-division NASL. FOX Sports was broadcasting the match and did a wonderful job of capturing the atmosphere in Portland, which is arguably the best in North America.

Barcelona believe in Champions League PSG ‘miracle’ mission

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Barcelona (AFP) – Three weeks on from suffering a 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona still believe that a Champions League “miracle” is possible at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Since that fateful night in Paris, Barcelona have regained both leadership of La Liga and their confidence ahead of the last 16, second leg.

Emery’s PSG battle tactics make some in Spain happy

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Fuenterrabia (Spain) (AFP) – A proud Basque, Unai Emery takes part every year in his home town’s commemorations of a famous victory over the French, but on Wednesday he will be very much in the French camp.

The Spanish coach’s Paris Saint-Germain take on Barcelona in the Champions League with an unbelievable 4-0 lead after Emery’s battle tactics pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the competition in the last 16, first leg.

The rise of Dortmund’s ‘wunderkind’ Dembele

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Dortmund (Germany) (AFP) – With Germany winger Marco Reus injured, French ‘wunderkind’ Ousmane Dembele will look to shine as Borussia Dortmund bid to overturn a first leg deficit against Benfica in the Champions League.

Dortmund host Benfica at their Westfalenstadion home in the last 16 second-leg on Wednesday looking to overturn a 1-0 defeat in Portugal three weeks ago.

Where to find Napoli vs. Real Madrid on US TV and streaming

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

In the first leg between Real Madrid and Napoli, the Spanish team won 3-1. The Napoli coach thinks the Italian club has a 3% chance of advancing to the next round, but the mind tricks may not be enough to beat Real Madrid.

Where to find USA Women’s Team vs. France on TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch US Women’s National Team against France in the SheBelieves Cup, you’ve come to the right place.

USA’s chance of winning the 2017 SheBelieves Cup comes down to its last game of the tournament against France in Washington DC. Before Tuesday, the US Women’s National Team is in third place in the group.

Asia demands more World Cup places

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Nicosia (AFP) – Asia wants a significant increase in its allocation of places in the 48-nation 2026 World Cup, the head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) told AFP.

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said Asia was counting on a fair distribution of 2026 World Cup slots, demanding a rise from its four guaranteed places to reflect its economic power and the popularity of football there.

Sevilla pay for Rico error in Alaves draw

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Madrid (AFP) – A howler from goalkeeper Sergio Rico cost Sevilla the chance to close to within two points of La Liga leaders Barcelona in a 1-1 draw at Alaves on Monday.

Wissam Ben Yedder drilled home into the far corner to put the visitors in front with the only clear chance of the first-half.

Hazard and Costa restore Chelsea’s 10-point lead

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London (AFP) – Eden Hazard’s dazzling goal inspired Chelsea to a 2-1 victory at West Ham United on Monday as Antonio Conte’s side restored their 10-point advantage in the Premier League.

Hazard finished off a lightning counter-attack in the 25th minute and Diego Costa’s 49th league goal for Chelsea rubber-stamped victory before Manuel Lanzini belatedly replied in stoppage time.

MLS opener between Portland-Minnesota scores disappointing TV ratings on FS1

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The opening game of the 2017 MLS season between Portland Timbers and Minnesota United scored a disappointing viewing audience of 235,000 across FS1 and FOX Deportes combined, according to Sports TV Ratings.

The game ended in a 5-1 scoreline to the Timbers on a rainy night in Oregon.

Rapinoe to respect new US anthem rules

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Los Angeles (AFP) – United States women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe said Monday she will abide by a new policy which orders players to stand during the playing of the US national anthem.

Rapinoe, 31, has kneeled during pre-match renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” in recent months in a gesture of solidarity to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

No let up from Real Madrid, Zidane warns Napoli

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Zinedine Zidane has warned Napoli there will be no let up for 90 minutes when Real Madrid look to seal their seventh successive qualification for the Champions League quarter-finals.

After a 3-1 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu last month, Napoli host the 11-time European champions Tuesday dreaming of causing a major upset and securing their first berth in the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition.

Tragic Chapecoense back to international action

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Maracaibo (Venezuela) (AFP) – Brazilian football team Chapecoense landed in Venezuela on Monday ahead of their first international fixture since a plane crash wiped out their team.

