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Football Team News

» BBC reveal what Gary Lineker can and can't say after Jonathan Agnew spat
The England legend was criticised by his BBC Sport colleague following his vocal criticism of Brexit
» Courtney Meppen-Walter facing jail again after ex-Man City star's latest drink drive shame
The 24-year-old, who was jailed for 16 months after causing the death of two people in 2013, was found to be more than twice the alcohol limit
» Aymeric Laporte makes bold claim against Didier Deschamps over France exile
The Manchester City defender has shone for Pep Guaridola's men - but is yet to play for Les Bleus
» AC Milan in danger of European ban after UEFA ultimatum and £10million fine
The Rossoneri need to get their finances in order to satisfy European football's governing body
» Liverpool vs Man Utd: Writers choose choose combined XI ahead of weekend clash
Mirror football experts have their say on who's the best keeper - and if they'd choose Paul Pogba
» Rafael Benitez named Premier League Manager of the Month for November
The Newcastle boss lifted the award for the first time since April 2013, when he managed Chelsea
» Transfer news LIVE: Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd and Chelsea latest
Arsenal and Chelsea on alert as Premier League clubs told Christian Pulisic is available in January
» Liverpool's forgotten man hands Jurgen Klopp injury boost ahead of Man Utd clash
Nathaniel Clyne is ready to start at Anfield on Sunday - although the German is unsure if he's ready for the full 90 minutes
» Liverpool press conference recap as Jurgen Klopp talks injuries, Man Utd and more
The Reds will look to maintain their unbeaten start to the season and increase their 16-point buffer over their rivals
» Cesc Fabregas opens up on January transfer as star admits he's fed up with Chelsea role
Fabregas, 31, is out of contract at Stamford Bridge come the end of the season
» Cesc Fabregas says Chelsea fans being made scapegoats for football's racism problem
Chelsea have condemned anti-semitic chanting during their Europa League draw in Hungary on Thursday but the Spaniard believes football's issues go far beyond Stamford Bridge
» Michael Owen makes startling admission about his career after 2004
The former Liverpool forward scored 40 goals for England between 1998 and 2008 but never played for his country again after turning 28
» Andy Carroll opens up on injury hell and rows it causes with TOWIE fiancee Billi Mucklow
Carroll is hoping to impress new boss Manuel Pellegrini now he's back in action, and is hoping to impress
» Jose Mourinho's one word answer to how far away Man Utd are from Liverpool
The United boss was asked how close he was to seeing a team in his image, and his answer didn't inspire
» When is Liverpool vs Manchester United? Team news, TV channel and live stream
The two most decorated clubs in English football face off in one of the biggest games of the season so far
» Man Utd press conference recap as Jose Mourinho talks injuries, Liverpool and more
The United boss takes his side to Anfield on Sunday for a crunch clash against their most fierce rivals
» Jose Mourinho taunts Jurgen Klopp ahead of Manchester United's Liverpool showdown
United are 16 points behind the Premier League leaders but Mourinho is stoking up the pressure on his Anfield counterpart
» Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa warned by rival Tony Pulis about playing over Christmas
Pulis has warned Bielsa that the hectic festive programme is tough in the Championship
» Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher agree on one aspect of Liverpool vs Man Utd
The pair played a combined 1,339 times for both clubs, and so are the perfect duo to discuss Sunday's fixture
» Christmas football TV schedule: Festive fixtures ultimate guide
Xmas brings joy to many homes... especially when the football is on TV! Here is all the action you don't want to miss this festive period
» Liverpool vs Man Utd: Robbie Savage makes bold prediction for Premier League clash
BT Sport and BBC Radio 5Live presenter Robbie Savage reveals his predictions for this weekend's Premier League fixtures
» Alvaro Morata transfer: Barcelona star Jordi Alba opens door for Chelsea striker
The Chelsea striker has been linked with a switch to Camp Nou, with the Spanish champions eyeing a new centre-forward
» Trent Alexander-Arnold injury: Liverpool fans' fears come true as star ruled out
The right-back was replaced by Dejan Lovren in the 90th minute of the Champions League victory over Napoli on Tuesday
» Liverpool have moved to next level this term - and it's down to one man says Jan Molby
Dane believes addition of Alisson Becker in goal has helped the club to improve on the defensive frailties of previous seasons

