International football

World Cup

World Cup Draw: England Face Belgium, Tunisia And Panama In Intriguing Group G Selection

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England will play Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in the group stages of next summer's World Cup in Russia.

The typically star-studded draw was made in Moscow on Friday and threw up an intriguing Group G for England.

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Currently fifth in FIFA's rankings, Belgium will provide a big challenge to the Three Lions, with a squad crammed full of world-class stars, from Eden Hazard to Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku to Dries Mertens.

Football Art: New Official World Cup Poster For Russia 2018 Is Really Rather прекрасная (Photo)

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With just three days to go until the final group stage draw for the 2018 World Cup is made in Moscow, FIFA have unfurled the official poster that will accompany the tournament in Russia next year.

Produced by artist Igor Gurovich, the poster features legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin front and centre, clawing a giant football out of the sky in front of a delightfully geometric, Soviet-ish background.

Seismic Activity: Peru Fans Trigger Earthquake Alerts In Lima While Celebrating Momentous World Cup Play-Off Goal

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After waiting for over 30 years (36 to be precise) to reach a World Cup, it's perhaps understandable that Peru fans got a little boisterous in the wake of Wednesday night's play-off victory over New Zealand.

The 2-0 win in Lima sawLa Blanquirroja snaffle the final available qualification spot for Russia, with Peruvian fans seizing the long-awaited opportunity to celebrate in the neighbouring streets and the plazas all through the night.

Reports: Italy Coach Gian Piero Ventura ‘Refuses To Resign’ Despite Overseeing Calamitous World Cup Failure

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As you may have heard, Italy came up short in their attempts to reach the 2018 World Cup after failing to breach Sweden's defence in the second leg of their play-off at the San Siro on Monday night.

The Azzurri racked up 76% of the possession and mustered 27 shots as they grew increasingly desperate, but still the evening ended with Gianluigi Buffon weeping down the camera like a grieving walrus his magisterial 20-year, 175-cap international career petering out with the most meagre of dull splutters.

World Cup Play-Off: Disciplined Irish Frustrate Denmark, Secure Precious Draw In Copenhagen (Video)

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The Republic of Ireland's hopes of making it to next summer's World Cup remain in tact after a hard-fought goalless draw in Copenhagen.

Prior to the game, the Irish fans were in typical good humour, amusing themselves outside a Victoria's Secret shop by cheering every customer who walked out the door.

Spain: New Adidas 2018 World Cup Shirt Sparks Controversy After Fans Complain ‘Purple’ Trim Is Subtle Nod To Republican Sympathies

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Photo: @SeFutbol/Twitter

With Spanish nationalism a particularly hot political patata at the moment, it seems Spain's new 2018 World Cup shirt has been dragged into the furore, if only in a very peripheral sense.

MARCA report the new Adidas shirt has sparked "some controversy" as several people have questioned whether the palette used is a subtle nod to the red, yellow and purple colours of the Second Spanish Republic.

Videos

Brazil: Roberto Carlos Admits His Famous ‘Banana’ Freekick Against France In 1997 Was A Wind-Assisted Fluke

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Like arriving at the stark realisation that the middle-aged man doling out Kinder Eggs and cuddles in the back of his boarded up Transit van probably wasn't the Easter Bunny after all, Roberto Carlos has delivered a thundering hammer blow to Pies' already faltering grasp of all we assume to be true.

J League: Cerezo Osaka Match Begins With Monkey In Football Kit Politely Handing Ball Over To Referee (Video)

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Photo: J League

You can always trust the J League to deliver when it comes to unfettered weirdness on a football pitch, and Sunday's crunch tie between Cerezo Osaka and Vissel Kobe was no exception.

The match itself was nothing out of the ordinary, with Osaka registering a straightforward 3-1 victory over Lukas Podolski's lot.

Georgian Premier League: Title Decider Between Torpedo Kutaisi And Dimano Tbilisi Ends Amid Scenes Of Complete And Utter Pandemonium (Video)

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Photo: Dinamo Tbilisi/Facebook

The Georgian Premier League (the Erovnuli Liga) came to a dramatic conclusion over the weekend, with the title-decider between Torpedo Kutaisi and Dinamo Tbilisi proving every bit as chaotic as you might imagine.

Going into the match, Torpedo needed to win to usurp Dinamo and clinch the championship, while the latter simply required a draw to seal the deal.

Atalanta Captain Alejandro Gomez Receives Golden Record After His ‘Dance Like Papu’ Song Proves Massive Hit In Italy (Photo & Video)

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As unlikely as it may seem, a song about Atalanta's club captain has proved to be a ridiculously popular breakout viral smash in Italy.

Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez has a tendency to dance after scoring, much to the delight of the Atalanta fans so much so, in fact, that a few of them wrote a catchy little ditty about the Argentinian forward's post-goal wiggling.

‘I Should Have Sacked Ventura At Half-Time!’ – Italian FA President Carlo Tavecchio Announces Resignation, Goes Out With Bang (Video)

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As the fallout from Italy's failure to reach a World Cup finals for the first time in nigh-on 60 years continues to churn, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) have announced that they are now looking for a new president, as well as a new national team coach.

While he initially refused to budge, manager Giampietro Ventura resigned a few days after the Azzurri saw their final shot at earning a place in Russia go up in smoke with a two-leg defeat against Sweden in their World Cup play-off.

World Cup Play-Offs: Peru Secure 32nd And Final Qualification Spot With 2-0 Win Over New Zealand (Photo & Video)

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That's it. As of last night, we now know which 32 teams will be competing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia after Peru beat New Zealand 2-0 on aggregate to shore up the final qualification berth on offer.

After the first leg in Wellington finished goalless, a goal apiece from Jefferson Farfan and Christian Ramos was enough to seal a 2-0 aggregate victory in Lima, thus sending the Peruvians to their first World Cup in 36 years.

Record Breaker: Romelu Lukaku Moves Clear As Belgium’s New All-Time Top Scorer By Nodding In Goal No. 31 Against Japan (Video)

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After drawing level with a couple of poacher's goals against Mexico on Saturday, Romelu Lukaku took 72 minutes of Tuesday night's friendly against Japan to move clear as Belgium's all-time record goalscorer.

Lukaku notched the 31st goal of his international career (on his 65th appearance) when he nodded home Nacer Chadli's far-post cross from approximately 30 centimetres out.

World Cup Play-Offs: Mile Jedinak The Unlikely Hat-Trick Hero As Australia Book Berth At Russia 2018 (Photos & Video)

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After Tim Cahill's headstrong heroics in the previous round, it was Mile Jedinak who emerged as the somewhat unlikely catalyst for Australia as they booked themselves a berth at the 2018 World Cup with a cross-continental play-off win over Honduras.

The two sides produced a goalless draw in the first leg in San Pedro Sula on Friday, so a 3-1 victory on home soil in Sydney this morning was enough to swing it for the Socceroos.

International Friendly: Anthony Martial Provides Silky Smooth Assist For Alexandre Lacazette As France Draw 2-2 With Germany (Photo & Video)

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France and Germany played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Cologne on Tuesday evening, with the latter thereby extending their unbeaten streak to21 matches.

The opening goal came 33 minutes in when Anthony Martial went slithering through the German defence.

The Manchester United forward feinted past Nicklas Sule, put Kevin Trapp on his backside and then laid a luscious assist on a silver platter for Alexandre Lacazette to ram into the vacant net.

World Cup Play-Off: Denmark Celebrate Seeing Off Ireland With Good Old Fashioned Beer Shower (Photos & Video)

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With the Republic of Ireland hosting Denmark, there's a fair chance the beer would've been flowing whoever came out on top in Tuesday night's World Cup play-off second leg in Dublin.

Alas, it was the Danes who ended the night triumphant and in some style too, snuffing out Irish hopes with a Christian Eriksen-inspired 5-1 thumping at the Aviva Stadium.

Rinky Dinky L’il Kosovo Demonstrate Simple Joy Of International Friendlies By Snaffling Historic 4-3 Win Over Latvia (Photo & Video)

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Photo: Kosovan Football

While it's easy to grow despondent, borderline catatonic when it comes to international football, it would appear that there are still countries out there who actually ruddy enjoy themselves when it comes to chugging through friendlies.

Kosovo only registered as a FIFA nation in May of 2016, so all this is still pretty new to them.

On This Day In 2012: Zlatan Ibrahimovic Tears Joe Hart Asunder With Phenomenal Overhead Kick Against England (Video)

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Today marks the fourth anniversary of the fateful night that Zlatan Ibrahimovic trampled roughshod over England, scoring all four goals in a mountainous performance at the epicentre of Sweden's 4-2 friendly victory in Stockholm.

England's wafer-thin side contained such luminaries as Steven Caulker, Tom Cleverly, Leon Osman, Tom Huddlestone and poor old Ryan Shawcross who, making his international debut as a late substitute, suffered miserably at the hands of a soaring Zlatan and was never called up again thereafter.

Sweden Players Absolutely Destroy Pitchside Commentary Desk After Securing World Cup Qualification At Italy’s Expense (Video)

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After successfully keeping Italy at bay to reach the 2018 World Cup last night, Sweden celebrated hard after the final whistle at the San Siro.

As head coachJanne Andersson was being grilled by Eurosport at pitchside, the team came rampaging over to hijack the interview and quickly reduced the analysts' table to a pile of flimsy plastic rubble.

