World Cup Buzz Archives for January 2017

Zaza hat-trick fires five-star Valencia into third

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

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

Raffael double seals Gladbach’s home win

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

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

Neuer out until January after foot operation

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

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

Sakari Orava, the ‘Miracle Doctor’ to sports stars

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

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

FIFA bans Caribbean FA chief for six years

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

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

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

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

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

Koeman banks on Everton home comforts

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

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

Rio Ferdinand launches boxing career

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

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

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

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

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

Bernabeu boos can make Bale better – Zidane

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

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

Cologne change mind over controversial Dortmund goal protest

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

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

Barca shorten Dembele recovery time after operation

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

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

Neuer out until January after foot op – Bayern

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

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

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

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

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

Ronaldo back for Real Madrid, Deulofeu in for Dembele

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

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

Jedinak back for Australia’s World Cup play-off

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

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

Retired star footballer Rio Ferdinand to turn to boxing: report

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

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

Retired footballer Rio Ferdinand to turn to boxing: report

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

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

Ex-England footballer Ferdinand launches bid to become pro boxer

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

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

Golbang — the Twitter generation’s ‘beautiful game’

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

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

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

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

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

Ox was right to pick Liverpool, says Klopp

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

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

Man Utd fans urged to drop ‘racist’ Lukaku chant

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

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

Bayern’s Neuer out until January after foot operation

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

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

Retired star footballer Ferdinand to turn to boxing: report

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

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

Inter look to Icardi, Perisic to stay perfect at Bologna

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

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

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

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

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

Everton and Sunderland to raise money for Lowery Foundation

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

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

Liverpool’s Ox set for first start in League Cup

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

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

PSG win again but tensions simmer between Neymar, Cavani

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

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

MLS attendances through gameweek 28 of the 2017 season

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Photo credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

Barcelona’s Dembele to undergo surgery on Tuesday

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

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

Bayern sweat over new Neuer injury

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

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

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

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Photo credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

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

1. Toronto’s March Continues

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

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

Resurgent Schalke pose threat to Ancelotti’s Bayern

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

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

Barca’s Dembele to undergo surgery on Tuesday

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

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

Wolfsburg fire Jonker, hire Schmidt

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

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

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

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

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

Wolfsburg fire Andries Jonker, hire Martin Schmidt

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

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

Football: ‘Overweight’ Tevez symbol of Chinese largesse

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

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

Rooney arrives at court to face drink-driving charge

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

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

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

Wolfsburg fire head coach Andries Jonker

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

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

Goal-hungry Man City can still improve, warns Pep

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

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

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

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

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

PSG’s Kurzawa victim of video blackmail plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cologne set to protest over controversial VAR goal

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

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

Mourinho shrugs off Manchester City rivalry in title race

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

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

Wenger hails gritty Arsenal

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

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

Mbappe makes winning Parc des Princes debut

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

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

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

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

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

Contra named as new Romania coach: Romanian Football Federation

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

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

Bale strikes in vital Madrid win at Sociedad

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

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

Balotelli screamer fires Nice past Rennes

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

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

Dortmund crush Cologne amidst controversy

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

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

Five things we learned in Bundesliga

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

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

Aubameyang in a hurry as Dortmund crush Cologne

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

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

Former Everton star Lukaku ruins Rooney’s Manchester United return

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

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

Alaves sack Zubeldia after just four games

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

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

Juventus, Napoli maintain perfect Serie A records

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

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

Team-mates hail ‘goal machine’ Aguero

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

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

Lucky break sees Marseille bounce back

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

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

Carvajal extends Madrid deal to 2022

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

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

Hoffenheim draw keeps Hanover top of Bundesliga

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

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

Chelsea’s David Luiz sent off in Arsenal stalemate

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

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

Dybala hat-trick helps Juventus maintain perfect record

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

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

Record MLS crowd sees Atlanta-Orlando draw

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

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

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

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

Carlos Tevez climbed off the bench for the second half to score just his third Chinese Super League (CSL) goal, days after coach Wu Jingui said the forward was too overweight to play.

Pogba could be out for three months – report

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London (AFP) – French international Paul Pogba could be out of action for three months, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday, dealing a huge blow to Manchester United.

The hamstring injury suffered by the 24-year-old - an £89.3 million ($121 million, 105 million euros) signing from Juventus last year - after just 18 minutes in Tuesday’s Champions League match with Basel is worse than was thought originally according to a club source.

Redknapp accepts managerial career all but over

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London (AFP) – Harry Redknapp believes his sacking as manager of second-tier Birmingham City will finally bring the curtain down on his long career.

The 70-year-old Englishman - who numbers Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth among the clubs he has managed - left his post after just 13 games in charge following Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat by Preston North End.

Barcelona’s Dembele out for up to four months

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

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

Guardiola calls on Manchester City to celebrate ‘legend’ Aguero

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola wants Manchester City to pay tribute to Sergio Aguero when the Argentine “legend” becomes their record goalscorer.

Aguero grabbed a hat-trick in City’s 6-0 rout of Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday and stands just two goals behind Eric Brook’s all-time mark of 177 in the 1920s and 1930s.

Pochettino ignores talk of Wembley hoodoo

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says he is not worried that Tottenham’s Wembley woes will derail their Premier League title bid.

Tottenham have now failed to win any of their three league games at their new home following Saturday’s goalless draw with Swansea.

That followed on from a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea before being held by Burnley.

Defence still Liverpool’s Achilles heel, admits Klopp

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp admitted his Liverpool side must improve defensively after more problems at the back cost them two home points in a 1-1 Premier League draw with Burnley.

Liverpool dominated against Sean Dyche’s team but had to come from behind with Mohamed Salah rescuing a point for Klopp after mistakes had gifted Scott Arfield the opening goal for the visitors.

Revitalised Falcao hoping for World Cup ‘dream’

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

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

Inter Milan stay top, Roma on the move in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan sealed a fourth consecutive win in as many games to sit top of Serie A with a 2-0 victory at Crotone on Saturday as AS Roma eased past Verona 3-0.

The win in Calabria allowed Luciano Spalletti’s Inter to position themselves among the title challengers alongside champions Juventus and Napoli, who will also bid to make it four out of four on Sunday.

Griezmann saves Atletico blushes, Barcelona 7 clear of Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Antoine Griezmann ensured Malaga didn’t spoil Atletico Madrid’s moving in party at their new 68,000 Wanda Metropolitano stadium with the only goal in a 1-0 win on Saturday.

The French international, restored to the side after a two-game La Liga ban, swept home Angel Correa’s cross on the hour mark to move Atletico up to third in the table.

Griezmann saves Atletico Madrid blushes, Barcelona 7 clear of Real Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Antoine Griezmann ensured Malaga didn’t spoil Atletico Madrid’s moving in party at their new 68,000 Wanda Metropolitano stadium with the only goal in a 1-0 win on Saturday.

The French international, restored to the side after a two-game La Liga ban, swept home Angel Correa’s cross on the hour mark to move Atletico up to third in the table.

Hotspur stalemate adds to Wembley woes

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London (AFP) – Tottenham were held to a goalless draw by Swansea as Mauricio Pochettino saw his side’s Wembley woes continue on Saturday.

Pochettino’s team have now gone three Premier League games without a win at their temporary home after losing to Chelsea and drawing against Burnley and Swansea.

Paulinho moves Barcelona seven points clear of Madrid

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Madrid (AFP) – Paulinho scored his first Barcelona goal as the visitors came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Getafe on Saturday and open up a seven-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Barca were dealt a double blow before half-time as record signing Ousmane Dembele limped off with a hamstring injury, before Gaku Shibasaki’s sensational volley put Getafe in front.

England bowl against Windies, Brathwaite in 8,000 mile trip to play

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Chester-le-Street (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bowl against West Indies in the lone Twenty20 international at Chester-le-Street on Saturday as visiting skipper Carlos Brathwaite made an 8,000-mile round trip to play in his only match of the tour.

Stuttgart’s Gentner swallows tongue, saved by doctor

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Berlin (AFP) – Only the quick thinking of VfB Stuttgart’s team doctor rescued captain Christian Gentner, who swallowed his tongue in a horror clash in Saturday’s Bundesliga game against Wolfsburg.

Genter was left bloodied after Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels’ knee caught the midfielder on the head late in the 1-0 home victory.

Honours even as Leicester’s Vardy strikes

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Huddersfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jamie Vardy gave 2016 champions Leicester a much-needed point on Saturday as his penalty secured a 1-1 draw at newboys Huddersfield in their Premier League clash.

Vardy scored from the spot - as he had done in the 2-1 loss to Chelsea last weekend - just minutes after Belgian international Laurent Depoitre marked his full Premier League debut by giving the hosts a deserved lead in the opening minute of the second-half.

Liverpool held by stubborn Burnley

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp’s frustrating start to the season continued as Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley at Anfield on Saturday, despite Mohamed Salah’s fifth goal of the season.

The German made seven changes, including a first start of the campaign for Philippe Coutinho, to the side that was held at home 2-2 by Sevilla in the Champions League in midweek, but yet another defensive error cost Liverpool dearly against a Burnley team that has not won at Anfield in 43 years.

Falcao double gets Monaco back on track

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Paris (AFP) – Radamel Falcao grabbed a brace as French champions Monaco bounced back from last week’s thrashing by Nice with a 3-0 win over Strasbourg at the Stade Louis II on Saturday.

The hosts started slowly, but took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Rony Lopes’ first goal for the club.

Six-goal Manchester City go top, Liverpool held by Burnley

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London (AFP) – Manchester City stormed to the top of the Premier League as Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick inspired a 6-0 demolition of Watford, while Philippe Coutinho’s return couldn’t lift Liverpool in a 1-1 draw against Burnley on Saturday.

With previous leaders Manchester United not in action until Sunday’s clash with Everton, City had a chance to move three points clear of their title rivals.

Manchester City hit Watford for six as Aguero bags treble

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Watford (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A Sergio Aguero hat-trick helped Manchester City to record their highest victory under Pep Guardiola as they crushed Watford 6-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Aguero was in sublime form to help City move to the top of the Premier League and avoid a hangover from European success at Feyenoord in midweek.

Paulinho rescues Barcelona at Getafe

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Madrid (AFP) – Paulinho scored his first Barcelona goal six minutes from time as the Catalan giants came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Getafe on Saturday and open up a seven-point lead over Real Madrid.

Barca were dealt a double blow before half-time as record signing Ousmane Dembele limped off with a hamstring injury before Gaku Shibasaki’s sensational volley put Getafe in front.

Lewandowski scores twice in Bayern romp

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski netted twice on his 100th Bundesliga appearance for Bayern Munich who brushed off their internal strife with a 4-0 hammering of Mainz on Saturday.

Lewandowski has now netted 82 goals for Munich amidst reports he wants to join Real Madrid next season, but Bayern chairman Uli Hoeness laughed off the claim by Spanish newspaper AS.

Inter leave it late to stay top in Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan left it late before sealing a fourth consecutive win in as many games to sit top of Serie A with a 2-0 victory at Crotone on Saturday.

Luciano Spalletti’s side suffered in the heat of Calabria but late strikes from Milan Skriniar and Ivan Perisic put them top ahead of champions Juventus and Napoli - also looking for their fourth wins - who play on Sunday.

Palace make unwanted history as Davis ruins Hodgson’s debut

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London (AFP) – Roy Hodgson was unable to stop Crystal Palace hitting an historic low as Steven Davis sealed Southampton’s 1-0 win at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Former England boss Hodgson was taking charge of Palace for the first time following his appointment on Tuesday as successor to the sacked Frank De Boer.

Tevez scores but Shenhua thrashed in Shanghai derby

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Shanghai (AFP) – “Overweight” Carlos Tevez climbed off the bench and scored but could not prevent Shanghai Shenhua getting hammered 6-1 at rivals Shanghai SIPG on Saturday in China’s biggest derby.

The 33-year-old Argentine, among the best-paid players in the world on a reported $850,000 a week, was not expected to feature at all after new Shenhua boss Wu Jingui said in the week Tevez was overweight.

Arsenal’s Europa League run is all about confidence

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After a shaky start to their Europa League campaign, which included an hour long delay to the start of the match, the Gunners comfortably pushed aside FC Köln 3-1. The setback to the starting time of the game was due to crowd issues outside of the Emirates Stadium. While conflicting reports surfaced on just how much of the blame should be shouldered by traveling Köln fans, Arsenal did release a statement on the issue the subsequent day.

The time is right for Lukaku, says Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho backed Romelu Lukaku to shine against his former club as early Premier League pace-setters Manchester United host Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday.

United’s league record had been perfect until they were held to a 2-2 draw at Stoke last Saturday, although the disappointment of conceding twice was mitigated by the impressive scoring form of Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

Chelsea manager Conte eyes revenge over Arsenal

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has challenged Chelsea to avenge last season’s FA Cup final heartache when they face title rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Conte’s team were denied a memorable Premier League and FA Cup double after the champions crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Arsenal at Wembley in May.

Cisse 100% confident of Valbuena sex tape exoneration

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Paris (AFP) – France international Djibril Cisse insisted he’s done nothing wrong over the Mathieu Valbuena sex tape scandal in an interview published on Saturday.

The former Liverpool and Marseille striker told l’Equipe he was “one million percent” confident he will be exonerated of any wrongdoing.

Morata tells Chelsea fans to stop anti-Semitic chant

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London (AFP) – Alvaro Morata wants Chelsea fans to call a halt to chanting a song in his honour which includes anti-Semitic language.

The 24-year-old Spanish international striker - hoping to add to his three goals against Arsenal on Sunday - told the Daily Mail it did not set a good example to young children attending matches.

Ibrahimovic vows to return better than ever

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London (AFP) – Swedish football great Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he will surprise many by performing better for Manchester United than he did before suffering a serious knee injury earlier this year.

The 35-year-old veteran striker - who defied the critics in scoring 28 goals for United last season, including crucial goals in their Community Shield and League Cup victories - told ‘Inside United’ he had not let the ligament injury get him down.

Lukaku set Rooney target by Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has suggested that Romelu Lukaku will struggle to match Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United achievements, because the Premier League has become a much more demanding competition.

Lukaku has made an impressive start to his United career since arriving from Everton for £75million in July, a day after Rooney made the move in the opposite direction.

Mbappe not on Messi’s level yet, says Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola says new Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe has plenty to prove before he can be considered on the same level as the all-time greats after Arsene Wenger said he could be the next Pele.

The Arsenal manager heaped praise on the French teenager, who joined the Paris giants from Monaco in the transfer window, linking up with Brazilian superstar Neymar to form a frightening forward line.

Promoted Hanover top Bundesliga

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Berlin (AFP) – Promoted Hanover 96 went provisionally top of the German Bundesliga on Friday when a 2-0 win over Hamburg saw them climb above Dortmund and Hoffenheim.

Those three teams had been level on seven points going into the weekend where Dortmund play Cologne and Hoffenheim take on Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

Star striker Defoe fires Bournemouth to first win

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London (AFP) – Veteran striker Jermain Defoe scored the winner as Bournemouth came back from a goal down to defeat promoted Brighton 2-1 and claim their first Premier League victory of the season on Friday.

Solly March’s header gave Brighton a 55th-minute lead but Andrew Surman levelled 12 minutes later.

Cologne criticise security at Arsenal over chaos

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London (AFP) – Cologne criticised security arrangements at Arsenal on Friday after both clubs were charged by UEFA following chaotic scenes that marred their Europa League clash at the Emirates Stadium.

Visiting supporters were issued with around 3,000 tickets for Thursday’s Group H match but about 20,000 fans of the German club are believed to have made the journey to the British capital.

UEFA charges Arsenal, Cologne after fan chaos

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London (AFP) – European football chiefs charged Arsenal and Cologne on Friday after vast numbers of away fans gained access to the home sections of Emirates Stadium, sparking chaotic scenes that marred the Europa League clash.

Visiting supporters were issued with 3,000 tickets but around 20,000 fans of the German club are believed to have made the journey to the British capital.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for September 5-10, 2017

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Mexico’s September 5th draw away to Costa Rica drew 2.7 million viewers on Telemundo’s networks, beating out Mexico’s Confederations Cup Group Stage match against Portugal to become the most-watched soccer game on Telemundo in 2017. The United States’ match against Honduras drew a combined 531,000 viewers on beIN Sports and NBC Universo.

EPL commentator assignments on NBC Sports, Gameweek 5

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Everton forward Wayne Rooney returns to Old Trafford, home of his former club Manchester United, when the Toffees visit the Red Devils this Sunday, September 17, at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and Telemundo. Rooney, who spent 13 years at United, is the club’s all-time top scorer with 253 goals. He has scored both of Everton’s Premier League goals this season.

Juventus president risks suspension over ‘illegal’ ticket sales

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus president Andrea Agnelli could be banned for two and a half years after disciplinary proceedings began Friday into alleged ticket sales to ultras fan groups, some with links to organised crime.

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) prosecutor Giuseppe Pecoraro has requested a 30-month suspension and 50,000 euro ($59,000) fine against Agnelli, according to reports in the Italian media.

Coutinho ready for Liverpool start – Klopp

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London (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho is set to start his first Liverpool game since trying to engineer a move to Barcelona when the Reds take on Burnley on Saturday, according to his coach Jurgen Klopp.

The playmaker should be unleashed into the spot vacated by striker Sadio Mane, suspended after his sending off in their 5-0 drubbing by Man City last weekend, manager Klopp suggested on Friday.

Wenger still right man says ex-star Petit

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Paris (AFP) – Former Arsenal star Emmanuel Petit insists Arsene Wenger is still the right man to lead the Gunners but believes this season could be make or break for his old boss, he told AFP on Friday.

“Arsene is in the most difficult year of his career because of the lack of trophies,” said Petit of 67-year-old Wenger.

Pep challenges Yaya to win back City place

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has challenged Yaya Toure to win back his place in the Manchester City team after the veteran midfielder’s recent absence from the squad.

The Ivorian has not featured this season and was left out of the party that travelled to Rotterdam for the club’s impressive 4-0 win over Feyenoord in their opening Champions League group game on Wednesday.

Hodgson sets sights on Palace survival

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London (AFP) – New Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson said on Friday he is convinced the struggling club can survive in the Premier League despite a woeful start to the season that has left them rock-bottom.

The former England manager this week signed a two-year contract to succeed Frank de Boer after the Dutchman was sacked following defeats in all four league fixtures without a single goal.

‘Different Tevez’ in extra training to shed weight: Shanghai coach

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez has shown a better attitude and is doing extra training of his own will, the coach of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua said Friday, days after he called the Argentine overweight.

Wu Jingui, who took over this week after Gus Poyet quit on Monday, vowed that Chinese football would see “a different Tevez” from now on.

