Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies aged 74

Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74, a family spokesman has said.

The former world heavyweight boxing champion, one of the world's best-known sportsmen, died at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona, after being admitted on Thursday.

He was suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson's disease.

The funeral will take place in Ali's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, his family said in a statement.

Ali dies: Live reaction

Obituary: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali in his own words

Latest tributes

Nick Bryant: How Ali changed his sport and country

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Ali shot to fame by winning light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Nicknamed "The Greatest", the American beat Sonny Liston in 1964 to win his first world title and became the first boxer to capture a world heavyweight title on three separate occasions.

He eventually retired in 1981, having won 56 of his 61 fights.

Crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC, Ali was noted for his pre- and post-fight talk and bold fight predictions just as much as his boxing skills inside the ring.

But he was also a civil rights campaigner and poet who transcended the bounds of sport, race and nationality.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, he once said: "As a man who never sold out his people. But if that's too much, then just a good boxer. I won't even mind if you don't mention how pretty I was."

Ali turned professional immediately after the Rome Olympics and rose through the heavyweight ranks, delighting crowds with his showboating, shuffling feet and lightning reflexes.

British champion Henry Cooper came close to stopping Clay, as he was still known, when they met in a non-title bout in London in 1963.

Cooper floored the American with a left hook, but Clay picked himself up off the canvas and won the fight in the next round when a severe cut around Cooper's left eye forced the Englishman to retire.

Ali's boxing career

  • Won Olympic light-heavyweight gold in 1960
  • Turned professional that year and was world heavyweight champion from 1964 to 1967, 1974 to 1978 and 1978 to 1979
  • Had 61 professional bouts, winning 56 (37 knockouts, 19 decisions), and losing five (4 decisions, 1 retirement)

In February the following year, Clay stunned the boxing world by winning his first world heavyweight title at the age of 22.

He predicted he would beat Liston, who had never lost, but few believed he could do it.

Yet, after six stunning rounds, Liston quit on his stool, unable to cope with his brash, young opponent.

At the time of his first fight with Liston, Clay was already involved with the Nation of Islam, a religious movement whose stated goals were to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans in the United States.

But in contrast to the inclusive approach favoured by civil rights leaders like Dr Martin Luther King, the Nation of Islam called for separate black development and was treated by suspicion by the American public.

Ali eventually converted to Islam, ditching what he perceived was his "slave name" and becoming Cassius X and then Muhammad Ali.

How world remembers Ali

In 1967, Ali took the momentous decision of opposing the US war in Vietnam, a move that was widely criticised by his fellow Americans.

He refused to be drafted into the US military and was subsequently stripped of his world title and boxing licence. He would not fight again for nearly four years.

After his conviction for refusing the draft was overturned in 1971, Ali returned to the ring and fought in three of the most iconic contests in boxing history, helping restore his reputation with the public.

He was handed his first professional defeat by Joe Frazier in the "Fight of the Century" in New York on 8 March 1971, only to regain his title with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30 October 1974.

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali blows a kiss after receiving Sports Illustrateds 20th Century Sportsman of the Century Award in 1999

Muhammad Ali was crowned Sportsman of the Century in 1999

Ali fought Frazier for a third and final time in the Philippines on 1 October 1975, coming out on top in the "Thrilla in Manila" when Frazier failed to emerge for the 15th and final round.

Six defences of his title followed before Ali lost on points to Leon Spinks in February 1978, although he regained the world title by the end of the year, avenging his defeat at the hands of the 1976 Olympic light-heavyweight champion.

Ali's career ended with one-sided defeats by Larry Holmes in 1980 and Trevor Berbick in 1981, many thinking he should have retired long before.

He fought a total of 61 times as a professional, losing five times and winning 37 bouts by knockout.

Soon after retiring, rumours began to circulate about the state of Ali's health. His speech had become slurred, he shuffled and he was often drowsy.

Parkinson's Syndrome was eventually diagnosed but Ali continued to make public appearances, receiving warm welcomes wherever he travelled.

He lit the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Games in London.


How Ali wanted people to remember him

"I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him...who stood up for his beliefs...who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.

"And if all that's too much, then I guess I'd settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn't even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was."

Source: bbc.com

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Jamie Vardy: Arsenal bid for Leicester City striker meets release clause

Arsenal are in talks with Leicester City in an attempt to try to sign striker Jamie Vardy.

The Gunners' bid for the 29-year-old England international is reported to be in the region of £20m and has triggered the release clause in his contract.

Vardy scored 24 goals in the Premier League for Leicester as the Foxes won the 2015-16 title.

The forward, who is currently preparing for Euro 2016, joined City for £1m from Fleetwood in 2012.

Vardy rose through non-league football after being released by Sheffield Wednesday at 16 for being too small, and was named the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year for 2015-16.

Since making his England debut in 2015, he has scored three times in eight internationals.

Arsenal, who finished second in the league, 10 points behind Leicester, have already signed Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Vardy to Arsenal: The case for and against

Former QPR winger Trevor Sinclair on BBC Radio 5 live: "I am a big believer in karma. He has won the Premier League, he is happy and has a great group of brothers around him. He is settled, so why move?

"When you are a striker you can be in top form but then go to a club, not hit the ground running and then it can gobble you up. I would stay where he is."

Ex-Everton winger Kevin Kilbane on BBC Radio 5 live: "When the big clubs come calling, they might not come again. I think you go.

"You want to test yourself against the best and with better players. Technically, Arsenal are a better side than Leicester."

Source: bbc.com

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Rio 2016: Olympic Games refugees team unveiled

The International Olympic Committee has unveiled its first team of refugees to compete at Rio 2016 under the Olympic banner.

The Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes has 10 members - five from South Sudan, two from Syria, two from DR Congo and one from Ethiopia.

The six men and four women will compete in swimming, judo and athletics.

"These refugee athletes have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem," said IOC president Thomas Bach.

"The invention of this refugee team is to give them a home in the Olympic village together with all the athletes around the world."

The team includes swimmer Yusra Mardini from Syria, who trains in Germany, South Sudanese middle-distance runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen, who is living in a refugee camp in Kenya, and DR Congo judoka Yolande Bukasa Mabika, who trains in Brazil.

They will enter the opening ceremony as the penultimate team, before hosts Brazil.

Bach added: "It can send a symbol of hope for all refugees in the world and can send a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society."

The Olympics run from 5-21 August.

Source: bbc.com

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Muhammad Ali: Boxing legend remains in hospital with respiratory issue

Muhammad Ali is still in hospital two days after being admitted with a respiratory issue.

There has been no official update on Ali's condition and concern has grown throughout Friday.

An enormous number of goodwill messages for the 74-year-old, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1984, have been posted on social media.

The former heavyweight world champion was admitted to hospital in December 2014 with a urinary tract infection.

Great Britain's newest world champion Tony Bellew has been among those expressing hope for his recovery.

One of the most high-profile global sporting stars, Ali's name transcends sport like few others.

He became the first three-time world heavyweight champion in 1978, having first won the title in 1964 and again in 1974.

Source: bbc.com

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Fifa: Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke & Markus Kattner 'awarded themselves £55m'

Former high-ranking Fifa officials Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke and Markus Kattner awarded themselves pay rises and bonuses worth $80m (£55m) over five years, say Fifa lawyers.

Football's governing body revealed the contracts of ex-president Blatter, fired ex-secretary general Valcke and sacked former finance director Kattner one day after a Swiss police raid.

Fifa's lawyers said there was evidence that the trio made "a coordinated effort" to "enrich themselves" between 2011 and 2015.

Documents and electronic data were seized from Kattner's old office during Thursday's operation, which relates to investigations into Blatter and Valcke, according to sources close to Fifa's internal investigation.

Suspected of criminal mismanagement of Fifa money, Blatter and Valcke were banned for six and 12 years respectively by the governing body's ethics committee in February. Both deny wrongdoing.

A statement for the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), which carried out the investigations, read: "Documents and electronic data were seized and will now be examined to determine their relevance to the ongoing proceedings."

Fifa said the evidence uncovered by its own internal investigation would be shared with the Swiss Attorney General's office and the US Department of Justice.

Richard Cullen, Blatter's lawyer, said: "We look forward to showing Fifa that Mr Blatter's compensation payments were proper, fair and in line with the heads of major professional sports leagues around the world."

Meanwhile, Blatter's long-time public relations advisor Klaus Stoehlker told BBC Sport he would be ending their professional relationship, adding: "The Fifa volcano is exploding now."

Fifa has been in turmoil since May 2015, when a US investigation exposed widespread corruption at the top of the organisation.

Analysis

Richard Conway, BBC sports news correspondent

"Fifa has "victim status" right now from the US Department of Justice and the Swiss authorities. It acknowledges that the institution itself is not at fault for the corrupt acts of its senior members in recent times.

"But that could easily change and it's why Fifa's own legal team have been digging through millions of documents to uncover any previously unknown historic wrongdoing.

"Over the past few days they say they uncovered information which revealed the secret deals that allowed Blatter, Valcke and Kattner to gorge on huge multi-million dollar bonuses.

"Some of the provisions in the contracts could breach Swiss law.

"Now they've gone public with the information in an attempt to demonstrate to the legal authorities and fans they are serious about long term reform and regaining trust."

Source: bbc.com

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Olympic professional boxing vote is criticised by Carl Frampton

Former world champion Carl Frampton and a number of other high-profile fighters have hit out at the decision to allow professionals to box at the Olympics.

International boxing federations voted in the rule change just weeks before the Rio Games start on 5 August.

Northern Irishman Frampton says amateur and pro boxing are "two different sports", claiming: "It's like a badminton player playing tennis."

Ricky Hatton and Stephen Smith have also criticised the move.

"Goodbye amateur boxing now as far as I'm concerned," tweeted former welterweight and light-welterweight world champion Hatton. "Can't say I'm a fan of this."

Former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Smith, who has had 28 fights as a pro, said he was "gutted" to learn the news.

"Absolutely ruins amateur boxing that in my opinion," he tweeted. "Wrong."

However, Olympic medallist Michael Conlan say he is happy to fight against professionals as he seeks to add gold to the bronze he won in London.

"It wouldn't bother me, I'll beat all of them," said the Northern Ireland bantamweight.

The vote to allow pro boxers to fight at the Olympics took place at a meeting of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) in Switzerland.

The decision means any professional can enter a qualifying event in Venezuela next month in an attempt to win selection, with 26 entry places up for grabs.

AIBA president CK Wu said it was "difficult to anticipate" how many pros would attempt to qualify for Rio.

Former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has indicated he would like to box at the Olympics.

But the 40-year-old Ukrainian, who won super-heavyweight gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996, is unlikely to take part in qualifying.

He takes on Britain's Tyson Fury in a title rematch in Manchester on 9 July.

Source: bbc.com

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Danny Drinkwater: Alan Shearer says Roy Hodgson wrong to drop England midfielder

England manager Roy Hodgson opted for "reputation rather than form" by dropping Danny Drinkwater from his Euro 2016 squad, says former striker Alan Shearer.

Leicester midfielder Drinkwater was left out of the final 23-man squad.

Shearer said that by selecting Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson, Hodgson was taking a "gamble" on their fitness.

"Drinkwater should have been in. He's been one of the standout players this season," Shearer told BBC Radio 5 live.

"He'll be very disappointed, and rightly so because he's been absolutely magnificent."

Drinkwater, who has won three caps, was voted man of the match on his debut in the 2-1 defeat by the Netherlands in March.

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere played only 141 minutes in the Premier League this season following a broken leg, while Liverpool Jordan Henderson missed the final six weeks of the campaign with a knee injury.

Match of the Day pundit Shearer, who scored 30 goals in 63 games for England between 1992 and 2000, said: "Once again England have gone for reputation rather than form.

"I hope the manager doesn't regret it."

BBC Sport team selector users agree with Shearer

The verdict of BBC Sport's England Euro 2016 team selector - after it passed 1m users - matches Shearer's.

Although BBC Sport users are asked to pick an England XI, rather than a 23-man squad, one third of people (358,000) chose Drinkwater.

In the total selections for midfield options, Drinkwater came fifth behind Spurs' duo Dele Alli (900,000) and Eric Dier (673,000), Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney (580,000) and Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling (378,000).

A Premier League champion with Leicester City this season, Drinkwater was a more popular midfield choice than Everton's Ross Barkley (322,000), Liverpool trio James Milner (286,000), Adam Lallana (282,000) and Jordan Henderson (230,000), and Arsenal's Jack Wilshere (253,000).

On Hodgson's other two omissions, BBC Sport users largely agree, with City's Fabian Delph (34,000) and Newcastle winger Andros Townsend (175,000) the bottom two midfield picks.

But few users chose teenage striker Marcus Rashford (116,000) to start for England in France, despite scoring on his international debut against Australia on Friday - perhaps seeing the Manchester United striker as an option from the bench.

On Rashford, Shearer said the 18-year-old was "ready" after an "incredible rise" this season and that he "deserves to go because of his performances in the last three months".

"I'd be very surprised if he started," added Shearer. "If needs be he can come and make an impact if England are chasing the game. Once he gets on, he may force the manager's hand."

According to data from the 1m uses so far, a BBC Sport team selector XI for England's first game against Russia in Marseille on 11 June, would be:

BBC Sport users' England XI at Euro 2016BBC Sport users' England XI at Euro 2016http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/624/cpsprodpb/184B1/production/_89850599_englandstartingxi.jpg

Source: bbc.com

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Euro 2016: Marcus Rashford in England squad - Townsend and Drinkwater miss out

Manchester United's teenage striker Marcus Rashford has been named in Roy Hodgson's 23-man England squad for the 2016 European Championship in France.

Rashford, 18, scored on his international debut in the 2-1 friendly victory over Australia on Friday.

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is also included, but Newcastle United's Andros Townsend and Leicester City's Danny Drinkwater both miss out.

England face Portugal in their last Euro 2016 warm-up match on Thursday.

Hodgson's side begin their campaign in France by playing Russia on 11 June, before meeting Wales on 16 June and Slovakia on 20 June.

Rashford, who signed a new four-year contract with Manchester United on Monday, only made his first-team debut on 25 February, but scored eight goals in 18 club games to earn an international call-up.

Sturridge, 26, missed England's last two friendly matches but did take part in a training session on Monday.

He also trained at Watford's training ground on Tuesday, along with Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, with all three considered fully fit.

Southampton full-back Ryan Bertrand, 26, is carrying an unspecified injury but even if he does not play against Portugal at Wembley, he is not regarded as a fitness concern for the tournament.

Drinkwater helped Leicester claim a shock Premier League title, while Townsend - included in the preliminary squad predominantly as cover - was a member of the Newcastle team relegated from the top flight.

The pair were told of their omissions by Hodgson on an individual basis in the manager's hotel room following training.

BBC Sport understands both took the news in a respectful, professional way and wished Hodgson and the team well.

The rest of the squad were informed of Hodgson's selections at a team meeting shortly afterwards.

Drinkwater and Townsend said goodbye to everyone involved before leaving the England camp and will not be on standby for the tournament.

Drinkwater said later he was "disappointed" not to make the final 23 but described the season as a "huge positive".

Former England winger Trevor Sinclair told BBC Radio 5 live: "For me Drinkwater has had such a good season and played such a pivotal part in Leicester's success, he deserves to be in the squad.

"I think he's had an absolutely outstanding season. He's shown what he can do at international level. What he does on the pitch a lot of the time goes unnoticed. He works so unselfishly for the team, I think he may be a big miss for the England squad.

"Townsend will feel unlucky because he's had a great finish to the season, despite Newcastle getting relegated.

"What I will say is, at least he's getting looked at. While he was at Tottenham he wasn't even getting the opportunity because he wasn't playing."

Hodgson initially named a 26-man squad after the final round of Premier League games, having intended to reveal his final selection on 12 May until injury concerns prompted a delay.

That was cut to 25 when Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph was moved to the standby list after picking up an injury.

Hodgson's squad is the youngest to represent England at a European Championship, with an average age of 25.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

Source: bbc.com

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Alan Pulido: Freed Mexico footballer is 'safe and sound'

International football player Alan Pulido is "safe and sound" after police rescued him from kidnappers who seized him in north-eastern Mexico.

Pulido, 25, was abducted at gunpoint on Saturday night in his home town of Ciudad Victoria in Tamaulipas state.

The striker, who plays for Greek team Olympiakos, phoned police while his captors were distracted, officials say.

A 38-year-old man has been arrested. Officials say he confessed to belonging to a local criminal gang.

Police are searching for another three men believed to have been involved in the kidnapping.

Pulido's car was surrounded by several vehicles as he was leaving a party with his girlfriend on Saturday night.

Map of Tamaulipas

Masked men took him away, leaving his girlfriend unharmed in the car park where the incident took place.

Pulido's family received a phone call on Sunday demanding a ransom payment, state prosecutor Ismael Quintanilla told journalists.

It is not clear whether the family were planning to meet the kidnappers' demands or how big the ransom demand was.

Mr Quintanilla said that the security forces were able to locate Pulido thanks to the phone call he managed to make to police.

He said no shots had been fired and Pulido only sustained a minor injury.

One of his hands bandaged, Pulido told reporters early hours on Monday: "[I am] very well, thank God.'

Tamaulipas is one of Mexico's most violent states, and Mexico recently deployed more security forces to tackle cartels operating in the area.

The country has one of the world's highest kidnapping rates, with government figures saying some 1,000 people are abducted every year.

Others argue that the true figure could be almost 10 times as high.