The side had to rebuild virtually from scratch after the crash killed 19 of their players and staff in November, turning a fairytale rise into a nightmare.

Ancelotti warns Bayern to beware wounded Arsenal

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London (AFP) – Carlo Ancelotti has warned Bayern Munich to guard against an Arsenal backlash as the Italian coach looks to avoid another stunning Champions League meltdown.

Ancelotti’s side will arrive at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday with one foot firmly planted in the quarter-finals after thrashing Arsenal 5-1 in the last 16 first leg.

MLS opening weekend average attendance declines 4% compared to last season

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Photo credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The average attendance from the opening weekend of the 2017 MLS season was 25,156, which represented a 3.8% decline compared to the 2016 MLS opening weekend average of 26,152.

The difference can be attributed to Seattle Sounders being on the road this season while they were at home for week 1 in 2016.

Under-fire Wenger rallies troubled Arsenal

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London Colney (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsene Wenger dismissed reports of an Arsenal bust-up involving star forward Alexis Sanchez and attempted to rally his men on Monday, the eve of their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.

But captain Per Mertesacker admitted to tension in the dressing room and said his struggling team haven’t shown enough fight, as they seek to pull off the improbable and overturn a 5-1 first-leg deficit.

Olympiakos sack coach Bento despite topping table

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Piraeus (Greece) (AFP) – Portugal’s Paulo Bento on Monday became the third coach to be sacked this season by Greek champions Olympiakos despite being top of the league.

Coming off their third straight Super League defeat just 24 hours earlier, the club said that under-20 coach Vasilis Vouzas will take over on an interim basis.

England’s FA proposes diversity reforms

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London (AFP) – England’s Football Association announced plans to appoint more female and black and minority ethnic (BAME) members on Monday as part of a shake-up to make the organisation more diverse.

British sports minister Tracey Crouch has given the FA until April to overhaul its governance structures or risk losing around £30 million ($36.

Italian Materazzi leaves ISL’s Chennaiyin FC

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New Delhi (AFP) – Italian football superstar Marco Materazzi will leave Chennaiyin FC after three seasons coaching the championship-winning team, the Indian club said Monday.

Materazzi led Chennaiyin FC to victory in their second season and is the most successful coach in the Indian Super League’s (ISL) short history.

beIN SPORTS to debut new set for The Xtra, their daily sports show

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Beginning today, beIN SPORTS’ daily show The Xtra will feature a brand-new set.

Over the weekend, beIN SPORTS talent were testing out the new shots of what appears to be a completely new look to their TV broadcast. The Xtra airs Mondays through Friday at 7pm ET, and is hosted by Kevin Egan.

Our chances against Real? Three percent – Napoli coach

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Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri says the Italians have little chance of overturning a 3-1 first-leg deficit to Real Madrid in the Champions League, claiming they are “almost impossible” to beat.

“It’s an almost impossible game for us because they score all the time,” Sarri told media at Napoli’s training ground a day ahead of Tuesday’s last-16 clash at the San Paolo, estimating his side’s chances of success “three percent”.

Leverkusen appoint Korkut until end of season

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayer Leverkusen on Monday named former Hannover and Kaiserslautern coach Tayfun Korkut as manager until the end of the season after the weekend sacking of Roger Schmidt.

Former Turkish international Korkut, 42, has been tasked with steadying the ship at Leverkusen following a wretched recent run which culminated in Saturday’s 6-2 Bundesliga thrashing at Borussia Dortmund and saw Schmidt fired the next day.

Ibrahimovic, Mings charged over Old Trafford clash

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London (AFP) – Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings were charged with violent conduct on Monday over two incidents in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

Mings appeared to deliberately stamp on Ibrahimovic’s head as he jumped over him late in the first half at Old Trafford and the Swedish striker seemed to retaliate moments later by elbowing the defender in the head.

Mertesacker admits tension in Arsenal squad

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London Colney (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker admitted to tension in the dressing room on Monday and said his struggling team haven’t shown enough fight, on the eve of their Champions League mission impossible.

Arsene Wenger’s side crashed to a third defeat in their last four Premier League games on Saturday as Liverpool beat them 3-1 at Anfield and the Arsenal manager has had to dismiss reports of a training-ground bust-up involving star forward Alexis Sanchez.