Football resources

» The FA
» BBC Sport
» SportsCoach
» Little Kickers
» Kiddikicks

Other sport news:

» Chelsea face partial stadium closure if Uefa finds fans guilty of antisemitism

• Uefa to decide whether to open disciplinary case
• Fàbregas happy if Chelsea ‘taught a lesson’ to tackle racism

Chelsea will be forced to close part of Stamford Bridge in the Europa League if Uefa concludes their fans were guilty of an antisemitic chant in Budapest.

The governing body hopes to receive on Friday reports which will enable it to decide whether to open a disciplinary case. Chelsea have strongly condemned a section of their fans for a chant which referenced “yids” in the Europa League game at Vidi but Uefa needs to take its own judgment.

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» Liverpool v Manchester United buildup, Chelsea latest and more – live!

A team news update from Pep Guardiola:

Pep Guardiola says Sergio Aguero could return to the Manchester City side to face Everton. “He did the last two training sessions with the team. He has no pain but after we are going to decide,” Guardiola said.

Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will also be checked ahead of the game at the Etihad. The Belgian suffered a knee ligament injury in the EFL Cup win over Fulham on 1 November. Guardiola added: “The same as Sergio. He has trained, no pain. We will see.”

He said: “In January we are not going to sign anyone.”

Silva thinks his team will be up for their visit to Manchester City, but that it is in some ways a free hit:

It’s a good game for us to enjoy. To challenge a team like City will be tough for us, but our players and our team have shown that they enjoy a game like this as well.

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» Phil Neville: 'To be told I knew nothing was incredibly disrespectful'

The 41-year-old reflects on a year in charge of England Women and how he plans to lead them to World Cup glory next summer

“Flown by. Absolutely flown by,” Phil Neville says as he reflects on his time in charge of the England women’s team. It has been almost a year and, as is the case with any job, there have been highs and lows, both of which Neville is willing and able to speak about on a clear winter’s afternoon at the national team’s base at St George’s Park.

Pride and ambition radiate from the former Manchester United defender and no more so than when conversation turns to next summer’s World Cup in France. England qualified for the tournament with victory over Wales in August and, following last Saturday’s draw, have been placed in the same group as Scotland, Argentina and Japan. It starts on 7 June and for the manager the target is clear: to get to the final in Lyon a month later and win the competition for the first time.

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» Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

A crunch clash at Anfield, depleted Palace and Huddersfield teams, and the start of a crucial run for Fulham

It is a marker of how far Manchester United have fallen to see that when Gary Neville set about choosing his combined XI for Liverpool and Manchester United on Monday Night Football, he included just three outfield United players. The only player he picked with conviction was Anthony Martial at left wing, admitting Eric Bailly would not be in if Joe Gomez was fit and laughing that his selection of Paul Pogba alongside Naby Keïta and Gini Wijnaldum was “just an opportunity to get a United player in”. Nobody would argue that Liverpool are the better side, and have been for a number of years, yet the past eight league meetings read W0, D3, L5 for the Merseyside club. Liverpool’s lack of ruthlessness against Napoli so nearly came back to bite them in the Champions League; they can ill afford the same profligacy against a José Mourinho side that is unlikely to be anything other than defensively minded. MB

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» Jose Mourinho: Manchester United are far from playing in my image

• Manager says reasons run deeper than transfers
• Trophies matter, Mourinho says before game at Liverpool

José Mourinho believes Manchester United are a long way from playing in his image and has suggested structural issues at the club are to blame.

United travel to Anfield on Sunday 16 points behind Jürgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders. Liverpool are viewed as a team in their manager’s image and Mourinho was asked whether the same could be said for him and United.

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» Gareth Farrelly: ‘It was a toxic, bullying culture for young players at Aston Villa’
Midfielder turned lawyer claims coach Kevin MacDonald left a ‘dark shadow’ over players at Villa and says it drove him to suicidal thoughts

“It was a culture of verbal and physical bullying, but there were no checks and balances; he operated with impunity … It was like a dark shadow came over.”