Pulido joined Olympiakos last July and finished the season with six goals in 15 games.

He was part of Mexico's squad at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but was not called up for the upcoming Copa America tournament.

Source: bbc.com

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German row over right-winger's 'racist' Boateng remark

The German right-wing Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party has come under fire over comments by one of its leaders about footballer Jerome Boateng that are widely regarded as racist.

AfD deputy chief Alexander Gauland told a newspaper that Germans would not like to have Boateng, whose father is Ghanaian, as a neighbour.

Boateng, 27, is a defender for German champions Bayern Munich and the national team.

The remark drew immediate condemnation.

Mr Gauland later denied it reflected his own views.

The leader of the AfD, Frauke Petry, apologised for the "impression that has arisen".

The comment was carried by the Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Under the headline "Gauland insults Boateng", the article quotes the politician as saying: "People find him good as a footballer, but they don't want to have Boateng as a neighbour."

Germany manager Oliver Bierhoff said people who made such comments "are simply discrediting themselves".

Justice Minister Heiko Maas called them "unacceptable and shabby".

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the comment showed "that Gauland is not just against foreigners but against the good things about Germany".

'Super footballer'

Mr Gauland said that he had "never insulted Mr Boateng", whom he did not know. He added that he had only "described some people's attitudes'' in a background conversation with the journalists.

AfD leader Frauke Petry told the Bild newspaper that her deputy could not remember making the comment, saying: "Independently of that. I apologise to Mr Boateng for the impression that has arisen."

She later tweeted: "Jerome Boateng is a super footballer who is rightly a member of the German national team. I'm looking forward to the European Championship."

The AfD was started three years ago with a Eurosceptic message and has attracted many voters who are angered by an influx of migrants and by Chancellor Angela Merkel's pro-refugee approach.

Source: bbc.com

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Olympiakos footballer Alan Pulido kidnapped in Mexico

Mexican footballer Alan Pulido has been kidnapped in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, officials say.

The 25-year-old striker was reportedly kidnapped on Sunday near his home in Ciudad Victoria after leaving a party.

He plays for the Greek team Olympiakos and has made several appearances for Mexico's national team.

Mexico has the one of the world's highest kidnapping rates, with government figures saying some 1,000 people are taken every year.

Others argue that the true figure could be almost 10 times as high.

Criss-crossed by drug smugglers

Local media reports said Pulido had been leaving a party with his girlfriend late on Saturday night when their car was surrounded by several trucks.

Map of Tamaulipas

Six masked men reportedly took the striker away "by force" while his girlfriend was left unharmed in the car park where the incident took place.

Tamaulipas is one of Mexico's most violent states, and Mexico recently deployed more security forces to tackle cartels operating in the area.

Dozens of people have been killed in recent weeks in the border state, which is criss-crossed by drug-smuggling routes to the United States.

Pulido joined Olympiakos last July and finished the season with six goals in 15 games.

Source: bbc.com

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Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid in a dramatic penalty shootout in Milan

Real Madrid were crowned champions of Europe for the 11th time after beating Atletico Madrid in a dramatic penalty shootout in Milan.

Sergio Ramos' controversial finish put Zinedine Zidane's side ahead before Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty.

However, substitute Yannick Carrasco sent the Champions League final into extra-time with a close-range finish.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck the winning penalty after Juanfran had missed.

How the Champions League final was won: Relive the drama from the San Siro

How the penalty shootout unfolded

In the shootout, Lucas Vazquez, Marcelo and Gareth Bale scored for Real, with Griezmann, Gabi and Saul Niguez replying to make it 3-3.

After Ramos stepped up to make it 4-3, Juanfran hit the post, leaving Ronaldo with the chance to win the cup.

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/624/cpsprodpb/1072C/production/_89827376_pen.jpg

Cristiano Ronaldo scores the winning penalty in the 2016 Champions League final

The competition's all-time leading scorer kept his composure to win it - his third individual Champions League triumph following on his from his successes with Manchester United in 2008 and Real in 2014.

Zidane's tactics deliver silverware

Zidane, a Champions League winner with Real as a player in 2002, replaced Rafael Benitez as manager at the Bernabeu in January, with Real still reeling from a bruising 4-0 hammering by Barcelona earlier in the season and facing the prospect of a second successive campaign without major silverware.

The 43-year-old finishes it as the seventh different manager to deliver a European Cup to Real.

As stylish as his side were going forward, they were just as impressive at the back as Atletico's attacking duo of Griezmann and Fernando Torres were starved of service before the interval.

Bale and Ronaldo repeatedly dropped back into midfield to help cut out the supply routes to Griezmann and Torres, while Karim Benzema also typified Real's work rate by doing his defensive duties.

Atletico were the better side after the break yet fortune was on Real's side as Pepe's rash challenge on Torres went unpunished and Stefan Savic stabbed another golden chance wide.

Bale shines ahead of Euro 2016

Bale was excellent as Real dominated the first half - powerful going forward and quick to help out at the back when required.

The Wales international was a danger at set pieces while he was heavily involved as his side took the lead.

Despite having an effort cleared off the line, Bale faded after the break and he spent most of extra-time limping around the pitch with cramp, unsurprising considering his work rate.

Yet he still put himself forward for the decisive shootout - and scored with a cool, low finish to help his team to a famous win.

What now for Simeone and Atletico?

Three weeks ago, Atletico were on course for a La Liga and Champions League double, yet Diego Simeone's side end the season without a trophy after the most heartbreaking of defeats.

Having finished three points behind champions Barcelona in Spain, they are left to reflect on what might have been despite an impressive second-half performance at the San Siro.

Griezmann became more dangerous but his missed penalty proved crucial, even though Carrasco later levelled after Juanfran's brilliant volleyed cross.

It is the third time Atletico have reached the final and failed to win yet the future remains bright, with Simeone likely to remain in charge next season despite earlier reported interest from Premier League clubs.

His task this summer will be keeping his assets, with Griezmann and midfielder Saul having been linked with moves to Chelsea and Manchester United respectively.

Clattenburg emerges with praise

England's Mark Clattenburg had his work cut out as he refereed a tempestuous derby, which saw eight bookings.

Real defender Pepe was at his theatrical best from the start as he tried to influence the Premier League official, who also had to calm down Simeone after Dani Carvajal's early foul on Griezmann.

Ramos put Real ahead from what looked like an offside position but Clattenburg's assistant kept his flag down.

However the 41-year-old from County Durham, who will be officiating at Euro 2016, was right to award the penalty which saw Griezmann hit the underside of the bar in the 47th minute.

The stats you need to know

  • Atletico have now contested more European Cup/Champions League finals without winning the trophy than any other club (three).
  • This was the eighth Champions League final to go to extra-time, and the seventh to go to a penalty shootout.
  • Zinedine Zidane is the second man (after Miguel Munoz) to win the European Cup/Champions League with Real Madrid as both a player and a manager.
  • Zidane is the first French manager to win the Champions League.
  • Sergio Ramos became the fifth player to score in two different Champions League finals, and the first defender to do so (also Raul, Samuel Eto'o, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo).
  • Indeed, Ramos joins Messi and Eto'o as one of three players to score in his first two Champions League finals.
  • Antoine Griezmann became the first player since Arjen Robben in 2012 to miss a penalty in the Champions League final (excluding shootouts).
  • Only Marcello Lippi (three) has lost more Champions League finals as a manager than Diego Simeone (two).

Source: bbc.com

 

 

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Jose Mourinho: Manchester United to appoint former Chelsea boss

Manchester United are set to appoint Jose Mourinho as their new manager, BBC Sport understands.

It is believed a deal with the 53-year-old Portuguese was agreed in principle before United's FA Cup final win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

With United failing to qualify for the Champions League under Louis van Gaal, the Old Trafford hierarchy is thought to have decided a change is required.

Mourinho has been out of work since he was sacked by Chelsea in December.

The club plan to announce his arrival early next week after telling Van Gaal, 64, his reign has come to an end.

Van Gaal remains defiant

In the post-match news conference following United's FA Cup win, the Dutchman said: "I show you the cup and I don't discuss it [my future] with my friends of the media, who already sacked me for six months. Which manager can do what I have done?"

When pressed on whether he will be at Old Trafford as manager of United next season, he replied: "I hope to see you. I don't want to talk about about leaving this club."

The Dutchman still has one season remaining on his three-year deal, but despite spending £250m on new players, his tenure has disappointed many fans, the club finishing fourth and then fifth in the Premier League.

Mourinho remains silent

Van Gaal's grip on his job has seemed increasingly fragile this season, with Mourinho known to covet the task of masterminding a revival at United three years after legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down.

The Portuguese was at heavyweight boxer David Haye's win in London on Saturday evening but repeatedly declined to comment on whether he was about to succeed Van Gaal.

Mourinho is one of the game's most successful coaches, winning three league titles in his two spells at Stamford Bridge, as well as guiding Porto and Inter Milan to Champions League victories in 2004 and 2010 respectively.

He also led Real Madrid to the Spanish La Liga title in 2012, and his arrival will mean a mouthwatering resumption of his rivalry with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard will take over at United's arch-rivals Manchester City this summer.

Having sacked previous manager David Moyes just 10 months after he succeeded Ferguson, United's executive vice chairman Ed Woodward was desperate for Van Gaal to see out his contract.

Some senior figures at United were also known to have serious reservations about the prospect of the controversial Mourinho, with some preferring Ryan Giggs as an alternative.

The Welshman, who made a record 963 appearances for the club, took over as manager on an interim basis in April 2014 following the sacking of Moyes, and was understood to be keen on the job.

In February however, BBC Sport revealed that United had held talks with Mourinho's representatives, and they have now come to fruition.

Woodward - and United's American owners, the Glazer family - still hoped Van Gaal would lead the club to a top four finish, and up until last month Mourinho's advisers were concerned the club might remain loyal to the Dutch coach.

But fans were not convinced by Van Gaal's tactics. The club's 49 goals in the Premier League this season was United's lowest total since 1989-90, coincidentally a season that also ended with an FA Cup final win over Crystal Palace.

There were occasional high points, not least Van Gaal's theatrical dive in front of the dug-outs during the 3-2 win over Arsenal in February as he accused the Gunners of diving.

But since collecting only three points in six games at the end of 2015, Van Gaal has been under intense pressure.

He has accused the media and former players of "sacking him", and cited injuries as the reason why United have been unable to sustain a title challenge.

Nevertheless, Van Gaal's side still had Champions League qualification in their own hands 14 minutes from the end of their penultimate Premier League game at West Ham, only to concede two late goals, lose 3-2 and allow Manchester City to claim the fourth qualifying slot.

And, after members of the United hierarchy suggested in December that the season was 80% about the Premier League, it is the failure to qualify for the Champions League that has appeared to seal Van Gaal's fate.

Despite his track record, some will question United's decision to appoint Mourinho.

He was sacked by Chelsea in December just seven months after leading them to the Premier League title, with their season overshadowed by a spectacular slump in form and issues off the pitch that included a public fallout with club doctor Eva Carneiro.

Ultimately however, United appear to have decided it is a risk worth taking.

Mourinho has never hidden his admiration for United, and for Ferguson. Now it seems he will have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.

The appointment will mean some long overdue issues can be dealt with, not least whether the club's second longest-serving player Michael Carrick should be awarded a new contract.

It remains to be seen what Giggs will do.

Having served under Moyes and Van Gaal, the prospect of continuing his apprenticeship under a third United boss may not appeal.

It remains to be seen whether the club can find an alternative role for their most decorated player.

Giggs would not be short of offers if he decided to join the management ranks.

But many of the Welshman's former team-mates - most recently close friend Gary Neville at Valencia - have not found management easy.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Euro 2016: Diego Costa, Juan Mata & Fernando Torres not in Spain squad

Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been left out of Spain's provisional squad for Euro 2016.

Coach Vicente del Bosque has also overlooked Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata and Atletico Madrid's former Liverpool forward Fernando Torres.

Holders Spain are in Group D, along with Croatia, Czech Republic and Turkey as they chase a third successive European Championship title.

Brazil-born Costa has scored one goal in 10 games since switching allegiance.

The 27-year-old netted 16 goals in 41 appearances for Chelsea this season, but missed their final two games with a persistent hamstring injury.

"We didn't want to have too many players with doubts regarding their physical condition," said Del Bosque, who led Spain to the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 titles.

Mata, 28, featured in both of Spain's friendly matches in March, but misses out after a season where he scored nine goals and provided eight assists for his club.

Torres, 31, has scored seven goals in his past 11 games, leading to speculation he might be recalled for the first time since Spain's embarrassing exit at the group at the 2014 World Cup.

Bayern Munich defender Javi Martinez and Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla are other notable omissions, while coach Del Bosque has included Athletic Bilbao's 35-year-old striker Aritz Aduriz.

There were also call-ups for uncapped pair Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez.

The Premier League-based players are: Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, Chelsea trio Pedro, Cesar Azpilicueta and Cesc Fabregas and Manchester City playmaker David Silva.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Porto), David de Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)

Defenders: Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra (all Barcelona), Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta (both Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao), Koke, Saul Niguez (both Atletico Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Isco (Real Madrid), Bruno Soriano (Villarreal)

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Chelsea), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Nolito (Celta Vigo), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid)

Source: bbc.com

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Rio 2016: Up to 31 athletes could be banned after Beijing retests

Up to 31 athletes from six sports could be banned from competing at the Rio Games, Olympic chiefs have said.

The announcement comes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) retested 454 selected doping samples from the 2008 Games in Beijing.

The IOC said the retests were conducted using the very latest scientific analysis methods.

It also revealed it is awaiting the results of 250 retests from the 2012 Olympics in London.

"All these measures are a powerful strike against the cheats we do not allow to win," IOC president Thomas Bach said.

"They show once again that dopers have no place to hide. We keep samples for 10 years so that the cheats know that they can never rest.

"By stopping so many doped athletes from participating in Rio, we are showing once more our determination to protect the integrity of the Olympic competition."

More than 4,500 tests were carried out at the Beijing Games in 2008 - but just nine athletes were caught cheating.

The IOC said the retests were focused on athletes who could potentially take part in Rio.

It added 12 affected national Olympic associations would be informed in the coming days.

However, the IOC said it would not be revealing the names of athletes who had returned adverse findings until B-samples had been tested and individuals informed.

The British Olympic Association said it has not been contacted by the IOC.

The organisation also confirmed it is to start re-testing samples from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Last week, a whistleblower alleged Russian secret service agents helped to protect drug cheats in Sochi, although the Russian authorities denied the claims.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) is now investigating those allegations and on Tuesday announced it had appointed former Interpol agent and French Gendarmerie major Mathieu Holz to lead the inquiry.

IOC steps up doping fight

The latest measures taken by the IOC come after Russia and Kenya were found to have breached anti-doping rules in recent months.

Russia was banned from athletics competition in November after a Wada commission report recommended the sanction.

The nation's athletics federation accepted its ban from international competition, with sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying this week Russia was "very sorry" and "ashamed" of cheating athletes who were not caught by its anti-doping systems.

But he argued not lifting the ban for the Rio Games would be "unfair and disproportionate" and that clean athletes should not be punished.

Meanwhile, Kenyan sports minister Hassan Wario is confident the nation will not be banned from Rio despite being judged to be non-compliant with the global anti-doping code.

Wada has written to Kenya, outlining what it must do to meet the anti-doping code.

The IOC said it is funding Wada to carry out intelligence-gathering before the Rio Games to make pre-event testing "as efficient and independent as possible".

Source: bbc.com

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City miss out on Champoins League final spot

Manchester City failed to reach their first Champions League final after an uninspiring semi-final second-leg display at 10-time winners Real Madrid.

After a goalless draw in the first leg, Real took the lead when Gareth Bale's cross deflected off City's Fernando.

Fernandinho clipped the post in a rare City chance, but Real dominated as Bale hit the bar and Joe Hart saved from Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Real saw out the win to meet Atletico Madrid in the final later this month.

The English side knew they potentially only needed one away goal to progress, but appeared reluctant to go for broke in the final stages - despite being encouraged to attack by the vocal 4,500 away supporters.

The home side's only other moment of concern came in the closing minutes when Sergio Aguero's speculative effort flew on to the roof of the goal.

Now they will meet Atletico at Milan's San Siro on 28 May, in a repeat of the 2014 final which Real won 4-1 after extra-time.

No dream goodbye for Pellegrini

City started the second leg knowing there would be no potentially awkward meeting with incoming manager Pep Guardiola in the final, his Bayern Munich side having fallen in their last-four tie against Atletico on Tuesday.

Now Pellegrini, like his Spanish successor at Bayern, will end his three-year reign without a dream goodbye in the San Siro.

Nevertheless, the Chilean will always be remembered for taking the Blues into the Champions League knockout stage for the first time.

Pellegrini finally succeeded where predecessor Roberto Mancini failed, but City's demanding owners will be expecting Guardiola to take their club into the latter stages as a minimum requirement.

Judging by their performance over the two legs against Real, the former Barcelona coach may decide his inherited squad needs an injection of world-class talent to regularly compete with Europe's elite.

For large periods, City lacked pace and energy against the Spanish title hopefuls - and, crucially, offered little attacking threat.

Key centre-back Vincent Kompany's early departure through injury left them lacking defensive organisation, while Yaya Toure's return failed to add any intensity to a midfield lacking bite in the Bernabeu.

And mustering only one shot on target in each leg was a telling statistic.

City's hopes hit by Kompany injury

City suffered a cruel blow inside the opening 10 minutes when skipper Kompany trudged off, a familiar sight this season.