Man Utd can cope without Pogba, says Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says he has ample options in his Manchester United squad to cope without injured midfielder Paul Pogba as Wayne Rooney prepares to return to Old Trafford.

Pogba is widely expected to be out of action for between a month and six weeks after damaging his hamstring just 18 minutes into Tuesday’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Basel.

Kane ‘one of world’s best’ strikers, says Spurs boss

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane is already one of the world’s best strikers and does not need to win heaps of trophies to prove it, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said Friday.

Kane continued his rich vein of form on Wednesday by scoring twice against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, taking his tally to six goals in four matches for both club and country.

Conte warns Chelsea to avoid ref rage in Arsenal clash

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte has warned his Chelsea stars to keep their cool as they bid to avoid more red card misery against Arsenal on Sunday.

Conte’s side have lost their past two meetings with Arsenal in the FA Cup final and the Community Shield after having a player sent off in each encounter.

Conte wants Chelsea to play on after London Underground attack

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte says Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Arsenal should go ahead on Sunday despite an explosive device being detonated on a tube train near the club’s west London stadium.

At least 22 people were injured after a bomb exploded on a packed London Underground train during the morning rush hour on Friday in what police are treating as a “terrorist incident”.

Real Madrid post higher revenues but profits drop

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid’s revenue grew by almost nine percent last season to 674.6 million euros ($897.2 million), the European champions said on Friday.

The results for the 2016/17 financial year, which Real said were without taking into account capital gains from player transfers, were up 8.

Bayern out to silence critics as Bundesliga returns

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Berlin (AFP) – Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich will be looking to silence their critics with victory over Mainz in the Bundesliga this Saturday.

A 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in the Champions League on Tuesday was overshadowed by reports of internal disharmony in Munich. The German media have reported growing discord between coach Ancelotti and leading players such as Thomas Mueller, Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski.

Arsenal’s Wenger pondered new date prior to stormy Cologne win

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed he was contemplating a re-arranged fixture after the Gunners beat Cologne 3-1 in a Europa League opener marred by crowd trouble at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

The Group H fixture kicked off an hour late following chaotic scenes inside and outside north London club Arsenal’s home ground.

Atletico seek home comforts in new stadium debut

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid begin a fresh era on Saturday when their new 310 million-euro ($370 million) home opens with the visit of Malaga to the Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Simeone’s side have been forced to play their first four games of the season away as the finishing touches were made to the 68,000-capacity venue, nearly 20 kilometres north-east from their old Vicente Calderon stadium.

Bruised Juventus, Napoli seek Serie A lift

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Milan (AFP) – Battered Italian heavyweights Juventus and Napoli turn their focus back to the home comforts of Serie A this weekend after opening-round flops in the Champions League.

Juventus fell 3-0 in Barcelona with Napoli suffering a 2-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. Roma’s goalless draw to Atletico Madrid left Serie A sides with just one point between them from the first round of games in the elite European competition.

Arsenal investigating how away fans got into home section

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London (AFP) – Arsenal said Friday they were investigating how vast numbers of away fans gained access to the home sections of Emirates Stadium for their clash with Cologne, sparking ugly scenes that marred the Europa League clash.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he had been preparing for a postponement at the north London ground, describing the decision to play the game as a “gamble”.

Giggs tips Barry to reach 700 Premier League appearances

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London (AFP) – Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has tipped Gareth Barry to reach 700 Premier League appearances, with the former England midfielder on the brink of matching the Welshman’s all-time record.

Barry is set to equal Giggs’s record of 632 games when West Brom host West Ham on Saturday.

UEFA charges Arsenal, Cologne after fan chaos at Europa League match

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London (AFP) – European football chiefs charged Arsenal and Cologne on Friday after vast numbers of away fans gained access to the home sections of Emirates Stadium, sparking chaotic scenes that marred the Europa League clash.

Visiting fans were issued with 3,000 tickets but around 20,000 fans of the German club are believed to have made the journey to the British capital.

Karius relishing Liverpool goalkeeper battle

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius has said he has no qualms battling for his place with Simon Mignolet as part of Reds manager Jurgen Klopp’s rotation policy.

Karius started Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Sevilla in the Champions League on Wednesday ahead of Belgium international Mignolet.

PSG’s ‘MCN’ turn focus back to domestic action

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain and their fearsome attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani host Lyon on Sunday looking to make it six successive wins to kick off the Ligue 1 season.

The expensively-assembled frontline, dubbed ‘MCN’, starred in PSG’s 5-0 humbling of Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday, in a match where they were irresistible for long periods.

Arsenal win delayed Europa League clash as Everton humbled

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Paris (AFP) – Alexis Sanchez scored a stunning goal as Arsenal came from behind to beat Cologne 3-1 in a Europa League clash on Thursday that was delayed for an hour due to crowd trouble.

Kick-off in the Group H opener at the Emirates Stadium was put back until 9:05pm local time (2005 GMT) in the interests of “crowd safety” after problems caused by thousands of ticketless Cologne supporters arriving at the ground.

Arrests made as Arsenal-Cologne kicks off despite crowd trouble

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London (AFP) – Arsenal’s Europa League encounter with Cologne finally got underway an hour late on Thursday despite police making arrests after dealing with “disorder” at the Emirates Stadium as German fans occupied home sections of the ground.

Thousands of ticketless supporters of German club Cologne arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground for the Group H opener, with kick-off delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”.

Arsenal-Cologne clash kicks off despite crowd trouble

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London (AFP) – Arsenal’s Europa League encounter with Cologne finally got underway an hour late on Thursday despite police dealing with “disorder” at the Emirates Stadium as German fans occupied home sections of the ground.

Thousands of ticketless supporters of German club Cologne arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground for the Group H opener, with kick-off delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”.

Crowd ‘disorder’ as Arsenal-Cologne kick-off delayed

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London (AFP) – Police said they were dealing with “disorder” at the Emirates Stadium after kick-off in the Europa League match between Arsenal and Cologne in London had been delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”.

Thousands of ticketless fans of the German club arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground as police and stewards tried to ease the congestion in the surrounding streets.

Everton humbled in Europa League, AC Milan win big

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Paris (AFP) – Everton’s Europa League group-stage campaign got off to a disastrous start on Thursday as Ronald Koeman’s side were taken apart in Italy, losing 3-0 to Atalanta.

The Serie A club - back in Europe after a 26-year absence - were forced to entertain their English visitors in Reggio Emilia, a two-hour drive south of their base in Bergamo, because their own stadium does not have a licence for European games.

‘Crowd safety’ delays Arsenal-Cologne kick-off

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London (AFP) – Kick-off in the Europa League match between Arsenal and Cologne at the Emirates Stadium in London on Thursday has been delayed by an hour in the interests of “crowd safety”, the Premier League club announced.

Thousands of ticketless fans of German club Cologne arrived at the Emirates, while travelling supporters who did have tickets were unable to gain access to the ground as police and stewards tried to ease the congestion in the surrounding streets.

Monaco suffer Lemar, Subasic injury blows

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Monaco (AFP) – French champions Monaco will be without winger Thomas Lemar and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic for their next two Ligue 1 matches, coach Leonardo Jardim confirmed on Thursday.

Subasic suffered an ankle injury in training for Wednesday’s Champions League 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig with close-season signing Diego Benaglio taking his place, while Lemar hobbled off at half-time of last weekend’s 4-0 league thrashing by Nice.

Romania fire coach Daum

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Bucharest (AFP) – Romania have parted company with German coach Christoph Daum following their failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup, the country’s football federation (FRF) announced on Thursday.

“The FRF president Razvan Burleanu and coach Christoph Daum have agreed to end their collaboration before the last two qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup,” the FRF said in a statement.

England keeper Heaton ‘out for months’

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton is set to be sidelined “for months” after undergoing surgery on his shoulder, Clarets manager Sean Dyche said Thursday.

Heaton, capped three times by England, landed awkwardly on his shoulder after colliding with team-mate Ben Mee as he caught the ball in the first half of Burnley’s 1-0 Premier League win at home to Crystal Palace last weekend.

Kovacic adds to Real Madrid injury woes

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic faces a spell on the sidelines after suffering a thigh injury in his team’s 3-0 Champions League win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

The European champions said that the Croatian had a “partial tear of the adductor muscle tendon in his right leg”.

Isco signs four-year Real contract extension

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid attacking midfielder Isco has signed a four-year contract extension which will keep him with the European champions until 2022, the La Liga club announced on Thursday.

The 25-year-old has become a key part of Zinedine Zidane’s side in recent months, scoring 11 goals in all competitions last season as Real won the Champions League and La Liga titles.

France’s Coman fined for attack on girlfriend

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Meaux (France) (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s French international forward Kingsley Coman was fined 5,000 euros ($5,940) Thursday for attacking his then girlfriend last year.

Coman, 21, had pleaded guilty to the attack on model Sephora Goignan last June at her home in Magny-le-Hongre outside Paris.

Ventura defends record as Italy slide in world football rankings

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Milan (AFP) – Coach Giampiero Ventura has defended his record despite a mixed World Cup qualifying campaign which has seen Italy slip in the world rankings.

Four-time world champions Italy are second behind Spain in European qualifying Group G for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

A 3-0 defeat in Madrid last week all but ended their hopes of automatic qualification.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on TV this weekend

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We’re just four games into the Premier League season and the competitive division has bared its sharp teeth already.

No team has a perfect record, we have our first managerial casualty of the campaign and as the season gets into gear again, the fascinating contests come thick and fast.

Almost $5 billion spent in transfer window – FIFA

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Paris (AFP) – The close-season transfer window saw $4.71 billion (3.96 billion euros) spent worldwide, over three quarters of which were from the top five European leagues, FIFA announced on Thursday.

Paris Saint-Germain’s world-record signing of Neymar from Barcelona for 222 million euros ($264 million) dominated the headlines, but many of Europe’s other big clubs also broke their own transfer records.

Tottenham Wembley curse dead, says Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham’s 3-1 Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund has finally killed off their Wembley curse.

Pochettino’s side opened their Group H campaign with an impressive display at their temporary Wembley home on Wednesday as Harry Kane’s double and a Son Heung-Min strike sealed the points.

Klopp at peace after stormy Sevilla conclusion

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Liverpool (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp claimed he had made peace with opposite number Eduardo Berizzo and the Sevilla coaching staff after a stormy conclusion to Liverpool’s 2-2 Champions League draw with the Spanish side at Anfield.

Young Liverpool defender Joe Gomez was sent off in the dying seconds of the group game, the second ‘dismissal’ of the night after Berizzo had been sent to the stands on the hour for throwing the ball away after Gomez hurried to take a throw-in for the home team.

Money and identity stoke Shanghai derby rivalry

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai Shenhua cross the city into enemy territory on Saturday to face Shanghai SIPG for China’s biggest derby, an intense rivalry spiced by money and identity.

Shenhua make the trip in turmoil: former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Gus Poyet quit as manager on Monday under pressure with the club languishing below mid-table in the 16-team Chinese Super League (CSL).

Football: Israel club official quits after anti-Muslim remark

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Jerusalem (AFP) – The professional adviser of an Israeli football club known for its far-right fan base has resigned after saying he would never sign a Muslim player, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Eli Cohen, a veteran manager who was hired to the position at Beitar Jerusalem earlier this month, had said that past attempts to bring Muslim players to the club failed bitterly.

Villas-Boas in hot water following Guangzhou outburst

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Shanghai (AFP) – The Asian Football Confederation said Thursday it was launching disciplinary action against Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas for his outburst after the epic Champions League quarter-final win over Guangzhou Evergrande this week.

The Portuguese, a former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager, strongly criticised the AFC and the referee, and levelled allegations at Chinese rivals Guangzhou of dirty tricks.

Klopp says no magic solution to Liverpool woes

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp says the transfer market is not the magic solution to Liverpool’s defensive woes after familiar problems returned to haunt his side on their return to Champions League action against Sevilla.

Dejan Lovren’s slip allowed Wissam Ben Yedder to score early in Wednesday’s match at Anfield but goals from Roberto Firmino, who also missed a penalty, and Mohamed Salah appeared to have put the home side in control.

City’s Stones ‘must win duels’ to become world-class: Guardiola

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Rotterdam (Netherlands) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed his two-goal Champions League hero John Stones - but warned he has some way to go before he can be called world-class.

England defender Stones found the net with two powerful headers as City thrashed Dutch champions Feyenoord 4-0 in Rotterdam on Wednesday to send a message of intent to their European rivals.

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

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

Everton kicks off their first Europa League group stage game in Italy today. For those viewers in the United States who don’t get FS2, here are several ways you can watch the game for free.

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

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

For the first time since 1997 there is no Champions League soccer to start the season at Arsenal. The Gunners will instead face Cologne in their first game in the Europa League.

Game: Arsenal vs.

Ronaldo back in style for Real, Spurs end Wembley jinx

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Paris (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace on his return from suspension for Real Madrid, as Tottenham Hotspur ended their Wembley jinx and Liverpool were held on their Champions League comeback on Wednesday.

Real have sorely missed their Portuguese superstar as he serves a five-match domestic ban for pushing a referee.

Correa leveller spoils Liverpool return

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Liverpool (AFP) – Roberto Firmino’s first-half penalty miss proved costly for Liverpool as Joaquin Correa scored a dramatic equaliser to grab Sevilla 2-2 Champions League draw on Wednesday.

Anfield was in jubilant mood as the English club welcomed back Champions League football after a two-year absence, but it took Sevilla just four minutes to dampen the enthusiasm.

Returning Ronaldo hits double in routine Real win

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo wasted no time in showing Real Madrid what they have been missing during his five-game domestic suspension, by scoring twice as the holders began their Champions League defence with a routine 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo, banned for pushing a referee after being sent off in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, opened the scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross.

Returning Ronaldo his double in routine Real win

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo wasted no time in showing Real Madrid what they have been missing during his five-game domestic suspension, by scoring twice as the holders began their Champions League defence with a routine 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo, banned for pushing a referee after being sent off in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, opened the scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross.

Stones stars as Manchester City hammer Feyenoord

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Rotterdam (Netherlands) (AFP) – Manchester City thrashed Dutch champions Feyenoord 4-0 as defender John Stones scored twice to get Pep Guardiola’s side off to a flying Champions League start on Wednesday.

Stones headed home on two minutes after a sublime chip by skipper David Silva, and after Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus had made the win safe, the England centre-back capped off the evening with a second powerful header for a memorable brace.

Ronaldo returns to lead routine Real Champions League win

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo wasted no time in showing Real Madrid what they have been missing during his five-game domestic suspension, by scoring twice as the holders began their Champions League defence with a routine 3-0 win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo, banned for pushing a referee after being sent off in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, opened the scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross.

Leipzig hold Monaco on Champions League debut

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) – Youri Tielemans levelled a minute after Emil Forsberg’s opener for RB Leipzig to salvage a 1-1 draw for French champions Monaco in the Champions League on Wednesday.

With Leipzig making their competition debut, Forsberg’s goal raised the roof at the Red Bull Arena.

Abuse victim accuses ex-England football manager of cover-up

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London (AFP) – An abuse victim on Wednesday accused late England football manager Graham Taylor of telling him to sweep his warnings about a paedophile coach “under the carpet”.

Tony Brien said he was abused as a child by Ted Langford, a football scout who was jailed in 2007 for sexually abusing four young players in the 1970s and 1980s.

Kane downs Dortmund as Tottenham end Wembley woe

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London (AFP) – Harry Kane banished Tottenham’s Wembley curse as the England striker’s double sealed a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

With White Hart Lane being redeveloped, Tottenham are playing their home matches at the English national stadium this season and that had been bad news for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Barcelona expect record 897-million-euro turnover

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Barcelona (AFP) – Boosted by Neymar’s world record move to Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona are set to smash the record turnover for a football club with a 897-million-euro ($1.07 billion) income for the 2017/18 season, the club announced on Wednesday.

“The board have approved a budget for the 2017/18 season that reflects an expected record income of 897 million euros,” said Barca spokesman Josep Vives.

Spain and Portugal ‘Liga Iberica’ mooted

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Lisbon (AFP) – The creation of a ‘Liga Iberica’ involving top clubs from Spain and Portugal has been targeted for 2019, the Portuguese League said on Wednesday.

The Liga Iberica would allow Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Porto and the likes to measure up against Spanish giants like Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Reds stun Kawasaki to storm into Asian Champions League semis

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Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Urawa Reds scored three goals in a 15-minute blitz to floor Japanese rivals Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 in a fiery encounter Wednesday and reach the Asian Champions League semi-finals.

Slovenian Zlatan Ljubijankic, Brazilian Rafael Silva and Toshiyuki Takagi all scored late goals against 10-man Kawasaki as the home side overturned a two-goal deficit to win 5-4 on aggregate.

Ancelotti cool over Nagelsmann’s Bayern ‘dream’

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Berlin (AFP) – Amidst rising tension in Bayern Munich’s ranks, Carlo Ancelotti reacted calmly on Wednesday to Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann’s comments that he wants to eventually coach the Bavarians.

“It’s quite normal that a young and good coach such as Julian dreams of training a very high level club,” Bayern manager Ancelotti told broadcaster Eurosport.

‘I nearly quit Arsenal’, admits Giroud

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London (AFP) – Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud admitted on Wednesday that he came close to leaving the club in the close season before deciding to stay because his “story is not over”.

The France international has fallen behind club-record signing and compatriot Alexandre Lacazette in the pecking order this season but has come off the bench in all of the Gunners’ games so far this season.

Reds stun Kawasaki to reach Asian semi-finals

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Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Urawa Reds scored three goals in a 15-minute blitz to floor Japanese rivals Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 in a fiery encounter Wednesday and reach the Asian Champions League semi-finals.

Slovenian Zlatan Ljubijankic, Brazilian Rafael Silva and Toshiyuki Takagi all scored late goals against 10-man Kawasaki as the home side overturned a two-goal deficit to win 5-4 on aggregate.

Matthaeus slams Ribery tantrum

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany legend Lothar Matthaeus has criticised Franck Ribery for defiantly throwing off his Bayern Munich shirt after being substituted in Tuesday’s Champions League win over Anderlecht, prompting a passionate response from the Frenchman.

Having picked up an early booking for arguing with the referee in the 3-0 home victory, Ribery was taken off with 12 minutes to go in Munich and hurled his shirt at the Bayern bench.

Infantino accused of interference by ousted expert

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London (AFP) – A governance expert fired by FIFA on Wednesday accused the leadership of world football’s governing body of interfering with his work, ignoring rules and removing him in order to stay in power.

Speaking to MPs on Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Miguel Maduro gave a devastating indictment of FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s commitment to reform and said only “external pressure” would force the organisation to change.