Aged Just 24, Romelu Lukaku Equals Belgium All-Time Goalscoring Record With Poacher’s Double Against Mexico (Photo & Videos)

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At the tender age of just 24, Romelu Lukaku scored the necessary two goals in last night's 3-3 draw against Mexico to become one of Belgium's three joint-highest goalscorers.

Lukaku prodded in his 29th and 30th goals for the Red Devils (in just 64 appearances) to equal the international tallies of both Bernard Voorhoof and Paul van Himst, both of whom formerly co-owned the record.

International Friendly: Loftus-Cheek Impresses On Debut As England Hammer Out Goalless Draw With Germany (Photos & Video)

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An inexperienced England side studded with debutantes held Germany to a goalless draw at Wembley on Friday night in the first of a double-header of international friendlies.

Both starting XIs shared an average age of 24.5 but the German side boasted almost three times the amount of total international caps (301) than that of their English counterparts (112).

Brazil Coach Tite Makes Neymar Cry While Gushing About His ‘Big Heart’ In Post-Match Press Conference (Video)

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Image: SporTV

Things took a turn for the emotional shortly after Brazil comfortably saw off Japan in Friday's tea-time international friendly kick-off.

Having opened the scoring with a 10th-minute penalty, Neymar then missed another just a few minutes later before eventually being replaced by Douglas Costa for the latter stages at Lille's half-empty Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Moron: Colombia Midfielder Edwin Cardona Aims Racist Gesture At South Korean Opponent During Suwon Friendly (Video)

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Two goals from Tottenham's Son Heung-Min saw South Korea register a 2-1 win over Colombia on Friday, but the friendly in Suwon has become a point of discussion for an altogether different reason.

Indeed, Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona is at the epicentre after the substitute was caught making a moronic "slant eye" gesture at South Korean right-back Choi Chul-Soon behind the referee's back.

AFC U-19 Championship Qualifying: Qatar Outfield Player Makes Heroic Cameo After ‘Keeper Sent Off Mid-Penalty Shootout (Video)

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Qatar registered a narrow victory over Iran on Wednesday to secure top spot in their qualifying group and seal themselves a spot at next year'sAFC Under-19 Championships, though they required a penalty shootout to do so.

The match itself finished 1-1 after extra time, and Qatar thought they'd won the ensuing shootout when their goalkeeper,Shehab Mamdouh, successfully palmed away the decisive Iraqi effort at 3-2.

Cameroon’s Marvellous New Home Shirt Has Big Robotic Lion On It And Comes Approved By Roger Milla (Photos & Video)

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Cameroon have a rich and storied past when it comes to frankly peerless football kits, with both sleeveless and "unitard" efforts being gleefully foisted upon us within living memory.

While altogether more conventional in terms of its basic layout, the Indomitable Lions' latest strip, revealed by Puma today, is once again a thing of vivacious beauty.

South Africa: Kaizer Chief Fan Keeps Himself Amused By Going Through Full Warm-Up Drill Alongside Players (Video)

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In all honesty, it's all been a little bit slow today in the wake of last night's Champions League blow-out, so feel free to enjoy this 'ere video of a Kaizer Chiefs fan while we continue to scrounge about for more meaty fodder.

The Chiefs took on Polokwane City in South Africa's Premier Soccer League on Tuesday evening, duelling their way to a goalless draw.

Italy

Italy Move Above England In FIFA World Rankings Despite Failure To Qualify For 2018 World Cup

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Trying to make sense of the FIFA World Rankings is very much like trying to plait smoke, but nevertheless the system persists.

Germany remain top of the shop with Brazil tucked in second place. Euro 2016 winners Portugal make up the podium, while Argentina and previous table-toppers Belgium are in fourth and fifth spot respectively.

‘We Must Stay Away From Tiki-Taka’ – Giorgio Chiellini Blames ‘Guardiolanism’ For Ruining Entire Generation Of Italian Defenders

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Giorgio Chiellini is a man peturbed at the lack of traditional Italian defensive nous he sees being instilled in the young defenders currently coming up through the ranks.

The Juventus stalwart, one of the last remaining bastions of the classical art form, has blamed Pep Guardiola and his myriad copy-cats for systematically diluting the noble defensive creed, with their obsessive insistence on fostering ball-playing backlines above all else.

‘Don’t Confuse Fine Chocolate With Nutella’ – Gennaro Gattuso On Whether His Donkey Work Improved Andrea Pirlo’s Game

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While the great and the good have lined up to wave off Andrea Pirlo into retirement, perhaps the most honest, touching tribute has come from Gennaro Gattuso, the man who partnered him in midfield for many years, both at AC Milan and at international level.