The Belgium centre-half's miserable luck with injuries continues, and the English visitors looked far less assured at the back without their leader.

His departure disrupted an encouraging start by the visitors - and they were punished shortly afterwards.

The away defence, still regrouping, stood off a Madrid attack down the right, allowing Bale to run behind them on to right-back Carvajal's pass and thump the ball in off Fernando's outstretched foot.

Hart rightly described the winner as "lucky", but in truth City could have conceded more over the two legs.

At the Bernabeu, the home players - particularly Bale and the returning Ronaldo - often ghosted between centre-halves Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi too easily.

England keeper Hart, who saved City from losing the first leg, again came to the rescue to give City hope until the final whistle.

Should Real have been reduced to 10 men?

Raheem Sterling has struggled to live up to his £49m price tag since arriving from Liverpool last summer, but the England international's introduction as a second-half substitute provided a little more spark for the visitors.

The attacking midfielder was scythed down by home substitute Lucas Vazquez, who lunged in with an awful challenge close to the corner flag.

Vazquez was booked by Slovenian referee Damir Skomina - but was lucky to escape a red card for the 83rd-minute tackle.

Had he been dismissed, the numerical advantage might just have given City a better chance in the final 10 minutes.

Bale 'turns a corner' in Spain

While all the pre-match talk centred around the threat to City from Ronaldo, Wales forward Bale again demonstrated his emergence as one of Real's most important players - little over a year after he was jeered by fans.

"I feel like I am maturing," said the 26-year-old, who cost a world-record £85m fee when he joined Real in September 2013.

"My Spanish is getting better and I'm integrating more with the team. I feel like I have turned a corner in that sense and I'm enjoying my football here."

What's next?

City must put this disappointing defeat behind them and focus on making sure they play in the Champions League under Guardiola next season.

The Blues currently occupy the Premier League's fourth and final qualification spot, four points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United who have played a game fewer.

Pellegrini's side host third-placed Arsenal on Sunday - a key game in deciding the top four.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have a Spanish title race to concentrate on. Zinedine Zidane's third-placed side trail both Barcelona and Atletico by one point with two rounds of matches left.

The stats you need to know

  • Real Madrid have reached their 14th European Cup/Champions League final, a record in the competition.
  • It will be the third time in the past four years that the Champions League final has been contested by teams from the same nation.
  • The Spanish giants have won all six of their Champions League home games this season, keeping a clean sheet each time.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo played in his 17th Champions League semi-final - the joint most in the competition along with Xabi Alonso.
  • Sergio Aguero has failed to score in his past five Champions League games - his joint-longest drought in the competition with Manchester City (also between November 2011 and December 2012).
  • Aguero has not managed a shot on target in his last 522 minutes of Champions League action.
  • Keylor Navas has kept 11 clean sheets in his 12 Champions League appearances, including all six at the Bernabeu.
  • Manchester City have been eliminated by Spanish opposition for the third consecutive Champions League season.
  • For the third season in a row, a manager has reached the Champions League final in his first season in the competition (Diego Simeone 2014, Luis Enrique 2015, Zinedine Zidane 2016).

Source: bbc.com

 

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Is Pep a one team coach?

Atletico Madrid reached their second Champions League final in three years by edging past Bayern Munich on away goals in a pulsating semi-final.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Spain, Bayern levelled the tie through Xabi Alonso's deflected free-kick.

Atletico keeper Jan Oblak saved Thomas Muller's low penalty, before Antoine Griezmann coolly fired in an equaliser.

Robert Lewandowski's header set up a tense finish, but Atletico held on after Fernando Torres missed a penalty.

Bayern, backed by a vociferous home crowd, desperately pressed for a third goal that would send them through.

However, they could not find a way past Oblak, who blocked David Alaba's 20-yard volley in injury time.

Atletico, aiming to be crowned European champions for the first time, will meet Manchester City or Real Madrid in the final in Milan on 28 May.

City face Atletico's neighbours at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday after the teams drew 0-0 in last week's first leg.

Relive an eventful night in Munich

Decisions, decisions, decisions...and drama

There was a tense atmosphere throughout the second leg in Munich, with the tie delicately balanced until the final whistle.

Bayern's opening goal, Muller's penalty miss and tempers flaring on the touchline - Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone animatedly disagreeing over a decision - had already made for an entertaining first half.

Griezmann's vital away goal and Lewandowski's close-range finish - nodding in Arturo Vidal's headed cross from four yards - pointed towards even more drama in the final 15 minutes.

However, the anticipated Bayern onslaught failed to materialise.

Instead, Atletico won a penalty, despite Torres being fouled outside the box, before Simeone lost his cool again when he appeared to strike a member of his own staff.

Still Bayern needed only one goal to progress - and had five minutes of added time to score it. But Atletico survived, sparking wild celebrations among Simeone and his players.

Third time lucky for Atletico?

Atletico have lost twice in the final of Europe's leading club competition - to Bayern in the 1974 European Cup and against neighbours Real two years ago.

Against a team playing in their fifth successive semi-final, they produced another display of remarkable defiance at the Allianz Arena.

German champions Bayern had 33 attempts on goal and 72% of possession - but it still was not enough to beat the gritty Spaniards.

The hallmark of Atletico's recent success has been their strength in defence, with Simeone's side developing a reputation as one of the toughest teams in Europe to break down.

However, the quality of their clinical attack should not be overlooked.

Atletico had not even managed a single touch in the Bayern penalty area until Griezmann fired in from the edge of the box.

The France striker marginally beat the Bayern offside trap, latching on to Torres' through ball before coolly drilling underneath Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer.

More Spanish misery for Pep

Guardiola is regarded as one of the world's greatest coaches, having won trophies galore with both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

But the Spaniard will leave for Manchester City in the summer having failed to deliver the Champions League in his three-year spell in Bavaria.

Guardiola had acknowledged that winning the club's sixth European crown - or not - would be how his reign at Bayern was judged.

His side lost against Spanish opposition in the semi-finals in each of the past two seasons - to Real Madrid in 2014 and his former club Barcelona last year.

Atletico were well placed to make it an unwanted hat-trick after Saul Niguez's sublime first-leg goal in Madrid put them in control.

The Spanish title hopefuls rode their luck at times after Alonso's opener, particularly in the first half when they were outclassed by an aggressive and high-pressing Bayern side.

But they regrouped after the break, keeping their discipline and shape as Bayern's 12th successive Champions League home win proved meaningless.

"We tried to press them high, have counter-attacks and this was why we got the goal," said former Liverpool and Chelsea striker Torres.

Not Muller time

Muller was named in the Bayern starting line-up after he was surprisingly left on the bench in Madrid last week.

Guardiola was heavily criticised in the German media for that decision, with Muller - who has scored 32 goals in 46 matches this season - so often a match-winner for club and country.

But the Germany forward's most decisive contribution in the second leg was failing to convert his first-half spot-kick.

That would have put Bayern ahead in the tie for the first time, just as Atletico's usually unruffled defence started to look rattled.

"The missed penalty gave us life," said Atletico coach Simeone, who was close to tears after Griezmann's goal.

The stats you need to know

  • Atletico Madrid progressed to the final after their 100th tie in Europe's leading club competition.
  • Antoine Griezmann is Atletico Madrid's top scorer in Champions League history with nine goals.
  • Thomas Muller has missed his past two penalties in the Champions League, scoring seven out of 10 in the competition.
  • Jan Oblak has saved two of the three penalties he has faced as Atletico Madrid's keeper (all competitions).
  • All six of Xabi Alonso's goals for Bayern have been scored from outside the box.
  • Alonso's goal was the first Atleti had conceded in 632 minutes in any competition.
  • Only Cristiano Ronaldo (10) has more goals in the Champions League semi-finals than Robert Lewandowski (six).
  • Pep Guardiola has been knocked out in his past four Champions League semi-finals.

What next?

Before Atletico can turn their attention to the Champions League final, they must focus on a thrilling Spanish title race.

Simeone's second-placed side, who won La Liga in 2014, are level on points with defending champions Barcelona with two games left. Third-placed Real Madrid are a point further behind.

Bayern, meanwhile, can still win the domestic double in Guardiola's final season in charge.

Two more points will clinch their fourth straight Bundesliga title even if nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund win both of their final two games.

They face Dortmund in the German Cup final on 21 May.

Source: bbc.com

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Saul Niguez's sublime solo goal put Atletico Madrid ahead of Bayern in UCL

Saul Niguez's sublime solo goal put Atletico Madrid in control of their Champions League semi-final against German giants Bayern Munich.

Niguez jinked past a clutch of Bayern defenders before curling into the corner, giving the home side a narrow first-leg lead to take to Germany.

Bayern dominated the second half, David Alaba hitting the bar from 35 yards and Arturo Vidal's strike forcing a save.

Fernando Torres poked against the post in a rare counter as Atletico held on.

The teams will meet at Bayern's Allianz Arena on Tuesday to decide who will meet Manchester City or Real Madrid in the final on 28 May.

Relive Atletico's tense win at the Vicente Calderon

Better call Saul

Atletico - for so many years in the shadow of illustrious neighbours Real Madrid - have never been crowned European champions, twice losing in the final of the continent's leading club competition.

Under coach Diego Simeone, Los Rojiblancos have emerged as serious challengers to Spain's regular duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid and have now put themselves in a decent position to create history by winning the Champions League.

With Bayern boasting a remarkable home record of only one defeat in 24 matches, the tie is far from over.

But Niguez - a Spain Under-21 international who has cemented his place in the Atletico side this season - extended the Spanish title-chasing side's own excellent form at a raucous Vicente Calderon.

The 21-year-old midfielder picked up the ball about 35 yards from goal, dancing through flimsy challenges from Bayern trio Thiago Alcantara, Juan Bernat and Xabi Alonso, then keeping his composure to steer the ball into the bottom corner.

Atletico defence blunts Bayern attack

Much of Atletico's success under Simeone has been built on defensive resilience, with his organised side conceding just five goals in this season's Champions League.

Atletico had also kept clean sheets in their previous four La Liga games but faced Bayern - the competition's top scorers with 28 goals in 10 matches - without defensive lynchpin Diego Godin.

However, the injured Uruguay centre-back, 30, was barely missed as a typically determined Atletico display shut out Bayern.

Atletico v Bayern

Former Argentina midfielder Simeone slightly altered his side's defensive tactics in the first half, occasionally pressing Bayern higher up the pitch, before reverting to their deep and compact shape after the break.

The German side, who are one win away from a fourth consecutive Bundesliga title, totally dominated in the second half as Alaba and Vidal went closest to equalising.

Home keeper Jan Oblak also blocked Javi Martinez's close-range header in-between, helping Atletico secure a 14th clean sheet in 16 Champions League home matches.

Uno, dos, tres - third time unlucky for Pep?

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola's three-year reign ends in the summer when he moves to Manchester City, with the Spaniard admitting his time in Germany will be judged on his ability to win the Champions League.

His side have lost to Spanish opposition at the semi-final stage in each of the past two seasons, knocked out by Real Madrid in 2014 and Guardiola's former club Barcelona last year.

Now the Catalan coach must outwit Simeone next week to avoid a clean sweep of defeats by La Liga's big three.

Guardiola, on course to comfortably win the Bundesliga in each of his three seasons, may reflect on his decision to leave Germany forward Thomas Muller on the bench until the final quarter of the match.

Muller is their joint top scorer in the Champions League having scored eight goals in his 10 appearances this season.

With Guardiola's gameplan seemingly relying heavily on crosses into the Atletico box, the absence of the predatory Muller appeared even more strange.

Post-match reaction

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone:

"The first half was very close to what we wanted. In the second half they were better and got in behind but we felt comfortable, we defended well.

"It was a great piece of individual skill with lots of creativity, Saul Niguez is developing well which is great for us.

"I think it's still an open tie, they will be playing at home next week with their fans behind them but we have the chance to get an away goal. It'll be a close game like today, we'll see who makes the most of their chances."

Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres:

"It was a fantastic night and I'm happy for all Atleticos. We've got the lead we wanted.

"We kept fighting, that's what we do. Bayern have a level that few other teams have but we kept on doing our thing."

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola:

"Their goal is a brilliant goal, but it's our mistake. We kept standing off. I'm not happy with how we played.

"It was a good game overall, but we started badly. The goal was a consequence of our slow play."

What's next?

Both teams continue the pursuit of their domestic league titles this weekend.

Second-placed Atletico, who are level on points with leaders Barcelona, host lowly Rayo Vallecano as they bid for a second La Liga title in three seasons.

Bundesliga champions-elect Bayern also play on Saturday when they host fifth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach.

Stats of the day

  • Atletico have won 13 of their 17 home Champions League games under Diego Simeone, drawing three and losing one.
  • Atletico have scored against 23 of the 25 teams they have faced this season in all competitions, only failing to score against Villarreal and PSV Eindhoven.
  • Bayern Munich are winless in their past eight away games in the Champions League knockout stages, drawing four and losing four.
  • Robert Lewandowski has failed to score in eight of his past nine Champions League games outside the Allianz Arena.
  • Bayern defender David Alaba made his 50th appearance in the Champions league - more than any other Austrian player.

Source: bbc.com

 

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City draw with Madrid at Etihad

Joe Hart kept Manchester City's hopes of reaching their first Champions League final alive with two brilliant late saves that ensured their semi-final first leg with Real Madrid finished goalless.

With star striker Cristiano Ronaldo missing because of a thigh injury, a cautious Real side offered little goal threat until the closing stages.

But in the last 20 minutes, Jese headed against the bar for the Spanish side before Hart brilliantly denied Casemiro and Pepe from corners.

Hart showed great reactions to keep out Casemiro's header with his foot but his block to deny Pepe, who was unmarked and five yards from goal, is the standout reason City will travel to Spain next week with a precious clean sheet.

The closest City came to a goal of their own was when Keylor Navas tipped over Kevin de Bruyne's dipping free-kick in stoppage time.

Relive a tense first leg at Etihad Stadium

Football Daily podcast: 'A professional European display by Manchester City'

That was Navas' only save of a game that was billed as a shootout between two attacking sides but was, in fact, a game largely devoid of goalmouth action.

City will take the positives from denying Real an away goal but England's last remaining representatives in Europe's elite competition still face a huge task if they are to reach the final, in Milan on 28 May.

Their failure to score at home means former Real boss Manuel Pellegrini does not have a lead to take back to the Bernabeu, where Zinedine Zidane's side have not conceded a goal in the Champions League all season.

No Ronaldo, no Real threat

The news Ronaldo's thigh muscle was deemed too tight for him to play was clearly a massive boost for City before their first Champions League semi-final.

Without their 47-goal top scorer, a Real side that had scored 133 goals in their previous 46 games this season seemed reluctant to commit men forward and struggled to create chances.

Gareth Bale, playing his first game in England since his £85m move to Real from Spurs in 2013, was unable to provide the spark in Ronaldo's absence.

Bale did get the better of Gael Clichy early on down the right but failed to find a team-mate with his crosses and his finishing was also below his usual standards.

The Wales winger cut in to send one curling shot bouncing wide in the second half but disappointed with a free-kick from the edge of the box which he fired against the City wall.

Both of Real's late chances came from set-pieces and they struggled to open up City.

City also shot-shy

The home side were not helped by David Silva being forced off by injury before half-time and were short of their customary zip in the final third.

Sergio Aguero was starved of service and only managed one shot at goal, which came when he fired over from the edge of the box at the start of the second half.

The former Atletico Madrid striker has now played Real 13 times in his career and has still never beaten them, but will get another chance on Wednesday, 4 May.

In truth, City's whole attack will have to do better in the second leg.

De Bruyne, who started in the number 10 role but ended up on the left after Silva's injury, was also short of inspiration, Jesus Navas made few inroads down the right and Kelechi Iheanacho's pace had little impact.

Post-match reaction

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini:

"We played a very intense game and defended well. We tried to create until David Silva got injured then we lost the ball too much. If you cannot win then a 0-0 draw is good.

"We knew they were going to play a slow game and that is why we pressed as a team. When we had the ball, we could not make the difference. We could not score."

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany:

"It is too close to call at the moment - 0-0 is a very dangerous scoreline.

"From the moment we manage to score in Madrid, it will be very different.

"It is hard to keep a clean sheet against such an attacking team. We can be proud of what we have achieved in this first leg."

What next?

The first leg of the other semi-final, between Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich, takes place in Spain on Wednesday.

Before their trip to Madrid, City travel to Southampton on Sunday in a 16:30 BST kick-off. With three league games remaining, Pellegrini's side are still in need of Premier League points to secure a top-four finish that will make sure of Champions League football next season too.

Real, third in La Liga and a point behind leaders Barcelona, are already certain of their Champions League place but are still in the title race. They also have an away game this weekend - against Real Sociedad at 15:00 BST on Saturday.

Stats of the day

  • The first goal attempt of the game - by City defender Nicolas Otamendi - came after 27 minutes, the latest in any Champions League game this season.
  • Real Madrid were involved in only their ninth goalless draw in their 223rd Champions League game.
  • They have won just 43% of their Champions League games without Ronaldo since 2009-10 (3/7), and 71% with him.
  • This was just the fourth Champions League game this season without a first-half shot on target.
  • City have managed only three shots on target in total their past three Champions League home games (one in each).
  • Aguero has now gone 432 minutes without having a shot on target in the Champions League.
  • De Bruyne completed just 62.8% of his passes, the lowest figure for any outfield player.

