AFP

Lorenzo Insigne

Napoli keep Serie A title hopes alive as Juventus held

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Milan (AFP) – Napoli kept their title hopes alive with a 4-2 win over Udinese on Wednesday as champions Juventus’ path to a seventh consecutive Serie A title was stalled 1-1 at Crotone.

Napoli came from behind twice to cut the gap on Juventus to four points with five games remaining including next Sunday’s top of the table clash between the two teams in Turin.

Napoli keep Serie A title hopes alive as Juventus held

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Milan (AFP) – Napoli kept their title hopes alive with a 4-2 win over Udinese on Wednesday as champions Juventus’ path to a seventh consecutive Serie A title was stalled 1-1 at Crotone.

Napoli came from behind twice to cut the gap on Juventus to four points with five games remaining including next Sunday’s top of the table clash between the two teams in Turin.

English Premier League

United give Mourinho selection dilemma ahead of Spurs semi

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho admitted Manchester United had given him an FA Cup semi-final selection dilemma after their 2-0 win at Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Goals from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku sealed the points at Dean Court after Mourinho made seven changes in the aftermath of United’s shock defeat to struggling West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

United give Mourinho selection dilemma ahead of Spurs semi

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho admitted Manchester United had given him an FA Cup semi-final selection dilemma after their 2-0 win at Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Goals from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku sealed the points at Dean Court after Mourinho made seven changes in the aftermath of United’s shock defeat to struggling West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

United back on track as Mourinho wields axe

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United gave the perfect response to Jose Mourinho’s withering criticism as they got back on track with a 2-0 win against Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Goals from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku sealed the points at Dean Court after Mourinho made seven changes in the aftermath of United’s shock defeat to struggling West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

United back on track as Mourinho wields axe

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Bournemouth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester United gave the perfect response to Jose Mourinho’s withering criticism as they got back on track with a 2-0 win against Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Goals from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku sealed the points at Dean Court after Mourinho made seven changes in the aftermath of United’s shock defeat to struggling West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Dyche challenges Burnley to go beyond seventh heaven

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London (AFP) – Burnley may be an impressive seventh in the Premier League but manager Sean Dyche wants to see how high his side can climb before the season ends.

The Clarets’ 2-1 win over Leicester last weekend put them on course for the final Europa League spot, provided Southampton do not win the FA Cup.

Cech tells Gunners to set their sights on unbeaten run

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London (AFP) – Petr Cech believes Arsenal will have to win all their remaining matches if they are to secure a place in the top five of the Premier League.

The Gunners are currently six points adrift of fifth-placed London rivals Chelsea, with both sides having a maximum of 15 points to play for from their five remaining league games this season.

Salah targets place in Liverpool record books

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London (AFP) – Mohamed Salah has set his sights on breaking Ian Rush’s Liverpool record for the most goals scored in a single season.

Salah bagged his 40th goal of the campaign when he netted in Liverpool’s win against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Now he is only seven goals short of equalling Liverpool legend Rush’s club record mark of 47, which he set in 1983-84.

Salah targets place in Liverpool record books

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London (AFP) – Mohamed Salah has set his sights on breaking Ian Rush’s Liverpool record for the most goals scored in a single season.

Salah bagged his 40th goal of the campaign when he netted in Liverpool’s win against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Now he is only seven goals short of equalling Liverpool legend Rush’s club record mark of 47, which he set in 1983-84.

Chelsea’s Conte says Man City could dominate for years

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London (AFP) – Antonio Conte says Manchester City could dominate English football for years after Pep Guardiola’s side dethroned Chelsea as Premier League champions.

City were crowned champions last weekend with five games of the season still to go and boast a 16-point lead over second-placed Manchester United.

De Bruyne in as Man City dominate Premier League team of the year

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London (AFP) – Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and his Manchester City team-mates made up almost half of the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Premier League team of the year revealed on Wednesday.

Right-back Kyle Walker, centre-back Nicolas Otamendi, midfielder David Silva and striker Sergio Aguero were also named in the XI.

Kane strikes, but Spurs held by Brighton

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Brighton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Harry Kane stepped up his bid to win the Premier League’s golden boot as Tottenham warmed up for the FA Cup semi-finals with a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Tuesday.

Kane fired Tottenham ahead in the 48th minute when his close-range shot deflected in off Brighton defender Bruno.

Real Madrid

Underwhelming Real held to draw at home by Athletic Bilbao

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid may the favourites for the Champions League but a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday will hardly have struck fear into Bayern Munich.

Zinedine Zidane’s side started complacently at the Santiago Bernabeu and ended frantically, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s 87th-minute equaliser cancelling out a delightful early chip from Athletic’s Inaki Williams in between.

If anyone can beat Real, then it’s Bayern – Rummenigge

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has thrown down the gauntlet to Real Madrid ahead of next Wednesday’s home Champions League semi-final, first leg.

“We have to keep our concentration until next Wednesday, but if anyone can beat Real Madrid at the moment, it’s FC Bayern,” boasted Rummenigge.