Ronaldo, Bale back for Champions League clash

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale were named Monday in Real Madrid’s Champions League squad for the last-16 second-leg tie against Napoli after missing the weekend win over Eibar.

Four-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo was sidelined with an injury which coach Zinedine Zidane described as “nothing serious”.

Arsenal’s Ozil to miss Bayern clash with illness

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London Colney (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil will miss Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Bayern Munich after illness, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said.

Ozil was absent from Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Saturday and although the German star has returned to training, Wenger doesn’t believe he is ready to face Bayern.

10 things we learned from MLS gameweek 1 of the 2017 season

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Photo credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the ten things we learned from Week 1 of the 2017 MLS season.

1. Plenty To Be Excited About as MLS’ 22nd Season Kicks Off

MLS’ 22nd season kicked off on Friday night in Portland, and its opening weekend included the debuts of two new teams, the opening of a gorgeous new stadium in Orlando, and a crowd of 55,000 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium to greet Atlanta United.

New 60,000-seat Chelsea stadium takes major step nearer

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London (AFP) – Chelsea’s plans to build a new £500 million ($610mn, 580mn euros) 60,000-seat stadium cleared another major hurdle on Monday when they received approval from London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“London is one of the world’s greatest sporting cities and I’m delighted that we will soon add Chelsea’s new stadium to the already fantastic array of sporting arenas in the capital,” Khan said in a statement.

Arsenal’s Sanchez dropped after training bust-up: reports

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s seemingly extraordinary decision to drop Alexis Sanchez before Saturday’s defeat at Liverpool was the result of a training ground row, British media reported Sunday.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Sanchez walked out of training and was involved in a bust-up with angry team-mates days before the match.

Barcelona seek miracle as Bayern, Real eye Champions League quarters

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Paris (AFP) – Barcelona striker Neymar vowed his side will throw everything at Paris Saint-Germain in their bid to overturn a four-goal deficit in the Champions League last 16 this week.

PSG fired a significant warning of intent throughout Europe with a 4-0 rout of Barca in the French capital three weeks ago and will aim to complete the job in the return leg at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Reina out to stop old Premier League foe Ronaldo

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Milan (AFP) – If Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina reproduces the kind of form that was key to Saturday’s 2-1 win over Roma against Real Madrid in midweek, a Champions League upset could be on the cards.

But the former Barcelona and Liverpool shot-stopper would be forgiven for also hoping Cristiano Ronaldo forgets his shooting boots Tuesday when Napoli bid to overturn a 3-1 first leg, last 16 defeat against the 11-time European champions.

Champions League woes will haunt embattled Wenger

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London (AFP) – Radiating anger and resignation in equal measure, Arsene Wenger wore the exasperated expression that has become all too familiar to Arsenal followers during their club’s futile attempts to conquer Europe.

Wenger’s frustrated demeanour on the touchline at the Allianz Arena last month was provoked by the sight of Arsenal being outclassed by Bayern Munich - again - in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Orlando open new football stadium with win but Kaka injured

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Miami (AFP) – Cyle Larin’s header in the 15th minute was enough to let Orlando City SC open their new stadium with a 1-0 victory over New York City FC Sunday on Major League Soccer’s opening weekend.

It wasn’t all good news for Orlando, however, as Larin’s header came minutes after Brazilian veteran Kaka limped off with a left hamstring injury.

Algeria women footballers wave red card at stigma

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Algiers (AFP) – When Fathia was seven years old, she would wait each day for classes to end, throw down her schoolbag and rush to play football with the boys from her neighbourhood.

Now in her twenties, Algerian international Fathia plays for all-female club Afak Relizane, where love for “the beautiful game” has trumped gender stereotypes and even militant threats in the conservative yet football-mad North African nation.

Red Bulls spoil Atlanta United MLS debut with 2-1 win

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Miami (AFP) – The New York Red Bulls spoiled Atlanta United’s Major League Soccer bow as a Daniel Royer header and Anton Walkes own goal lifted them to a 2-1 win over the expansion club on Sunday.

Atlanta were off to a dream start in front of home fans in their first ever match, leading 1-0 thanks to Yamil Asad’s 25th-minute opener.

Carlos Tevez scores on Chinese Super League debut

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez scored on his Chinese Super League debut for Shanghai Shenhua as he started repaying wages that have reportedly made him the world’s best-paid player.