Source: bbc.com

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High school basketball star Jonathan Nicola is 30 years old

An African man who has emerged as a basketball star at a high school in Canada is supposedly 30 years old.

Jonathan Nicola, who left South Sudan and arrived in Windsor, Ontario last November, was arrested Wednesday at the Canadian border. The Windsor Star reports that Nicola was still being held by the Canada Border Services Agency as of Wednesday afternoon for allegedly contravening the Immigration Refugee Protection Act. The agency did not elaborate on what Nicola was accused of doing.

Nicola said back in January that he turned 17 on Nov. 25, 2015. He also spoke about diseases and war in his home country of South Sudan and the long process he went through to obtain a Canadian student visa.

“A few of my friends know of my background, how we live over there,” Nicola explained at the time. “I don’t know how many of them have a clue of how it is in Africa. With the war going on, terrorism and all this, they make it real double hard (to obtain a visa).”

Authorities believe Nicola is 30. Catholic Central High School spokesman Stephen Fields said the school cannot comment on Nicola’s case.

“Generally I can tell you that we have a system of checks and balances in place that whenever international students are coming into any of our schools, we make sure that they have all of the necessary government documentation that they require in order to be in one of our schools,” said Fields. “Again, generally speaking, if we felt at any time that there is any kind of threat to any of our students at any of our schools, then we would act appropriately.”

Nicola stands at 6-foot-9 and is enrolled as an 11th grader. Catholic Central basketball coach Pete Cusumano said a few months ago that he believes Nicola has a shot at going pro.

Whenever we hear that minors who are playing sports have lied about their age, there is one story that comes to mind. You have feel sorry for Nicola for the situation he came from, but there are going to be a lot of furious people if it is determined that he is, in fact, a 30-year-old man.

Source: larrybrownsports.com

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Champions League: Man City drawn against Real Madrid in semi-final

Manchester City will play Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

That means City could face incoming manager Pep Guardiola in the final, after his Bayern Munich side were drawn against Atletico Madrid in the other tie.

Guardiola will replace current City boss Manuel Pellegrini in the summer.

The first leg will take place in Manchester at Etihad Stadium on 26 April, with the return leg in Spain's capital on 4 May.

"It is a difficult draw," said former Real Madrid boss Pellegrini. "It doesn't matter which team we played. The options are the same.

"I always prefer to finish at home but that is not the most important thing."

The final takes place at Milan's San Siro Stadium on 28 May.

More on the Champions League
Man City: 'Personal pride and giant step forward'
Uefa opens Man City disciplinary case
Hat-trick answers critics - Ronaldo
Barcelona are in a hole, says Enrique

Ronaldo back in Manchester

Pellegrini was manager at Real Madrid from 2009 to 2010, during which time Cristiano Ronaldo was bought from Manchester United for £80m, while Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso were also signed.

However, the Chilean was sacked after only one season and replaced by Jose Mourinho, following early elimination from the Champions League and also missing out on the domestic championship to Barcelona.

Former Manchester United forward Ronaldo, 31, is the leading scorer in this season's Champions League with 16 goals.

He is also the competition's all-time record goalscorer, with 93 in 125 appearances, and scored a hat-trick as Real overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit against Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals.

What happens if Manchester City and Liverpool win the Champions League and Europa League?
Winners of the Champions League and Europa League are guaranteed to qualify for next season's Champions League
A maximum of five clubs per country are allowed to compete in the Champions League
So should Manchester City and Liverpool win their respective titles but finish outside the top four, only the Premier League's top three would qualify for the Champions League, alongside the two European competition winners
A European trophy for both Manchester City and Liverpool would mean Manchester United or West Ham missing out on the Champions League even if they finish fourth in the Premier League
England would not gain an extra spot in the Champions League if Manchester City or Liverpool win their respective competitions and finish in the top four

Repeat of 2014 final a possibility

Friday's draw means there is still the prospect of a repeat of the 2014 final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, when Real scored three times in extra-time to beat their city rivals.

Atletico reached the last four by knocking out reigning champions Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

Bayern Munich, top of the Bundesliga table, are five-time champions of Europe, their last success coming in 2013.

The draw means four Spanish clubs could contest both the Champions League and Europa League finals after Sevilla and Villarreal were kept apart in the Europa League semi-finals.

We don't get 'easy' ties - Zidane

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has dismissed suggestions from the Spanish media that facing Man City represents another favourable draw for his side after they avoided Atletico and Bayern.

The 10-time European champions knocked out Italian side Roma in the last 16, before beating Wolfsburg - currently eighth in the German Bundesliga - to reach the last four.

"I don't agree that our knockout ties are always the easiest," said Zidane. "You've already seen us lose 2-0 in the first leg against Wolfsburg, so I don't want to hear this.

"Everyone we've faced so far have been strong: Roma, Wolfsburg and Manchester City.

"It will be a very difficult knockout tie. The only positive is that we play the second leg at home. I'm certain that it will be a real battle."

Bayern face 'monsters of passion'

Bayern's former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola will try to outwit Atletico counterpart Diego Simeone when the pair meet again in the other semi-final.

The sides play at Atletico's Vicente Calderon stadium on 27 April, with the return leg at the Allianz Arena on 3 May.

"I know the Spanish league very well and I know how strong Atletico are," said Guardiola.

"They know exactly what they have to do. It's always very complicated against them. We need 90 minutes and then another 90 minutes of full concentration.

"Diego Simeone is one of the best coaches in the world. He's changed the club; Atletico have reached a new level over the last five years."

Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer added: "Atletico are monsters of passion. They are honest and authentic."

Source: bbc.com

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Video referees in football 'no later' than 2017-18 - IFAB

A trial of the use of video assistant referees for "game-changing decisions" in football will begin no later than the 2017-18 season.

Technology would only be applied to key incidents concerning goals, red cards, mistaken identities and penalties.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) says it has had interest in hosting live trials from 12 national associations and one confederation.

The news was announced following a meeting of the IFAB in Cardiff.

New Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who believes greater use of technology within the game is inevitable, called it a "historic" day for the sport and said the decision proved the game's leaders were "listening to football".

The IFAB, which is made up of the four British football associations and Fifa, says a final decision on approving the technology for use throughout the game will only be made following a thorough period of testing and an agreement on the protocols for its use.

Infantino said: "We cannot close our eyes to the future but it doesn't mean to say it will work.

"The flow of the game is crucial. We cannot put that in danger. That is why we have to be open to test."

In addition to the video technology trials, the IFAB has also decided to end the 'triple punishment rule'.

It means in instances in which the referee feels defenders have made a legitimate attempt to make a tackle inside the penalty area, they will not be sent off if they commit a foul. A penalty and, possible goal against their team, is deemed sufficient punishment.

This would not apply when the offence is holding, pushing or pulling, the defender does not attempt to play the ball or the offence would be worthy of a red card if it had been committed elsewhere in the penalty area.

How will video referees work?

Will the natural flow of the game be disrupted?

The IFAB is determined this must not happen. At their news conference on Saturday, it was stressed repeatedly that if the flow of the game was hindered, the video experiment would not be implemented on a full-time basis. Logistical issues, such as when a referee stops the game for a video review, are the major reasons the IFAB have been so reluctant to say when the experiment will begin.

What about offside?

Ordinarily, referees will not stop the game to review an offside decision. However, there is a caveat. Goals can be reviewed so if there is a potential offside in the build-up to a goal, this can be checked.

Will we see it in Britain?

It is possible. The IFAB says 12 countries have expressed interest in hosting trials. Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said the Scottish Cup could be the ideal vehicle, so it is fair to assume Scotland is one of those interested.

At which levels of the game will it be used?

This is still to be decided. Football has always been proud of the fact the game is essentially the same, whether it is played on a park or in the biggest stadiums. Technology, clearly, is not available to all. However, even at a professional level, not all grounds in all countries have access to the number of cameras needed to provide adequate cover to make key decisions.

Will players like it?

Generally speaking, those involved in the game - be they players, managers or officials - are willing to embrace anything that ensures more correct decisions are made. No system is 100% foolproof. But tight goalline decisions, such as the one that went against Tottenham in Saturday's north London derby, are now being made correctly because of video technology. Provided it is implemented properly, there is no reason to believe further improvement will not be made with the forthcoming trials.

Further rule changes

The IFAB unanimously approved a comprehensive revision of the Laws of the Game - an 18-month project, led by former English referee David Elleray. It is the most comprehensive revision of the laws undertaken during the IFAB's 130-year existence.

The word count has been halved and gender neutral language introduced throughout.

One of the amendments relates to a player who is injured by a challenge punished by a yellow or red card. Rather than the injured player having to leave the field, which gives the offending team a numerical advantage, the player will be able to have treatment on the pitch (Law 5).

The kick-off is also changing, with players able to move the ball in any direction, rather than just forward (Law 8),

There will also be experimentation with a fourth substitution within extra time, although the league or competition for the trial is yet to be decided.

Source: bbc.com

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Denying a goalscoring opportunity: Red card rule relaxed by IFAB

Players who commit a foul to deny a goalscoring opportunity will no longer automatically be sent off, football's rule-making body has confirmed.

The previous 'triple-punishment' rule required a red card - and therefore a suspension - as well as the award of a penalty under those circumstances.

However, players committing accidental fouls that deny a goalscoring chance will now be cautioned instead.

But deliberate fouls will still incur a red card.

Those include holding, pulling or pushing, not playing the ball, serious foul play, violent conduct or deliberate handball in order to deny a goalscoring opportunity.

The change has been ratified by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) - a body made up of the four British football associations and Fifa - which decides on changes to the Laws of the Game.

It follows a comprehensive, 18-month review, led by former Premier League referee David Elleray.

Italy to trial video replays for penalties

Meanwhile, the IFAB has selected the Italian Football Federation to carry out a new trial of video replays.

The technology will be used to help referees decide whether a goal has been scored, whether a penalty should be awarded, whether a player should be sent off, or in cases of mistaken identity.

Italian Football Federation president Carlo Tavecchio said: "We were among the first supporters of using technology on the pitch and we believe we have everything required to offer our contribution to this important experiment."

Tests initially will be in private before moving to a live pilot phase with replay assistance by the 2017-18 season at the latest.

Source: bbc.com

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Liverpool into last four After Anfield thriller

Liverpool staged one of the most dramatic comebacks Anfield has seen to overcome Borussia Dortmund in a classic and reach the Europa League semi-finals.

Jurgen Klopp's side were twice left needing three goals to go through in the face of Dortmund's rapier attacks - but climbed the mountain twice with Dejan Lovren's injury-time header from James Milner's cross concluding a night packed with drama and emotion.

Anfield commemorated the 27th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 supporters died, with an impeccably observed minute's silence before kick-off - followed by a thriller that will be recalled for generations for sheer excitement and a finale that sent Anfield wild.

The Bundesliga side struck twice inside the first nine minutes through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - both after swift breaks, with the latter sealed by a crisp 14-yard strike - to take a 3-1 aggregate lead in the tie.

The German side missed numerous more chances to extend their lead as Liverpool struggled to cope with their attacking threat.

The Reds slowly grew into the game, creating and missing a succession of chances. Even when Divock Origi gave them hope early in the second half - slotting the ball through the legs of keeper Roman Weidenfeller - it seemed to have been snuffed out by Marco Reus's cool 57th-minute finish.

They still needed three goals with less than 25 minutes left but Philippe Coutinho's low shot cut the deficit and when Mamadou Sakho headed in after 77 minutes, Liverpool stood on the brink of something remarkable.

Amid riotous scenes, Lovren rose to head home in stoppage time in front of the Kop to spark chaotic celebrations and seal a win that will take its place in Anfield folklore.

'You could feel it, hear it, smell it' - Klopp likens win to Istanbul 2005

Relive the goals from BBC Radio 5 live

Liverpool fan to call newborn baby Dejan

The Klopp effect

Klopp received a rapturous reception from the fans who idolised him in Dortmund when he walked along the Anfield touchline before kick-off - but he then inflicted agony on the club he took to two Bundesliga titles and the Champions League final.

As Liverpool chased the game in the closing stages, Klopp was almost wound up to the point of frenzy, turning around to the crowd beneath Anfield's directors' box whirling his arms in encouragement and gesturing wildly for more vocal support.

It kept the momentum going and Liverpool's supporters believing right through the dark moments when Dortmund controlled the game, inspiring his players to that sensational finale.

The turnaround revived memories of the so-called 'Miracle of Istanbul' in 2005 when they came from 3-0 down at half-time to win the Champions League final against AC Milan.

This may not bring a trophy, but Klopp can now take his place alongside other Liverpool managers who have their names alongside famous victories.

Take a bow, Liverpool

When Klopp urged Liverpool's players to take a bow in front of the Kop after they claimed a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion in injury time earlier this season, he was mocked and the gesture was taken as a signal of how low expectations had fallen.

The bow was back at the final whistle here and no-one would begrudge Klopp or anyone else for taking in the acclaim.

When Klopp took over from sacked Brendan Rodgers in October, he set about rebuilding the relationship between Liverpool's players and disillusioned supporters. He has already forged the bond and nights like this will only cement it further.

Liverpool could have gone under when they needed three goals to go through but they created a host of chances throughout the game and not for one moment did they resemble a team who felt the task was beyond them.

On and on they came against a Dortmund side who, while dangerous in attack, gave Liverpool a chance at the back all night - one chance too many in the end.

Anfield has seen many great nights and this can be added to the list.

Liverpool still have problems

It almost seems an insult to suggest it after the feast of football witnessed, but for all the drama and the surge of attacking football that eventually swept Dortmund aside, Liverpool still look so vulnerable at the back.

Sakho is a fans' favourite and contributed a goal but he was guilty of poor positioning that contributed to all three Dortmund goals.

With left-back Alberto Moreno also a weak link, Klopp has work to do in the defensive areas - but no-one was too concerned with that after a truly remarkable night.

Liverpool's greatest comebacks

The victory over Dortmund continued a long tradition of famous and emotional European nights for Liverpool.

The most memorable of these surely remains the 2005 Champions League final, when Rafael Benitez's team came from 3-0 down at half-time to draw 3-3 with AC Milan before winning the match on penalties. Liverpool fans often talk about the spirit of Istanbul - and it was clearly in evidence on Thursday.

Liverpool won Europe's top competition for a fifth time with victory in Istanbul

But it is not the only memorable European night for the club. In December 2004, Liverpool needed to win by a margin of two clear goals against Olympiakos to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League.

Rivaldo put the Greek side ahead but Liverpool fought back with Steven Gerrard scoring a late winner.

In 1977, Liverpool returned to Anfield for the second leg of a European Cup tie against French side St-Etienne trailing 1-0.

The Reds took the lead but needed to score twice more after Dominique Bathenay's equaliser. However, goals from Ray Kennedy and super-sub David Fairclough ensured they did just that.

The stats you need to know

  • Divock Origi has netted four goals in his past three Liverpool games after failing to score in nine games previous to that
  • James Milner has now been involved in more Liverpool goals than any other player in 2015-16 (19 - seven goals, 12 assists)
  • Liverpool have never lost at home to German opposition in European competition (W11 D3)
  • Liverpool's four goals came from their only four shots on target in the entire game
  • The Reds conceded three goals at Anfield in a European tie for only the sixth time in their history
  • Aubameyang has now scored 37 goals in 44 games for Borussia Dortmund this season
  • Dortmund scored more goals (2) in the opening nine minutes of the game on Thursday than German opposition had managed in 13 previous trips to Anfield (1).

What next?

Liverpool will be in Friday's draw for the last four of the Europa League. That will be covered in Sportsday on the BBC Sport website.

Klopp's team return to Premier League action when they play at Bournemouth on Sunday, with kick-off at 13:30 BST.

Dortmund, who are seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, host Hamburg on Sunday.

Source: bbc.com

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Didier Drogba charity: Striker welcomes investigation amid 'serious concerns'

Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has welcomed an investigation into his charity over "serious regulatory concerns".

The Daily Mail claimed only £14,115 out of £1.7m donated to the Didier Drogba Foundation had helped causes in Africa.

The Charity Commission has opened a case to review concerns about the charity's administration.

But Drogba, 38, said "everything is clear" and "this money will be spent when it needs to be spent".

In the article, the Mail said £439,321 was spent putting on lavish fundraising parties attended by celebrities, and more than £1m languished in bank accounts.

Speaking to the BBC from Montreal, Canada, where he is playing for MLS side Montreal Impact, Drogba said all charity projects so far had been funded by his own sponsorship deals, rather than money from UK fundraisers.

The former Ivory Coast international said: "I'm responsible for this money; I'm not going to spend it just to spend it.

"I have projects for the long term and I know what I want to do."

The African charity, established in 2007, is run in the Ivory Coast but is also registered in the UK.

In an earlier statement, Drogba said he had spent 3.7m euros (£2.9m) on projects in the Ivory Coast, including building a mobile clinic and investing in orphanages.

Drogba said he will take legal action against the Mail, which said in a statement that it "stands by every word of this important story".

The Charity Commission said it wanted "further information" about the foundation's spending plans and would look into "allegations that the charity has provided misleading information to donors and the public".

Source: bbc.com

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Holders Barcelona suffered a shock Champions League exit

Holders Barcelona suffered a shock Champions League exit as Antoine Griezmann's double sent Atletico Madrid into the semi-finals.

Barca arrived in Spain's capital with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg but poor defending allowed the unmarked Griezmann to power home Saul's cross.

Saul headed against the bar as Barca toiled before Griezmann scored a late penalty after Andres Iniesta handled.

