Thursday, 28 May 2020

Sports (277)

Champions Chelsea lost Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas to red cards as they suffered a stunning 3-2 home defeat to Burnley on the opening Saturday of the Premier League season.

Chelsea were down to 10 men with 14 minutes gone when captain Cahill was dismissed for a lunging challenge on Steven Defour, and they fell behind with 24 minutes gone as Sam Vokes guided the ball past Thibaut Courtois.

Burnley's lead was doubled when, with a little over five minutes remaining until the break, Jack Cork set up Stephen Ward to hammer home, and it was 3-0 before the interval when Vokes scored his second with a header.

Marcos Alonso had an effort saved by Burnley keeper Tom Heaton early in the second half before Alvaro Morata was brought on for Michy Batshuayi, and Alonso had a free kick saved soon afterwards.

Morata dived to head home his first Premier League goal from a Willian cross and bundled the ball home moments later only to see an offside flag deny him.

Fabregas then saw red for a second booking -- but David Luiz pulled another one back to set up a frenetic finish in which Burnley's Robbie Brady hit the post and Morata failed to touch home late on.

Liverpool conceded an injury-time equaliser as they were held 3-3 at Watford in their Premier League opener.

Mohamed Salah looked to have netted a winner on his Liverpool debut, but Miguel Britos headed home from point-blank range in the dying moments to secure a share of the spoils.

Liverpool -- without Philippe Coutinho, who was ruled out with a back injury amid intense speculation over his future -- fell behind on eight minutes, with Stefano Okaka taking advantage of some poor defending from a corner to head past Simon Mignolet.

Sadio Mane hit back on 29 minutes, but Liverpool's defensive weaknesses were exposed again as Abdoulaye Doucoure slotted in for 2-1.

Liverpool turned it around early in the second half, with Roberto Firmino equalising from the penalty spot after Salah was brought down in the area by goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes on 55 minutes and then Salah nudging home.

Two goals in three minutes set Huddersfield up for a dream start to life in the Premier League as they defeated Crystal Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park.

Tom Ince missed an early chance to give the Terriers the lead when he sent a bouncing effort from Tommy Smith's cross straight at keeper Wayne Hennessey.

But they were ahead after 23 minutes when Palace failed to deal with an Aaron Mooy corner and the ball deflected in off Joel Ward -- and with Palace rocking Mooy crossed again and Steve Mounie headed home.

Palace made a half-time change, with Andros Townsend coming on in place of Luka Milivojevic, and Christian Benteke almost pulled a goal back -- but Huddersfield made sure when Mounie struck again.

Sergio Aguero was on target as Manchester City denied Brighton any hope of a shock on their Premier League debut.

Pep Guardiola's side, for all their riches, took time to get into their groove in a 2-0 win at the Amex Stadium.

But the moment they did it was ruthless as striker Aguero converted 20 minutes from time.

Lewis Dunk turned Fernandinho's cross through goalkeeper Mathew Ryan grasp and into his own net soon afterwards as City prevailed after previously being frustrated.

Wayne Rooney scored the decisive goal on his second Everton debut as the big-spending Merseysiders beat Stoke City 1-0 at Goodison Park.

New-look Everton had marginally the better of a disjointed opening spell with Sandro, another of their new signings, seeing an effort trundle just wide of the Stoke goal.

But Rooney ended a scrappy first half when he headed in to mark his Goodison homecoming in the best possible style.

Stoke started the second half in determined fashion but found good chances at a premium with Darren Fletcher coming closest when he seized on a loose ball 25 yards out and drilled narrowly wide from distance, and they were denied at the end when new home keeper Jordan Pickford made a fine stop from Xherdan Shaqiri.

West Bromwich Albion made another set piece pay as they opened the season with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth at The Hawthorns.

The visitors produced plenty of neat football throughout, but were unable to create much threat and fell behind after 31 minutes when Ahmed Hegazi headed in a Chris Brunt free kick.

Jermain Defoe came on for Bournemouth after the break, replacing Benik Afobe, but the former Sunderland striker had little to work with as West Brom held firm.

Southampton suffered a frustrating afternoon as they were held 0-0 at home by Swansea City.

Dusan Tadic missed a fine early chance to put the home side in front when he guided a close-range finish wide from Ryan Bertrand's inviting cross, and James Ward-Prowse saw an effort deflected over as the home side kept control.

They continued to create the better openings, with a Nathan Redmond cross creating havoc before Swansea scraped the ball away, but struggled to carve out clear chances against a well-organised visiting side.

Dusan Tadic went close late on as Southampton made it a club-record six home league games in a row without a goal, their worst run since the 1930s.