The former Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus striker struck from the penalty spot and had a hand in two others as Gus Poyet’s team beat Jiangsu Suning 4-0 on Sunday.

Jonathan Klinsmann named top U-20 goaltender

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Jonathan Klinsmann, the son of former US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, was named the top goaltender as the USA under-20 men’s national team won the North American regional championship tournament.

The Americans defeated Honduras 5-3 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 draw in Sunday’s final of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Under-20 Championship in Costa Rica.

Japan 50-yr-old striker Miura surpasses Stanley Matthews landmark

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Tokyo (AFP) – Twinkle-toed Japanese footballer Kazuyoshi Miura has racked up another astonishing landmark by eclipsing former England great Stanley Matthews in the record books with his second professional appearance since turning 50.

Miura, who last week became the first fiftysomething to grace the J-League, played in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against V-Varen Nagasaki at 50 years and seven days - two days older than Matthews was when he turned out for Stoke City against Fulham in 1965.

BT Sport pays £1.18 bn to renew Champions League TV deal

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London (AFP) – BT Sport has paid £1.18 billion ($1.45 billion, 1.36 billion euros) to retain exclusive rights to show Champions League and Europa League games in the United Kingdom, the broadcaster announced on Monday.

The new contract, valid from 2018 to 2021, is worth £394 million per year, a significant increase on its current £299-million-per-year deal.

Japan oldie Miura surpasses Stanley Matthews record

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Tokyo (AFP) – Twinkle-toed Japanese footballer Kazuyoshi Miura has racked up another astonishing landmark by eclipsing former England great Stanley Matthews in the record books with his second professional appearance since turning 50.

Miura, who last week became the first fiftysomething to grace the J-League, played in Yokohama FC’s 1-1 draw against V-Varen Nagasaki on Sunday at 50 years and seven days - two days older than Matthews was when he turned out for Stoke City against Fulham in 1965.

Malaysia bans national team from N. Korea match

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Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Malaysia has banned its football team from playing an Asian Cup match in Pyongyang citing security threats as diplomatic relations between the two countries soured dramatically after the killing of Kim Jong-Nam, officials said Monday.

Kim, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, was poisoned with the deadly nerve agent VX in a brazen Cold War-style assassination in Kuala Lumpur Airport last month.

Alexis Sanchez trains after Arsenal bust-up reports

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London Colney (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez shook hands with manager Arsene Wenger as he reported for training on Monday following reports of a training-ground bust-up.

Sanchez, 28, was reported to have stormed off the training pitch last week before becoming involved in an angry confrontation with his team-mates.

Alexis Sanchez bust-up reports ‘completely false’ – Wenger

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London Colney (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on Monday dismissed reports of a training-ground bust-up involving star forward Alexis Sanchez as “completely false”.

Sanchez, 28, was reported to have stormed off the training pitch last week before becoming involved in an angry confrontation with his team-mates.

Celtic face Rangers in Scottish Cup semi-finals

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Glasgow (AFP) – Arch-rivals Celtic and Rangers will meet in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup next month, with holders Hibernian drawn against Aberdeen.

Celtic, the Scottish champions-elect, have already beaten fellow Glasgow giants Rangers three times this season but lost to them in an Old Firm clash at the same stage of the Scottish Cup last term, with the Gers then in the second-tier Championship.

Mbappe torments Nantes to restore Monaco lead

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Paris (AFP) – Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe punished Nantes with a first-half brace as Monaco strolled to a 4-0 victory on Sunday to rebuild their three-point cushion at the top of Ligue 1.

Mbappe volleyed in the opener at the Stade Louis II with just four minutes gone and headed in his second in first-half stoppage time after Valere Germain had doubled Monaco’s lead.

United target Lindelof extends Benfica deal

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Lisbon (AFP) – Swedish defender Victor Lindelof, who was strongly linked with a move to Manchester United in January, has signed a new contract with Benfica until 2021, the club revealed on Sunday.

The 22-year-old agreed a one-year extension to his previous deal, while Argentine centre-back Lisandro Lopez penned a three-year extension to his contract that was due to expire at the end of next season.

Freiburg pull off shock win at Frankfurt

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Berlin (AFP) – Striker Florian Niederlechner netted both of Freiburg’s goals in their shock 2-1 comeback win at Bundesliga high-fliers Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday to leave them just outside the top six.