Barca were denied a penalty when Gabi handled just inside the area.

The defeat ended Luis Enrique's hopes of securing a La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble, while Atletico join Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Real Madrid in Friday's semi-final draw (11:30 BST).

Barcelona's players surrounded the referee after Gabi clearly handled inside the area though he was standing outside it, the referee awarding only a free-kick.

Listen again:'Simeone is the archetypal baddie'

But Barca were a shadow of the team that conquered Europe so convincingly last season and have now lost three of the last four games in all competitions.

In addition, Lionel Messi failed to score for the fifth game in a row for his club, and Neymar and Luis Suarez were frustrated by excellent home defending.

More on the Champions League
Enrique takes blame for Barca exit
Hat-trick answers critics - Ronaldo
Pellegrini targets Champions League glory
Bayern Munich ease through to semi-finals

On the rare occasions Suarez managed to work an opening he found Jan Oblak in fine form on a great night for Atletico.

Barca's bad-tempered exit

The tie was littered with late challenges - there were eight bookings in total - while there were two flashpoints as Barca exited the competition on a bad-tempered note.

Suarez caught Uruguay team-mate Diego Godin with an elbow that left the Atletico defender with a swelling above his eye.

Atletico Madrid defender Diego GodinAtletico Madrid defender Diego GodinAtletico Madrid defender Diego Godin

And another scuffle between the top two clubs in Spain broke out when Neymar appeared to lash out at Juanfran from behind.

Barca enjoyed 77% possession and had more shots than Atletico , yet could not disguise their frustration as they were undone by Griezmann's double.

History repeats itself

This was the eighth meeting in 15 months between the sides, with Barcelona having won the previous seven.

Indeed, Atletico's most recent win over their oppoents was at this stage of the Champions League two years ago.

Barcelona suffered a 2-1 aggregate defeat in 2014 with Diego Simeone's side eventually reaching the final - only to lose 4-1 to Real Madrid after extra time.

Simeone will be confident after this fine performance that his side can go one better this time.

Wait goes on for Messi

Messi remains on 499 career goals, just as he has done since 30 March when he scored for Argentina.

He has gone 452 minutes without scoring for Barcelona.

On Wednesday, Messi did not look like finding the net as he failed to register a shot on target in a Champions League game for the first time since 2014 - also against Atletico.

The 28-year-old cut a frustrated figure as Godin and Lucas Hernandez produced commanding performances at the heart of the home defence.

Messi's last touch of the game was a free-kick on the edge of the area, when they should have had a penalty, which flew wide.

It summed up Barcelona's night.

The stats you need to know

  • No team has still ever retained the Champions League since its inception in 1992/93.
  • Only Diego Costa in 2013/14 (8 goals) has scored more for Atletico Madrid in a Champions League season than Antoine Griezmann has for them this campaign (6).
  • It was Griezmann's third Champions League brace this season, after scoring two in both matches against Galatasaray
  • Barcelona failed to score in a Champions League game for the first time since April 2014, which was also against Atletico Madrid.

What's next?

Barcelona are three points clear at the top of La Liga with six games remaining. They will look to put this result behind them when they entertain Valencia on Sunday (19:30 BST)

Atletico host Granada on the same day at 17:15 BST.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

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Will Smith, retired NFL star, was shot in the back seven times

A "rageful" driver shot retired US football star Will Smith in the back seven times, killing him, the Smith family has said.

The former New Orleans Saints player was driving with his wife in the city on Saturday when a Humvee crashed into Smith's car.

Police said the crash set off a row and the Humvee's driver, Cardell Hayes, killed Smith and wounded his wife.

Smith's family told reporters Mr Hayes was "remorseless" after the shooting.

Mr Hayes ignored the pleas of Smith's wife to leave the couple alone and stood over Smith's dead body yelling, said Peter Thomson, an attorney for the Smith family.

Mr Thomson said Smith's wife, Racquel, said her husband died trying to protect her. She called him "her superman".

"Go back to your car. We have children. This is not worth this," Racquel Smith reportedly told Mr Hayes before he opened fire.

She is being treated at hospital and is expected to recover.

Police said Smith had a gun in his car the night he was shot but it was never fired and he did not have it on him.

Mr Hayes, who has been charged with murder, said Smith was the aggressor.

Smith, a 34-year-old father of three, played with the Saints for his entire career and won a Super Bowl with the team in 2009.

He retired in 2012 after he was implicated in the "Bounty Bowl" scandal.

The NFL accused of Smith of being part of a locker-room pool that paid cash bonuses for heavy and even injurious hits.

Source: bbc.com

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Klopp guides Liverpool to draw with former team, Dortmund

Divock Origi gave Liverpool a potentially crucial away goal in their Europa League quarter-final tie with Borussia Dortmund as the first leg in Germany ended in a draw.

The Belgium striker struck on Reds boss Jurgen Klopp's return to his former club with a low finish across goal.

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller then denied Origi one-on-one.

Mats Hummels headed in an equaliser and the hosts pressed in search of a winner, but Liverpool kept them at bay.

More on the Europa League
Henderson set for knee scan
Relive how the action unfolded
Sevilla take control of quarter-final tie
You'll Never Walk Alone rendition 'a wow moment'

In the end it was a fair result as Dortmund, favourites to win the Europa League, dominated possession but Klopp's tactics ensured Liverpool frustrated their opponents, restricting them to few real chances.

A stirring rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone - a song both teams have adopted as their football anthem - before kick-off set the tone for the game, with a special atmosphere playing its part in an encounter that was tense and, at times, thrilling.

Klopp gets his tactics right

Some eyebrows were raised before kick-off when Klopp decided to start Origi instead of England international Daniel Sturridge.

Origi had not scored since 14 February, while Sturridge appeared to be finding his form after returning from injury with three goals in nine games.

The 20-year-old was nothing more than a spectator in the opening stages as Liverpool soaked up some early pressure, but Klopp said before the game that he had given him the nod because of his pace and power - and both were on show when the visitors took the lead.

He controlled captain Jordan Henderson's slightly awkward ball superbly before turning towards goal and steering a low strike into the far corner.

From then on, Origi held up the ball excellently to relieve some pressure on a defence that unsurprisingly came under some heavy pressure at times.

In Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Dortmund possess one of the most lethal finishers in Europe, but Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho stood up to the task of nullifying the 33-goal Gabon striker.

He was limited to one real chance, an effort from close range that was blocked by Lovren, while Sakho threw his body in the way of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to deny what was an almost certain goal.

Eyes on Klopp for 'El Kloppico'

Interest in Klopp's return to Dortmund was huge in the build-up.

The 48-year-old German is fondly remembered for his achievements at the club he managed for seven years from 2008, having led them to two Bundesliga titles as well the final of the Champions League in 2013.

Around 20 television crews and some 100 journalists were in attendance for his pre-match news conference, while one German TV had been planning a 'Klopp Cam', which would have focused on the Liverpool boss for the full 90 minutes - although that idea was ultimately shelved.

When Klopp emerged before the match, his name was chanted by the home fans but the Liverpool boss was evidently keen to make sure he was not the centre of attention.

After acknowledging the home fans with a clap, he switched focus firmly to his own players warming up and there was no doubt about where his allegiances lie when he thumped his chest and roared in delight after Origi's goal.

Advantage Liverpool?

Despite the away goal, the tie is far from over. Dortmund have scored in each of their previous six away games, including two goals at Tottenham in the previous round of the competition.

Improving their defending at set-pieces will also be key for Liverpool. Hummels was left unmarked to head in the simplest of goals from a corner, meaning the past three goals Liverpool have conceded in the Europa League have been from set-pieces.

History is on Liverpool's side, though. They have progressed from 11 of their past 12 European ties in which they have drawn the first leg away from home.

What they said

Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel: "In a quarter-final it can be that you don't deserve to win and that was the case.

"This was exactly what we expected from Liverpool - but we expected ourselves to be better, freer in our passing and with a better rhythm.

"We are able to score away goals as well. We are not frightened and we are not too disappointed. Tonight was not our top performance and to win you need a top performance.

"We have been to a lot of places and scored and won. It's half-time and the players are confident. We are looking forward to the game at Anfield."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "Dortmund is a pretty good side and everyone could see that, but we had our moments and we could have won the game.

"I'm pretty sure a lot of people thought we would lose 2-0, 3-0 or 4-0. But at some moments we had Dortmund and around our goal we were brilliant.

"We are not that far on our way to being like they are. We cannot at the moment play like they play, but we can defend and score goals so we can win."

On his own reception from the Dortmund fans: "It was nice. A lot of people spoke about it but when I came onto the pitch it was respectful applause and that's nice. That's how it should be."

The stats you need to know

  • Divock Origi scored his first Europa League goal for Liverpool and his first since October 2014 for Lille against Wolfsburg.
  • Origi is the ninth different Liverpool player to score in the Europa League this season, with only Lazio and Napoli (10) having more different scorers.
  • Five of Origi's six Liverpool goals have been scored away from home.
  • Mats Hummels scored Borussia Dortmund's fifth goal from a corner in the Europa League, more than any other side in the competition.
  • Dortmund have been eliminated on five of the six occasions they've drawn the first leg of a European tie at home.

What next?

Liverpool host Stoke in the Premier League on Sunday, while Dortmund travel to Schalke in the Bundesliga on the same day. The two sides then meet at Anfield in the Europa League quarter-final second leg on Thursday, 14 April.

Source: bbc.com

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Abby Wambach: Former US striker arrested for drink-driving

Abby Wambach, the world's all-time leading international goalscorer, was arrested on Saturday night for driving under the influence of alcohol.

American Wambach, 35, retired in December 2015 having scored 184 goals in 255 games, a record unmatched by any man or woman in international history.

"I take full responsibility for my actions. This is all on me," Wambach said in a statement on Facebook.

Wambach helped the United States women's team to 2015 World Cup glory.

According to local police, she was arrested in Portland, Oregon after being seen running a red light.

Wambach failed sobriety tests and was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. She was later released.

In her statement, Wambach promised not to repeat her "horrible mistake" and apologised to her friends, her family, her fans, "and those that look to follow a better example".

She added: "Those that know me, know that I have always demanded excellence from myself. I have let myself and others down."

Wambach was named the 2012 Fifa Women's World Player of the Year and is also a six-time US Soccer Female Athlete of the Year winner.

Honours and awards
2015 World Cup winner
2004 and 2012 Olympic gold medallist
2012 Fifa world player of the year
2011 Associated Press female athlete of the year

Six-time US soccer athlete of the year (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013)

 

Source: bbc.com

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Top US women footballers file complaint for equal pay

Five senior members of the World Cup-winning US football team have filed a complaint against the national federation for wage discrimination.

Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo say they are paid less than half of what the male USA players receive.

"The numbers speak for themselves," said goalkeeper Solo in a statement.

The US Soccer Federation said it was disappointed, given the work it had done in building the women's game.

American women's football has dominated the international game in recent decades, with a string of titles.

"We are the best in the world, have three World Cup Championships, four Olympic Championships, and the USMNT [men's team] get paid more just to show up than we get paid to win major championships," said Solo.

Her team-mate Lloyd, who was named the best player at last year's World Cup, said they had been patient over the years in waiting for action to deliver fair pay.

Former Everton and LA Galaxy winger Landon Donovan - who won 157 caps for the US men's team - tweeted his support for the women's team's cause.

"#USWNT absolutely deserve to be treated fairly in all ways," he said.

"Important to remember that these issues are/can be collectively bargained."

US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said: "Wouldn't want to face these women on the field or in the courtroom. Every woman deserves equal pay."

The complaint against the US Soccer Federation was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Thursday morning.

One of the lawyers representing the players, Jeffrey Kessler, said the women's game generated more income for US Soccer than the men's and it was time to address the "discriminatory and unfair treatment'' they have endured for years.

The five players were acting on behalf of all the players, he said.

There has been an ongoing legal battle between the federation and the players' union over collective bargaining.

A statement from US Soccer said it had not yet seen the complaint.

But it added: "We have been a world leader in women's soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women's game in the United States over the past 30 years."

Clarification: An earlier version of this story said the women players filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. They have actually filed a wage-discrimination action against USSF with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Source: bbc.com

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Afcon 2017: Nigeria qualification hopes on the line against Egypt

Nigeria will be eliminated from qualifying for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations if they lose away to Egypt in their Group G tie on Tuesday.

Results against group rivals Chad have been erased after their withdrawal on Sunday, meaning only the group winners will make it to next year's finals.

Nigeria have two points and Egypt have four, while Tanzania have one.

A win for Egypt would put them in a strong position to qualify but they could still be caught by Tanzania.

Mathematically the countries could both finish on seven points, although Egypt have a far superior goal difference and a 3-0 win over Tanzania from their match last June.

Each country in Group G now plays a maximum of four qualifiers.

Home success at the Borg El Arab will lift Egypt to seven points and put the Pharaohs out of the reach of Nigeria, who will have just one game (at home against Tanzania) left.

If the Super Eagles win, then they would hold the upper hand but would still need to win their last group game to make sure of qualification.

Nigeria missed out on the last Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea despite winning the 2013 edition in South Africa. Egypt have remarkably not competed at the finals since winning the last of three back-to-back titles in 2010.

'We have to believe'

In Group M, South Africa know they must beat Cameroon if they are to keep alive their hops of qualifying.

Bafana Bafana drew 2-2 away to Cameroon on Saturday and are hoping home advantage will help them achieve a better result on Tuesday.

However, they go into the game with a significant injury list: goalkeeper Darren Keet, defenders Anele Ngcongca and Thabo Matlaba as well as midfielder Mpho Makola are all ruled out.

Goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune said: "It is still possible to get to Gabon, but we have to keep our heads high and fight for the remaining nine points.

"We cannot afford to throw the towel in now - we have to start with Tuesday's clash to start collecting the points. With the kind of football we are playing we can still do it, but it starts with us, we have to believe that we can.

"We cannot afford to drop any more points."

Return of Togo talisman?

Emmanuel Adebayor could make a surprise return for Togo in their Group A match against Tunisia.

The Crystal Palace striker last played for his country in June 2015 and rejected a call-up for the first match between the sides, which was played in Monastir on Friday and was won 1-0 by Tunisia.

However, he has been photographed training and eating with the Togo squad in Lome ahead of the return match and could be set to end his self-imposed exile.

Tunisia, Togo and Liberia all have six points, with three games remaining.

Source: bbc.com

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Afcon 2017: Equatorial Guinea go out after defeat to Mali

Equatorial Guinea, who hosted last year's Africa Cup of Nations, became the first team to be eliminated from the qualifiers for the 2017 tournament in Gabon after a 1-0 home defeat to Mali.

Mustapha Yatabare hit Mali's winner in the 89th minute in Malabo to put his team top of Group C, two points above Benin on 10 points.

Equatorial Guinea, who reached the semi-finals on home soil in 2015, are now bottom of the group on one point with two games to play.

South Sudan are third, on three points, and still have a slim chance of qualifying as one of the best two runners-up.

Elsewhere on Monday, Zimbabwe swept aside Swaziland 4-0 in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Group L qualifier.

The hosts, who earned a 1-1 draw in Swaziland on Friday, dominated the return match in Harare to move three points clear at the top of the table.

Knowledge Musona opened the scoring on 53 minutes from the penalty spot and Costa Nhamoinesu made it 2-0 six minutes later.

Evans Rusike extended the advantage and Khama Billiat sealed the win late on.

Musona told BBC Sport: "I am feeling very happy. The team collected maximum points at home, we are top of the group and we have a big chance to qualify.

"It is crucial we take maximum points from our next game at home (against Malawi on 3 June)."

Swaziland remain on five points, three points above Malawi and Guinea who play each other on Tuesday.

Each of the group winners and the two best runners-up qualify for next year's finals in Gabon.

In Group B Central African Republic came back from a goal down to beat Madagascar 2-1.

Faneva Andriatsima opened the scoring for the visitors on 35 minutes and they went into the half-time break 1-0 up.

But two goals in 12 minutes turned the game on its head as Salif Keita stuck the equaliser on 53 minutes for CAR and then Limane Moussa hit the winner.

The result puts CAR top of the table by a point from DR Congo, who play Angola on Tuesday.

Libya got their first points of Group F with a 4-0 win over Sao Tome e Principe.

In a match played in Egypt on security grounds, Libya's Mohamed Zubya hit a second half hat-trick.

Source: bbc.com

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Adam Johnson jailed for six years

Footballer Adam Johnson has been jailed for six years for grooming and sexual activity with a girl aged 15.

Sentencing the ex-Sunderland player, Judge Jonathan Rose told him he had abused a position of trust and caused his victim "severe psychological harm".

The judge told Johnson, 28, he had engaged in sexual activity with her knowing she was under 16.

It can now be reported police found extreme pornography involving animals on Johnson's laptop.

The matter is not being taken any further, Bradford Crown Court heard.

The sexual activity with the girl happened in the footballer's Range Rover in January 2015 after he had groomed her using social media apps.

Johnson jailed: Updates

Judge Rose told the footballer, who played 12 times for England, there had been "an abuse of trust - you are trusted by young fans to behave properly".

He said: "She had only just turned 15 when you began grooming her, because, as you were to admit, you found her sexually attractive."

The judge told Johnson the offences happened "at a time when you were engaged in frequent sexual intercourse with multiple partners".

At the start of his trial last month, Johnson had admitted grooming the girl and one charge of sexual activity, relating to kissing her. He was found guilty of sexual touching and cleared of one charge relating to another sexual act.