Posted On Saturday, 12 August 2017 20:29 Written by

Arsenal and France legend, Thierry Henry has heaped praise on Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, saying that he is a very good signing for the Foxes, reports skysports. Leicester City have been guilty of relying too heavily on Jamie Vardy at times, and that has often hurt them when their 30-year old hitman has fired a blank.

With Iheanacho on board, however, a lot of the burden could be taken off Vardy’s shoulders as the Nigerian joins him as his striking partner. Henry, Arsenal’s record goalscorer and fifth on the Premier League’s all-time chart, has now spoken about Iheanacho, and it’s safe to say that he’s impressed with what he has seen so far.
Talking to Sky Sports about the £25 million man, he said:

“It’s an amazing opportunity for him. I think back to Manuel Pellegrini’s last season at Manchester City. He wasn’t the only one but he was the spark in the team, fighting everywhere, scoring goals, trying his hardest. So I think it’s a good buy for Leicester.

“It will be interesting to see how he interacts with Jamie Vardy. Is he going to do the job of Shinji Okazaki? Is Okazaki going to keep his place? Are they going to be more adventurous? I don’t know whether Craig Shakespeare will play a 4-4-1-1 or a proper 4-4-2, but it’s a good signing.

“Whenever he had to do something at Manchester City, even when things were not great for the team, he delivered. People might say he had better players around him but let’s not forget that Leicester won the league two years ago. They have some good players too.”

When Thierry Henry says it, you generally believe it. The former Gunner is arguably the greatest striker that the Premier League has ever seen, so there’s no doubting that he knows a world-class player when he sees one.

The former Manchester City forward scored nine goals (and assisted three), having only started equally as many games last season. Goals against Manchester United, Southampton, Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic further prove how good he is and how very good he can be.

Posted On Friday, 11 August 2017 02:22 Written by

Stuttgart have confirmed the signing of free agent Holger Badstuber, who once played in their youth teams, on a one-year contract.

Badstuber, 28, was at Stuttgart from 2000 until 2002, before joining Bayern Munich and making his senior debut in 2009.

The Germany international won five Bundesliga titles with Bayern and lifted the Champions League trophy in 2013.

Badstuber has been badly affected by injuries since late 2012 and, despite returning to full fitness last season, was loaned to Schalke and Bayern announced that he would leave the Allianz Arena when his contract expired in the summer.

He told his new club's official website: "No one should ever forget their roots, and I haven't.

"VfB Stuttgart was and is something very special to me, and the club had an immediate impact on me emotionally. The region, the fans, the mood of optimism... I can hardly wait to get stuck in."

Stuttgart's director of marketing and sales, Jochen Rottgermann, added: "In Holger Badstuber, we have secured the services of a player with exceptional quality.

"We are delighted that he will be wearing the VfB jersey in the future."

Posted On Friday, 04 August 2017 15:04 Written by

Barcelona have said they will not pay Neymar the €26 million that had been due to him and his father as part of a bonus for his contract renewal last year.

Barca deposited the money with a notary as they waited to see whether his move to Paris Saint-Germain would go through.

Following the completion of his world record €222m switch, Barca spokesman Josep Vives said the bonus would not be paid as "the agreed conditions have not been met."

Barca made an initial payment -- reported to be around €14m -- when the five-year deal was signed, and had been due to make the second payment on Sept. 1.

But Vives said: "There were three conditions -- one, that the player didn't negotiate with another club before July 31; two, that he publicly expressed his decision to fulfil his contract; and three, the payment was to be made on Sep. 1 to ensure he didn't go to another club.

"With these criteria not met, the club will not pay the renewal bonus. The money is no longer with a notary but back with the club."

Meanwhile FIFPro, the worldwide representative organisation for all professional footballers, has called for an investigation into the increasing cost of transfers in European football.

It is concerned that an inflated and distorted market is contributing to the destruction of competitive balance.

General secretary Theo van Seggelen has urged the European Commission to undergo an urgent review of transfer rules which have been in place since 2001.

In a statement, he said: "FIFPro is calling on the commission to investigate the flow of money via transfer fees within the European Union territory to understand their impact on competitive balance in the region.

Neymar has become the world's most expensive footballer.

"The world-record transfer of Neymar is the latest example of how football is ever more the domain of a select group of rich, mostly European-based clubs.

"Given that much of football's financial activity occurs within Europe, where significant transfer fees are exchanged between clubs, FIFPro is asking the European Commission to launch of thorough investigation of the transfer rules it approved in 2001 and which are now in need of urgent review."

Van Seggelen voiced concern that "football's enormous wealth is trapped within a few leagues and clubs when it could be redistributed more efficiently and fairly to help protect competitive balance."

Speaking earlier this week, La Liga president Javier Tebas accused PSG of "financial doping" and said he would complain to both UEFA and the EU.

Last week, Barcelona sources said the club would put pressure on UEFA to investigate how PSG were financing the Neymar move.