Eintracht crashed to only their second defeat at home this season despite taking an early lead when Sweden striker Branimir Hrgota converted their first chance on 11 minutes.

Aguero on target as Man City go third

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Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Sergio Aguero’s 23rd goal of the season helped Manchester City reclaim third place in the Premier League thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win at struggling Sunderland on Sunday.

A fifth goal in three games from the in-form Argentina international, whose future at the club has been clouded by the recent impact of the now injured Gabriel Jesus, paved the way for City’s seventh victory in eight unbeaten games.

Hooliganism should be a sport, says top Russian lawmaker

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Moscow (AFP) – Football hooliganism should be recognised as a sport with a set of written rules, said a top Russian politician Sunday who even described violent fans as “cordial supporters”.

Igor Lebedev, the deputy speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, and a member of the executive board of the Russian Football Union (RFU), says his country could even be a pioneer in the new “sport”.

Bonucci saves Juve blushes in rare league draw

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Milan (AFP) – Leonardo Bonucci’s second-half leveller saved Juventus’s blushes a day after Roma virtually conceded the title as the champions were held to their first Serie A draw in over a year at Udinese.

Juventus, aiming for a record sixth consecutive scudetto, were given a push in the right direction on Saturday when Roma’s 2-1 home defeat to Napoli gave the Turin giants the chance to pull 10 points clear.

Torres watches as Griezmann lifts Atletico to 4th

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Madrid (AFP) – A smiling Fernando Torres watched just four days on from a sickening blow to the head as Antoine Griezmann struck twice in Atletico Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia on Sunday.

Torres, a lifelong Atletico fan, was knocked unconscious during his side’s 1-1 draw at Deportivo la Coruna on Thursday and spent the night in hospital, although thankfully suffered no serious injury.

Payet on target as Marseille hammer Lorient

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Paris (AFP) – Dimitri Payet struck as Marseille recovered from last week’s heavy defeat by arch rivals Paris Saint-Germain by thrashing bottom side Lorient 4-1 in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Centre-back Rolando headed Marseille into a sixth-minute lead in Brittany, while Payet grabbed the visitors’ second with a clever hooked finish midway through the first half.

Harry Kane double keeps Tottenham in title hunt

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane extended his hot streak with a blistering brace as Tottenham beat Everton 3-2 to close the gap on leaders Chelsea to seven points on Sunday.

Kane opened the scoring with a thunderous first-half strike at White Hart Lane and netted again after the break to take his goal tally to 24 in 28 games this season.

Leverkusen sack head coach Schmidt after Dortmund thrashing

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayer Leverkusen “regretfully” sacked coach Roger Schmidt - despite still being in the Champions League - following their humiliating 6-2 Bundesliga thrashing at Borussia Dortmund.

The 49-year-old is the ninth coach to be fired by a Bundesliga club this season.

Schmidt, who took charge in July 2014, was dismissed after three straight defeats in all competitions and with Leverkusen mired in mid-table.

Tatarusanu heroics help Fiorentina deny Atalanta

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Milan (AFP) – Goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu performed heroics as Fiorentina held on for a point in a thrilling scoreless draw at high-flying Atalanta on Sunday.

Sitting fourth in the table ahead of Inter Milan, Lazio and AC Milan, Atalanta have their fans dreaming of European football next season.

Copa Libertadores Group Stage games to be shown on FOX Soccer 2GO

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The Copa Libertadores enters its Group Stage starting March 7, and will be shown to viewers in the United States. But there’s good news and bad news.

First, the bad news is that with the release of its schedule for at least the first week of Group Stage, it is clear that FOX’s Spanish-language channel – FOX Deportes – will not have any coverage of the competition.

Mourinho laments United’s lack of cutting edge

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho fears Manchester United’s bid to qualify for the Champions League will fail because of their inability to kill off inferior opponents at Old Trafford.

United had most of the possession and chances against struggling Bournemouth on Saturday, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty miss forced them to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Conte wary of Carroll on return to West Ham

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte expects a searching examination when his side return to West Ham United’s London Stadium on Monday, scene of one of their four defeats this season.

Only Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have bested leaders Chelsea in the Premier League, but Conte’s men were knocked out of the League Cup by West Ham following a 2-1 loss in October.