James wary of Real’s Champions League ‘chip’

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Berlin (AFP) – They may sit third in the Spanish league, but when it comes to the Champions League holders Real Madrid simply engage a special ‘chip’, says James Rodriguez.

On loan at Bayern Munich, who host his ex-club Real in the first-leg of the Champions League semi-final next Wednesday, James says the Spanish giants’ strength is knowing how to conjure up their best performances in Europe.

England’s top six among European powers set for Champions Cup

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Miami (AFP) – Champions League semi-finalists Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Roma and Liverpool plus English powers Manchester City and Manchester United will be among the European giants competing in this year’s International Champions Cup, it was announced Tuesday.

The 18-team, 27-match pre-season competition kicks off less than a week after the conclusion of the World Cup in Russia.

‘You know where I am’ Benzema tells Deschamps

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Madrid (AFP) – Karim Benzema will not make any attempt to persuade Didier Deschamps to take him to the World Cup, the Real Madrid star telling the France coach: “If you need me, you know where I am”.

Benzema has not played for his country since October 2015 after being charged in connection with an alleged blackmail of his French teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

‘You know where I am’ Benzema tells Deschamps

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Madrid (AFP) – Karim Benzema will not make any attempt to persuade Didier Deschamps to take him to the World Cup, the Real Madrid star telling the France coach: “If you need me, you know where I am”.

Benzema has not played for his country since October 2015 after being charged in connection with an alleged blackmail of his French teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Gone in 33 seconds: Frankfurt’s Fernandes gets quickfire red card

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Berlin (AFP) – Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Gelson Fernandes was sent off after just 33 seconds of being on the pitch during his side’s German Cup semi-final win over Schalke on Wednesday.

With his side leading 1-0, and just 12 minutes from a place in the final, Fernandes was brought on as a substitute to steady the ship, but was shown a red card for a crunching challenge on Leon Goretzka.

Kovac gets final date with future employers Bayern

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Berlin (AFP) – A brilliant back-heel from Luka Jovic inspired Eintracht Frankfurt to a 1-0 victory over Schalke in the semi-finals of the German Cup on Wednesday, meaning that Bayern Munich will meet their future coach Niko Kovac in next month’s final.

Jovic’s goal proved enough for ten-man Frankfurt to win a nervy game, firing Frankfurt into a second successive German Cup Final and setting up a fateful meeting between Kovac and Bayern on May 19.

FIFA

Four VAR officials, giant screen replays at every World Cup match – FIFA

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Coverciano (Italy) (AFP) – Four video assistant referees will be present at every game at the World Cup in Russia with replays to be shown on giant screens inside the stadiums, FIFA said on Wednesday.

“Everything will be centralised in a single location in Moscow and all referees will be based in Moscow,” explained FIFA’s referees’ chief Pierluigi Collina during a training seminar organised at Coverciano, near Florence.

Four VAR officials, giant screen replays at every World Cup match – FIFA

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Coverciano (Italy) (AFP) – Four video assistant referees will be present at every game at the World Cup in Russia with replays to be shown on giant screens inside the stadiums, FIFA said on Wednesday.

“Everything will be centralised in a single location in Moscow and all referees will be based in Moscow,” explained FIFA’s referees’ chief Pierluigi Collina during a training seminar organised at Coverciano, near Florence.

FIFA plans to revamp Club World Cup, scrap Confederations Cup

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Lisbon (AFP) – FIFA has laid out plans to replace the Confederations Cup with an expanded Club World Cup that will only be held every four years from 2021, a source told AFP on Wednesday.

According to a letter Gianni Infantino, the president of world football’s governing body, sent to the heads of the continental confederations, and seen by AFP, the Confederations Cup will cease while the club tournament will no longer be played annually in December.

FIFA plans to revamp Club World Cup, scrap Confederations Cup

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Lisbon (AFP) – FIFA has laid out plans to replace the Confederations Cup with an expanded Club World Cup that will only be held every four years from 2021, a source told AFP on Wednesday.

According to a letter Gianni Infantino, the president of world football’s governing body, sent to the heads of the continental confederations, and seen by AFP, the Confederations Cup will cease while the club tournament will no longer be played annually in December.

football association

DR Congo football chief held in embezzlement probe

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Kinshasa (AFP) – The head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s football association has been taken into custody as part of a probe into embezzlement, an investigating magistrate said Wednesday.

FECOFA president Constant Omari has been held along with sports ministry secretary general Barthelemy Okito and two FECOFA vice presidents - Roger Bondembe and Theobad Binamungu - since Tuesday evening, the magistrate told AFP.

DR Congo football chief held in embezzlement probe

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Kinshasa (AFP) – The head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s football association has been taken into custody as part of a probe into embezzlement, an investigating magistrate said Wednesday.

FECOFA president Constant Omari has been held along with sports ministry secretary general Barthelemy Okito and two FECOFA vice presidents - Roger Bondembe and Theobad Binamungu - since Tuesday evening, the magistrate told AFP.