Judge Rose said Johnson had had "every opportunity" to enter guilty pleas to the charges he finally admitted. He ordered the footballer to pay £50,000 of the prosecution's £67,132 costs.

During the three-week trial the jury heard the former winger met the girl after agreeing to sign football shirts for her.

How apps helped to convict Adam Johnson

He admitted kissing the teenager but told the jury an encounter in his Range Rover "went no further".

The girl told the court he had "put his hands down her pants" and she performed a sex act on him.

The jury cleared Johnson over the sex act claim but convicted him by a 10-2 majority on the sexual touching charge.

Restrictions have now been lifted that prevented it being reported that, when Johnson was arrested, police found medicines in a safe indicating he may have been suffering from sexually transmitted infections.

In a victim impact statement read to court, the girl said she had been forced to endure thousands of malicious and slanderous remarks on social media and had been approached by a stranger asking about her relationship with the footballer.

She felt at risk going out and her schoolwork had suffered "massively", the court was told.

"I have entered many dark places over this 12-month period," she said.

"Ultimately, it was like I was being taunted as if to say he could do what he wants and get away with it."

In another statement to the court, her mother said there "had been no winners" and defended the decision to report the matter to police in order to "protect other vulnerable children".

She stressed the family had never sought financial gain.

Why Johnson's chances of playing again are "very remote"

Earlier, Dr Philip Hopley, a consultant psychiatrist giving evidence for the defence, told the court: "This is a man who, at the age of 28, is socially and psychologically immature."

The doctor said he found no evidence in Johnson of an attraction to pre-pubescent children or "sexual perversion".

Speaking after Johnson was sentenced, Det Insp Aelfwynn Sampson, of Durham Police, said: "Fame, celebrity and a position of power does not give you the right to break the law in pursuit of whatever you desire.

"This girl should have been safe but she was used by the public figure she looked up to most."

Jon Brown, from children's charity the NSPCC, questioned whether the Football Association's "really comprehensive high quality rules and regulations and policies" for child protection were followed throughout the game's hierarchy.

"We are concerned about the extent to which they're actually being embedded and implemented at club level," he said.

"We're concerned that may not be the case right across the country."

Outside the court, Gerry Wareham from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Adam Johnson exploited a young star-struck fan, actively grooming her over a number of months in single-minded pursuit of his own sexual gratification."

Earlier, the court was told the player had lodged an appeal against his conviction for sexual activity with the girl.

Johnson began his career at Middlesbrough before moving to Manchester City and then on to Sunderland in 2012.

Adam Johnson's car

The footballer met the girl in his luxury car

Source: bbc.com

 

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Hulk Hogan awarded $115m in Gawker sex tape case

A Florida jury has awarded Hulk Hogan $115m (£79m) after the gossip news website Gawker published a sex tape of the retired professional wrestler.

Mr Hogan's legal team argued the New York-based website violated his privacy and the video was not newsworthy.

The case, which pitted freedom of the press against a celebrity's right to privacy, has been closely watched.

The video was posted in 2012 after Mr Hogan was secretly recorded having sex with his friend's wife.

Lawyers for Gawker argued that although jurors might find the website's actions distasteful, the concept of freedom of the press was more important to uphold.

Mr Hogan's lawyers said Gawker did not contact him or the woman in the video before the video was published.

"This is not only his victory today, but also anyone else who's been victimised by tabloid journalism," Hogan lawyer David Houston said outside the courtroom.

Gawker, known for its acerbic tone and aggressive coverage of celebrities, maintained that Mr Hogan's private life was newsworthy because he made it part of his public persona.

"He has consistently chosen to put his private life out there, for public consumption," Gawker's lawyer Michael Sullivan said during the trial.

However, Hogan lawyer Kenneth Turkel said during the trial that Gawker typified the often anything-goes world of internet publishing.

The verdict could lead to more caution among Internet news websites, which frequently have less editorial oversight than traditional media outlets.

Gawker's founder Nick Denton and journalist AJ Daulerio were held liable in the lawsuit.

Even before the verdict was announced, Gawker said in a statement that an appeal was likely. Large jury awards are often reduced during the appeals process.

Mr Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, said the release of the sex tape hurt his career.

He was one of the most popular professional wrestlers of the 1980s and 1990s and later starred in his own reality television show with his family.

In recent years, Mr Hogan's personal problems have conflicted with his one-time child-friendly persona.

His longtime employer World Wrestling Entertainment cut ties with Mr Hogan in July after he was recorded using racial slurs.

Source: bbc.com

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United crush out of Europe

Philippe Coutinho's brilliant solo goal killed Manchester United's hopes of a Europa League comeback and sent Liverpool into the last eight in comfort at Old Trafford.

Jurgen Klopp's side were protecting a two-goal lead from the first leg at Anfield but Anthony Martial's 32nd-minute penalty offered United brief hope after he was fouled by Nathaniel Clyne.

Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata had missed clear opportunities for United but Liverpool were also a threat as David de Gea saved superbly from Coutinho while Daniel Sturridge hit the bar with a free-kick and Jordan Henderson missed an open goal.

The away goal Liverpool threatened, and which left United needing four on the night, came right on half-time when Coutinho beat Guillermo Varela with ease before lifting a near-post finish past De Gea.

It ended the game as a contest with United unable to rouse themselves again as Liverpool completed the formalities to win the first European meeting between the two clubs.

Sadly, the final stages of the match were marred by clashes between supporters near the Liverpool corner of the ground - and it remains to be seen if Uefa take any action.

Too little too late for Man Utd

Manchester United, in the first half at least, played with a pace, and showed a spirit and endeavour, that has rarely been displayed at Old Trafford this season - but the task was too much.

And that was down to the lamentable performance at Anfield last Thursday when Liverpool dominated every facet of the first leg to secure a two-goal lead that could actually have been much more.

It left United vulnerable to one goal from Liverpool that would leave them needing four, and so it proved when Coutinho's brilliant dribble provided that crucial away strike.

United, from that point on, looked like the team they have been for most of this season - pedestrian, uninspired and struggling to illuminate an Old Trafford stage that has suffered much this season.

And there was suffering in hearing songs of celebration from 3,000 Liverpool fans tucked away in one corner of the stadium as their arch-rivals celebrated victory in the first European meeting between the two sides and a place in the last eight of the Europa League.

It was also further evidence that, for all those who still feel United might be better off without Wayne Rooney, that this team still misses him very badly as he was reduced to watching the game from the stands with his son as the England captain recovers from a knee injury.

Can Liverpool go all the way?

Liverpool are progressing rapidly under Klopp, who is putting his imprint on the side six months after he succeeded sacked Brendan Rodgers.

And some of the old European anticipation will be rising at Anfield as they contemplate Friday's quarter-final draw.

Time for some perspective, though, and a warning that Klopp is embarking on a rebuilding programme that will not be a quick fix.

There are still some tasty potential opponents lying in wait, none more so than Klopp's old club Borussia Dortmund, tournament favourites and impressive winners against Tottenham over two legs.

The notion of Klopp facing Dortmund is an enticing one and he would be guaranteed a rapturous reception at the club he took to two Bundesliga titles and the Champions League final.

And that is before you even get to Sevilla, winners in the past two seasons and who cruised into the last eight against FC Basel.

Young guns offer hope for Man Utd

This was another disappointing night in a disappointing season for Manchester United - and there will be extra pain in losing a European tie to such fierce adversaries.

If there is some comfort, it can be gained in the performances of young strike duo Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Rashford, just 18, never gave up at any point, chasing lost causes endlessly while trying to provide United's lost spark.

Martial, 20, tormented Clyne with his pace in the first half to earn - and score - the penalty that gave United some hope.

They are small crumbs of comfort on a miserable night for United but they need all the hope they can get after this.

'Punches and seats thrown'

Liverpool's on-field celebrations were marred by trouble in the stands in the closing minutes and after the final whistle.

BBC Radio 5 live commentator Ian Dennis had a clear view of the disturbances in the crowd and said he saw fighting and seats being ripped out.

"Punches are being traded by rival supporters," he said.

"I have seen three red seats from the Liverpool section being thrown into the Manchester United fans.

"There are about 10 Liverpool supporters sat on the front row of the top tier and there is a human wall of police officers in luminous clothing protecting the Liverpool fans sat in the Manchester United end.

"Uefa will take action - mark my words."

What the managers said

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal: "I am not angry, I am not frustrated. I was very proud of my players.

"They gave everything and I was very pleased the fans recognised that. They applauded after the match despite us being out - that was remarkable I think.

"I hope Man City is the catalyst. We have to beat City and we have a chance to still qualify (for the Champions League)."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "They got a penalty - it was a penalty - and Phil had a genius moment.

"I love it two minutes before half-time because he twice reacted quicker than his opponent.

"It was the most unexpected that he could do in a situation like this."

What next?

Manchester United will travel to the Etihad for a Premier League derby against neighbours Manchester City on Sunday, the same day as Liverpool play Southampton.

The stats you need to know

  • Anthony Martial has scored in back-to-back games for Manchester United for the first time since September 2015
  • Coutinho has equalled his best goals tally in a season for Liverpool (8) in all competitions, a feat he achieved last season
  • The Red Devils have been eliminated from the Europa League at the last-16 stage in both of their appearances in the competition (also 2011/12 versus Athletic Bilbao)
  • Liverpool have reached the quarter-final of a European competition for the first time since 2009/10, when they faced Benfica in the Europa League on their way to the semi-finals
  • Jurgen Klopp is the first Liverpool manager since Graeme Souness in October 1991 to avoid defeat in his first game at Old Trafford as Reds boss

Source: bbc.com

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Peyton Manning: Denver Broncos quarterback retires from NFL

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has announced his retirement, ending a sparkling 18-year career in the NFL.

Manning struggled to hold back tears as he confirmed the news at a media conference in Denver on Monday.

He said: "I fought a good fight. I finished my football race. After 18 years it is time."

Manning, who turns 40 on 24 March, played his last game when he helped the Broncos win the Super Bowl in February.

It was his second Super Bowl win, the first coming in 2007 during a 14-year spell with the Indianapolis Colts.

One of the game's most prolific passers, he was voted the NFL's most valuable player a record five times.

Manning retires as the NFL's all-time leader in passing touchdowns (539), passing yards (71,940) and quarterback wins (186, tied with Brett Favre).

His teams made the play-offs in 15 of his 18 seasons.

"You don't have to wonder if I will miss it. Absolutely I will," Manning added.

"There are players who were more talented - but none could out prepare me. I have no regrets."

'Perfect way to end a career'

One of his biggest rivals, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, said Manning "set the standard for how to play the quarterback position".

He told Sports Illustrated: "What just happened, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, is a perfect way to end a career. But what he's accomplished through all these years, what makes it so admirable, is the pressure he's had on him his whole life.

"Who has lived up to the expectations year after year after year as well as Peyton? He's done it so gracefully, so admirably."

Recently, Manning has also faced controversy. Before this year's Super Bowl, the NFL began an investigation into allegations that banned substance human growth hormone was sent to his house when he was recovering from neck surgery in 2011.

He has described the allegations, made by broadcaster Al Jazeera, as "complete garbage".

During his retirement news conference, he also denied allegations of sexual misconduct stemming from his college playing days at Tennessee.

"I did not do what has been alleged and I am not interested in re-litigating something that happened when I was 19," he said.

In defeating the Carolina Panthers on 7 February, Manning became the oldest quarterback to win the showpiece event - and the first starting quarterback to win it with two different teams.

It had been rumoured the surprise 24-10 victory would be his last game, but he said afterwards he would "take time to reflect".

source: bbc.com

Justin Tuck tweet about Peyton Manning

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Adam Johnson guilty of child sex charge

Ex-England footballer Adam Johnson has been found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a girl aged 15.

The jury at Bradford Crown Court found Johnson guilty of a charge of sexual touching, but not guilty on a charge relating to another sexual act.

The former Sunderland player had previously admitted grooming the girl and one charge of sexual activity.

Judge Jonathan Rose has warned Johnson he faces jail and told him to "say goodbye to your daughter".

Reaction to Adam Johnson's conviction

In a statement, Johnson's victim said she had been through the "hardest year" of her life.

She said meeting her hero felt "surreal" at first but she now feels "used and let down" by Johnson.

She said: "I have had to face so much abuse after he claimed his innocence and I was made out to be a liar.

"What happened in his car has turned my life upside down.

"There are people who have made assumptions about me and this has been hard to deal with... Him being found guilty shows everyone I was telling the truth."

'Significant sentence'

The judge said his preliminary view was that the case falls into the category of a five-year prison sentence with a range of four to 10 years.

He said: "The defendant must understand there is a very high probability of a significant custodial sentence."

The judge told Johnson he would be released on bail so he could get his "affairs in order".

He said: "You can say goodbye to your daughter. A prison sentence will mean you will not see her for some time."

Johnson, 28, showed no emotion as the verdicts were delivered and he has been granted bail until his sentencing, which is due to take place in two to three weeks.

Johnson met up with the girl on 30 January 2015 after agreeing to sign football shirts for her, the court heard.

The player admitted kissing the teenager but told the jury the encounter in his Range Rover "went no further".

However the girl told the court the former winger "put his hands down her pants" and she performed an oral sex act on him.

The jury, which had been deliberating since Tuesday morning following a three-week trial, cleared Johnson over the oral sex claim but convicted him by a 10-2 majority on the sexual touching charge.

Johnson was sacked by Sunderland after admitting on the first day of his trial that he had kissed the girl.

'Gifted' footballer's fall from grace

He began communicating with the girl at the very end of 2014 while his partner, Stacey Flounders, was heavily pregnant with their first child.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a Sunderland season ticket holder and was "infatuated" with Johnson.

Johnson told the jury that when she sent him a friend request on Facebook he recognised her as a Sunderland fan.

After he accepted the request he began a communication which involved 834 WhatsApp messages in little more than a month before the exchanges moved on to SnapChat and were not recorded.

During the trial, prosecutors accused Johnson of delaying his admission to the lesser offences until the start of his trial so he could still play for Sunderland, from whom he earned £60,000 a week.

Johnson told the court the club knew he had kissed the girl, but in a statement issued after the verdict Sunderland denied the claim.

The club said it played no part in Johnson's plea decisions and only became aware he had kissed the girl when he admitted it in court, at which point they sacked him.

Sunderland's statement said: "Had the club known that Mr Johnson intended to plead guilty to any of these charges then his employment would have been terminated immediately.

"Indeed, upon learning of the guilty plea on 11 February 2016, the club acted quickly and decisively in terminating Adam Johnson's contract without notice.

"This has been an extremely difficult time for all involved. The victim and her family have endured an unimaginable ordeal in the last 12 months and we trust that they will now be allowed to move on with their lives without further intrusion or public scrutiny."

Speaking after the verdicts, Det Insp Aelfwynn Sampson from Durham Police praised the victim for her bravery.

She said: "In our football-obsessed region, Adam Johnson had a responsibility as a professional footballer to be a role model, a role he did not fulfil."

Children's charity the NSPCC also condemned Johnson after his trial.

A spokesperson said: "Adam Johnson cynically used his celebrity status as a professional footballer to groom and sexually abuse an impressionable schoolgirl.

"His behaviour throughout was inexcusable, made even worse by the fact his not guilty pleas forced his young victim to suffer the harrowing experience of giving evidence in court."

Source: bbc.com

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Chelsea send Norwich into relegation zone

Norwich fell into the Premier League relegation zone as Chelsea continued their impressive form under Guus Hiddink with victory at Carrow Road.

Blues full-back Kenedy drilled in from 20 yards after 39 seconds - the fastest goal of the Premier League season.

Diego Costa doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time, running from an offside position to lift the ball home.

Cameron Jerome hit the bar before Nathan Redmond scored as Norwich lost for the eighth time in nine games.

The Canaries have taken just one point from a possible 24 - finding ugly form at the wrong time of the season.

Though they rallied late on, with Redmond and substitute Gary O'Neil going close, Norwich needs points, not performances, with just 10 games to go.

Look back on how Chelsea overcame Norwich

All the reaction from Tuesday's Premier League matches

Norwich going down?

The downward momentum Norwich have will worry both playing staff and board members, as missing out on an enhanced Premier League TV deal next season would be a tough financial pill to swallow.

But the reality is Alex Neil's side are coming up short. They have scored in just four of their past eight league games and, for all their effort, seem light up front when it matters.

Jerome hit the bar early from six yards in the second period when he should have scored and his lack of killer instinct summed up a display which was admirable if uninspiring.

Fellow relegation strugglers Sunderland and Newcastle visit Carrow Road in the run-in, but Norwich - 18th in the table on goal difference - must find their form soon.

Before Chelsea's visit they had fewer touches in opponents' area than any other side in the league. So is a change in style needed? Or are Neil's side simply doomed?

Blame the referee?

Redmond's strike - from a Wes Hoolahan pass - and performance will be one positive, and perhaps Norwich fans can draw some comfort from their early misfortune.

Referee Lee Mason was a clear target of home fans' frustration in the opening period as a succession of 50-50 calls went the way of the champions.

Thibaut Courtois seemed to pick up a clear backpass and Costa was a yard offside in running onto Bertrand Traore's pass in first-half injury time.

It proved key and was tough on the Canaries, but they must look at their own shortcomings too as Kenedy's early rocket arrived after the full-back was given plenty of time to fashion his shot.

Being undone inside a minute was exactly what Norwich did not need on a night when they were desperate to right a poor run of form. Another worry will be an injury sustained by Alexander Tettey, while Gary O'Neil suffered a head wound as he collided with Robbie Brady.