Gareth Farrelly, now 43 and a qualified lawyer, with a Premier League and international career behind him, is recalling the bullying he says he endured as a young player at Aston Villa in the 1990s from the coach Kevin MacDonald. It was a “relentlessly negative” regime under him.

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» Champions League: how far will the 16 teams go in the knockout stages?

Will PSG finally make the last four? Will Liverpool win away from Anfield? Will Lyon win another game?

By Ben McAleer and Josh Wright for WhoScored

Ajax have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in 13 years and almost did so as group winners. The four-time European Cup winners were eight minutes away from beating Bayern Munich on Wednesday, only to then come from behind and secure a 3-3 draw. Ajax are one of only five teams unbeaten in the competition, after three wins and three draws. They have been particularly successful in turning over the ball high up the pitch and that could be important in the knockout stage; only Manchester City (43) won possession in the attacking third more times than Ajax (39).

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» Aston Villa remove Kevin MacDonald from coaching after new bullying claims

• Gareth Farrelly alleges he and others were targeted in 1990s
• Villa launch independent investigation and report claims to FA

Aston Villa have suspended their long-serving youth coach Kevin MacDonald from working with players, after a former graduate of the club, Gareth Farrelly, came forward to tell the Guardian about his claims of relentless bullying from MacDonald in the mid-1990s.

Farrelly accused the coach of “incredibly aggressive, constant verbal and physical bullying” and said it “took me to a place at 20 that nobody should have to go to. And I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”

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» Gary Lineker criticised by Jonathan Agnew for 'political' Brexit tweets

BBC’s cricket correspondent says he would be sacked if he copied Match of the Day host

‘Doesn’t know his arse from his elbow’: ex-England players argue over Brexit

BBC Sport host Gary Lineker has been criticised by his colleague Jonathan Agnew for expressing his political views on Twitter.

The former England football captain, who hosts the BBC’s flagship Match of the Day programme, has been outspoken in his political opinions, in particular his opposition to Brexit, which he regularly tweets about. Lineker also appeared at a rally in London campaigning for a second referendum in November.

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» Chelsea condemn own fans over antisemitic chant in Budapest

Chelsea’s reputation took another withering blow on Thursday night, with the club condemning their own supporters after they were heard singing an antisemitic chant in Hungary, just days after four fans were suspended for allegedly abusing Raheem Sterling.

Minutes into Chelsea’s first match since Saturday’s Premier League encounter with Manchester City was overshadowed by the alleged racist abuse directed at City’s Sterling, a group of the 1,273 travelling supporters were heard singing a derogatory chant about Tottenham fans, featuring antisemitic language.

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» The Joy of Six: great Liverpool v Manchester United games | Scott Murray

An eight-goal thriller from the fifties, Eric Cantona’s comeback and a memorable Wembley final feature in our selection

We begin with the highest-scoring post-war match between the two clubs. United arrived at Anfield with a prototype of the famous Busby Babes side - Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor and David Pegg all starred - and took an early lead through Jack Rowley. But Don Welsh’s side fought back, Louis Bimpson equalising and Bill Jones adding another on the stroke of half time. Byrne levelled the match soon after the restart, but Bimpson crashed home two Billy Liddell corners in quick succession to give the home team a 4-2 lead by 58 minutes. United would pull one back almost immediately through Eddie Lewis, before Taylor controversially made it 4-4 by bundling the ball and keeper Charlie Ashcroft into the net, Nat Lofthouse style, with seven minutes to play; Anfield was so incensed police formed a line in front of the Kop. United would win the return game 5-1, at which point the teams would go their separate ways for the remainder of the 1950s: Liverpool were eventually relegated that season, while within two years United had been bolstered by Duncan Edwards and Bobby Charlton and were busy defining the decade.