The chalk-and-cheese pair formed a formidable duo under Carlo Ancelotti at the Rossoneri, as well as toiling their way to a World Cup title under Marcelo Lippi, with Gattuso acting as guard dog and Pirlo providing the more creative, esoteric element.

Gareth Southgate

England: Dominic Solanke Admits It Would Be ‘Crazy’ For Him To Play Against Brazil At Wembley

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Dominic Solanke has admitted it would be "crazy" for him to play for England against Brazil after being drafted into Gareth Southgate's squad as injury cover.

Solanke played for the Under-21s in a friendly against Ukraine on Friday, only to be called into the senior side the following day along with fellow newbies Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn and Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook to help offset a raft of drop-outs.

Loftus-Cheek showed he can cut it – Southgate

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

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

Loftus-Cheek showed he can cut it – Southgate

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

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

England Squad: Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek And Joe Gomez Receive First Senior Call-Ups For Germany And Brazil Friendlies

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While the full squad isn't due to be announced until 2pm (BST) this afternoon, England have gone ahead and confirmed that Tammy Abraham, Joe Gomez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all been called up to the senior side for their upcoming November friendlies against Germany and Brazil.

The Rest

Modern Football Is Rubbish: Weird Scenes As A-League Buddy Up With Disney To Turn Gameweek 10 Into ‘Star Wars Round’

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For reasons solely commercial, the A-League transformed their tenth gameweek of the season into the 'Star Wars round', which led to thoroughly odd scenes at the start of the derby between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC.

Indeed, Kylo Ren emerged on the pitch and appeared to attempt to influence the match officials, which will no doubt result in a disciplinary hearing at some point down the line.

Greek Travesty: Lamia Goalkeeper Nikos Papadopoulos Given Five-Match Suspension For Excitedly Hugging Referee

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Photo: Altsantiri.gr

PAS Lamia goalkeeper Nikos Papadopoulos has been slapped with a hefty five-match suspension for the heinous crime of 'accidentally' hugging a match official at the end of a recent Greek Super League match.

Papadopoulos was so overcome with elation after Lamia scored a 97th-minute equaliser in their 2-2 draw against Panaitolikos on Sunday that he kissed, embraced and shook refereeIoannis Neophatiadis.

Norway: Lillestrom Defender Apologises After Celebrating Cup Final Victory By ‘Placing Genitals’ Inside Trophy (Photo)

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Photo: Press Association (via Telegraph)

Aleksander Melgalvis Andreassen has issued an apology after his celebration of Lillestrom's win over Sarpsborg in the Norwegian Football Cup final proved to be a little too 'zealous' for some people's liking.

After playing his part in the 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon, Melgalvis appeared on stage at Lillestrom's trophy presentation the following day in a state of complete and total undress.

Bosnia: FK Zeljeznicar Try Desperately To Prevent Snow-Bound Sarajevo Derby Being Postponed By Spray Painting Their White Footballs Red (Photos)

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Photo: SCSport

Bosnian club FK Zeljeznicar were forced to undertake emergency measures to meetPremijer Liga standards after seeing their derby against FK Sarajevo on Sunday scuppered by adverse weather.

Despite the best efforts of the Zeljeznicar club staff, heavy snowfall led the match to be postponed shortly before kick-off after referee Irfan Pejtom deemed the surface at the Grbavica Stadium to be unplayable.

Goldbullen: Andreas Granqvist Named Swedish Player Of The Year As Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 10-Year Reign Comes To An End (Photos)

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For the first time in 10 years, somebody other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic was crowned Swedish Player of the Year at the Goldbullen gala in Stockholm on Monday evening.

Indeed, the 2017 Goldbullen was presented to Andreas Granqvist, the grizzled Krasnodar centre-back who captained Sweden to the World Cup finals, a campaign that culminated in that outstanding win over Italy in the play-offs.

Jackpot: Former Bochum Striker Tommy Bechmann Wins Danish Lottery Eight Months After Retiring From Football

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Just months after retiring from professional football, former Bochum striker Tommy Bechmann has given his pension fund a boost by winning the Danish lottery.

The 35-year-old, who represented Bochum and Freiburg in the German top tiers, was on holiday in Spain with his family when he was informed he'd scooped the five million krone (around £585,000) grand jackpot.

Egyptian Side Al-Ahly Forced To Cancel Training Session After Thousands Of Fans Turn Up At Stadium (Photos)

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Egyptian side Al Ahly had their preparations for the upcoming African Champions League final disrupted on Tuesday when droves of fans descended on their midweek training session in Cairo.

Al Ahly were forced to cancel the session at the Mokhtar El-Tetsh Stadium when thousands of fans turned up to watch, eventually spilling out from the stands and onto the pitch.