"Gary has a nasty gash and needs a few stitches, Robbie's lost two teeth and Alex is getting an X-ray on his leg," Neil said afterwards.

Chelsea have their groove back

Focus on the relegation zone could overshadow the fact Chelsea - in eighth - are in the top half for the first time since the opening week of the season.

Their remarkable slump under Jose Mourinho is long finished, with key players returning to form to fashion a run of 12 league games unbeaten.

Hiddink is yet to lose a league game since returning to the club and deserves praise for starting Kenedy and Traore.

Costa seems hungry again and has eight goals and four assists in his past 10 league games, while Cesc Fabregas looked in control in midfield throughout.

Hiddink is concerned his side will lose focus in league games with one eye on Champions League commitments but they showed they have the talent to come through such tests when not at their best. A top six-finish looks possible.

"Now with the ambition of Chelsea we must set a new target and see what we can do in the direction of Europe," Hiddink said afterwards.

What the managers said...

Norwich manager Alex Neil: "The first goal is a real disappointment for us. We have six behind the ball and the left back scores. The second is offside and you expect the officials to get that. The fact is we didn't really get exposed for the first goal but didn't deal with it and shut down quick enough."

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: "We didn't want to go into the battle but they forced us. We were sloppy in the first half, starting well with a beautiful goal and I think we could have finished it in the first half. We were complacent in the last pass. They made our life difficult."

The stats you need to know

  • Chelsea have won three successive Premier League games for the first time since April.
  • Eden Hazard ended a run of 17 Premier League games without an assist by setting up Kenedy for Chelsea's opener.
  • Nathan Redmond scored his first Premier League goal since October.
  • Wes Hoolahan has recorded his best season for assists in a Premier League campaign with eight.

Up next?

Norwich travel to Swansea - who are three points above them - on Saturday, while Chelsea host Stoke four days before their Champions League last-16 second leg against Paris St-Germain.

Source: bbc.com

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Leicester held at home by West Brom

Leicester missed the chance to go five points clear at the top of the Premier League as West Brom came from behind to claim a thrilling draw.

Salomon Rondon shrugged off Robert Huth to give West Brom the lead, but a Danny Drinkwater deflected shot levelled it.

Andy King finished a wonderful move to put Leicester ahead only for Craig Gardner to equalise with a free-kick.

Leicester twice hit the bar at a raucous King Power Stadium, but could not find a winner.

The draw leaves the Foxes three points ahead of Tottenham, who can go top with victory at West Ham on Wednesday, and six ahead of Arsenal, who face Swansea.

West Brom, who have now lost only two of their past 10 league games, stay 13th - 12 points clear of the relegation zone.

Relive Leicester's thrilling draw with West Brom

No more late drama

Leicester were below their best on Saturday but still managed to beat Norwich thanks to a late winner - here they were much improved, but could not conjure similar drama despite laying siege to the West Brom goal.

West Brom may have planned to concede possession and defend deep, and they were duly bombarded by wave after wave of Leicester attacks, mainly down the flanks through the excellent pair of Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton.

On Saturday, the Foxes had 13 attempts on goal - here they had 22, with headers from Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki hitting the woodwork.

Ben Foster also saved well from Jeffrey Schlupp and Wes Morgan, while Leonardo Ulloa could not repeat his weekend heroics when the ball flashed across the face of goal in the very last minute.

Baggies forced out of their shell

West Brom could have been forgiven for thinking that allowing Leicester the lion's share of possession was a sound approach.

Against Norwich, Leicester had the majority of the ball for only the third time this season and struggled. Whether by design or necessity, the Baggies were happy to sit back in the first period, especially after Rondon got on the end of Darren Fletcher's through ball to put the visitors ahead.

However, even with nine red shirts behind the ball, Leicester still found a way to lead, meaning West Brom had to make more of the play in the second half. It worked to their advantage as, after Mahrez needlessly handballed, Gardner curled in a sublime free-kick.

Rondon could even have won it but somehow turned over from inside the six-yard box, and the Baggies ultimately needed some fortune to hang on at the end of a breathless night.

King of the King Power

King was making only his seventh league start of the season, in the side for the injured N'Golo Kante.

The Welsh midfielder is the only member of the Foxes squad remaining from their time in the third tier seven years ago and has winners' medals from both League One and the Championship.

Here he looked to have taken a stride towards adding a Premier League medal when he met Mahrez's athletic back-heel to finish sharply past Foster.

But in the end the odds on King completing an unlikely hat-trick lengthened - and Leicester could be back to second in the table as early as Wednesday night.

What they said

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri: "I am very pleased with our performance. They played so well - there was no panic after the first goal. We played much better than against Norwich. I am satisfied with the performance. Just sometimes you can do everything but the ball doesn't want to go in.

"I want to create a lot of chances and sooner or later we score. Tonight wasn't the right moment but we are alive and we fight to the end. Everybody is ready to fight, to play well, to create chances. Only the victory was missing.

"We tried to do everything and well done to my players. We never never give up. We always try the best in every situation. Every team plays football and we have to find the solution and try to win. It is important not to lose the match too as they could have counter-attacked."

West Brom manager Tony Pulis: "Leicester are a good side. They ask questions of you.

"It's another point on the way for us. It's important for us to get to 40 points and we are happy with the way things are going. We need the hunger and desire to get to 40 points. We should have kept the ball better tonight. I'm really pleased with the players though.

"I'd love to see Leicester win the title."

The stats

  • Leicester are the first Premier League team this season to score 50+ goals in the competition.
  • Two of Leicester's three top-flight goals from outside the area this season have been scored by Danny Drinkwater.
  • Leicester's record as the only Premier League side not to concede at home in 2016 ended.
  • Riyad Mahrez has had a part in a league-high 25 Premier League goals this season (14 goals, 11 assists).
  • Salomon Rondon has scored in three of his past five Premier League games, having failed to score in his previous nine in the competition.
  • Andy King is the fourth Welshman to score on St David's Day in Premier League history (also Pembridge, Saunders and Collison).
  • Craig Gardner has had a role in three of the Baggies' last five Premier League goals (scored two, assisted one).
  • Gardner has also scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since last April (also v Palace and Leicester).

What's next?

Leicester travel to Watford on Saturday, while West Brom welcome Manchester United on Sunday.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

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Man City beat Liverpool in a dramatic shootout

Willy Caballero was Manchester City's hero as they beat Liverpool on penalties to win the Capital One Cup at Wembley.

The 34-year-old Argentine goalkeeper spectacularly rewarded the faith of manager Manuel Pellegrini with saves from Lucas, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana in the shoot-out after he was selected ahead of first-choice Joe Hart.

Fernandinho put City ahead just after the break after an error by Liverpool's otherwise heroic keeper Simon Mignolet. But two glaring misses from former Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling opened the door for Coutinho's late leveller.

In the shootout, Fernandinho hit a post with City's first kick, but Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero were on target as Caballero made his decisive saves, allowing Yaya Toure to convert the winning penalty.

Pellegrini's loyalty rewarded

Manuel Pellegrini

Pellegrini made a huge call in selecting the veteran Caballero ahead of Hart, particularly in the light of his dreadful display in the 5-1 FA Cup fifth-round defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a week earlier.

City's manager has always trusted the keeper he coached at Malaga before bringing him to Manchester - and it was repaid with interest as Caballero made a magnificent stop from Divock Origi's header before defying Liverpool in the shootout.

The temptation would have been to reinstate Hart after Caballero's struggles last Sunday but Pellegrini kept to his tried and trusted policy in this competition - and came out a deserved winner.

It ensured at least one trophy for the Chilean coach in his final season before Pep Guardiola takes over, with success in the Premier League and Champions League still a possibility.

Mignolet's mixed bag

Liverpool keeper Mignolet showed the inconsistency that brings him as much criticism as praise.

The Belgian was badly at fault for letting Fernandinho's shot slip under his body but redeemed hlmself - and more besides - with some stunning stops from Aguero, and also dived bravely into a six-yard box scramble to clear as City threatened once more.

This, it seems, will always be life with Mignolet in goal but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp trusts the keeper the extent that he was recently awarded a five-year contract.

It still remains to be seen whether he is the long-term solution because he simply cannot eradicate important errors from his game.

Relieved Raheem

If Raheem Sterling joined Manchester City's celebrations with even more gusto than his team-mates, it may have been through relief as much as joy.

This is because if City had lost, the forward who made an acrimonious £49m move from Liverpool in the summer would have carried a large portion of the blame.

Sterling was guilty of two dreadful misses when City were 1-0 up and seeking the second goal that would have eased their path to victory.

The England international steered wide of an open goal when it seemed so much easier to score, then was off target with another perfect opportunity after being set up by Aguero.

Sterling, whose every touch was jeered by Liverpool's fans after the manner of his departure from the club, got away with it but this was further proof that the weaknesses that have lingered in his game, namely finishing and decision-making, still exist. A work in progress.

Manager reaction

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "We feel down but now we have to stand up. Only silly idiots stay on the floor and wait for the next defeat.

"We will strike back. We have felt how it is to lose. It is not the best moment but on Monday morning maybe we can change everything.

"We will go on and we will get better. We have to work really hard, carry on and there is light at the end of the tunnel. This important."

Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini: "I was concerned about the amount of chances we missed. After that we played better in extra-time.

"It's a very important moment, and it's always very special to win a title at Wembley."

The key stats

  • Manchester City have won four of their five League Cup finals (1970, 1976, 2014 and 2016)
  • Liverpool lost a League Cup final for the fourth time (1978, 1987, 2005 and 2016)
  • Fernandinho has scored in his last two League Cup appearances - having failed to score in his previous seven
  • Philippe Coutinho has scored in five of his six appearances against Manchester City in all competitions
  • This was only the fourth time that Liverpool have lost a penalty shootout - having faced 18 in total
  • Liverpool had previously won all five cup finals that had gone to a penalty shootout
  • Jurgen Klopp has reached a cup final in each of his last five seasons as a manager, but has lost the last four

What next?

There's little chance for Liverpool and Manchester City to catch a breather before they meet each other again - in the Premier League at Anfield on Wednesday.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

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Spurs came from behind to beat Swansea

Tottenham moved back to within two points of Premier League leaders Leicester after battling back from behind to beat a dogged Swansea side.

Alberto Paloschi gave the visitors the lead after Angel Rangel's shot fell to him via team-mate Jack Cork.

Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski made a series of superb saves, before Nacer Chadli deflected in Kyle Walker's shot to equalise with 20 minutes left.

Danny Rose then drove in the winner after Swansea failed to clear a corner.

More to follow.

Source: bbc.com

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Rashford brace helps sink Arsenal

Teenager Marcus Rashford scored twice and set up the third as Manchester United derailed Arsenal's Premier League title challenge at Old Trafford.

Rashford, who scored twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland on Thursday, steered in a loose ball for the opener then headed in three minutes later.

Danny Welbeck nodded Arsenal back into the game, but Rashford picked out Ander Herrera whose shot was deflected in.

Mesut Ozil's volley gave third-placed Arsenal hope, but United held on.

Arsenal - who have not won the title since 2004 - remain in third place, five points adrift of leaders Leicester having now played the same number of matches.

The Red Devils moved back into fifth position with their first win in three Premier League games.

Follow all the post-match reaction here

Rashford makes his Marc again...

Barely anyone outside Old Trafford had heard of Marcus Rashford less than week ago - now the teenage United striker is a household name across the country.

Two goals on his senior debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League catapulted him into the national spotlight.

But, many asked, how would he fare against a Premier League title-chasing side in the heat of a battle between two fierce rivals? Coolly, calmly and clinically, as it turned out.

Rashford showed signs of his youthful exuberance in the early stages, darting inside a pair of Arsenal defenders from the left touchline before being hauled down on the edge of the penalty area.

The opportunity of that set-piece was not taken by the Red Devils, but it mattered little as Rashford soon put them into a two-goal lead.

The young Mancunian pounced on a poor clearance by Arsenal centre-back Gabriel to slot in his first Premier League goal, then waltzed into space to powerfully head in Jesse Lingard's floated cross.

But it was not just his finishing that caught the eye. Rashford showed great awareness and composure to pick out the run of Herrera, whose 20-yard shot took a wicked deflection off Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny.

No wonder he was given a standing ovation from the Old Trafford crowd when he was replaced in the 80th minute.

Former England winger Trevor Sinclair on BBC Radio 5 live:
"It's not just about the goals with Marcus Rashford. He has a cultured touch, his awareness is great and his link play is very good.
Something else impressed me too; the way he went to close down Petr Cech when the Arsenal goalkeeper received a back pass.
"Most young players would just close down the keeper, but Rashford shut off the pass out as well, and Cech ended up giving away the ball. That tells me he has been coached properly."

More to follow.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Source: bbc.com

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Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid forward appears unhappy with team-mates

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo said "if we were all at my level maybe we would be leaders" after his side's 1-0 derby defeat by Atletico Madrid.

A first defeat under Zinedine Zidane leaves Real nine points off leaders Barcelona, and four below Atletico.

Real were missing Gareth Bale and Marcelo through injury, while Karim Benzema was replaced at half-time.

"I don't want to disrespect anyone, but when the best players aren't available it's harder to win," Ronaldo said.

"I like to play with Karim, with Bale, with Marcelo.

"I'm not saying the others like Lucas Vazquez, Jese and Mateo Kovacic are not good players - they are very good players - but it's not the same."

Afterwards he sought to clarify his quotes, telling Marca: "When I say that, I am talking about my fitness level, not my level as a player. I am no better than any of my team-mates".

Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the derby as Atletico became the first team to win in three consecutive La Liga trips to the Bernabeu.

Ronaldo used an expletive to describe how he feels the media describe him and added "but I don't listen to what the press say. The statistics and numbers don't lie".

Zidane had been unbeaten in his first eight La Liga games, although they have dropped from two points behind Barca to nine.

Atletico played in the Champions League away to PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, drawing 0-0, while Real had not played since last weekend.

Zidane said: "We were not as ready for the game as we thought we were. All I can say is that it's not just about our fitness.

"The players are not unfit, it's a question of everything. We didn't play the game we had prepared.

"They played on Wednesday and had less time to recover, and look at the game they played. So it is a mental question. We lacked a bit of everything.

"I told the players that we have to keep on going, I can't be happy with this performance and neither are they, but we can't give up. I have a clear idea of what went wrong today."

Source: bbc.com

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Atletico Madrid win derby against Real

Atletico Madrid won a third consecutive La Liga Bernabeu derby to practically end Real Madrid's title hopes.

Diego Simeone's visitors are now five points off leaders Barcelona, who have a game in hand, while Real are nine points below the champions.

Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal, early in the second half, when he steered Filipe Luis' pass home.

Real, who were two points off Barca when Zinedine Zidane took over, had not lost in his first eight games as boss.

The result means Atletico are the first side in La Liga history to win three times in a row at the Bernabeu, as Real fans called for club president Florentino Perez to resign.

Source: bbc.com

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Leicester strike late against Norwich

Leonardo Ulloa's 89th-minute goal extended Leicester's lead at the top of the Premier League to five points and denied Norwich a deserved draw.

Ulloa slid in at the far post to convert Marc Albrighton's cross at the end of an otherwise limp Foxes display.

Norwich earlier had the better chances, Cameron Jerome heading wide and Nathan Redmond off target from distance.

Leicester had largely been restricted to shots from distance until substitute Ulloa had the final say.

Until the Argentine's intervention, the Foxes were facing the prospect of losing top spot if either of Arsenal or Tottenham win on Sunday - instead they are guaranteed to remain at the summit with 11 games remaining.

Norwich are still outside the relegation places, but level on points with Newcastle, who have a game in hand.

Stuff of champions?

For so long, Leicester looked likely to be frustrated into a stalemate by a tactically sound Norwich performance and their own lack of guile.

As the Canaries dropped deep, forming a five-man defence when they did not have the ball, Leicester looked to the trickery of Riyad Mahrez. As the clock ticked down, the hosts had only managed two shots on target - both from distance, both dealt with by John Ruddy.

Enter Ulloa, who arrived at the back post to convert into an empty net after Albrighton's low cross had crucially been poked past Ruddy by Jamie Vardy.

If champions find a way to win when they are not at their best, then Leicester have hinted at another reason why the Premier League title could be coming their way.

Cruel on the Canaries

It was so cruel on Norwich, who arrived at the King Power with the perfect plan to prevent Leicester from the sort of pacy counter-attacks that have carried them to the top of the league.

Vardy was given no space behind the defence and was largely anonymous, while the tricky Mahrez, bar a couple of jinking runs, was often crowded out.

But Norwich did not only defend - they had opportunities to win it.

Jerome should have scored when he climbed highest to meet a first-half corner, while Redmond fizzed a shot past the post from long range with home goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel beaten.

More of the same?

While Leicester can revel in a dramatic win that keeps their unlikely title bid on track, they must also consider how to better cope when teams set up in the same manner as the Canaries.

This was only the third time this season that Leicester had the most possession in a Premier League match as Norwich were happy to concede the ball in order to not leave the sort of space in which Vardy and Mahrez have thrived.

In their final 11 fixtures, Leicester will face only three clubs in the current top nine, and perhaps plenty of others willing to follow the template set by the Canaries.

Ulloa's late winner was further evidence of the momentum and belief that has carried Claudio Ranieri's men this far in a remarkable story, but problems that the Foxes may yet encounter had already been revealed.