Bundesliga boss wants shorter transfer window

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Berlin (AFP) – The Bundesliga looks set to follow the example of England’s Premier League by voting to shorten the transfer window, with German Football League (DFL) chief Reinhard Rauball proposing changes.

Germany’s 36 professional clubs are set to hold a vote at their general assembly in December and Rauball wants the Bundesliga clubs to agree to close the transfer window before the season starts.

Shanghai Shenhua drop ‘overweight’ Tevez

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Shanghai (AFP) – Handsomely paid Carlos Tevez is overweight and will not play again for Shanghai Shenhua until he gets fit, the Chinese club’s new coach has warned.

The 33-year-old Tevez is one of the best-paid players on the planet on reported weekly wages of about 730,000 euros (US$870,000) but has scored just twice this season and missed half the games with injury.

Marcelo extends Real Madrid contract

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid vice-captain Marcelo extended his 11-year stay with the Spanish giants by signing a new contract until 2022, the club announced on Wednesday.

The Brazilian, 29, has won three Champions League and four La Liga titles in over 400 appearances since joining from Fluminense in 2006.

Real Madrid target Werner plans to join ‘big club’

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Berlin (AFP) – Timo Werner has admitted he wants to join a “big club” amidst reports Real Madrid are interesting in signing the Germany striker, who makes his Champions League debut on Wednesday.

Werner will play the first Champions League match of his career at Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena when RB make their debut in European football’s top club competition against last season’s semi-finalists Monaco.

Where to find Real Madrid vs. APOEL on US TV and streaming

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

Studio coverage on Wednesday begins at 2:00 PM ET with host Rob Stone and analysts Alexi Lalas, Brad Friedel and Warren Barton. Studio coverage on FOX Deportes begins at 1:00 PM ET with hosts Claudio Suarez and John Laguna.

Manchester United part of ‘second level’, says Mourinho

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United cannot be considered among the top band of teams in the Champions League, manager Jose Mourinho insisted after his side brushed aside Basel 3-0 on their competition return.

Goals from substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford sandwiched Romelu Lukaku’s first goal in the competition proper as United opened their Group A campaign in straightforward fashion on Tuesday.

Chelsea manager Conte expects selection gamble to pay off

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte believes his decision to rest several of Chelsea stars for their Champions League demolition of Qarabag will be rewarded when the Blues face Arsenal on Sunday.

Conte left out David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Victor Moses and Alvaro Morata for Tuesday’s 6-0 thumping of the Azerbaijan minnows at Stamford Bridge.

Emery warns five-star PSG can only get better

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Glasgow (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) coach Unai Emery says his side have learned lessons from the past after they started their Champions League Group B campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Celtic.

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani’s double and a Mikel Lustig own goal consigned Celtic to their record home European defeat and propelled PSG to the top of the table on goal difference from Bayern Munich, who they host on match day two.

Arsenal set for drop into Europe’s second tier

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London (AFP) – Premier League giants Arsenal make their Europa League bow this week, slipping into the continent’s second-string competition after nearly two decades in the Champions League, with AC Milan also injecting star quality.

Arsene Wenger’s men, fifth in the Premier League last season - their first finish outside the top four since 1995-96 - take on German side Cologne on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium in London.

Irate Villas-Boas accuses Guangzhou of dirty tricks

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Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas accused Guangzhou Evergrande of dirty tricks after his side’s epic AFC Champions League quarter-final win, claiming the hosts masterminded a series of road “accidents” to delay SIPG’s arrival at the stadium.

Evergrande almost pulled off a miracle in overturning a 4-0 first-leg deficit, before SIPG emerged battered and bruised from a remarkable all-Chinese encounter on Tuesday with a penalty shootout triumph after the tie had finished 5-5 on aggregate.

Injured Pogba could be out for ‘weeks’ – Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Paul Pogba could be out of action for “a few weeks” after suffering a suspected hamstring injury that took the shine off Manchester United’s successful return to the Champions League, manager Jose Mourinho said.

United, who missed out on qualification for Europe’s premier club competition last season, coasted to a 3-0 victory on Tuesday, with goals for Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

Man City’s Ederson could return just days after Mane collision

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Rotterdam (Netherlands) (AFP) – Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson could make a remarkable comeback in Wednesday’s Champions League match at Feyenoord just days after a nasty collision left him needing stitches in his face.

Ederson was caught by a high boot from Liverpool’s Sadio Mane on Saturday and received lengthy treatment before being carried off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask.

Pochettino urges Spurs to make fast start against Dortmund

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has warned his Tottenham Hotspur stars that they must make a fast start to their Champions League campaign or risk another early exit.

Pochettino’s side failed to make it past the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition last season.

Tottenham’s downfall was triggered by poor results in their home games at Wembley, where they were beaten by Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen.

Matthaeus slams Ribery for shirt-throwing tantrum

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany legend Lothar Matthaeus has criticised France winger Franck Ribery for throwing his Bayern Munich shirt in temper after being substituted late in the Champions League win over Anderlecht.

Having picked up an early booking for arguing with the referee in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over the Belgian side, Ribery was taken off with 12 minutes to go in Munich and hurled his shirt at the Bayern bench.

Shanghai Shenhua tell ‘overweight’ Tevez to shape up

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Shanghai (AFP) – Carlos Tevez is overweight and will not play again for Shanghai Shenhua until he gets fit, the Chinese club’s new coach has warned.

The 33-year-old Tevez is one of the best-paid players on the planet on reported weekly wages of about 730,000 euros but has scored just twice this season and already has missed half his games due to injury.

Celtic charged by UEFA over PSG pitch invasion

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London (AFP) – European football’s governing body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic following a pitch invasion during their Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

A supporter raced onto the Parkhead pitch late in the first half on Tuesday with the hosts 3-0 down and darted towards 18-year-old superstar Kylian Mbappe.

Celtic charged by UEFA over pitch invasion

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London (AFP) – European football’s governing body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic following a pitch invasion during their Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

A supporter raced onto the Parkhead pitch late in the first half on Tuesday with the hosts 3-0 down and darted towards 18-year-old superstar Kylian Mbappe.

Messi inspires Barcelona, PSG win Champions League opener

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Paris (AFP) – Lionel Messi netted twice in Barcelona’s convincing 3-0 victory over Juventus that kicked off their Champions League campaign in style, while Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Chelsea also won big on Tuesday.

After a troubled summer, a home meeting with last season’s runners-up may not have been what Barcelona and their new coach Ernesto Valverde wanted, but Messi was at his brilliant best to give the Catalans the three points.

Alisson stars as Roma hold Atletico Madrid

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Rome (AFP) – A virtuoso display by Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker helped Roma hold Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday in their Champions League group-stage opener.

An open but tightly fought battle in the Stadio Olimpico confirmed Group C will be a three-way battle for qualification after Chelsea punished Azerbaijani newcomers Qarabag 6-0.

‘MCN’ lead five-star PSG past hapless Celtic

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Glasgow (AFP) – Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all scored as Paris Saint-Germain began their Champions League campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Celtic in Glasgow on Tuesday.

Brazilian Neymar continued to pay back his 222 million-euro ($264 million) world record transfer fee with his fifth goal in five games to put PSG in front before he set up Mbappe to make it 2-0.

Messi double inspires Barcelona to Juventus revenge

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona defied an outgoing off-field crisis as another Lionel Messi-inspired display exacted revenge on Juventus to open their Champions League campaign with a resounding 3-0 win on Tuesday.

Messi was involved in all three goals as he beat Gianluigi Buffon for the first time in his career to open the floodgates just before half-time.

Rampant Chelsea hit Qarabag for six

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London (AFP) – Chelsea made a swaggering start to their Champions League challenge as memorable strikes from Pedro and Davide Zappacosta inspired a 6-0 rout of Qarabag on Tuesday.

Antonio Conte’s side were in businesslike mood against the minnows from Azerbaijan, with Pedro’s long-range effort putting them ahead early on at Stamford Bridge.

Fix-it Fellaini gets Manchester United off the mark

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Substitute Marouane Fellaini proved an unlikely source of inspiration as Manchester United comfortably defeated Basel 3-0 on their return to the Champions League on Tuesday.

Fellaini, a replacement for the injured Paul Pogba, gave United a 35th-minute lead at a drizzly Old Trafford and teed up Marcus Rashford for the hosts’ third goal after Romelu Lukaku had struck early in the second period.

Thiago strike helps Bayern past 10-man Anderlecht

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Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Thiago Alcantara’s second-half strike helped an underwhelming Bayern Munich see off 10-man Anderlecht 3-0 in their opening Champions League group match on Tuesday.

After Robert Lewandowski converted an early penalty, Thiago turned the tie decisively Bayern’s way before Joshua Kimmich grabbed a late third at a sold-out Allianz Arena.

Mane appeal failure no surprise to Klopp as Sevilla await

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Tuesday said he knew the club’s appeal to reduce Sadio Mane’s three-match suspension would be “a waste of time”.

The Senegal winger was shown a straight red card during Liverpool’s 5-0 loss away to Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday after his high boot caught goalkeeper Ederson in the face.

Ex-England boss Hodgson new Palace manager

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London (AFP) – Roy Hodgson has been appointed the new manager of Crystal Palace, the English Premier League club announced Tuesday.

The 70-year-old former England manager has replaced Frank de Boer after the Dutchman was sacked following just four league games in charge of the south London club.

Ex-England boss Hodgson new Crystal Palace manager

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London (AFP) – Roy Hodgson has been appointed the new manager of Crystal Palace, the English Premier League club announced Tuesday.

The 70-year-old former England manager has replaced Frank de Boer after the Dutchman was sacked following just four league games in charge of the south London club.

Leipzig relishing Champions League debut

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Leipzig (Germany) (AFP) – Just eight years after starting life in the local leagues, RB Leipzig will enhance their rags to riches tale on Wednesday by hosting Monaco on the German club’s Champions League debut.

Backed by energy drinks giant Red Bull, who bought the licence of a fifth-division club, Leipzig began climbing Germany’s football pyramid in 2009.

World Cup ticket sales start Thursday

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Moscow (AFP) – FIFA announced Tuesday that ticket sales for the 2018 World Cup will begin on Thursday, nine months to the day that the tournament kicks off in Russia.

“Fans all over the world will also be able to book their place as ticket sales for the tournament start exclusively on FIFA.

FA reject Mane appeal against three-game ban

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London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Sadio Mane had his three-match suspension for a red card received for a high challenge on Manchester City’s Ederson upheld on Tuesday, after the Football Association rejected his claim of excessive punishment.

Senegal winger Mane was sent off after catching goalkeeper Ederson in the face during City’s 5-0 win in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Pochettino urges Spurs to make fast start

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino has warned his Tottenham Hotspur stars that they must make a fast start to their Champions League campaign or risk another early exit.

Pochettino’s side failed to make it past the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition last season.

Tottenham’s downfall was triggered by poor results in their home games at Wembley, where they were beaten by Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen.

Shanghai SIPG into AFC semis on dramatic night

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Guangzhou (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG survived an almighty scare to sneak into the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League 5-4 on penalties and break Guangzhou Evergrande hearts on Tuesday.

Midfielder Yu Hai was the hero for Andre Villas-Boas’s battered side, holding his nerve to bury the decisive spot-kick and SIPG will face either of the Japanese teams Kawasaki Frontale or Urawa Reds in the last four.

FA reject Sadio Mane appeal against three-game ban

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London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Sadio Mane had his three-match suspension for a red card received for a high challenge on Manchester City’s Ederson upheld on Tuesday, after the Football Association rejected his claim of excessive punishment.

Senegal winger Mane was sent off after catching goalkeeper Ederson in the face during City’s 5-0 win in the Premier League at Eastlands on Saturday.

Ronaldo return eases Zidane’s striker shortage

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has underlined the importance of welcoming back World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo for the holders Champions League opener against APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo has been suspended for Real’s last four games after pushing a referee in the Spanish Super Cup and has been badly missed as the European champions have been held at home by Valencia and Levante in their last two outings.

‘Heroes’ Dortmund out to challenge Spurs

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund set out for Wednesday’s Champions League tie against Tottenham Hotspur in London hoping their stars will become “heroes” in a group containing titleholders Real Madrid.

“This is the hardest group, but also challenging, and in such groups, heroes are made,” said managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke on Tuesday.

Tottenham fight to end Wembley woe

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London (AFP) – Frustrated by a series of miserable experiences at Wembley, Tottenham Hotspur host Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday desperate to finally vanquish the ghosts that haunt them at the national stadium.

When Mauricio Pochettino’s side kick off their Champions League campaign against the Germans, it won’t be just priceless Group H points that are up for grabs.

Prudent Real Madrid remain Champions League favourites

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Madrid (AFP) – Such is Real Madrid’s confidence in creating more Champions League history that while others have spent hundreds of millions trying to catch up, the back-to-back European champions were happy to cash in.

Real made a profit of over 75 million euros ($90 million) in the transfer market thanks to the departures of Alvaro Morata, James Rodriguez and Danilo.

Rampant Manchester City ready to march on Feyenoord

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The Hague (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City will be keen to keep the momentum going as they open the hunt for Champions League glory against a diminished Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Wednesday.

After mauling Liverpool 5-0 in the Premier League on Saturday, City now travel to face the Dutch champions - who face a daunting prospect after a 15-year absence from the group stage of the competition.

No sand, no problem: Beach football in landlocked Afghanistan

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Kabul (AFP) – At a makeshift beach in landlocked Afghanistan, children as young as eight, wearing baggy Real Madrid and Barcelona shirts with “Ronaldo” and “Messi” printed on the back, joyfully kick and chase the ball.

Kabul’s Ghazi stadium was the scene of gruesome executions under Taliban rule but today it is where Afghan youths, the majority of whom have never seen the sea, dream of representing their country at beach football.

Nigeria’s Moses says doesn’t pick and choose

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Abuja (AFP) – Chelsea star Victor Moses has dismissed suggestions he picks and chooses the games he plays for Nigeria, insisting he always wants to be fit before appearing for his country.

Moses, 26, made his Nigeria debut in 2012 when he changed his international allegiance after representing England at various age-grade levels.

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

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

Studio coverage on Tuesday begins at 2:00 PM ET with host Rob Stone and analysts Alexi Lalas, Brad Friedel and Warren Barton. Studio coverage on FOX Deportes begins at 1:00 PM ET with hosts Claudio Suarez and John Laguna.

Champions League to test Klopp’s progress at Liverpool

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Liverpool (AFP) – When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015, he made a promise: “If we sit here in four years, I think we (will) win one title,” he said.

Next month will mark the second anniversary of Klopp’s appointment, the halfway point of that four-year cycle.

Belgian Jupiler League makes return to US TV and streaming

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EXCLUSIVE: The Belgian Jupiler League makes it return to Eleven Sports Network for the weekend of September 16-17, which marks the 7th round of the Championship.

Eleven Sports first picked up Jupiler League rights last season in April during the Championship Playoff stage.

Atletico, Roma prepare key Champions League clash

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Rome (AFP) – Roma host Atletico Madrid on Tuesday in an opening game of the Champions League group stages which Italian coach Eusebio Di Francesco believes will be crucial to their ambitions.

In a Group C that also includes Premier League champions Chelsea, both sides desperately need to win in the Stadio Olimpico.

MLS attendances through gameweek 27 of the 2017 season

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After 302 matches, the average MLS attendance (21,604) is up 0.47% compared to 2016.

This past week in MLS, it was another normal week of reported attendances. There were strong showings in most venues, including Atlanta’s new Mercedes Benz Stadium. A relatively weak turnout for NYCFC’s midweek match.

10 things we learned from MLS gameweek 27 of the 2017 season

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Here are the ten things we learned from Week 27 of the 2017 MLS season.

1. The Playoff Picture Clears Up

With Real Salt Lake and San Jose losing this weekend – and despite the fact that Dallas continues to stare into the abyss – the Western Conference playoff race appears to be settled.

Ayew gives West Ham’s Bilic birthday cheer

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London (AFP) – Pedro Obiang and Andre Ayew scored to give West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic the perfect 49th birthday present as the Hammers beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 in the Premier League on Monday.

Obiang got the opener via an enormous deflection and Bilic then pumped the air in relief as much as delight when Ghanaian star Ayew pounced to add the second as West Ham claimed their first points of the season.

Carlos Eduardo hat-trick fires Al Hilal into semis

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Riyadh (AFP) – Carlos Eduardo struck a fine hat-trick as Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal stormed into the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League with a 3-0 rout of UAE’s Al Ain on Monday.

Victory at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh gave the reigning Saudi champions and continental runners-up in 2014 a 3-0 aggregate win following their goalless draw in the first leg last month.

Neymar signing great for France: PSG president

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London (AFP) – The signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar for a world record fee by Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain is “amazing for France”, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told the Daily Telegraph.

PSG paid Barcelona 222 million euros ($264 million) for Neymar, 25, in August before signing Kylian Mbappe on loan with an option to buy the 18-year-old from Monaco for up to 180 million euros in the second largest deal in history.

Crystal Palace sack de Boer after just four EPL games

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace on Monday sacked manager Frank de Boer after a dismal start to the Premier League season that has seen them lose all four of their matches without scoring a single goal.

The south London club, languishing in 19th place in the league, have been strongly linked with a move to appoint former England boss Roy Hodgson to replace the departing Dutchman.

Judge Barcelona, Juventus on results not transfers, coaches argue

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde warned against snap judgements on his side and Juventus’ Champions League aspirations despite losing key players in the transfer market.

The sides meet in their competition opener on Tuesday (1845 GMT) in a rematch of a quarter-final clash won 3-0 on aggregate by Juventus last season.

Judge Barcelona, Juventus at season’s end: Valverde

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde warned against snap judgements on his side and Juventus’ Champions League aspirations despite losing key players in the transfer market.

The sides meet in their competition opener on Tuesday (1845 GMT) in a rematch of a quarter-final clash won 3-0 on aggregate by Juventus last season.

PSG duo ruled out of Champions League opener

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Glasgow (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain forwards Javier Pastore and Angel Di Maria have been ruled out of the French club’s Champions League opener at Celtic on Tuesday with injuries.

Celtic striker Moussa Dembele will also miss out, with manager Brendan Rodgers saying Monday the 21-year-old Frenchman is not yet match-fit after suffering a hamstring injury in July.

Mueller can imagine life after Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) – Disgruntled Germany star Thomas Mueller admits he can envisage leaving Bayern Munich after failing to shine recently for the German champions.

Mueller set up two goals for Germany in their 6-0 rout of Norway last Monday in a World Cup qualifier, but produced another poor display on the wing for Bayern in Saturday’s 2-0 league defeat at Hoffenheim.