Under-fire Wenger no regrets over Sanchez gamble

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Liverpool (AFP) – Arsene Wenger insisted he had no regrets at leaving Alexis Sanchez out of Arsenal’s starting line-up after his team’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.

The Arsenal manager, whose future at the Emirates is a subject of speculation, took the surprising decision to name Sanchez to the bench, bringing on the Chilean international at half-time.

England scores late to beat USA in SheBelieves Cup

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New York (AFP) – Ellen White’s 89th-minute strike lifted England to a 1-0 victory over the United States on Saturday in the SheBelieves Cup at Harrison, New Jersey.

In front of a sell-out crowd of 25,000 at Red Bull Arena, England’s well-orchestrated defense frustrated the reigning Women’s World Cup champions before White slotted home from close-range at the death.

Kanchelskis warns United of Rostov threat

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Rostov-on-Don (Russia) (AFP) – Former Manchester United winger Andrei Kanchelskis warned the Premier League giants against complacency in next week’s Europa League last 16 first-leg clash against unfancied Rostov.

Last year’s Russian league runners-up are competing in their first full season in Europe and claimed a stunning victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stages before dropping down into the Europa League.

Dynamo drop defending champion Sounders to open MLS season

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Los Angeles (AFP) – The Seattle Sounders’ defense of the Major League Soccer championship got off to a rocky start on Saturday as they fell 2-1 to the aggressive Houston Dynamo.

Houston, who finished last season at the bottom of the Western Conference, gave no quarter to the defending champions.

Pochettino on the rise as Tottenham aim high against Everton

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London (AFP) – After refusing to rule out a move to Barcelona, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has an opportunity to show why he is so highly regarded when his Premier League title chasers face Everton on Sunday.

Pochettino, who coached Barca’s city rivals Espanyol between 2009 and 2012, has emerged as one of the most respected young managers in Europe following his impressive work with Southampton and now Tottenham.

Berlusconi gives ‘extra-time’ to sluggish Chinese investors

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Milan (AFP) – AC Milan owner and president Silvio Berlusconi has backed giving the Chinese Sino-Europe Sports consortium “extra time” to complete the purchase of the Serie A giants following the latest delay in the takeover.

“They asked for some extra time and I don’t see what there is to worry about,” Berlusconi told Il Tempo newspaper in an interview to be published on Sunday.

Messi makes Barcelona believe, Benzema leads Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi dazzled with two goals and two assists as Barcelona thrashed Celta Vigo 5-0 in their first game since coach Luis Enrique announced he will leave at the end of the season.

Real Madrid remain just one point behind Barca at the top of La Liga and with a game in hand as Karim Benzema scored twice in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in a 4-1 win at Eibar.

US Soccer requires players to stand for anthem – reports

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Chicago (AFP) – US Soccer unveiled a new policy Saturday requiring players to stand during the national anthems during international matches - six months after Megan Rapinoe kneeled before a women’s friendly against Thailand.

The policy, reported by Fox Spors and ESPN, was approved last month by US Soccer’s board of directors and revealed at the US Soccer Federation annual general meeting in Hawaii.

Messi makes Barca believe, Benzema leads Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi dazzled with two goals and two assists as Barcelona thrashed Celta Vigo 5-0 in their first game since coach Luis Enrique announced he will leave at the end of the season.

Real Madrid remain just one point behind Barca at the top of La Liga and with a game in hand as Karim Benzema scored twice in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in a 4-1 win at Eibar.

Argentina strike spreads to 3rd, 4th divisions

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – A footballers’ strike which has paralysed the Argentine league spread to the third and fourth divisions on Saturday, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said.

Players are striking over unpaid wages despite a $22 million government payout to help solve the impasse.

Cavani drags Paris Saint-Germain past Nancy, Nice down Dijon

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Paris (AFP) – Edinson Cavani converted a late penalty as Paris Saint-Germain laboured to a 1-0 win over Nancy on Saturday, while Nice stayed firmly in the Ligue 1 title race after beating Dijon 1-0.

PSG endured a frustrating afternoon despite their domination at the Parc des Princes and survived a huge scare when Nancy substitute Alexis Busin’s shot struck both posts on 75 minutes.

Mertens brace conquers Roma, boosts Juventus title bid