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» Sterling’s racism ordeal was ugly but the reaction has been positive | Eni Aluko

Fallout from the Manchester City forward’s complaint about the media scrutiny black players face has been heartening

This week could be a eureka moment for football. Most of the reaction to Raheem Sterling’s claims that parts of the media have racially biased agendas has been very positive. It feels like a genuine step forward is being made and that Sterling has managed to turn something outrageous into a catalyst for long, overdue change.

Related: If every racist at football was silenced stadiums would still be full of racists | John Barnes

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» Wolves v Bournemouth: match preview

Wolves are chasing a third successive win, thanks largely to Diogo Jota’s return to form, against Bournemouth. After failing to score in 14 appearances in all competitions he found the net in wins against Chelsea and Newcastle. Nuno Espírito Santo’s side can leapfrog Eddie Howe’s with victory. Bournemouth have slipped from their impressive start and could be in trouble. One, somewhat fortunate, win against Huddersfield and five defeats in their past six is troubling. A key aspect could be Ryan Fraser’s partnership with Callum Wilson and whether Wolves are able to shut them down, if Wilson is passed fit. Graham Searles

Saturday 3pm

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» Celtic survive Craig Gordon’s calamity to advance in Europa League

Even in such a rich and varied history, it is unlikely Celtic Park has hosted as strange a European occasion as this. With the Scottish champions in the depths of despair and supporters heading for exits after Salzburg did their bit for Red Bull relations, unlikely salvation arrived from a Norwegian in Germany. Celtic owe a debt of gratitude to Tore Reginiussen, whose 86th-minute strike stunned Leipzig.

Salzburg’s victory here would have been enough to see their commercial cousins into the last 32 of the Europa League at Celtic’s expense had the Bundesliga team kept their side of the bargain. Instead, Rosenborg’s late equaliser in Leipzig rendered this defeat for Celtic irrelevant.

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» Alexandre Lacazette points the way in Arsenal’s Europa League run-out against Qarabag

A contest of limited consequence given Arsenal’s pre-match status as group winners might not have meant a great deal to many but to Laurent Koscielny the experience of feeling like a footballer out on the pitch again and under the floodlights appeared to mean everything.

His individual performance passed without major incident – ideal under the circumstances – and when his number was up after 72 minutes he stopped for a moment and raised his fist to the air, before breaking into an elated smile. The crowd responded with a warm ovation. The substitutes all shook his hand when he got back to the bench, obviously delighted for him. This was a significant moment for the Arsenal captain. He described it later as “much more than a game”.

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» Rangers crash out after Dejan Ljubicic fires late winner for Rapid Vienna

Steven Gerrard said Rangers will need January reinforcements after watching his side miss out on the Europa League last 32.

Rangers needed to beat Rapid Vienna in their final Group G match if they were to follow Villarreal through to the knockout rounds. Their remarkable journey that started on 12 July as they were forced to battle through four qualifiers came to an end after Dejan Ljubicic’s late winner sealed victory for Rapid.

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» Tottenham’s manager Pochettino tips his hat to ‘hard-working’ chairman Levy

• ‘Fantastic recognition’ deserved for work on stadium project
• He needs to feel the love from fans and the club, manager adds

Mauricio Pochettino has told Tottenham fans that Daniel Levy deserves “fantastic recognition” for the club’s new stadium rather than being made a scapegoat for the delays, as he talked up the chairman’s other side and how badly he was suffering.

Spurs hope to be playing in the ground by early February, although the timings look tight. They confirmed the latest delay on Wednesday when they said the Manchester United game scheduled for 13 January will be played at Wembley, their temporary home.

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» Regular female-led football coverage ‘generations’ away, says Jacqui Oatley
• Broadcaster supports Women in Football’s #WhatIf campaign
• Fewer than a third of 2018 major sport roles filled by women

The sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley has said it will take “a couple of generations” before women working in football as reporters, commentators and presenters is seen as normal.

“When I was growing up I didn’t think it was an option to work in football,” said Oatley, who went on to become the first female commentator on Match of the Day.

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» Manchester City’s Ilkay Gündogan says being racially abused ‘hurts’

• Gündogan talks about teammate Raheem Sterling’s experience
• Germany midfielder abused after he met Turkey president

Ilkay Gündogan said he knows how it hurts to be racially abused, as he reflected on the experiences of his Manchester City teammate Raheem Sterling.