Chelsea’s Conte set to shuffle pack for Qarabag

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London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte indicated on Monday he will rotate his players for his side’s Champions League opener against Azerbaijani newcomers Qarabag.

Tuesday’s encounter at Stamford Bridge is the second in a sequence of seven matches in 21 days for Conte’s Premier League champions.

Crystal Palace sack de Boer after just four Premier League games

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace on Monday sacked manager Frank de Boer after a dismal start to the Premier League season that has seen them lose all four of their matches without scoring a single goal.

The south London club, languishing in 19th place in the league, have been strongly linked with a move to appoint former England boss Roy Hodgson to replace the departing Dutch manager.

Chelsea pledge action over anti-Semitic chant

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London (AFP) – Chelsea have vowed to take the “strongest possible action” against any supporters found to have used anti-Semitic language in a chant about the club’s new striker Alvaro Morata.

The song, aired during Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Leicester City on Saturday, describes supporters of rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who have traditional links to the Jewish community, as “Yids”.

Haunted by Euro woes, Conte eyes redemption

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London (AFP) – Frustrated by his past failures in the Champions League, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has set his sights on a mission of redemption as he returns to the competition after a four-year absence.

Conte still bears the scars from a snowy night in Istanbul in 2013 when Juventus suffered a shock defeat against Galatasaray that sent the Italian giants crashing out of Europe’s elite club competition.

Australian women footballers take step towards professionalism

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Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s women footballers took a step towards professionalism Monday with pay rises and better employment conditions agreed as the nation works to build on the success of the Matildas national team.

Until now, many players in the domestic W-League were considered amateur and received only reimbursement of expenses.

Battle for control of Barcelona overshadows Juventus reunion

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Barcelona (AFP) – A 5-0 derby win, an assist for 105 million euro ($126 million) purchase Ousmane Dembele on his debut and a four-point La Liga lead over Real Madrid ought to have brought some semblance of relief to Barcelona’s beleaguered board.

Yet, no sooner had the celebrations died down from Luis Suarez’s finish from Dembele’s cross in the final minute of Saturday’s thrashing of Espanyol, than cries for president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign rang around the Camp Nou.

Spain’s Champions League reign under threat

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Madrid (AFP) – Neymar and Kylian Mbappe headline free-spending Paris Saint-Germain’s quest to knock Real Madrid off their perch as the Champions League group stages begin on Tuesday under the shadow of infighting at the top of the European game.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has lambasted PSG’s 222 million euro ($267 million) capture of Neymar from Barcelona as “financial doping” with the French giants also set to splash another 180 million on 18-year-old Mbappe next summer to make his loan move from Monaco permanent.

Stielike takes over at Chinese strugglers Tianjin Teda

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Shanghai (AFP) – Uli Stielike has been tasked with saving Tianjin Teda from relegation out of the Chinese Super League (CSL), three months after the German was axed as coach of South Korea.

Underlining the challenge facing the 62-year-old, Tianjin lost 3-1 at second-placed Shanghai SIPG on Saturday and sit one place off the bottom of the CSL with seven games left.

Scolari’s Evergrande chase Champions League miracle

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Shanghai (AFP) – Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Guangzhou Evergrande must perform an AFC Champions League miracle on Tuesday if they are to overhaul a 4-0 deficit in their quarter-final home clash with Shanghai SIPG.

Evergrande are streaking away from their domestic rivals in the Chinese Super League (CSL) but were embarrassed in Shanghai three weeks ago when Andre Villas-Boas’s side was rampant in the first leg.

Man Utd’s Herrera patient despite lack of game time

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London (AFP) – Manchester United’s Ander Herrera says team success is his top priority despite the frustrations of a lack of game time this season for the Premier League leaders.

The club’s reigning player of the year, who made his first league start of the season in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Stoke, has struggled for minutes on the pitch after the arrival of Nemanja Matic from Chelsea.

Man City’s De Bruyne targets big games in title push

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London (AFP) – Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne says beating the club’s biggest rivals will be key to challenging for the Premier League title after Pep Guardiola’s side swept Liverpool aside in impressive style.

City failed to sustain a title challenge last season and their record against the other teams that finished in the top seven proved a major shortfall.

El Clasico switched to December 23

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Madrid (AFP) – La Liga president Javier Tebas confirmed on Monday that the first El Clasico of the season between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be played on December 23 at 1:00 pm (1200GMT).

The clash was expected to take place on December 20 as part of a full midweek round of fixtures before Spain’s winter break.

Crystal Palace chairman urges unity as pressure grows on De Boer

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has urged everyone at the club to “stick together” despite a dismal start to the Premier League season and increasing speculation about the future of manager Frank de Boer.

De Boer has overseen four defeats in as many games without scoring a single goal since taking over at Selhurst Park in the summer, the worst start in Premier League history.

Wenger ‘not tempted’ by Man Utd approach

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he was never tempted to join Manchester United, after it emerged the Old Trafford club approached him about succeeding Alex Ferguson in 2002.

Former United chairman Martin Edwards revealed in his new autobiography that the club sounded out Wenger after Ferguson announced he would retire at the end of the 2001-02 season.

Battle for control of Barca overshadows Juventus reunion

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Barcelona (AFP) – A 5-0 derby win, an assist for 105 million euro ($126 million) purchase Ousmane Dembele on his debut and a four-point La Liga lead over Real Madrid ought to have brought some relief to Barcelona’s beleaguered board.

Yet no sooner had the celebrations died down from Luis Suarez’s finish from Dembele’s cross in the final minute of Saturday’s thrashing of Espanyol, than cries for president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign rang around the Camp Nou.

Bayern boss fires back at Lewandowski

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has fired back at Robert Lewandowski after the Poland hot-shot criticised the Bavarian giants’ spending policy.

Bayern crashed to a shock 2-0 defeat at Hoffenheim on Saturday which left them sixth in the German league table - their worst position after the first three games since 2010/11.

Harry Kane says quality signings can fire Spurs title bid

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane says the club are ready for another Premier League title push after some quality late additions to th squad.

The London side had an underwhelming start to the season, losing to Chelsea and drawing against Burnley at their temporary Wembley home, but they bounced back with an emphatic 3-0 win against Everton at the weekend.

Crystal Palace sack manager Frank de Boer

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace on Monday sacked manager Frank de Boer after a dismal start to the Premier League season.

“Crystal Palace Football Club have this morning parted company with Frank de Boer,” said a statement on the club’s website.

“We would like to thank Frank for his dedication and hard work during his time at the club.

Inter, Napoli join Juventus top of Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Napoli and Inter Milan made it three wins out of three to keep pace with six-time title holders Juventus at the top of Serie A Sunday as AC Milan fell at Lazio.

Luciano Spalletti’s Inter beat promoted SPAL 2-0 in the San Siro after Juventus eased past Chievo 3-0 in Turin on Saturday.

Fekir fuels Lyon, Marseille slump again

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Paris (AFP) – Nabil Fekir struck his fourth goal in five matches as Lyon defeated Guingamp 2-1 on Sunday, while Rennes belatedly secured their first win of the season with a 3-1 victory at Marseille.

Mariano Diaz curled in a 19th-minute opener for Lyon as the former Real Madrid striker netted his fourth Ligue 1 goal since his close-season arrival from Spain.

Sociedad go joint top with win at Deportivo

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Sociedad scored twice early and late on to see off Deportivo la Coruna 4-2 and move alongside Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Sunday.

The Basques shot into a 2-0 lead at La Riazor inside five minutes thanks to goals from Juanmi and Asier Illarramendi.

Deportivo fought back, though, as Adrian Lopez pulled a goal back before half-time before on-loan Arsenal forward Lucas Perez was summoned from the bench on his return to Galicia.

Football: Five things we learned in the Premier League

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London (AFP) – Manchester City crushed 10-man Liverpool, while Manchester United lost their 100 percent record.

Chelsea maintained their revival and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez endured a difficult return to action.

Here are five things we learned from this weekend’s Premier League action:

Bloodied Ederson is Guardiola’s kind of keeper

Ederson ended Manchester City’s 5-0 thrashing of Liverpool unsteady on his feet and with a white dressing concealing a large gash on the left side of his face, but having enhanced his reputation in the eyes of manager Pep Guardiola.

German female referee makes history as Leckie nets again

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus made history on Sunday as the first female referee to officiate a match in a top European league by taking charge of Hertha Berlin’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen.

Steinhaus became the first woman to referee a top-tier match in the German, English, French, Italian or Spanish leagues when she oversaw the Bundesliga encounter in Berlin.

Newcastle’s Lascelles provides welcome tonic for Benitez

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Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jamaal Lascelles provided a welcome tonic for ailing Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez as his late goal secured a 1-0 win at Swansea City on Sunday.

Benitez was forced to miss his side’s trip to south Wales while he recovered from an infection.

German female ref makes history as Leckie nets again

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus made history on Sunday as the first female referee to officiate a match in a top European league by taking charge of Hertha Berlin’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen.

Steinhaus became the first woman to referee a top-tier match in the German, English, French, Italian or Spanish leagues when she oversaw the Bundesliga encounter in Berlin.

Immobile hat-trick as Lazio sink AC Milan

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Milan (AFP) – Ciro Immobile scored a hat-trick as Lazio stunned AC Milan 4-1 in Serie A, while city rivals Inter joined Juventus at the top with a 2-0 win over SPAL on Sunday.

Luciano Spalletti’s Inter were too strong for promoted SPAL in the San Siro and joined Juventus on maximum nine points after the champions beat Chievo 3-0 on Saturday.

Wood’s winner piles pressure on Palace boss De Boer

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chris Wood’s dream home debut for Burnley pushed Frank De Boer to the brink of the sack as Crystal Palace crashed to a 1-0 defeat on Sunday.

New Zealand international Wood marked his maiden appearance for Burnley at Turf Moor following his club record £15 million ($19 million, 16 million euros) move by firing the winner early in the first half.

Dortmund captain Schmelzer out of Spurs clash

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer will miss Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley with torn ankle ligaments, the German club confirmed.

A scan on Sunday on the left-back’s right ankle revealed the injury after Schmelzer was stretchered off with half an hour gone of Saturday’s goalless draw at Freiburg.

Wood’s debut winner piles pressure on Palace boss De Boer

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chris Wood’s dream debut for Burnley pushed Frank De Boer to the brink of the sack as Crystal Palace crashed to a 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor on Sunday.

New Zealand international Wood marked his maiden appearance for Burnley following his club record £15 million ($19 million, 16 million euros) move by firing the winner early in the first half.

Burnley keeper Heaton faces long absence after shoulder injury

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton is likely to be sidelined for several months after the England international suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Heaton landed awkwardly on his shoulder after colliding with team-mate Ben Mee as he caught the ball in the first half at Turf Moor.

Wood’s debut winner piles pressure on De Boer

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Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chris Wood’s dream debut for Burnley pushed Frank De Boer to the brink of the sack as Crystal Palace crashed to a 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor on Sunday.

New Zealand international Wood marked his maiden appearance for Burnley following his club record £15 million ($19 million, 16 million euros) move by firing the winner early in the first half.

Real Sociedad go joint top with win at Deportivo

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Sociedad scored twice early and late to see off Deportivo la Coruna 4-2 and move alongside Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Sunday.

The Basques shot into a 2-0 lead at La Riazor inside five minutes thanks to goals from Juanmi and Asier Illarramendi.

Deportivo fought back, though, as Adrian Lopez pulled a goal back before half-time before on loan Arsenal forward Lucas Perez was summoned from the bench on his return to Galicia.

Germany’s Steinhaus becomes first female ref in Europe’s top leagues

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus made history on Sunday by becoming the first female referee to officiate a match in a top European league.

The 38-year-old police officer became the first woman to ref a top-tier match in the German, English, French, Italian or Spanish leagues when she took charge of Hertha Berlin’s home Bundesliga match against Werder Bremen.

Inter join Juventus at top of Serie A

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Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan claimed a third straight win with a Mauro Icardi penalty and Ivan Perisic volley giving them a 2-0 win over SPAL to join Juventus at the top of the Serie A table on Sunday.

Champions Juventus beat Chievo 3-0 on Saturday and Luciano Spalletti’s side were too strong for promoted SPAL in the San Siro.

De Bruyne masterclass leaves Guardiola purring

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola said Manchester City were lucky to have Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgium midfielder inspired his team to a resounding 5-0 victory over Premier League rivals Liverpool.

De Bruyne created goals for Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus and had a hand in one of Leroy Sane’s two strikes as City recorded their biggest win over Liverpool since March 1937.

Mourinho confidence undimmed by Stoke road bump

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho claimed his confidence in his Manchester United side remains intact despite seeing Stoke City end their perfect start to the Premier League season with a 2-2 draw.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored twice for the Potters, becoming the first player to score against United in four games this season and making Stoke the first side to deny them maximum points.

Wenger tells Sanchez to counter jeers on pitch

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has called on Alexis Sanchez to deliver on the pitch and silence those Arsenal fans who jeered him during the 3-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth.

Sanchez came close to a deadline day move to Manchester City, only to see Arsenal pull out of the deal after they failed to land Monaco’s Thomas Lemar as his replacement.

Conte delivers Kante warning to rivals

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte warned the rest of the Premier League that double player of the year N’Golo Kante is only going to get better.

The combative French midfielder won the PFA and Football Writers’ award last season after his performances inspired Chelsea to the Championship.

Messi hat-trick ensures Barcelona pounce on Madrid stumble

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi’s hat-trick saw Barcelona move four points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Ousmane Dembele marked his debut with an assist in a 5-0 rout of local rivals Espanyol on Saturday.

Earlier, Madrid paid for the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held to a shock 1-1 home draw by newly-promoted Levante.

Messi hat-trick ensures Barca pounce on Madrid stumble

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Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi’s hat-trick saw Barcelona move four points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Ousmane Dembele marked his debut with an assist in a 5-0 rout of local rivals Espanyol on Saturday.

Earlier, Madrid paid for the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held to a shock 1-1 home draw by newly-promoted Levante.

Dybala lifts Juventus in Serie A ahead of Barcelona trip

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Milan (AFP) – Paulo Dybala inspired Juventus to a 3-0 win over Chievo on Saturday to keep the Serie A title-holders unbeaten ahead of next week’s Champions League opener at Barcelona.

Three days ahead of their trip to the Camp Nou Massimiliano Allegri tested his troops after the international break which had deprived the champions of key players.

South African football squad to discuss ‘devastating’ FIFA order

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Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa football bosses will meet Monday to discuss a “devastating” FIFA order that a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal must be replayed after the referee manipulated the result.

National association president Danny Jordaan said Saturday in a statement that issues for debate could include appealing the decision, writing to FIFA or taking legal action.

Manchester United held as Choupo-Moting scores double for Stoke

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting ended Manchester United’s perfect start to the Premier League season as his first two goals for Stoke secured a 2-2 draw against Jose Mourinho’s side on Saturday.

Choupo-Moting gave Stoke the lead before grabbing the crucial equaliser after Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku had put United ahead.

Juventus ease past Chievo ahead of Barcelona trip

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus prepared for next week’s Champions League opener at Barcelona by easing to a 3-0 win against Chievo on Saturday to keep their unbeaten Serie A record.

Three days ahead of their trip to the Camp Nou Massimiliano Allegri tested his troops after the international break which had deprived the champions of key players.

Bayern crash to shock defeat at Hoffenheim

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Berlin (AFP) – Striker Mark Uth netted twice as defending champions Bayern Munich slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat at Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga on Saturday.

Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti paid the price for rotating his squad, having started with both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on the bench, ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match at home to Anderlecht.

Manchester City rout Reds, Manchester United held by Stoke

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London (AFP) – Manchester City capitalised on Sadio Mane’s controversial red card to thrash title rivals Liverpool 5-0, while Manchester United lost their 100 percent record after a 2-2 draw at Stoke on Saturday.

City goalkeeper Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s boot as he raced out to head the ball away, with the Liverpool winger dismissed for the clash late in the first half at Eastlands.

Chelsea call on fans to stop anti-Semitic chant about striker Alvaro Morata

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea were forced to plead with their fans to ditch an anti-Semitic song about the club’s striker Alvaro Morata after they sang the offensive chant during a 2-1 win at Leicester City on Saturday.

Morata scored his third goal for Chelsea since his club record move from Real Madrid to open the scoring.

Manchester City rout Reds, Mancehster United held by Stoke

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London (AFP) – Manchester City capitalised on Sadio Mane’s controversial red card to thrash title rivals Liverpool 5-0, while Manchester United lost their 100 percent record after a 2-2 draw at Stoke on Saturday.

City goalkeeper Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s boot as he raced out to head the ball away, with the Liverpool winger dismissed for the clash late in the first half at Eastlands.

Balotelli double helps Nice thrash Monaco

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli scored a brace as Monaco’s record 16-match winning streak in Ligue 1 was ended with a 4-0 thumping by Nice at the Allianz Riviera on Saturday.

Balotelli’s early penalty put Nice ahead, before Alassane Plea made it two in the 18th minute.

Monaco tried to apply some pressure early in the second period, but Balotelli completed a brace to put the game beyond the reach of the reigning French champions and teenage substitute Ignatius Ganago finished the rout to leave the visitors shell-shocked.

Welbeck brace lifts mood for Arsenal’s Wenger

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London (AFP) – Danny Welbeck’s double fired Arsenal to a 3-0 victory over Bournemouth that lifted the pressure on Arsene Wenger on Saturday.

England forward Welbeck struck in either half and also played his part in an Alexandre Lacazette goal at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal recovered from their thrashing at Liverpool before the international break.

Nice thrashes Monaco thanks to Balotelli double

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli scored a brace as Monaco’s record 16-match winning streak in Ligue 1 was ended with a 4-0 thumping by Nice at the Allianz Riviera on Saturday.

Balotelli’s early penalty put Nice ahead, before Alassane Plea made it two in the 18th minute.

Monaco tried to apply some pressure early in the second period, but Balotelli completed a brace to put the game beyond the reach of the reigning French champions and substitute Ignatius Ganago finished the rout to leave the visitors shell-shocked.

City rout Reds, Arsenal ease pressure on Wenger

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London (AFP) – Manchester City capitalised on Sadio Mane’s controversial red card to thrash title rivals Liverpool 5-0, while Arsenal eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger with a vital 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.

City goalkeeper Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s boot as he raced out to head the ball away, with the Liverpool winger dismissed for the clash late in the first half at Eastlands.

Dortmund suffer double injury blow as Spurs loom

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Berlin (AFP) – Marcel Schmelzer and Marc Bartra both suffered injuries in Borussia Dortmund’s frustrating goalless draw at 10-man Freiburg on Saturday ahead of their midweek Wembley clash against Tottenham Hotspur.