Barton set to return from betting ban as Fleetwood boss

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London (AFP) – Controversial midfielder Joey Barton will take over as the manager of English third-tier side Fleetwood Town on June 2 when his suspension for breaking Football Association betting rules expires, it was announced Wednesday.

It will be the former England international’s first job in management, with the 35-year-old having signed a three-year contract to succeed John Sheridan, who led the club away from relegation after joining on a short-term deal in February.

Barton set to return from betting ban as Fleetwood boss

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London (AFP) – Controversial midfielder Joey Barton will take over as the manager of English third-tier side Fleetwood Town on June 2 when his suspension for breaking Football Association betting rules expires, it was announced Wednesday.

It will be the former England international’s first job in management, with the 35-year-old having signed a three-year contract to succeed John Sheridan, who led the club away from relegation after joining on a short-term deal in February.

Manchester United

Atletico must prove to Griezmann he does not need to leave – Simeone

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone admits his club must show they can match Antoine Griezmann’s ambition if they want to hold onto the striker this summer.

Griezmann has scored 19 goals in 22 games since the turn of the year and continues to be linked with Barcelona, who denied publically in January they had struck a deal to sign the Frenchman.

Pochettino defends team selection as Man Utd cup tie looms

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London (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino defended his team selection after Tottenham dropped points against Brighton, denying this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United influenced his decision.

The Spurs boss made six changes to his starting line-up and then saw his team drop two points in their quest to secure Champions League qualification.

AFC Champions League

Eliminated Melbourne rattle Shanghai SIPG in AFC Champions League

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Seoul (AFP) – Australian interest in the 2018 AFC Champions League ended on Wednesday despite Melbourne Victory’s 2-1 win over Shanghai SIPG of China.

Heading into the final round of the group games, Melbourne had already been eliminated.

But the A-League team inflicted a first defeat in the tournament on the big-spending Chinese Super League team that finished on top of Group G.

Eliminated Melbourne rattle Shanghai SIPG in AFC Champions League

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Seoul (AFP) – Australian interest in the 2018 AFC Champions League ended on Wednesday despite Melbourne Victory’s 2-1 win over Shanghai SIPG of China.

Heading into the final round of the group games, Melbourne had already been eliminated.

But the A-League team inflicted a first defeat in the tournament on the big-spending Chinese Super League team that finished on top of Group G.

Video Assistant Referee

UEFA chief Ceferin says VAR could be used in Champions League by 2019

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Milan (AFP) – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said Wednesday that the video assistant referee (VAR) system could be introduced to the Champions League by the 2019-2020 season.

Slovenian Ceferin has taken a cautious approach to the use of VAR despite it being used in the Italian and German leagues this season.

UEFA chief Ceferin says VAR could be used in Champions League by 2019

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Milan (AFP) – UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said Wednesday that the video assistant referee (VAR) system could be introduced to the Champions League by the 2019-2020 season.

Slovenian Ceferin has taken a cautious approach to the use of VAR despite it being used in the Italian and German leagues this season.

medical exam

Neymar out until at least May 17, eyes ‘dream’ World Cup 

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Sao Paulo (AFP) – Brazilian superstar Neymar said Tuesday that he won’t be back playing at least until the second half of May, when he is scheduled to have his final medical exam following foot surgery.

“There isn’t an exact date yet. I have the last exam, if I’m not mistaken, I’m not sure, on May 17,” the Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward told a press conference in Sao Paulo.

Neymar out until at least May 17, eyes ‘dream’ World Cup 

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Sao Paulo (AFP) – Brazilian superstar Neymar said Tuesday that he won’t be back playing at least until the second half of May, when he is scheduled to have his final medical exam following foot surgery.

“There isn’t an exact date yet. I have the last exam, if I’m not mistaken, I’m not sure, on May 17,” the Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward told a press conference in Sao Paulo.

The Rest

Mbappe brace as PSG seal French Cup final spot against minnows Les Herbiers

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe struck a brace and Christopher Nkunku added a late third as Paris Saint-Germain marched into the French Cup final thanks to 3-1 win at Caen on Wednesday.

PSG travelled to the Normandy coast with the French league title already wrapped up and looking to take another step towards what would be a fourth consecutive Cup triumph - a record - if they beat third division Les Herbiers at the Stade de France on May 8.

Bayern rout Leverkusen to cruise into German Cup final

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Berlin (AFP) – Thomas Mueller shone as Bayern Munich romped to a 6-2 semi-final win at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday to reach the German Cup final and keep their treble dreams alive.

Leverkusen are up to third in the Bundesliga, but trail champions Bayern by a massive 24 points and the gulf in the league table showed up clearly in this semi-final.

Everton ask fans to rate Allardyce

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London (AFP) – Everton have asked fans to grade the performance of under-fire manager Sam Allardyce by giving him a mark out of 10 in a club survey.

Allardyce has endured stinging criticism from Everton supporters unhappy about his direct style of football and the team’s inconsistent results since he took charge in November.