However, UEFA said in a statement that it "has not received complaints from anyone regarding this matter" and added that officials would examine the deal to ensure it complies with financial fair play regulations.

Posted On Friday, 04 August 2017 14:25 Written by

Barcelona are reportedly preparing to lose Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and have approached Juventus forward and rumoured Manchester United target Paulo Dybala to replace him.

The Argentina international has attracted interest from a host of top clubs in recent times after his fine form in Serie A, but now looks to be the favoured option for Barca as they deal with the blow of losing a key component of their world class attacking trident.

Neymar’s proposed £197million transfer to PSG looks increasingly likely to go through after failed efforts by Barcelona to persuade the Brazilian to stay, and it would require a marquee signing to fill his boots.

While there has also been speculation that Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho could be brought in, he is seen as more of an heir to Andres Iniesta in a creative midfield role.

Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Neymar may have played his last game for Barca (Picture: Getty)
Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Paulo Dybala is being eyed as Neymar’s replacement (Picture: Getty)

Up front, however, Marca claim Barcelona have contacted Dybala’s entourage over a potential move this summer, with the 23-year-old open to making the switch to the Nou Camp.

It remains to be seen if United are still in for the former Palermo man, though it was claimed Jose Mourinho had him on his list as a top target earlier this summer.

The Red Devils have since signed Romelu Lukaku to solve their problems up front, so may no longer have as pressing a need to pursue the signing of Dybala, giving Barca a clear path to his signature.

Barcelona open talks with Man Utd target over replacing Neymar
Dybala has impressed at Juventus and was also linked with Man Utd this summer (Picture: Getty)

Posted On Thursday, 27 July 2017 04:58 Written by

Neymar could be making his final appearance for Barcelona in Wednesday’s friendly clash with Manchester United, with reports in France claiming he has agreed a five-year contract with PSG.

The Brazilian was named in the starting XI to take on the Red Devils in Maryland on Wednesday night, and shared a hug in the tunnel with the player, Paul Pogba, whose transfer record he could soon break.

But just as Neymar was taking to the field, news broke that suggests he is on the verge of moving to PSG, with Le Parisien claiming it is no longer a case of if the 25-year-old will join the French champions, but when.

The French publication report that PSG are very confident of unveiling the superstar in the coming days, and he has already agreed terms to a five-year contract.

However, L’Equipe claim PSG have changed tact in their approach to sign Neymar, and will now try and negotiate a fee rather than simply deposit his buy-out – it has been suggested previously that long-time Barca target Marco Verratti could be included in any deal.

Even more intriguingly, Neymar’s father took to Instagram before the match against United and posted an image detailing his son’s achievements at Barca, which was perceived by many as a goodbye message.

Barcelona’s players have tried desperately to convince Neymar to snub PSG’s offer and remain at Camp Nou, but their pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Gerard Pique said: ‘I wish that Neymar stays, but [my tweet] was not an official decision. It is Neymar himself who decides and must announce.

‘The only thing I can say is that Neymar is mature enough to reconsider things. He is still 25 and has a unique talent.’

He added: ‘Neymar cannot be the protagonist at Barcelona, because the best will always be Lionel Messi, always.

‘I told Neymar, in France you will never be the best player in the world… unless you win the Champions League. Can you do it? I gave him this advice as a friend.’

Neymar has a release clause of £199 million, with PSG set to make him the most expensive player of all time, blowing the £89m United spent on Pogba out of the water.

Talking transfer records? Neymar embraces Paul Pogba after agreeing massive five-year deal
Neymar wants to escape Messi’s shadow and join PSG’s horde of Brazilians (Getty)

In an effort to avoid Financial Fair Play rules, it has previously been claimed that the French side would hand Neymar a sponsorship contract via Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, who are tied to PSG.

That would allow Neymar to deposit the release clause himself without impacting PSG’s accounts, though UEFA are believed to be monitoring the deal very closely having cracked down on such loopholes previously which may have prompted their decision to try and negotiate with Barca.

Neymar, who scored 13 goals and laid on 11 assists last season, is expected to earn £26.9m per season after tax, as much as Messi currently earns at Barca.

Posted On Thursday, 27 July 2017 01:43 Written by

Barcelona forward Neymar has reportedly agreed terms with Paris Saint-Germain over a six-year contract.

According to reports, the Brazillian will earn a whopping £500,000 per week should he eventual join the Ligue 1 side.

According to Carlos Carpio of Marca, Neymar’s father recently met with PSG sporting director Antero Henrique and board member Sophie Jordan to finalise the transfer.

Carpio suggested the deal will go through when PSG “deposit the €222 million of [Neymar’s] termination clause, which it appears will be done via the personal sponsorship of Qatar.”