Dortmund play Spurs at London’s iconic stadium on Wednesday in their opening Champions League group stage match, but lost Schmelzer to an ankle injury and Bartra with a groin strain in Freiburg.

Chelsea’s Kante returns to haunt Leicester

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – A rare N’Golo Kante goal on his return to Leicester gave Premier League champions Chelsea a 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Kante struck five minutes after half-time with a low shot that appeared to take City keeper Kasper Schmeichel by surprise as it came though a crowd of players to find the bottom corner.

Tottenham nails Everton with double from Kane

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Liverpool (AFP) – Harry Kane placed his by-now customary August problems firmly behind him, scoring twice as Tottenham’s emphatic 3-0 victory against Everton at Goodison Park announced a return to form for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Christian Eriksen scored in between Kane’s two goals as Spurs maintained a run, dating back to last season, which has seen them win four consecutive away league games while scoring 18 goals.

Silva’s Watford see off Saints, soar to fourth

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Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Marco Silva’s Watford climbed to fourth in the Premier League on Saturday after a 2-0 win at Southampton to remain unbeaten in their opening four games for the first time.

Goals in either half from Abdoulaye Doucoure and substitute Daryl Janmaat maintained Watford’s jaunty start to the campaign which began with their fighting 3-3 draw with Liverpool.

Manchester City rout Reds, Arsenal ease pressure on Wenger

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London (AFP) – Manchester City capitalised on Sadio Mane’s controversial red card to thrash title rivals Liverpool 5-0, while Arsenal eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger with a vital 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.

City goalkeeper Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s boot as he raced out to head the ball away, with the Liverpool winger dismissed for the clash late in the first half at Eastlands.

Gross ends Brighton’s 34-year wait for top-flight win

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pascal Gross was Brighton’s hero as the Seagulls clinched their first top-flight win since 1983 with a 3-1 success against West Bromwich Albion at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

German midfielder Gross bagged a brace and laid on the third for Tomer Hemed to give the Premier League new boys their maiden three points since last season’s promotion.

Dortmund held by 10-man Freiburg as Champions League Spurs clash looms

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Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund stuttered to a frustrating goalless draw at 10-man Freiburg in the German Bundesliga on Saturday ahead of their midweek Wembley clash against Tottenham Hotspur.

Dortmund face Spurs at London’s iconic stadium on Wednesday in a high-profile opening Champions League group stage match.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for August 29-September 4, 2017

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In the soccer TV ratings game, the United States kept it close with Mexico this international break as their matches kicked off back to back. The United States played first, drawing nearly 2.4 million viewers total and over 1 million from both the English language ESPN and Spanish language Univision broadcasts.

Bring on Monaco, boasts Leipzig coach

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Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl says his side proved they are ready for their Champions League debut at home to Monaco on Wednesday after producing two stunning goals in the Bundesliga.

Leipzig earned a 2-0 win at Hamburg on Friday after Liverpool-bound Naby Keita unleashed a fierce drive from outside the area, which hit the top right-hand corner from 20 metres, following a quickly-taken free kick.

Benzema injury exposes Real striking options

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema looks set to miss the holders’ Champions League opener against APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday after limping off with a hamstring injury in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Levante.

Gareth Bale was forced to play as an auxiliary centre-forward after replacing the Frenchman midway through the first-half as the European champions dropped points at home for the second consecutive game.

World Cup trophy starts tour in Moscow

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Moscow (AFP) – The World Cup trophy tour began a worldwide tour in Moscow on Saturday at a ceremony attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino.

Ten months before the 2018 World Cup kicks off there, the ceremony took place at Luzhniki stadium, which has been fully renovated and will also host the final and five other matches.

Sadio Mane off as five-star Man City crush Liverpool

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool’s Sadio Mane was dismissed for a challenge that saw goalkeeper Ederson stretchered off as Manchester City destroyed their Premier League title rivals 5-0 on Saturday.

Brazilian Ederson was carried off in a neck brace after being caught in the face by Mane’s foot as he raced out to head the ball away late in the first half and the Liverpool forward was shown a straight red card.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on TV this weekend

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Football, the American version, will be back on a lot of screens across the United States this weekend after a prolonged absence. But soccer, following a two-week international break that felt like a summer layoff, still takes centre stage here.

In Europe the top divisions can settle into a groove until the next international layoff, that is, somewhat annoyingly, in a month’s time.

France’s Bautheac joins Brisbane Roar

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Sydney (AFP) – French winger Eric Bautheac has signed with Brisbane Roar for the next Australian A-League season, the club said on Saturday.

Bautheac, 30, joins Roar as a free agent from LOSC Lille.

The pacey attacker, who also had playing stints with AS Cannes, Dijon and Nice, has made a total of 172 appearances in Ligue 1, scoring 26 goals.

Real Madrid held by Levante as Marcelo sees red

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid paid for the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held 1-1 at home by Levante on Saturday.

A slow start by a much-changed Real team was punished when Ivi Lopez fired newly-promoted Levante into a shock lead after just 12 minutes.

Brendan Rodgers confident Celtic can handle Neymar and PSG

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Glasgow (AFP) – The world’s most expensive player Neymar and his side Paris Saint Germain hold no fear for Scottish champions Celtic says the latter’s manager Brendan Rodgers.

Neymar, French starlet Kylian Mbappe - signed on loan from Monaco with a view to a huge transfer fee next year - and Uruguayan veteran Edinson Cavani are due in Glasgow for Tuesday’s Champions League opener.

Wenger to lose key ally in transfer negotiator Law

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London (AFP) – Under-fire Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been dealt a blow with news that key ally and transfer negotiator Dick Law is to leave the troubled Premier League giants.

Law - who has along with Wenger been severely criticised for the club’s transfer policy over the past few years - had surprised many when he remained in his post in the close season as back in May it had been stated he would leave.

Chelsea still attractive to stars says Conte

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte insists Chelsea can still attract the world’s best players despite the chaotic conclusion to their transfer window.

Conte spent much of the close season grumbling about Chelsea’s failure to land his top targets after watching Manchester United beat him to Romelu Lukaku’s signature.

Manchester City priced out of Evans move – Guardiola

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City failed in a move to sign centre-back Jonny Evans because they were simply unable to meet West Bromwich Albion’s asking price, says manager Pep Guardiola.

City were accused of “financial doping” by La Liga chief Javier Tebas after spending around £215 million ($284 million, 236 million euros) on new players during the close-season transfer window.

Thousands attend first Mogadishu night-time football match in decades

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Mogadishu (AFP) – Several thousand fans on Friday watched the first night-time football match to be played in Mogadishu since chaos descended on the Somali capital nearly three decades ago, raucously backing their respective teams in what the mayor called a “historic” event.

The match - the final of a city-wide club tournament for 16- to 18-year-olds - took place at the Konis Stadium, which has been renovated by FIFA.

Manchester United can swagger to league title, says Mourinho

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says recent history proves it takes a defensive mindset to win the Premier League, although he insists his Manchester United side can buck that trend.

In one of his by-now frequent and thinly veiled critiques of his former club Chelsea, Mourinho pointed out that his successor Antonio Conte employed a defence-first, counter-attacking style to win last season’s title.

Mbappe nets debut strike as PSG thrash Metz

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe scored on his debut as Paris Saint-Germain eased to a 5-1 away thumping of 10-man Metz in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Neymar’s pin-point through ball created the opening goal for Edinson Cavani in the 31st minute, only for Emmanuel Riviere to head in an equaliser before half-time.

Keita, Werner net as Leipzig win at Hamburg

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Berlin (AFP) – Naby Keita and Timo Werner netted second-half goals to seal RB Leipzig’s 2-0 win at Hamburg on Friday to give their Bundesliga club a confidence-booster before their Champions League debut.

It was an important win for Leipzig who play in the Champions League for the first time at home to Monaco on Wednesday.

Football transfer window the talk of Europe

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Madrid (AFP) – The European football transfer window may now be closed but there was talk of little else this week as the likes of top coaches Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel made calls for sweeping changes.

The subject is at the centre of attention not only because of the soaring inflation that marked the latest round of transfers, but also because of the mayhem losing top players can wreak on a team’s best-laid plans.

Dembele settled ahead of Barcelona debut, says Valverde

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Barcelona (AFP) – Young French forward Ousmane Dembele is “looking better every day”, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said ahead of his debut on Saturday.

Dembele, 20, joined Barcelona for a Spanish record transfer fee of 105 million euros ($125 million) from Borussia Dortmund that could rise to 145m euros with add-ons.

Sanchez seeks to put transfer blow behind him

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are proponents of crowd-pleasing attacking football which should make Saturday’s Premier League clash between Manchester City and Liverpool an eye-catching affair.

However, both City’s Guardiola and Klopp at Liverpool are under pressure this season to turn the attractive styles into silverware.

Lewandowski criticises Bayern’s spending policy

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Berlin (AFP) – Top striker Robert Lewandowski has said Bayern Munich must spend more on star players or risk being left trailing their rivals.

“Bayern have to think something up and be more creative if the club wants to attract a world-class player to Munich,” Lewandowski told magazine Der Spiegel in a critical interview.

First Mogadishu night-time football match in decades

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Mogadishu (AFP) – Football fans in Mogadishu were preparing Friday to cheer on their teams in the first night-time match since chaos descended on the Somali capital nearly three decades ago.

The tournament for 16- and 18-year-olds at the Konis Stadium, renovated by FIFA, will be played under tight security because of the constant threat posed by the Shabaab Islamist group.

Merkel urges tougher rules to end sky-high transfers

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Berlin (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday urged football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA to tighten rules governing transfers and stamp out spiralling record spending on players.

“I view the financial developments in professional football as critically as many people,” she told Mittelbayerische Zeitung daily.

Pele delighted by Neymar’s PSG switch

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Paris (AFP) – Brazilian legend Pele hailed Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain as an opportunity for his his compatriot to “be the big star”, in an interview with goal.com on Friday.

Pele, who won the World Cup three times as a player and scored over 1,000 goals during his career, said that it would be good for Neymar to leave the shadow of former Barca teammate Lionel Messi.

FIFA open disciplinary proceedings against Alli over finger gesture

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London (AFP) – England’s Dele Alli could face a suspension after FIFA on Friday confirmed it had opened disciplinary proceedings over the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder’s obscene gesture during a World Cup qualifier.

Alli stuck his middle finger up during the national side’s match against Slovakia on Monday but said after the game the hand signal had been directed at teammate Kyle Walker as a joke.

Frank de Boer positive about Palace future

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer said on Friday he remained “very positive for the future” despite swirling rumours his job is on the line after a miserable start to the Premier League season.

The former Ajax and Inter Milan head coach was only appointed by the south London club during the summer but he is under intense scrutiny after three defeats from three matches.

Guardiola said ‘no’ to Sanchez-Sterling swap

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola personally made sure Raheem Sterling would not be allowed to join Arsenal in a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez, he revealed on Friday.

The two clubs spent transfer deadline day locked in talks over City’s desire to sign Sanchez, only for the deal to collapse because Arsenal were unable to sign their preferred replacement, Monaco winger Thomas Lemar.

Zidane favours transfer window closing before season start

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane added his voice Friday to the growing clamour for the summer transfer window to close before the season starts across Europe.

English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to shut the 2018 close-season transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign following complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations.

Zidane, Ancelotti want transfer window closed before season start

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti on Friday added to growing calls for the summer transfer window to close before the season starts across Europe.

English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to shut the 2018 close-season transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign following complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations.

Jose Mourinho disappointed over Pereira loan move

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has questioned young midfielder Andreas Pereira’s decision to leave Old Trafford on loan to Valencia rather than stay and fight for a place in Manchester United’s first-team squad.

The 21-year-old Brazilian defied Mourinho’s express advice when he sought, and accepted, a temporary move to the La Liga side, having spent all of last season on loan at Granada.

Kompany out of Man City’s Liverpool clash

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany will miss his side’s Premier League showdown with Liverpool on Saturday due to a calf injury, manager Pep Guardiola revealed on Friday.

The centre-back, who has a long history of calf problems, sustained the injury after completing the 90 minutes of Belgium’s 4-0 victory over Gibraltar in World Cup qualifying last week.

Coutinho left out of Liverpool squad to play Man City

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London (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho has been left out of Liverpool’s squad to face Manchester City this weekend over his fitness but manager Jurgen Klopp said the Brazilian did nothing “unforgivable” during Barcelona’s pursuit of him.

The playmaker, who returned from international duty this week, was linked with a move to the Catalan giants following the departure of his compatriot Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain but Liverpool refused to budge.

41 cities bidding for 2026 World Cup games

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Forty-one cities in Canada, Mexico and the United States have submitted bids to serve as host cities for the 2026 World Cup, officials said Thursday.

The joint North American bid is seen as the favorite for 2026, with only one other bid - Morocco - so far in the running for the tournament.

Rooney looks to redeem himself against Spurs

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Liverpool (AFP) – Everton manager Ronald Koeman confirmed striker Wayne Rooney will play against Tottenham on Saturday despite a drink drive charge hanging over the striker.

Rooney was arrested a week ago and has a court hearing on September 18th after being released on bail over the incident.

Stoke manager Hughes out to end Manchester United’s 100% start

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United have made the perfect start to the Premier League season, but one of their most fondly remembered former strikers is plotting their downfall.

Jose Mourinho’s side have begun the campaign with three wins from three matches, without conceding a goal, and start the weekend top of the table as they prepare to visit Stoke City on Saturday.

New Liverpool recruit Oxlade-Chamberlain itching to start work

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London (AFP) – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is itching to start work with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and could make his debut in Saturday’s Premier League headline clash with Manchester City.

The England midfielder, 24, rejected a new contract offer from Arsenal and an approach from champions Chelsea to join Liverpool in a £35 million ($45.

Allegri’s Juve warm-up for Barca against Chievo

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri will get a final chance to test his troops before next week’s Champions League opener at Barcelona in Saturday’s Serie A tie at home against Chievo.

Serie A champions Juventus travel to the Camp Nou on Tuesday to take on the Catalan side they eliminated in the quarter-finals of the European competition last season.

Chelsea manager Conte has no worries over squad’s resilience

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is confident his squad can cope with a far busier September than last year.

The reigning Premier League champions will kick off at Leicester on Saturday in sixth place on six points, one spot below West Bromwich and one above Watford whilst Leicester are three points worse off and fifth from bottom after three games.

Dembele debuts at Barcelona, Atletico face resurgent Valencia

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Madrid (AFP) – The most expensive player in Barcelona’s history will take to the field for the first time on Saturday as Ousmane Dembele debuts in a Catalan derby against Espanyol.

Atletico Madrid travel to a revitalised Valencia in the headline clash of the weekend, whilst there is an early start for champions Real Madrid.

Mancini demands Russian Premier League title focus from Zenit

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Moscow (AFP) – Roberto Mancini’s Zenit St Petersburg will hope to make it five wins in a row against Dynamo Moscow when they meet in the Russian Premier League on Sunday.

But Mancini has warned his charges to take newly promoted Dynamo seriously after watching his side struggle to a 0-0 draw in their last league match before the international break.

Coutinho and Sanchez seek to overcome transfer disappointment

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London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are proponents of crowd-pleasing attacking football which should make Saturday’s Premier League clash between Manchester City and Liverpool an eye-catching affair.

However, both City’s Guardiola and Klopp at Liverpool are under pressure this season to turn the attractive styles into silverware.

Pochettino threatens to ‘head-butt’ Aurier if he steps out of line

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has threatened to “head-butt” new signing Serge Aurier if he steps out of line in a stark warning over his expected behaviour at the club.

The talented Ivorian right-back joined Spurs for £23 million ($30 million, 25 million euros) from PSG on transfer deadline day last week.

FIFA investigate Dele Alli middle finger gesture

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London (AFP) – FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli after the player was caught making an obscene gesture during an England match, the world governing body announced on Friday.

Alli stuck his middle finger up during the national side’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday but said after the game the gesture had been directed at teammate Kyle Walker as a joke.

Tottenham striker Janssen to join Fenerbahce on loan

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur striker Vincent Janssen is set to join Fenerbahce on loan after failing to establish himself in Mauricio Pochettino’s side, the Turkish club said in a statement on Friday.

The Dutch forward, who joined Spurs from AZ Alkmaar in July 2016, was left out of Spurs’ Champions League squad after the Londoners signed Fernando Llorente from Swansea.

Ronaldo ‘delighted’ to be staying at Real – president

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo, hounded by allegations of tax evasion in Spain, is “delighted” to be staying at Real Madrid, according to club president Florentino Perez, who called claims that the Portuguese striker might leave the country exaggerated.

“As he said a little while back, he’s delighted to be here.

Sanchez has mentality to deliver for Arsenal, says Wenger

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London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger says his star forward Alexis Sanchez has the mentality to deliver for Arsenal despite suffering the disappointment of an aborted transfer to Manchester City.

The London club reportedly agreed a fee for the Chilean forward on transfer deadline day, only for the deal to collapse after Wenger was unable to complete a move for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar.

State-of-art Spurs stadium to have unique feature

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur’s new 61,000-seater stadium will boast an historic feature by having the first dividing retractable football pitch, the Premier League side announced Thursday.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has said in the past he is keen to host a London NFL franchise and, with this in mind, there will be a grass surface for football and beneath it an artificial surface for American football.

Monaco to reinvest in football training centre

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Monaco (AFP) – Monaco may have sold a swathe of top players but the club said Thursday they will invest 50 million euros ($60 million) on the training ground that helped produce the 2017 French champions.

Club vice president Vadim Vasilyev announced that work would begin in 2018 at the club’s La Turbie training centre.

Premier League to close transfer window before season

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London (AFP) – English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to shut the 2018 close-season transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Following complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations, clubs will not be able to register new players after 1600 GMT on the Thursday before the season starts.

South Africa may appeal FIFA replay order

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Soweto (South Africa) (AFP) – South Africa may appeal a FIFA decision ordering the replay of a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal after the referee manipulated the result.

“The South African Football Association (SAFA) is studying the contents of the report and will issue a statement on intentions to challenge that decision,” the organisation said Thursday.

Juventus boss backs Premier League transfer window move

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta has backed the decision by English Premier League clubs to close the transfer window before the start of the season and wants Serie A to follow suit.

Premier League clubs voted that new players not be allowed to register after 1600 GMT on the Thursday before the season starts.

Aurier to enjoy fresh start at Spurs – Pochettino

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London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said Thursday he is confident new signing Serge Aurier will seize his chance after the player was dogged by disciplinary problems at Paris Saint-Germain.