What they said

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri: "It was a difficult match. Norwich played well and closed the space, but we believed until the end. This victory was very important to restart after the Arsenal defeat.

"I said before the Arsenal match that Norwich would be more difficult. Both teams could have scored a goal in the final 20 minutes.

"The conclusion I have drawn from this is that my players believe until the end. That, for me, is very important. If the other teams start to win, they can win all the matches. But for us, the next match is always the final match. That is our mentality."

Norwich manager Alex Neil: "I don't think we deserved that. In the game we had good chances and defensively we were solid.

"We kept Vardy and Mahrez quiet and we certainly deserved something. There are a lot of things to take from it.

"We have a game on Tuesday and we'll get it out of our system before then."

The stats

  • Leicester did not record a shot on target until the 58th minute
  • Norwich's only shot on target in this game came in the 43rd minute
  • Leicester have won four of their last five games
  • Two of Leonardo Ulloa's three Premier League goals this season have come as a sub
  • Norwich have taken one point from their last seven Premier League games
  • The Canaries have gone 14 Premier League games on the road without a clean sheet
  • Leicester have conceded only four goals in their last nine Premier League games

What next?

Leicester welcome West Brom to the King Power on Tuesday, while Norwich entertain Chelsea on the same night.

Source: bbc.com

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Ivanovic heads late Chelsea winner

Chelsea moved up to 11th after coming back from a goal down to beat Southampton with a late Branislav Ivanovic header.

Shane Long headed high for the home side but atoned when he pounced on a Baba Rahman blunder before clipping a shot over keeper Thibaut Courtois.

Diego Costa volleyed wide for Chelsea but the visitors equalised when a Cesc Fabregas cross crept in.

Chelsea finished strongly and Ivanovic headed in from a Willian corner.

Follow reaction to Saturday's games here

Hiddink comes out on top against Koeman

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink managed Southampton counterpart Ronald Koeman when the pair won the European Cup with PSV Eindhoven in 1988.

They later fell out over Hiddink's appointment as Netherlands manager in 2014, although both have said there were no hard feelings.

They shared a handshake and a few words before their teams competed in a fascinating match.

Southampton were initially on top but Chelsea showed they had the greater stamina and capitalised on the home side dropping back too much after the break.

Hiddink will not only be pleased with his side's desire and commitment but the fact they recovered from conceding against a team who had not let in a goal in six games.

The Blues remain unbeaten in the Dutchman's 11 league games since he took over from Jose Mourinho.

Do Southampton have cause for complaint?

Southampton had been unbeaten in six league games, including five wins, before this match.

Keeper Fraser Forster set a top-flight league record of going 667 minutes without being beaten when the clock reached 34 minutes at St Mary's and, when he did eventually let a goal in, it was in bizarre circumstances.

The assistant was flagging for a foul by Chelsea's Kenedy on Cedric Soares but referee Martin Atkinson overruled and Fabregas sent in a low curling cross, which Forster misjudged as it went across him and in at the far post.

"I don't understand that. The linesman is the closest to the situation. If it is a fault by Kenedy then you have to listen to the linesman. That's why you have linesmen - to help you," Koeman said.

When asked about his view, Hiddink said: "There are many duels and referees in England usually let a lot of duels go."

Manager reaction:

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: "I think it was a deserved win for us. They haven't conceded in the last six, seven games so it was successful for us.

"We had a setback when we went 1-0 down - it was a present from our defence - but we did very well in the second half. We were well organised and then got the goals."

On replacing Baba Rahman, whose mistake led to Southampton's goal, at half-time: "I don't want to make a fake injury. I took him off because of the error. He has to cope with that. He was very down in the locker room about his mistake, but we have to make decisions like we did."

The stats you need to know

  • Shane Long has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since he did so for Hull City in February 2014.
  • Southampton have led in 10 Premier League home games this season, the joint-most along with Chelsea.
  • Fraser Forster conceded his first goal in 708 minutes of Premier League action.
  • Cesc Fabregas scored just his third goal in his 40th appearance this season and his first away from Stamford Bridge since scoring at QPR in April 2015.
  • Reigning champions Chelsea have won back-to-back games for the first time this season and the first time since May 2015.

What next?

Chelsea face another away trip as they travel to Norwich for a top-flight game on Tuesday (19:45 GMT), while Southampton are at Bournemouth the same evening.

Source: bbc.com

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Fifa presidential election: Gianni Infantino succeeds Sepp Blatter

Gianni Infantino has succeeded fellow Swiss Sepp Blatter as president of world football's governing body Fifa.

The Uefa secretary general polled 115 votes, 27 more than closest rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein (4 votes) and Jerome Champagne (0) were third and fourth respectively.

Blatter, who had led Fifa since 1998, stood down last year and was later banned from football for six years for breaching ethics guidelines.

Infantino is a 45-year-old lawyer from Brig in the Valais region of Switzerland, less than six miles from Blatter's hometown of Visp.

He only entered the presidential race when it became clear that Michael Platini, boss of European football's governing body Uefa, would not be allowed to stand.

The election was due to be fought between five candidates, but South African Tokyo Sexwale withdrew before voting began in Zurich.

The first round of voting failed to determine an outright winner, though Infantino led with 88, three more than pre-vote favourite Sheikh Salman.

A simple majority of more than 50% - 104 of 207 available votes - was sufficient for victory in round two.

Not since 1974, when Joao Havelange of Brazil beat 13-year incumbent Stanley Rous of England, has a second round been needed.

What will Infantino do now?

An emotional Infantino told delegates that he was finding it hard to "express my feelings in this moment".

But he told delegates that together they would "restore the image of Fifa and the respect of Fifa".

He added: "I want to work with all of you together in order to restore and rebuild a new era of Fifa where we can put again football at the centre of the stage.

"Fifa has gone through sad times, moments of crisis, but those times are over. We need to implement the reform and implement good governance and transparency. We also need to have respect.

"We're going to win back this respect through hard work, commitment and we're going to make sure we can finally focus on this wonderful game."

How has his election been received?

Gary Lineker, an outspoken critic of Fifa and former president Blatter, wished Infantino "all the best" following his appointment.

The former England striker added on Twitter: "He's got one hell of a job on his hands but seems a decent chap. Needs a sizeable new broom."

The television presenter then joked: "Have this weird feeling that Gianni Infantino will pull off his mask to reveal Sepp Blatter."

Portuguese great Luis Figo added his congratulations, tweeting: "Finally the change arrived. It's time for a new era in Fifa."

Russian sports minister Vitaly said: "I am happy. We supported him from the start. World football needs such a pragmatist."

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said he was looking forward to working with Infantino for "the sake of sport".

Has Blatter reacted?

Yes, the 79-year-old issued a statement following the election.

It read: "I congratulate Gianni Infantino sincerely and warmly on his election as the new president.

"With his experience, expertise, strategic and diplomatic skills he has all the qualities to continue my work and to stabilize Fifa again."

What now for Fifa?

Infantino has a hard job resurrecting he fortunes after a number of damaging episode's in the organisation's history.

Criminal investigations in the United States and Switzerland have resulted in the indictment of dozens of football officials and other entities for corruption, many of them serving or former presidents of national or continental associations.

In addition, Fifa has been forced to investigate the awarding of several World Cup finals, especially the decision to grant the 2018 tournament to Russia and the 2022 finals to Qatar.

Swiss authorities are reviewing more than 150 reports of suspicious financial activity linked to those awards and said they had sent more documents, including an internal Fifa report to US investigators.

What else happened in Zurich?

To help the new president tackle the crisis that has enveloped Fifa, key reforms were passed to help make it a more transparent and accountable organisation.

All salaries of Fifa officials will be disclosed, while a limit of four years has been placed on a president's term.

A new council to replace the current executive committee has also been introduced, featuring a female representative from each confederation.

English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said the reforms were "more important" than the new leader as they will provide an "opportunity for Fifa to start again".

Source: bbc.com

 

 

 

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Fifa presidential election: No winner after first round of voting

Gianni Infantino caused a surprise by polling the most votes in round one of voting in Friday's election to succeed Sepp Blatter as Fifa president.

The Uefa secretary general failed to get enough to seal outright victory, claiming 88 of the 207 votes available at an extraordinary congress in Zurich.

Pre-vote favourite Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa won 85.

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein was next with 27, followed by Jerome Champagne on seven. Tokyo Sexwale withdrew earlier.

It is the first time voting for the presidential election had reached a second round since 1974, when Joao Havelange of Brazil became the first non-European president ahead of England's Sir Stanley Rous.

Blatter, who led world football's governing body since 1998, stood down last year and was later banned from football for six years.

Analysis

"Infantino's camp has consistently maintained an air of optimism throughout the final days of this election campaign," said BBC Radio 5 live's sports news correspondent Richard Conway.

"They were not surprised at how well he performed in round one.

"What was surprising according to those close to Shaikh Salman is that pledges of support from Asia and Africa failed to materialise for the Bahraini."

What happens now?

To become president after the first round of voting, a candidate needed to secure two-thirds of the available votes, which equated to 138.

In round two, a simple majority is required, which means Infantino needs another 16 votes to become Fifa's ninth president.

"This election is being fought on the floor of the congress hall right now, with supporters of both Shaikh Salman, Gianni Infantino and Prince Ali talking to voterw," added Conway. "We could be in for a long night."

What else has happened?

Before voting began, reforms were passed to help make Fifa a more transparent and accountable organisation.

All salaries will be disclosed, while a limit of four years has been placed on a president's term.

A new council to replace the current executive committee has also been introduced, featuring a female representative from each confederation.

Greg Dyke, who will cast a vote as chairman of the English Football Association, says the reforms are "more important" than the new leader as it will provide an "opportunity for Fifa to start again".

Before voting began, reforms were passed to help make Fifa a more transparent and accountable organisation.

All salaries will be disclosed, while a limit of four years has been placed on a president's term.

A new council to replace the current executive committee has also been introduced, featuring a female representative from each confederation.

Greg Dyke, who will cast a vote as chairman of the English Football Association, says the reforms are "more important" than the new leader as it will provide an "opportunity for Fifa to start again".

How does voting work?

There are 209 Fifa nations but Kuwait and Indonesia are currently barred from taking part, meaning there are 207 eligible voters.

To become president after the first round of voting, a candidate must secure two-thirds of the available votes. If no candidate achieves that mark, a simple majority is required in the second round.

If there is still no winner, a third round will take place, minus the candidate with the fewest votes in round two.

Fifa says a winner must be declared on Friday because an ice hockey rink is due to be installed at the Hallenstadion venue at midnight.

Fifa votes

How significant is Friday's election?

Given everything that has happened to Fifa, this is seen as a pivotal moment for an organisation which has been heavily criticised for its lack of transparency and for failing to clamp down on corruption within it.

A new leader, together with a raft of reform measures, is seen as a chance to start afresh.

Acting president Issa Hayatou said Friday can "signal a new dawn", adding: "This is our opportunity to show we are united in building a stronger Fifa."

How bad has it got for Fifa?

There have been widespread allegations of corruption, the arrest of leading officials, the banning of its president and the sight of big-name sponsors deserting the organisation.

Numerous Fifa officials have been indicted in the United States, while Swiss authorities are also investigating the organisation.

Blatter has also been banned from all football activity for six years after being found guilty of breaching Fifa's ethics rules over a $2m (£1.3m) "disloyal payment" to the head of European football's governing body Uefa, Michel Platini, who had been favourite to succeed the Swiss.

Former France captain Platini was also suspended. Both men deny any wrongdoing and are appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Furthermore, Jerome Valcke, Fifa's secretary general and formerly Blatter's right-hand man, was banned for 12 years following allegations - which he denies - of misconduct while in office.

How important is the president?

Fifa's leader is the figurehead for world football, often seen in public alongside presidents, prime ministers and royalty.

There have been eight of them so far, presiding over the organisation's executive committee, which is where the real decision-making power lies.

Fifa organises World Cups and other international tournaments, distributes broadcasting rights and should both protect and develop the world's most popular sport.

The president also "legally represents" the organisation, "maintains relations between Fifa and the confederations, members, political bodies and international organisations", and "implements the decisions passed by the congress and the executive committee".

Who wants to take over?

There are four candidates following Sexwale's withdrawal. They are:

  • Prince Ali bin al-Hussein: Aged 40, president of the Jordanian Football Association
  • Jerome Champagne: Aged 57, a former Fifa executive from France
  • Gianni Infantino: Aged 45, the Swiss is Uefa's general secretary
  • Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa: Aged 50, the Bahraini is Asian Football Confederation president

Read more: the five candidates profiled

What do they say?

Prince Ali: "I'm a candidate beholden to no one. I wouldn't apply political pressure or coercion. I'm the only candidate from a national association."

Infantino: "I'm not a politician, I'm football person and I'm a worker. If we stop doing politics and start doing football, the world will admire us."

Sheikh Salman: "My past and my track record speaks for itself. We want someone who is responsible and can deliver the promises he says."

Champagne: "I want a Fifa that serves football, that serves you. The Fifa I dream of is one which correct the inequalities."

What do they stand for?

Prince Ali wants to quadruple the amount Fifa's member associations receive - believing it will increase their sustainability - but wants the money properly accounted for.

Infantino would expand the World Cup to 40 teams to ensure more smaller nations can participate. He also wants to hugely expand Fifa's development plan by investing £860m of its revenues and giving £3.6m to each member association.

Sheikh Salman's big idea is to split Fifa in two with a business side handling commercial issues and the football side organising World Cups and developing the game. He believes this would stop executives making self-interested decisions.

Champagne's most recent manifesto emphasised "rebalancing" the inequality in football and "reconciling" the game's "protagonists". He wants to introduce technology to help referees and appoint women to key Fifa roles. He also wants Fifa to be run like a public sector organisation.

Will it really be a new era?

BBC sports editor Dan Roan in Zurich:

"Few fans or players would recognise these individuals, let alone know about their policies or have trust in their leadership.

"The selection of Sepp Blatter's successor should be the moment the governing body finally consigns the tainted tenure of their former president to history and symbolically moves on from the stranglehold he held over the organisation for so long. Except to many, it simply does not feel like that.

"All of the men running for president are members of the football establishment. Four of them have spoken to Blatter in the build up to the election, presumably to ask for advice. All are loathe to condemn the disgraced former president.

"The next 24 hours matters a great deal, and much is at stake. But do not assume that it represents the end of this great scandal, or the solution to FIFA's troubles. We should all know better by now."

Source: bbc.com

 

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Manchester United draw Liverpool in Europa League

Liverpool will face rivals Manchester United in the Europa League last 16, while Tottenham have been drawn against Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

The games will be played on Thursday, 10 and 17 March.

Liverpool's home leg will kick-off at 20:05 GMT with the second game at Old Trafford starting at 18:00 GMT.

Valencia, managed by Gary Neville, face fellow Spanish side Athletic Bilbao, while Sevilla - the winners of the last two Europa League titles - play Basel.

The Swiss side's St Jakob-Park ground will host the final.

The winners of the tournament qualify for next season's Champions League.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: "You can ask my staff but when they asked me yesterday who I wanted, I said 'Man United'.

"I think we have to clear something. We had a good game when we lost 1-0 (in the Premier League in January) but it was not what we deserved.

"It gives us a chance to make it better and that is what we will try to do."

United, who have never won the tournament, beat FC Midtjylland 6-3 on aggregate with Marcus Rashford scoring twice on his debut as United won the second leg 5-1.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool beat Augsburg 1-0 on aggregate with James Milner scoring the only goal of the tie on Thursday. The Reds won the old Uefa Cup three times, in 1973, 1976 and 2001.

It will be the first time United and Liverpool have faced each other in European competition.

The last all-English match in the Uefa Cup or Europa League was Liverpool v Tottenham in April 1973.

Spurs, who beat Fiorentina 3-0 on Thursday to seal their tie 4-1 on aggregate, won the 1972 and 1984 Uefa Cups.

Sevilla - who have won the tournament a record four times - are bidding to become the first side to win it three years in a row.

Europa League round of 16 draw

Shakhtar Donetsk v Anderlecht

Basel v Sevilla

Villarreal v Bayer Leverkusen

Athletic Bilbao v Valencia

Liverpool v Manchester United

Sparta Prague v Lazio

Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham

Fenerbahce v Braga

Source: bbc.com

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Remi Garde: Aston Villa players not giving everything

Aston Villa manager Remi Garde says not all of his players are giving everything in the club's bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Villa are seven points adrift at the bottom of the table after just three league wins all season.

They lost 6-0 to Liverpool 11 days ago, a heaviest home defeat for 81 years.

"I don't see the commitment from all the players every day in training sessions," said Garde, whose side play at Stoke on Saturday (15:00 GMT).

Former Lyon boss Garde, appointed at the start of November, was unable to make any signings during the January transfer window.

The 49-year-old Frenchman added: "If I had the choice of other players I would like to select, I would like to - but I don't have the possibility.

"Sometimes it's about fighting and commitment. It's the first thing professional players should have on the pitch. How can you be confident if you're not fighting?"

Meanwhile, Garde confirmed he had spoken to Joleon Lescott about the defender posting a picture on social media of an expensive car just an hour after the defeat by Liverpool.

Lescott, who was widely criticised by supporters, has apologised and said the message had been sent accidentally from his pocket.

Garde said: "He told me the same thing that he said to the press. He told me it was an accident. I have no reason not to believe Joleon.

"We were together speaking face to face. I believe what he said. I just said to him that I was not expecting from an experienced player such an accident."

Source: bbc.com

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