Posted On Monday, 24 July 2017 20:41 Written by

Hull City have signed Chelsea defender Ola Aina on a season-long loan.

Full-back Aina, 20, made three substitute appearances in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup, and started two EFL Cup games last season.

He is the first major arrival at Hull since Leonid Slutsky was appointed as manager in June.

"I'm very excited to be here and it is the start of a new chapter in my career. I just want to hit the ground running," Aina told Hull's website.

Born in London and with England caps up to under-20 level, Aina has declared his allegiance to Nigeria.

He been part of three FA Youth Cup-winning sides at Stamford Bridge and twice helped them win the Uefa Youth League.

Posted On Wednesday, 12 July 2017 01:35 Written by

In an exclusive interview, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku have told ESPN FC that destiny brought them together at Manchester United.

Belgium international Lukaku had a medical with the club on Saturday ahead of a move from Everton and has been holidaying with his friend and future teammate Pogba in Los Angeles, which happens to be the base for United's preseason U.S. tour.

The pair said playing for the same team was a dream that both had held for a long time.

"Well, I always knew he wanted to play with me," Pogba said. "I'm just kidding. We knew it would happen one day. One day. I don't know when and where, and now it's happening, so I'm very happy for that."

Lukaku added: "I'm really happy. I'm delighted. I always said that the moment would come. When we were younger, I would say there will be a day that we'll play together and we can compete for the trophies that we want to win.

"And now the moment has arrived, so I'm delighted. It's nice to play with one of your best friends in the team. Now it's up to us to challenge ourselves, first of all, and then the rest of the team to become better each day."

Lukaku, 24, had been linked with a return to his former employers Chelsea this summer, only for United to move ahead of the Premier League champions with their own bid last week.

Pogba said he had been lobbying for his club to make a move for the striker, but in the end it was United manager Jose Mourinho that had to make the decision.

"I mean, it was just luck that I was in Manchester United, but obviously for me, if I can push, I will push," the France international said. "But it's not my decision, by the way. It's not my decision. It's the manager's decision, all the technical staff. Obviously, I think the players, we're all happy that he's playing for United, and we're very happy for that."

Rivals from a very young age, the pair first met as teenagers when Lukaku's Chelsea hosted Pogba's Manchester United.

"We met for the first time at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea played Man United," Lukaku said. "We were both in the stands looking at each other like: 'What are we doing here?'

"But it was a great game to watch, and to learn, as well. After the game, we start speaking -- we exchanged numbers. And we knew the year after would be our year. He went to Juventus and did his thing. I went to West Brom and learned my trade in the Premier League, and here we are now."

Lukaku said, however, that he had known about Pogba's ability well before they met that day in London.

"I knew about him when I was 15, because he played against my brother. I was already with the first team at Anderlecht," Lukaku said. "My dad came to the house, and he said: 'There's this kid for France. Amazing.'

"So I said, 'What's his name?' and he's like 'Paul Pogba, and he's going to play for Manchester United.' Then I started looking some videos up on YouTube. When you're younger that's what you do. You try to look for the guys who are good at your age, so I went and I was looking, and I knew he was a good player."

For Pogba, two months Lukaku's junior, it was a similar story.

"You say 15. For me, it was 13," Pogba recalls. "I was even younger. Everybody knew about Romelu Lukaku. I think when he was 11, he was playing for the first team already! I could see some video.

"So, yeah, obviously I knew about him. Like he said, we saw each other during the game, Chelsea against Man United, and we start talking. We had the same dreams, same goals.

"We were talking like, hopefully the day will come. We just have to keep working hard, and one day we'll start playing for the team. And we kept in touch, and he became one of my best friends outside the pitch and became a top-class player. So I'm very happy for him, yeah."

Posted On Tuesday, 11 July 2017 01:53 Written by

Romelu Lukaku was given a citation by police in Los Angeles after failing to heed repeated warnings over noise from a party last Sunday, according to TMZ.

Lukaku, poised to complete a move from Everton to Manchester United, was warned by LAPD officers six times over noise from a daytime party following multiple complaints from neighbours, according to the report which posted what it claimed was an image of the citation.

On Saturday, United announced that they had agreed a deal with Everton to sign the 24-year-old Belgium international.

Lukaku trained with United midfielder Paul Pogba at UCLA in California on Thursday and could now be part of the club's first preseason session in LA on Monday.

United are set pay £75 million for the striker, who will move to Old Trafford after undergoing a medical -- scheduled to take place on Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles -- and agreeing personal terms.

Chelsea had made a last-ditch attempt to hijack Lukaku's proposed move to Old Trafford by matching United's bid on Friday.

But Lukaku has decided to join United and the deal should be completed over the weekend.

Posted On Saturday, 08 July 2017 17:03 Written by
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