The talented Ivorian right-back joined Spurs for £23 million ($30 million, 25 million euros) from PSG on transfer deadline day last week.

Fuming Mueller grumbles from Bayern’s bench

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich play Hoffenheim away on Saturday with the spotlight on whether out-of-favour Germany star Thomas Mueller plays for the defending Bundesliga champions.

The 27-year-old World Cup winner is struggling for a place in Bayern’s starting line-up under Carlo Ancelotti, but impressed for Germany on Monday, creating two goals in a 6-0 rout of Norway in a World Cup qualifier.

Premier League to close transfer window before 2018 season start

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London (AFP) – English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to close the 2018 close-season transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Following complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations, Premier League clubs will not be able to register new players after 1600 GMT on the Thursday before the season starts.

New season, same old problems for Arsenal manager Wenger

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London (AFP) – Under fire from furious fans and unable to placate his unsettled stars, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger finds himself assailed by familiar problems just weeks into the new season as he battles to salvage his tarnished reputation.

Just four months ago, the Frenchman was celebrating an FA Cup final triumph against Chelsea that the 67-year-old hoped would herald a new era of sustained success.

Brendan Rodgers looks to Celtic young guns for help

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Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers will return to his roots as he looks to his youth players to help his side through a busy month domestically and in Europe.

The Scottish champions return to action on Friday following the international break when they travel to take on Hamilton at New Douglas Park.

Football: China dare to believe despite World Cup exit

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Beijing (AFP) – Marcello Lippi is slowly beginning to make China believe they can become a footballing power, despite another failure to reach the World Cup finals.

Since his appointment as head coach in October 2016 with China rock bottom of their Asian zone World Cup qualifying group, the Italian has presided over a resurgence that saw just one defeat in six matches, 1-0 away to runaway group winners Iran.

‘I’ve lost it!’ Tearful Syrian football commentator goes viral

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Hong Kong (AFP) – A TV commentator who broke down in tears while celebrating Syria’s priceless World Cup qualifying equaliser against Iran has gone viral, racking up more than one million views online.

When Omar Al Soma scored in the 93rd minute, earning Syria a 2-2 draw and a place in the Asian play-offs for Russia 2018, the commentator was overcome with emotion as he shouted excitedly for two minutes.

Man City threaten Tebas with legal action

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London (AFP) – Manchester City have threatened La Liga president Javier Tebas with legal action after he said their partnership with Spanish club Girona was an attempt to “cook the books”.

Tebas made his remarks during an appearance at the Soccerex football conference in Manchester on Wednesday.

Arsenal’s Wenger backs Sanchez to return to form

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London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has voiced confidence that Alexis Sanchez will put his aborted transfer to Manchester City behind him “very quickly”.

Arsenal reportedly agreed a fee for Sanchez with City on transfer deadline day, only for the deal to collapse after Wenger was unable to complete a move for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar.

Liverpool’s wantaway Coutinho reports for training

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London (AFP) – Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho on Thursday returned to training at the club after failing to push through a move from the Premier League giants.

The Brazil playmaker submitted a transfer request on the eve of the season but Liverpool repeatedly rebuffed Barcelona’s attempts to lure him to the Camp Nou.

Mbappe embarks on new adventure with PSG

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe takes centre stage on Friday as the French league returns from the international break with Paris Saint-Germain taking on Metz where they will unleash their latest marquee recruit.

The 18-year-old starlet joined PSG on a season-long loan from champions Monaco in a deal that includes the option to buy Mbappe for a fee rising to 180 million euros ($215 million), the second most expensive transfer in history.

Deposed Spanish football federation chief ordered to resign

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Madrid (AFP) – Suspended Spanish FA chief Angel Maria Villar was ordered to resign by the federation on Wednesday to pave the way for an election to find his successor.

The 67-year-old is suspended after his arrest on July 18 on suspicion of falsifying documents, misappropriation of funds, collusion and administrative breaches linked to skimming profits from international friendly games.

FIFA orders SAfrica to replay Senegal WC qualifier

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Paris (AFP) – FIFA on Wednesday ordered a World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Senegal to be replayed after the referee was banned for match fixing.

The November 2016 tie, which will be restaged in November, was won by South Africa 2-1 after Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey awarded them a controversial penalty.

Why the US soccer media doesn’t get it: World Soccer Talk Podcast

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

In the NEW episode, number 42, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Christopher Harris cover a range of topics including:

• US sports networks are too soft on the US Men’s National Team,

• What the UEFA Champions League TV schedule reveals about FOX,

• Opinions about the job that beIN SPORTS and ESPN did in analyzing the two recent results by the US team and

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

Mbappe turned down Arsenal to seal PSG switch

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London (AFP) – Paris Saint Germain forward Kylian Mbappe says he rejected an approach from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in favour of moving to the French giants.

Mbappe spoke with Wenger over the possibility of leaving Monaco to join the Gunners, but instead he decided to return to the French capital.

La Liga chief says PSG make mockery of system

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Qatari-owned French side Paris Saint-Germain are “laughing” at the financial fair play (FPP) system, a combative Javier Tebas, president of Spain’s La Liga, said on Wednesday.

The 55-year-old also warned that if he was not satisfied with UEFA’s response to La Liga’s concerns regarding the lavish spending of both PSG and Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City then he would consider taking his case to Brussels and the European Union.

World Cup failure puts Qatar back in spotlight

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Doha (AFP) – At the very same time as Syria’s football “miracle” unfolded this week, two rather sorrier World Cup tales were played out.

In a virtually empty, expensively-refurbished 2022 World Cup venue, Khalifa International, two of football’s most ambitious nations, Qatar and China, confirmed their exits from the 2018 tournament to almost global indifference.

Iceland featured in FIFA 18 game

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Reykjavik (AFP) – Iceland fans rejoice. The Nordic country’s national team will be featured in the FIFA 18 video game, its football association announced on Wednesday, after reaching an agreement with the developer EA Sports.

The deal comes nearly one year after Iceland rejected EA Sports’ first offer of two million kronur (around 15,500 euros, $18,400) for the FIFA 17 game because the football association deemed the amount too meagre, especially after the team’s success at Euro 2016.

Every second counts as Leicester scramble to register Silva

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London (AFP) – Leicester face a fight with FIFA to secure the immediate availability of Portugal midfielder Adrien Silva after reportedly missing the deadline to register their new signing by just 14 seconds.

Craig Shakespeare’s side agreed a £22 million ($28 million, 24 million euros) deal with Sporting Lisbon for the 28-year-old on August 31, the final day of the summer transfer window.

Albanian ‘drone-flyer’ fighting extradition to Serbia

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Zagreb (AFP) – The Albanian who sparked a diplomatic crisis by flying a flag-draped drone at a Euro 2016 qualifier in Belgrade is fighting extradition to Serbia, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Ismail Morina, 35, was arrested in the Croatian coastal town of Dubrovnik in June after Serbia issued an arrest warrant for “provoking racial, national and religious hatred”.

Men charged over Hillsborough disaster to go on trial

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London (AFP) – Five men charged over the Hillsborough football stadium disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died, will go on trial next year, a British judge ruled on Wednesday.

A sixth man, who has not yet been formally charged, could join the other five defendants in the dock.

The trial - the first since the 1989 disaster - is expected to start on September 10, 2018 in Preston, northwest England.

Mbappe says change of heart triggered PSG move

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe revealed a change of heart prompted him to join Paris Saint-Germain from French champions Monaco in a deal poised to become the second most expensive transfer in history.

The 18-year-old France striker said at the end of last season he had decided to stay with Monaco, but confessed on Wednesday that “certain events happened which made me change my mind”.

Schedule of UEFA Champions League games on US TV and streaming (Sept. 12-13)

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We have the preliminary TV and streaming schedule for the first two days of the UEFA Champions League, which kick off next week.

For soccer fans in the United States, the matches will be shown across FS1, FS2, FOX Soccer Plus, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports Net, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV, fuboTV, ESPN3 and FOX Soccer Match Pass.

Fans jubilant as Saudi Arabia reach World Cup

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Riyadh (AFP) – Jubilant soccer fans celebrated after Saudi Arabia qualified for next year’s World Cup, with many rallying behind Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform program that promotes sports in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Saudi Arabia stunned Japan on Tuesday to reach their first World Cup since 2006, with a 1-0 victory in Jeddah that consigned Australia to the play-offs.

Relief as Immobile saves stuttering Italy

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Reggio Emilia (Italy) (AFP) – The relief was palpable on Wednesday after Ciro Immobile kept Italy’s World Cup campaign on track despite an unconvincing 1-0 qualifying win by the four-time champions over Israel in Reggio Emilia.

A shell-shocked Azzurri needed to hit back hard after falling to a 3-0 defeat to Spain in Madrid on Saturday, which all but ended their hopes of automatic qualification to the tournament in Russia.

Player ratings for US Men’s National Team after 1-1 draw against Honduras

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An out-of-nothing 85th minute rebound goal for Bobby Wood gave the United States the 1-1 draw it needed to remain on the inside track to qualify for Russia 2018 in Honduras on Tuesday.

In a vacuum, this was a good result for the U.S. All points taken on the road during World Cup qualifying are good points, and San Pedro Sula in particular is a nightmarish place to play.

Mourinho lauds Man Utd’s transfer savings

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London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho says Manchester United made huge savings in the transfer market by getting their business done before Neymar’s world record move to Paris Saint-Germain triggered a global price spike.

Mourinho paid a British record fee of £75 million ($97 million, 82 million euros) for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku and took his spending to over £130 million with swoops for Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic and Benfica defender Victor Lindelof.

Bobby Wood rescues USA with Honduras draw

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San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – Hamburg striker Bobby Wood scored a late equaliser to salvage a crucial 1-1 draw for the United States in their World Cup qualifier with Honduras on Tuesday.

Wood bundled in an 85th-minute leveller just 12 minutes after coming on as a substitute to rescue a point for the Americans in sweltering conditions at the Olimpico Metropolitano Stadium.

Argentina struggle to Venezuela draw in World Cup qualifier

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentina struggled to a 1-1 draw with Venezuela Tuesday which left the South American giants’ 2018 World Cup qualification hopes hanging in the balance.

A second-half own goal from Venezuela defender Rolf Feltscher spared Argentina’s blushes after the visitors had taken the lead through Jhon Murillo.

Argentina, Chile stumble, Uruguay on brink in World Cup qualifiers

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Montevideo (AFP) – Argentina and Chile’s World Cup qualification hopes were left on a knife edge Tuesday after the South American heavyweights slipped up once again on the road to next year’s finals in Russia.

Argentina needed a second-half own goal to help them snatch a 1-1 draw against already-eliminated Venezuela in Buenos Aires while Chile crashed to a 1-0 defeat against Bolivia in La Paz.

Disappointed Socceroos still dreaming of Russia World Cup

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Melbourne (AFP) – Coach Ange Postecoglou says his team will hit the ground running in their arduous World Cup play-off against Syria, brushing aside frustration at failing to qualify automatically for Russia.

The Socceroos beat Thailand 2-1 in their final Asian qualifying Group B game on Tuesday, but with Saudi Arabia upsetting Japan 1-0 it consigned them to a dangerous two-leg play-off against the war-ravaged Syrians.

Syrian joy as football World Cup dream lives on

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Hong Kong (AFP) – Syrian fans expressed joy as their fairytale World Cup campaign headed into an Asian play-off against Australia - whose coach found himself under rising pressure.

Saudi Arabia also celebrated booking their spot at Russia 2018, but South Korean supporters appeared unconvinced after a 0-0 draw with Uzbekistan took their team to a ninth straight World Cup.

Iran hackers demand women be allowed to watch football

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Tehran (AFP) – The website of Iran’s main stadium was hacked on Wednesday with a demand that women be allowed to watch football matches, a day after female lawmakers were permitted to attend.

Iran’s nail-biting World Cup qualifier against Syria in Tehran’s Azadi stadium was notable for more than just the last-minute equaliser by the visiting team.

Football super agent Mendes summoned over Ronaldo tax evasion case

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Madrid (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has been summoned before a Spanish court as part of a probe into alleged tax evasion by the world player of the year, judicial sources confirmed on Wednesday.

Mendes has been called to give evidence along with two of Ronaldo’s other advisors, Luis Correia and Carlos Osorio, on October 19 in the upmarket Pozuelo de Alarcon suburb of Madrid, home to many of the city’s football stars.

Di Maria thigh injury raises PSG fears

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria could be sidelined for several weeks after injuring his left thigh during Argentina’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Venezuela on Tuesday.

Di Maria was replaced in the 25th minute of the 1-1 draw in Buenos Aires with a muscle injury, according to the Argentine national team’s medical staff.

Falcao strikes as Colombia snatch Brazil draw

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Barranquilla (Colombia) (AFP) – Radamel Falcao scored a second half equaliser as Colombia snatched a 1-1 draw to halt Brazil’s remarkable run of nine consecutive World Cup qualifying victories on Tuesday.

Falcao headed home on 56 minutes to cancel out Willian’s superb opener for Brazil in a result which boosts Colombia’s hopes of qualification for next year’s finals in Russia.

Immobile lifts Italy closer to World Cup

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Reggio Emilia (Italy) (AFP) – Ciro Immobile’s second half header got Italy back to winning ways in a 1-0 victory over Israel in Reggio Emilia on Tuesday to move them closer to the 2018 World Cup.

After losing 3-0 to Spain at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, Italy needed a win to continue to aspire to first place in Group G, leading to automatic qualification.

Barcelona football president a ‘joke’ – Neymar

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Barcelona (AFP) – Neymar labelled Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu a “joke” as the war of wards between Barcelona’s beleaguered board and the Brazilian star continued on Tuesday.

In interviews with Catalan newspapers Mundo Deportivo and Sport, Bartomeu claimed Barca would be better off without Neymar this season following his world record 222 million euro ($263.

Salah takes Egypt closer to World Cup return

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Johannesburg (AFP) – African giants Egypt moved closer to a first World Cup appearance since 1990 when they defeated Uganda 1-0 Tuesday thanks to an early goal from Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah.

A near-capacity crowd in the 85,000-seat Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria saw the June signing from AS Roma strike just six minutes into the Group E clash.

Immobile lifts Italy past Israel

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Reggio Emilia (Italy) (AFP) – Ciro Immobile’s second half header got Italy back to winning ways in a 1-0 victory over Israel in Reggio Emilia on Tuesday to move closer to the World Cup playoffs.

Just three days after falling 3-0 to Spain in Madrid the four-time world champions kept their bid for a place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia alive.

Southgate says Rashford is on path to greatness

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate says he has seen glimpses of former national-team heroes Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen in Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford.

Rashford, 19, scored one goal and made another as England came from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 on Monday, which took them to within touching distance of World Cup qualification.

Dier warning for rising England football star Rashford

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London (AFP) – Eric Dier has warned Marcus Rashford not to rest on his laurels after the Manchester United forward spared England’s blushes with a dynamic display in his country’s crucial 2-1 win over Slovakia.

Gareth Southgate’s side were in danger of a damaging defeat in their bid to qualify for next year’s World Cup when Slovakia snatched a shock early lead at Wembley on Monday.

Spain hit Liechtenstein for eight again

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Vaduz (AFP) – Alvaro Morata and Iago Aspas struck twice as Spain dished out another 8-0 thrashing to Liechtenstein on Tuesday to edge ever closer to booking their place at the World Cup in Russia next year.

Italy’s 1-0 win over Israel means Spain remain three points clear of the Azzurri at the top of Group G of European qualifying with just two games remaining.

Kolarov fires 10-man Serbia past Ireland

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Dublin (AFP) – Aleksandar Kolarov’s fierce second half strike gave Ireland their first 2018 World Cup qualifying defeat and put Serbia in complete control of Group D on Tuesday.

The Roma fullback’s goal came ten minutes after half time, and despite a spirited performance from the hosts the Serbs held on despite having Nikola Maksimovic sent off on 68 minutes.

Korea, Saudi reach World Cup, Syria into play-offs

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Tehran (AFP) – Omar Al Soma’s stoppage-time equaliser took war-torn Syria into Asia’s World Cup play-offs on Tuesday, as South Korea and Saudi Arabia both booked their spots at next year’s tournament.

Syria were 2-1 down against Iran and heading out when Al Soma threaded his shot through goalkeeper Alireza Salimi’s legs in the third added minute, sparking wild celebrations.

Korea reach World Cup, Syria into play-offs

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Tehran (AFP) – Omar Al Soma’s stoppage-time equaliser extended war-torn Syria’s World Cup fairytale on Tuesday, as South Korea booked their spot to reach the tournament for the ninth straight time.

Syria were 2-1 down against Iran and heading out, but in the third added minute Mardek Mardkian slid a pass to Al Soma, who finished through goalkeeper Alireza Salimi’s legs.

China out of World Cup despite victory

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Doha (AFP) – China’s faint hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia finally ended on Tuesday, despite securing the victory they needed in Qatar.

Syria’s draw in Iran and Uzbekistan’s draw with South Korea meant that two late goals to secure a 2-1 win in Doha were ultimately futile in China’s desperate bid to snatch a play-off place for next year’s tournament.

South Korea reach World Cup, Syria into play-offs

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Hong Kong (AFP) – South Korea squeezed unconvincingly into their ninth straight World Cup on Tuesday, as war-torn Syria scored a stoppage-time equaliser to secure a shock spot in the Asian play-offs.

South Korea ground out a 0-0 draw against Uzbekistan to lock up second place in Group A, while Omar Al Soma’s 93rd-minute goal gave Syria a 2-2 draw with Iran to finish third.

US rivals motivated by immigration stance – Arena

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Los Angeles (AFP) – United States coach Bruce Arena believes his team’s World Cup qualification rivals have been given extra motivation by the US government’s hardline immigration stance, it was reported Tuesday.

Arena, whose team faces Honduras later Tuesday in a crucial World Cup qualifier, said a crackdown on illegal immigration by President Donald Trump’s administration was fuelling opponents in CONCACAF.

England women’s football coach has ‘clear conscience’ in racism row

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London (AFP) – England Women manager Mark Sampson said his “conscience is clear” on Tuesday following accusations of bullying, discrimination and racism by striker Eni Aluko.

Sampson, 34, was cleared of wrongdoing after an internal inquiry by national governing body the Football Association and an independent investigation.

How soccer continues to unite us during an era of difficult times

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Clubs in the English Premier League alone have spent a record £1.4 billion on transfers of players. In one of these transfers, Liverpool coughed up £35 million on Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, a player who had just one year left on his contract and has been struggling to nail down a first team place for Arsenal for years.

Liverpool’s Clyne faces extended lay-off

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London (AFP) – Injured Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne is likely to be out of action for a significant amount of time, manager Jurgen Klopp revealed on Tuesday.

Clyne, 26, has not played yet this season due to a back problem, but there was surprise on Monday when he was left out of Liverpool’s squad for the Champions League group phase.

Where to find Argentina vs. Venezuela World Cup qualifier on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Argentina vs. Venezuela in the World Cup qualifier, you’ve come to the right place.

After a tense 0-0 draw with Uruguay last week, Argentina now only has three games remaining to try to secure a top four finish in the World Cup qualifying group for CONMEBOL.

Australia scramble vital win over Thailand

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Melbourne (AFP) – Australia beat Thailand 2-1 in their final World Cup qualifying group game on Tuesday, but they faced a nervy wait to see if it will be enough to book their ticket to Russia 2018.

The Socceroos were searching for a big win to put pressure on their Group B rivals Saudi Arabia, who started the evening level on points and who host already qualified Japan later.

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

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

After losing to Costa Rica on Friday, the United States Men’s National Team faces a difficult test on Tuesday night against Honduras. The game will not be televised on ESPN or FOX Sports.

Alli’s obscene gesture takes shine off England win

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London (AFP) – England were left fearing disciplinary action against Dele Alli after the midfielder was caught on camera making an obscene gesture during his side’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

The Tottenham Hotspur player raised his middle finger during the 77th minute of Monday’s game at Wembley, which England won 2-1, and there were claims it was directed at French referee Clement Turpin.

Timo Werner cements status as Germany’s top striker

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Stuttgart (Germany) (AFP) – With six goals in eight internationals, Timo Werner seems to be the answer to Germany’s quest for a world-class striker, yet the fleet-footed forward remains unpopular with some German fans.

The 21-year-old, a classic striker, netted twice in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Norway, but Germany must wait until their next World Cup qualifier, against Northern Ireland in Belfast on October 5, to secure their Russia 2018 place.

Mentor Cruyff’s flame still burns bright: Wim Jonk

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – The late Dutch legend Johan Cruyff’s philosophy of attacking football is still relevant despite the emphasis placed on results by club owners, former Netherlands international Wim Jonk told AFP.

The 50-year-old was asked by a dying Cruyff to keep the flame of ‘Cruyff Football’ burning.

Road to Russia football fever unites war-divided Syrians

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Damascus (AFP) – For the first time in Syria’s conflict, sport has come to the defence of the deeply-fractured country’s unity, with regime backers and foes alike dreaming of World Cup 2018 qualification.

All eyes and ears will be on Tuesday night’s game away to Iran, the government’s ally in the six-year conflict but a barrier to Syria’s target of making its World Cup finals debut next year in Russia, another close war ally.

Draw secures Oceania World Cup berth for New Zealand

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Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand wrapped up the Oceania World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday with a 2-2 draw with the Solomon Islands and now face an intercontinental play-off.

If they are to make the World Cup in Russia next year, New Zealand must now win a home-and-away series in November against the fifth-ranked South American side - which is currently the Lionel Messi-led Argentina.

Messi deal ‘signed’ by agent, claims Bartomeu

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona’s under-fire president Josep Maria Bartomeu launched a counter-attack on his critics on Tuesday by insisting a four-year contract extension for Lionel Messi has been signed by the player’s agent and father, Jorge Horacio Messi.

Barca announced an agreement with the five-time World Player of the Year in July, but Messi himself is yet to put pen to paper amid rumours he is unhappy with the running of the club.

Diego Simeone extends Atletico deal to 2020

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Madrid (AFP) – Diego Simeone committed his future to Atletico Madrid by agreeing a two-year contract extension to remain as coach of the Spanish giants until 2020, Atletico announced on Tuesday.

“The renewal of Diego Pablo Simeone is now a reality,” Atletico said in a statement.

Where to find Colombia vs. Brazil World Cup qualifier on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Colombia vs. Brazil in the World Cup qualifier, you’ve come to the right place.

Two of the best teams in South America face off on Tuesday night with Brazil having already qualified, while Colombia is in second place.

Four teams will qualify directly from the CONMEBOL group, with Colombia, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina all hotly contesting the three remaining automatic berths.

England’s Alli says offensive gesture was ‘joke’

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London (AFP) – England’s Dele Alli said he was having “a joke” with team-mate Kyle Walker after he was caught on camera raising his middle finger during Monday’s 2-1 win over Slovakia.

“Just to clarify, the gesture tonight was a joke between me and my good friend Kyle Walker!

Honduras vs. USA World Cup qualifier, TV times and team news

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Friday night was a disaster for the USMNT. There’s just no other way to put it. Not only did the US lose, but they dropped three points at home (to make it six points dropped at home so far in the Hex). The backline of the US was in utter shambles, the attack wasted what few chances they got, Jozy Altidore was a petulant crybaby which cost him as he will be suspended for the next game due to yellow card accumulation and the US was on the receiving end of a few missed penalty shouts (most notably when Clint Dempsey was wrapped up and tackled on a free kick).

Germany thrash Norway, England survive Slovakia scare in World Cup qualifying

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Paris (AFP) – Germany fired six past Norway while England fought back after an early scare to beat Slovakia in European World Cup qualifying on Monday.

Timo Werner scored a double in Germany’s 6-0 rout of the Norwegians in Stuttgart to leave Joachim Loew’s world champions with a perfect eight out of eight record atop Group C.

Southgate plays down Alli gesture buzz

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London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate sought to defuse an incident involving Dele Alli after the midfielder was caught on camera raising his middle finger during Monday’s 2-1 win over Slovakia.

Television footage of the World Cup qualifier at Wembley showed Tottenham Hotspur player Alli make the gesture in the 77th minute of the game, but it was not clear at whom it was aimed.

Germany rout Norway, but wait for World Cup berth

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Stuttgart (Germany) (AFP) – Timo Werner netted twice on Monday as Germany routed Norway 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier, but Joachim Loew’s team must wait until next month to confirm their Russia 2018 place.

The world champions have won all eight of their qualifiers so far to top Group C.

Five things learned from England v Slovakia

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London (AFP) – Exactly one year ago, England kicked off their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a fortuitous 1-0 win over Slovakia in what was Sam Allardyce’s only match as manager before being axed.

With Gareth Southgate now in charge of England, the Three Lions faced Slovakia again, winning 2-1 at Wembley on Monday.

Rashford redemption sends England closer to World Cup

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London (AFP) – Marcus Rashford atoned for a costly error to bring England a 2-1 home win over Slovakia on Monday that left them within touching distance of next year’s World Cup.

The 19-year-old was at fault as Stanislav Lobotka stunned a two-thirds full Wembley to give Slovakia a third-minute lead, but set up the equaliser for Eric Dier and then netted a sumptuous 20-yard winner in the second half.

Draw moves Nigeria closer to World Cup

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Nigeria survived a late Cameroon onslaught to draw 1-1 in Yaounde Monday and move closer to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Moses Simon put Nigeria ahead on 30 minutes and substitute Vincent Aboubakar equalised from a 75th-minute penalty at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo to spark a rally by the hosts.

Monaco question Mbappe deal

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Moscow (AFP) – Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev has questioned Kylain Mbappe’s loan to Paris Saint-Germain in a move he calls “the most successful in world football”.

The 18-year-old striker moved to PSG last Thursday in a season-long loan deal with a 180 million euro buy-out clause attached, making him the second most expensive player of all time behind new teammate Neymar.

China’s Lippi confident ahead of World Cup clash

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Doha (AFP) – China’s coach Marcello Lippi insisted Monday his team could reach next year’s World Cup finals despite only having a “very small” chance of qualifying.

He was speaking 24 hours ahead of the match which will determine China’s fate, away to Qatar,

China need to win in Doha and hope that results go their way elsewhere in AFC Group A to guarantee a play-off place for next year’s tournament in Russia.

Mbappe pens emotional letter to angry Monaco fans

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Paris (AFP) – Rising star Kylian Mbappe tried to explain his big-money move to Paris Saint-Germain from Monaco on Monday after receiving fierce criticism from hardcore Monaco fans.

The 18-year-old joined PSG on a season-long loan with an option to buy that would make him the second most expensive player of all-time for a fee that could reach 180 million euros ($214 million).

French clubs smash transfer spending records

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Paris (AFP) – Clubs in the top two divisions in France spent a record 697 million euros ($830mn) in the close season, the French league (LFP) announced on Monday.

The total expenditure was more than four times the amount spent by French professional teams 12 months ago, led by Neymar’s world-record breaking move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for 222 million euros.

Female ref Bibiana Steinhaus ‘poised to make German league debut’

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s Bibiana Steinhaus is set to make Bundesliga history on Sunday by becoming the first woman to referee in one of Europe’s top leagues, according to reports.

Top German daily newspapers Bild and Die Welt claim the 38-year-old Steinhaus will officiate when Hertha Berlin host Werder Bremen in Germany’s top flight in the capital on Sunday.

Isco show breathes new life into Spain

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Madrid (AFP) – Following a demolition job on Italy, Spain look to cement their status as one of the favourites for next year’s World Cup with another thrashing of Liechtenstein on Tuesday.

Inspired by Isco’s array of silky skills and clinical finishing, La Roja swept aside Italy 3-0 on Saturday night to take a commanding three-point lead at the top of Group G of European qualifying.

Italy turn to Israel after World Cup qualifying defeat to Spain

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Reggio Emilia (Italy) (AFP) – A bruised Italy will look to turn the page on a morale-sapping World Cup qualifying defeat to Spain when they host Israel in Reggio Emilia on Tuesday.

The Azzurri need three points to consolidate second place in Group G behind Spain and stay safely clear of third-placed Albania as they look to make it to the finals in Russia next year.

Argentina, Chile seek advantage in S. America World Cup qualifying race

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Montevideo (AFP) – Lionel Messi and Argentina will seek to maintain the pressure on Chile with a victory over Venezuela on Tuesday as South America’s 2018 World Cup qualifying race enters the home stretch.

A faltering campaign has left Argentina fifth in the standings with three games remaining, just outside the top four spots which guarantee automatic entry to next year’s finals in Russia.

USA determined ahead of World Cup qualifying showdown

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San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) – United States coach Bruce Arena faces the most demanding test of his second spell in charge on Tuesday as his chastened team heads to Honduras for a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier.

Humbled 2-0 by Costa Rica in New Jersey on Friday, the United States face a resurgent Honduras in San Pedro Sula with their hopes of automatic qualification to Russia hanging in the balance.

O’Neill urges Ireland to up their game against Serbia

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Dublin (AFP) – Martin O’Neill has told the Republic of Ireland they must significantly improve upon their performance in Georgia if they are to beat Serbia in Tuesday’s crunch World Cup qualifier in Dublin.

O’Neill’s men drew 1-1 with Georgia in Tbilisi on Saturday, despite taking the lead just four minutes into the game through Shane Duffy’s header.

South Korea coach promises World Cup qualifier victory in Tashkent

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Seoul (AFP) – Under-fire coach Shin Tae-Yong has promised South Korea will “beef up their mental strength” and go all out for the victory against Uzbekistan Tuesday that would secure World Cup qualification for a ninth successive time.

“We’ll return home with victory no matter what,” vowed Shin ahead of the final Asian zone Group A encounter in Tashkent.

Mooy boost for Socceroos World Cup Thai crunch

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Melbourne (AFP) – English Premier League playmaker Aaron Mooy is set to return as Australia chase a big win over Thailand on Tuesday to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

The Huddersfield Town ace was missing through illness as Australia crashed to a 2-0 defeat to Japan last week to leave their Russia 2018 finals hopes hanging by a thread.

World Cup miracle beckons for Syria, China

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Hong Kong (AFP) – War-torn Syria as well as China, the ultimate sleeping giants, are both aiming to pull off a near-miracle as Asian qualifying for the 2018 World Cup heads into a final showdown on Tuesday.

Among Asia’s heavyweights, Australia’s progress is far from assured and South Korea are in danger of missing out on their first World Cup since 1982 in what will be a nail-biting last round of group games.

Kyrgyzstan scraps Myanmar football match over ‘terror’ threat

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Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) (AFP) – Muslim-majority Kyrgyzstan on Monday cancelled an international football match with Myanmar over “a potential terror act”, as fears grow for the Southeast Asian country’s Rohingya Muslims.

At least 87,000 Muslims have arrived in Bangladesh after fleeing clashes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, according to the UN.

‘Arson’ behind fire that killed 9 Kenyan schoogirls: minister

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Nairobi (AFP) – A weekend fire at a Kenyan high school dormitory that killed nine teenaged girls was started deliberately, Kenya’s education minister said Monday.

Fred Matiangi said arson was to blame while announcing the death toll had risen to nine.

“Most of the investigations are done and I can tell you unequivocally - I have been briefed by the police - that it was not an accident,” Matiangi told a press conference in Nairobi on Monday morning.

Israel captain Zahavi quits ahead of World Cup qualifier with Italy

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Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel will face Italy on Tuesday in a World Cup qualifier without their captain Eran Zahavi, who has decided to end his international career after being angered by booing from the home crowd.

Zahavi was left fuming on Saturday by fans in Haifa who started booing when Macedonia scored the only goal of a shock victory in a World Cup qualifier.

Brief joy for Iran female football fans quickly extinguished

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Tehran (AFP) – For a brief moment, Iran’s female football fans thought they were finally allowed to attend a match, but their hopes were dashed on Monday when authorities said their tickets were sold by mistake.

Women have been barred from attending football matches, and some other sporting events such as wrestling, since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with officials saying they must be protected from the vulgar atmosphere.

‘Outrageous’ to say England don’t care: Southgate

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Enfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – It is “outrageous” to suggest England’s players do not care about representing their country, manager Gareth Southgate said ahead of Monday’s pivotal World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

England were jeered by their own fans during Friday’s laboured 4-0 win in Malta and critics on social media claimed the players were not motivated.

Belgium seal World Cup place, France held by Luxembourg

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Paris (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku’s goal allowed Belgium to become the first European nation to clinch qualification for the 2018 World Cup on Sunday as much-fancied France were held to an embarrassing goalless draw by Luxembourg.

Manchester United striker Lukaku headed in a Thomas Meunier cross in the 74th minute in Piraeus for the decisive goal in a 2-1 Belgium win that guaranteed them top spot in European qualifying Group H.

Nice president blames Barcelona for collapse of Seri deal

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Paris (AFP) – The president of French club Nice has said the collapse of midfielder Jean Michael Seri’s mooted move to Barcelona was entirely down to the Spanish giants.

Speaking to French television station Canal Plus on Sunday, Jean-Pierre Rivere said he received a phonecall from Nice’s director general on Wednesday, August 23 to tell him that Barcelona were pulling the plug on the transfer.

England are ‘future of football’ says Slovakia boss

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London (AFP) – Slovakia manager Jan Kozak has praised the rising stars in England’s side as the “future of football” ahead of the teams’ World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Monday.

England are two points clear of Slovakia at the top of European qualifying Group F and victory in London would leave them within touching distance of getting to next year’s finals in Russia.

Dutch give themselves Propper World Cup chance

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Paris (AFP) – Davy Propper was on target twice as the Netherlands boosted their hopes of making it to next year’s World Cup with a 3-1 win over Bulgaria in Amsterdam on Sunday.

Propper’s goals came either side of an Arjen Robben effort and Dick Advocaat’s side move back above the Bulgarians into third place in European qualifying Group A.

Rush always knew Woodburn would stick with Wales

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London (AFP) – Former Liverpool and Wales striker Ian Rush has said he never had any doubts that Anfield prodigy Ben Woodburn would resist the lure of playing for England.

The 17-year-old came off the bench to score a superb winner for Wales in their 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Austria in Cardiff on Saturday just four minutes into his senior international debut.

Mbappe wants to ‘mark history’ with PSG

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, at 18 the most expensive French player of all time, said Sunday he wanted to “mark the history” of the French capital with his new club.

Mbappe, who hails from the northeastern Parisian surburb of Bondy, joined PSG from Monaco on a season-long loan last week in a deal that will make him the second most expensive footballer in history.

Italy play Russian roulette for World Cup ticket

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Milan (AFP) – Italy were outclassed by Spain in a demoralising 3-0 World Cup qualifying defeat in Madrid which leaves the four-time champions facing a precarious play-off in November to reach Russia.

Giampiero Ventura’s side were lambasted in the press Sunday for his tactics but also individual performances including midfielder Marco Verratti and veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Henderson keeps England armband against Slovakia

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Enfield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson will captain England in their World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Monday, manager Gareth Southgate confirmed on Sunday.

Southgate has rotated the captain’s armband since easing former skipper Wayne Rooney out of his squad and with Rooney having since retired from international football, England do not have a permanent captain.

How will PSG get around FFP rules?

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Paris (AFP) – After spending 380 million euros ($450.66m) to secure the services of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain’s next task is to make sure they don’t break UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

European football’s governing body opened an investigation into PSG’s lavish spending on Friday, having previously sanctioned the club in 2014 for FFP violations.

Fans’ Nazi chants a ‘shame on Germany’ – Loew

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany coach Joachim Loew on Sunday dubbed as “shameful” Nazi-era chanting by a hardcore group of “so-called fans” during a World Cup qualifier.

The chants of “Sieg Heil” (Hail Victory) came from a 200-strong group of travelling fans in Friday’s 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Prague.

Mbappe wants to “mark history” with PSG

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, at 18 the most expensive French player of all time, said Sunday he wanted to “mark the history” of the French capital with his new club.

Mbappe, who hails from the northeastern Parisian surburb of Bondy, joined PSG from Monaco on a season-long loan last week in a deal that will make him the second most expensive footballer in history.

Woodburn, 17, revives Wales World Cup bid

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Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Teenager Ben Woodburn enjoyed a dream international debut as he fired Wales to a 1-0 victory over Austria in Cardiff on Saturday to bolster their chances of reaching next year’s World Cup.

The 17-year-old Liverpool striker drilled home the winner just four minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute to keep Wales unbeaten in qualifying and four points adrift of Group D leaders Serbia.

Croatia qualifier abandoned after heavy rain

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Zagreb (AFP) – Croatia’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Kosovo was abandoned midway through the first half in Zagreb on Saturday because of a waterlogged pitch.

The game was level at 0-0 when the players went off and will be replayed on Sunday.

“The #WCQ match between Croatia and Kosovo has been abandoned due to adverse weather conditions and postponed for Sunday 3 September,” FIFA said on Twitter.

Germany football stars slam Nazi chants

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Berlin (AFP) – Germany players have blasted a hardcore group of crowd members for shouting Nazi-era chants during a World Cup qualifier as the world champions hope to secure a finals berth on Monday.

Germany have three qualifiers left but can wrap up their place at next year’s tournament in Russia by beating Norway in Stuttgart on Monday if nearest rivals Northern Ireland fail to beat the Czech Republic the same night in Belfast.

Isco sparks Spain rout of Italy to close on World Cup

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Madrid (AFP) – Spain took a giant step towards qualifying for next year’s World Cup as Isco’s double and Alvaro Morata’s late strike swept aside Italy 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Isco was the star performer in a brilliant team display from the hosts as his early free-kick and long-range effort before half-time put Spain in control before Morata came off the bench to rub salt in Italian wounds.

Stars and footballers team up for London fire victims

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London (AFP) – Showbiz celebrities joined forces with top-name footballers on Saturday for a match in aid of those affected by the Grenfell fire disaster in west London.

A sell-out crowd packed QPR’s Loftus Road stadium, a mile from the tower, for the Game4Grenfell, with stars including Homeland actor Damian Lewis, Olympic running hero Mo Farah and singer Olly Murs turning out for teams managed by former England strikers Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer.

Liverpool demanded 200m for Coutinho – Barcelona

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Barcelona (AFP) – A leading Barcelona board member claimed Liverpool set an asking price of 200 million euros ($238 million) for midfielder Philippe Coutinho as the Catalan giants criticised the rampant inflation in the football transfer market on Saturday.

Albert Soler, Barca’s director of institutional relations, said the club’s under-fire board would not put the future of the institution at risk by bending to excessive demands.

Chiellini doubt for Juve Champions League opener

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Milan (AFP) – Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini could miss the Serie A title holders’ Champions League opener against Barcelona because of a calf muscle injury, the Italian club said on Saturday.

Centre-back Chiellini took a knock during training with Italy on Friday and was ruled out of World Cup qualifiers with Spain and Israel.

Honeymoon over, the Bruce Arena Era begins in earnest on Tuesday

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Success in soccer is a fragile thing.

The United States entered Friday night’s showdown World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica unbeaten in fourteen straight games under Bruce Arena, one more big win away from all but locking up its trip to Russia next summer.

It felt like a sure thing.

5 reasons for Arsenal supporters to be optimistic

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After a roller coaster of a summer, Arsenal can finally begin to move forward now that the transfer window has officially closed for Premier League teams. With the roster now set, let’s run through the five biggest topics of conversation about the Gunners looking ahead.

1.

USA’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras will be on beIN SPORTS and Universo on Tuesday

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It’s time to start making plans of how you’ll watch the United States in their World Cup qualifying game on Tuesday night against Honduras.

After a disappointing 0-2 loss to Costa Rica, Tuesday’s game for the USA will be televised live on beIN SPORTS and Universo. The English-language broadcast will be on beIN SPORTS, while Universo will have the Spanish-language broadcast.

US in peril as Urena double delivers for Costa Rica

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Harrison (United States) (AFP) – Costa Rica striker Marco Urena scored twice to leave the United States’ World Cup qualification hopes in jeopardy here Friday as the 2014 quarter-finalists grabbed a 2-0 away victory.

San Jose Earthquakes forward Urena exposed slack defending in the US back four in the 30th minute to fire Costa Rica ahead at the Red Bull Arena.

Frugal La Liga breaks the mould in transfer bonanza

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Madrid (AFP) – In contrast to the lavish spending of England’s Premier League clubs and French giants Paris Saint-Germain, Spain’s transfer window closed on Friday with La Liga teams posting a healthy profit.

Collectively, Spanish clubs emerged from a fervent few months in the transfer market in the black thanks to the huge sales of Neymar to PSG for a world record 222 million euros ($264 million) and Chelsea’s 80-million-euro splurge on Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.

Mexico book World Cup berth, US in jeopardy after loss

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Mexico City (AFP) – Mexico became the fifth team to guarantee their place at the 2018 World Cup on Friday as the United States crashed to defeat at home to Costa Rica to place their qualification campaign in jeopardy.

A Hirving Lozano header on 53 minutes was enough to give Mexico a 1-0 win over Panama at the Azteca Stadium as the CONCACAF heavyweights reached the finals for a seventh successive occasion.

FIFA clear Chelsea’s Ola Aina for Nigeria-Cameroon

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Abuja (AFP) – Nigeria have received clearance from FIFA for Chelsea defender Ola Aina to make his international debut in the World Cup qualifier against Cameroon on Monday.

Coach Gernot Rohr said Aina, who can play at right-back or left-back, could now line up in Yaounde as the Super Eagles look for a second victory in four days over Cameroon.

Player ratings for US Men’s National Team after 0-2 loss to Costa Rica

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The United States’ World Cup qualification campaign suffered a massive blow on Friday night, as Costa Rica ended the Americans’ fourteen-game unbeaten run under Bruce Arena with a comprehensive 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena. Here are the player ratings.

Tim Howard, 3: The U.

Liverpool demanded 200m for Coutinho, say Barcelona

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Barcelona (AFP) – A leading Barcelona board member claimed Liverpool set an asking price of 200 million euros ($238 million) for midfielder Philippe Coutinho as the Catalan giants criticised the rampant inflation in the football transfer market on Saturday.

Albert Soler, Barca’s director of institutional relations, said the club’s under-fire board would not put the future of the institution at risk by bending to excessive demands.

Don’t expect champagne football, says unapologetic Southgate

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Valletta (AFP) – Gareth Southgate tried to assuage fans’ disappointment at England’s lacklustre performance in a flattering 4-0 win over minnows Malta in their 2018 World Cup qualifier saying it was nothing new.

The 46-year-old - who saw late goals by Ryan Bertrand, Danny Welbeck and a second for Harry Kane put a brighter hue on the scoreline - said he had experienced similar frustrations as a player in qualifiers.

Where to find Spain vs. Italy World Cup qualifier on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Spain vs. Italy in the World Cup qualifier, you’ve come to the right place.

Both Spain and Italy are tied for first place in Group G qualifying, so a win for either side will put them into the driving seat with a strong chance of finishing atop the group depending on how their remaining results go.

Guedes, Pereira seal Valencia loan moves

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Madrid (AFP) – Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira joined Valencia on a season-long loan as loan deals dominated an otherwise quiet transfer deadline day in Spain on Friday.

As well as Pereira, Valencia secured the services of Portuguese winger Goncalo Guedes on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.

Nigeria set to qualify, Ghana, South Africa in trouble in World Cup qualifiers

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Johannesburg (AFP) – Nigeria hammered African champions Cameroon Friday to virtually seal a 2018 World Cup place, but Ghana drew and South Africa lost to suffer serious qualifying setbacks.

Current and former Chelsea midfielders Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel scored one goal and created another as Nigeria overwhelmed Cameroon 4-0 in southeast city Uyo.

Russia in sight for Germany as Kane ends drought

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Paris (AFP) – Mats Hummels fired Germany to the brink of qualification for the 2018 World Cup on Friday with a late winner against the Czech Republic, while Harry Kane scored twice as England downed Malta 4-0.

RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner struck after just four minutes for the world champions in Prague, but Vladimir Darida’s stunning second-half equaliser hauled the hosts level.

Hummels header edges Germany closer to Russia

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Prague (AFP) – Mats Hummels’ late header sealed Germany a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Prague on Friday to leave the defending champions on the brink of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

The Germans took an early lead at the Eden Arena through Timo Werner, but the Czechs deservedly drew level when Hertha Berlin midfielder Vladimir Darida blasted home a superb equaliser with 12 minutes left.

Kane’s double saves England blushes

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Valletta (AFP) – Harry Kane scored a brace to help Gareth Southgate’s lacklustre England to a 4-0 win over minnows Malta in their 2018 World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Kane opened the score early in the second-half but three goals inside the last 10 minutes put a brighter sheen on the result than the performance deserved.

Chiellini deals Italy late blow for Spain showdown

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Madrid (AFP) – Italy’s plans for a vital World Cup qualifier away to Spain on Saturday were dealt a huge blow when veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini injured a calf muscle in training on Friday.

Victory for either side at a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu is likely to be decisive in deciding which side qualifies directly for the World Cup in Russia next year.

Most-watched soccer games on US TV for August 21-27, 2017

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Last week saw two Premier League matches break the one million viewer mark. Saturday afternoon’s match between Manchester United and Leicester City drew 1.137 million viewers across NBC and Universo, up 38% from the same window last week and up 15% from the opening weekend. Then on Sunday, Liverpool’s 4-0 destruction of Arsenal drew 1.

UEFA probes PSG after Neymar, Mbappe deals

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Paris (AFP) – UEFA opened a “formal investigation” into Paris Saint-Germain on Friday after the French club broke the world transfer record to sign Neymar.

European football’s governing body said it would look at whether PSG had violated its Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

“The investigation will focus on the compliance of the club with the break-even requirement, particularly in light of its recent transfer activity,” UEFA said in a statement.

UEFA probes PSG over Neymar deal

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Paris (AFP) – UEFA opened a “formal investigation” into Paris Saint-Germain on Friday after the French club broke the world transfer record to sign Neymar.

European football’s governing body said it would look at whether PSG had violated its Financial Fair Play rules.

“The investigation will focus on the compliance of the club with the break-even requirement, particularly in light of its recent transfer activity,” UEFA said in a statement.

Silva awaits green light for late Leicester move

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London (AFP) – Sporting Lisbon and Leicester City announced Friday they had reached agreement for the transfer of Portugal international Adrien Silva to the Premier League club after the summer deadline expired.

Portuguese giants Sporting said they were “awaiting confirmation from FIFA” that the deal could go through after Silva reportedly agreed to join Leicester two hours after the transfer window shut on Thursday.

Barcelona give up Coutinho chase – reports

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Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona have finally abandoned their quest to land Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, 25, after having a series of bids for the Brazilian rejected, Spanish media reported on Friday.

The transfer deadline for Spanish clubs doesn’t close until midnight local time (2200GMT) on Friday, 24 hours after the rest of Europe’s major leagues.

Rooney charged with drink-driving

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London (AFP) – Everton striker Wayne Rooney has been charged with drink-driving, British police said Friday.

Rooney, England’s all-time record goalscorer and former captain, was stopped by police near his home in Cheshire, northwest England, in the early hours of Friday.

“The man was arrested shortly after 2.

Campaign launched to topple Barcelona football president

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Barcelona (AFP) – A vote of no confidence against Barcelona’s beleaguered board was launched by a disgruntled member of the club on Friday with the aim of removing president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Agusti Benedito, who lost out to Bartomeu in club elections in 2015, attended the club’s offices at the Camp Nou stadium to request the ballot papers necessary for his censure motion.

Neymar moves into sprawling mansion near PSG training ground

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian superstar Neymar has moved into a five-storey, 1,000-square-metre (10,800 square foot) mansion in the posh western Paris suburb of Bougival, sources said Friday.

The town has been home to a host of celebrities in the past including French actor Gerard Depardieu and Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho, and is just a few kilometres from the PSG training centre in the nearby town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Football: Lovren testifies in Croatia graft trial

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Osijek (Croatia) (AFP) – ​Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren testified Friday in the multi-million euro corruption trial of former Dinamo Zagreb boss Zdravko Mamic, considered the most powerful man in Croatian football.

Mamic is accused of abuse of power and graft that cost Dinamo more than 15 million euros and the state 1.

Chiellini injury deals Italy late blow for Spain qualifier

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Madrid (AFP) – Italy’s plans for a vital World Cup qualifier away to Spain on Saturday were dealt a huge blow when veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini injured a calf muscle in training on Friday.

The Juventus centre-back has been ruled out for both the trip to Madrid and Tuesday’s qualifier at home to Israel.

US Men’s National Team can come full circle with win over Costa Rica in World Cup qualifier

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The start of the World Cup in Russia is less than ten months away, and the U.S. has a new lease on life.

Since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann at the helm of the national team last November, the U.S. has gone unbeaten in fourteen straight games – winning the Gold Cup, taking a point out of the Azteca, and jumping from last to third place in the Hex in the process.

Man convicted of attempted theft of Andy Carroll’s £22,000 watch

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London (AFP) – A thief was convicted Friday of trying to steal a £22,000 ($28,450, 23,900 euros) watch from West Ham and England striker Andy Carroll.

Motorbike-riding Jack O’Brien, 22, pulled up alongside Carroll’s Jeep Wrangler car near Hainault, north-east London, as the footballer was driving home from the Hammers’ training ground on November 2 last year.

Where to find USA vs. Costa Rica World Cup qualifier on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch USA vs. Costa Rica in the World Cup qualifier, you’ve come to the right place.

With the United States sitting in third place in the CONCACAF qualifying for the World Cup, behind Costa Rica and Mexico, a win tonight for the USMNT will go a long way to boosting the country’s chances of playing in the World Cup next summer.

Where to find Czech Republic vs. Germany World Cup qualifier on US TV and streaming

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If you’re trying to find out how you can watch Czech Republic vs. Germany World Cup qualifier, you’ve come to the right place.

A win for Germany will guarantee them at least a play-off place with three further matches to play. The Czechs, meanwhile, sit third in the table and are nine points behind Germany.

Wayne Rooney charged with drink-driving

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London (AFP) – Everton striker Wayne Rooney has been charged with drink-driving, British police said Friday.

Rooney, England’s all-time record goalscorer and former captain, was stopped by police near his home in Cheshire, northwest England, in the early hours of Friday.

“The man was arrested shortly after 2.

French performance leaves Deschamps purring

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Paris (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps could not help showering his side with praise after their brilliant attack tore the Netherlands to shreds in a 4-0 win on Thursday.

Thomas Lemar scored twice either side of goals by Antoine Griezmann and man of the moment Kylian Mbappe in the key 2018 World Cup qualifying clash at a euphoric Stade de France.

Spain turn to Asensio to oust old foe Italy

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Madrid (AFP) – Spanish football’s golden boy Marco Asensio will carry the expectation of a nation as La Roja seek revenge against bete noire Italy at a packed Santiago Bernabeu with World Cup qualification on the line on Saturday (1845GMT).

Yet, despite his tender age of 21, there is little evidence Real Madrid’s rising star will be fazed by the burden placed upon him.

Paraguay stun Chile in World Cup qualifier

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Santiago (AFP) – Paraguay reignited their hopes of World Cup qualification here Thursday with a 3-0 victory over Chile to complete a miserable day for Alexis Sanchez.

Arturo Vidal scored a spectacular headed own goal while Victor Caceres and Richard Ortiz both netted to give Paraguay a vital win over the South American champions in Santiago.

PSG swoop for Mbappe, no move for Sanchez

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Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain clinched a sensational deal to prise wonderkid Kylian Mbappe away from Monaco on Thursday in a move scheduled to become the second most expensive transfer in history.

Less than a month after the world-record arrival of Brazilian icon Neymar in the French capital, and only hours before a record-breaking transfer window closed, 18-year-old Mbappe joined PSG on a season-long loan.

Uruguay, Argentina in World Cup qualifier stalemate

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Montevideo (AFP) – Luis Suarez returned from injury but Uruguay were forced to settle for a point in a 0-0 stalemate with Argentina in their World Cup qualifying duel on Thursday.

Barcelona superstar Suarez was given the all-clear to play for the Uruguayans after making a quicker-than-expected recovery from an injury to his right knee cap two weeks ago.

Crystal Palace give Sakho Liverpool escape

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London (AFP) – France international centre-back Mamadou Sakho has joined Crystal Palace from Liverpool on a permanent basis, his new club announced on Friday.

The 27-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Palace, helping the south London club avoid relegation, after falling out of favour with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Australia look for World Cup qualifier quick fix after Japan setback

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Tokyo (AFP) – Australia need to hit back immediately after a lacklustre 2-0 defeat by Japan dented their chances of reaching next year’s World Cup.

The Asian champions were comfortably beaten in Saitama on Thursday and will be looking to beat Thailand handily at home in their final Group B qualifier on Tuesday - and hope Japan do them a favour in Saudi Arabia.

Japan hails ‘new generation’ for reaching World Cup

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Tokyo (AFP) – Japan saluted its national football side Friday after they stormed into next year’s World Cup with a comprehensive 2-0 win over fierce rivals Australia.

Local media paid tribute to Japan’s “generation next” after goals from Takuma Asano and Yosuke Ideguchi on Thursday secured a sixth successive finals appearance for the Blue Samurai.

Brazil on top of S. America qualifiers as Chile, Argentina struggle

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Montevideo (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho shrugged off his transfer disappointment with a goal as Brazil beat Ecuador to guarantee top spot in South America’s 2018 World Cup qualifying race on Thursday while Chile and Argentina stumbled once more.

Liverpool star Coutinho, who had seen his hopes of a dream move to Barcelona dashed earlier Thursday as the transfer window slammed shut with no agreement, produced a scintillating second-half display in a 2-0 victory over Ecuador in Porto Alegre.

Chastened Chelsea sign Drinkwater, Zappacosta

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London (AFP) – Premier League champions Chelsea completed a challenging transfer window on Friday by bringing in England midfielder Danny Drinkwater from Leicester City and Italy right-back Davide Zappacosta from Torino.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte saw moves for several targets fail to come off over the course of the transfer window, but has managed to boost his squad ahead of his side’s Champions League campaign.

Head coach Lippi tells ‘lucky’ China to keep believing

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Shanghai (AFP) – Marcello Lippi said his China side must improve and were lucky to snatch a late 1-0 home win over Uzbekistan to keep alive their slender World Cup hopes.

A Gao Lin penalty with six minutes left at an energised Wuhan Sports Center Stadium ensures that China’s wafer-thin chances of making Russia 2018 will go down to the final game on Tuesday at Qatar.

I’m staying put, insists defiant Japan football coach

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Tokyo (AFP) – Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic hit back at his critics Friday, vowing to continue in the job after leading the Blue Samurai to their sixth successive World Cup.

Following Thursday’s 2-0 home win over Australia in their penultimate Asian qualifier for next year’s finals in Russia, the firebrand Franco-Bosnian revealed that he had thought about quitting for “personal reasons.

Wayne Rooney arrested on suspicion of drink-driving – reports

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London (AFP) – Everton striker Wayne Rooney has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving, the BBC and Sky Sports reported Friday.

The BBC said Rooney was stopped by police near his home in Cheshire, northwest England, on Thursday night.

England’s all-time record goal-scorer, the 31-year-old Rooney announced his retirement from international football last week, having scored 53 goals in 119 appearances for his country.

Premier League clubs in record £1.4 bn transfer window

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London (AFP) – English Premier League clubs spent a record £1.4 billion ($1.8 billion, 1.5 billion euros) on players in a summer transfer window but were still living “well within their means” according to figures published by football analysts Deloitte on Friday.

The window, which closed in England on Thursday, also saw teams from English football’s top tier set a new deadline day spending record of £210 million.