Gündogan has been booed more than once by Germany fans since he and Mesut Özil posed for a picture with the Turkey president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in May. Gündogan has also been insulted by a German politician on Facebook and attacked on social media.

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» The 100 best female footballers in the world 2018

Seventy-two judges from 30 countries have had their say and here is our top 100 of the best players in the world. In association with The Offside Rule

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» Toughness and corporate nous saw Glenn carry out a tough job well | David Conn
FA’s departing chief executive will leave through the revolving door in May but with the ruling body in a stronger position

On top of the congratulatory statistics with which the Football Association showered Martin Glenn when announcing he will stand down as the chief executive at the end of this season, is another, the most pertinent figure of all. Glenn’s decision, made just before Richard Scudamore takes his leave of the Premier League with his famous £5m thank-you card, means no fewer than six FA chief executives have gone or announced their departures during Scudamore’s single 19-year span.

Glenn was 55 in 2015 when offered the dream/nightmare job in Wembley’s corridors, and is said to have told the then FA chairman, Greg Dyke, that he would not consider a 10-year stint. Dyke is said to have reassured him that the average survival expectancy was around two years. Scudamore, patrolling his territory, had a little to do with that; run-ins over the FA’s power as the governing body to rein in the Premier League’s commercialised domination contributed to the abrupt exits of the very able Adam Crozier and Ian Watmore.

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» Champions League last 16: who’s hot, who’s not and potential match-ups

Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United face the prospect of daunting ties after the cream rose to the top in the groups

The Premier League will supply a quarter of the teams in the Champions League last-16 draw, which will take place at 11am on Monday. Teams from the same country cannot be drawn against each other, and likewise teams who qualified from the same group. Group winners will be drawn against second-placed teams, with the top seed enjoying home advantage in the second leg. VAR will be used for the rest of the competition.

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» Liverpool walked the title 30 years ago but never bullied Manchester United

Manchester United were always underdogs at Anfield in the 1980s but they usually showed enough heart to earn a result

By Steven Pye for That 1980s Sports Blog

Even during Liverpool’s decade of dominance, their record against Manchester United was relatively poor. The two great rivals met 20 times in the league in the 1980s yet Liverpool won just two of those encounters. Half of their league matches in the decade ended in draws, with one of their more memorable battles taking place on Easter Monday in 1988.

United arrived at Anfield on 4 April 1988 in second place but the team above them were in a league of their own. Eleven points clear of their Manchester rivals (having played two games fewer), Liverpool had started the 1987-88 season with a 29-match unbeaten run in the league. Ian Rush had gone to Italy but his departure had no discernible effect on Kenny Dalglish’s side.

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» Bury bank on new owner to end financial misery at historic club

Little is known about ‘very successful businessman’ Steve Dale, who has taken over League Two club paddling to stay afloat

Bury football club announced a takeover on Tuesday, saying the owner, the Lancashire‑based property developer Stewart Day, had handed control to Steve Dale, about whom the club statement said little, beyond that he is “a very successful businessman”.

More details about Dale and his businesses are promised imminently; a club spokesperson told the Guardian that Dale had been retired in recent years because of a severe illness, from which he has been given the all clear.

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» Four years to go: Qatar on course for its improbable World Cup

Super-rich state determined to defy doubters as it presses on with preparations for 2022 but being in Doha for a few days prompts scepticism

It began almost a decade ago as the most unfeasible bid ever to host a World Cup: an outlandish proposal for “air-cooled” stadiums in the desert summer heat of a tiny, obscure-seeming Arab emirate with one city, Doha, populated by just 300,000 citizens. Qatar is though, the richest per capita state on earth, and on that cold Zurich night in December 2010 its bid succeeded in garnering a majority of Fifa executive committee votes, and claimed the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

Since then Qatar’s planned hosting of the tournament – its ubiquitous slogan in Doha is “Deliver Amazing” with its stated mission to unify people in the Middle East and project a positive Arab experience – has survived a hurricane of challenges. There have been waves of corruption allegations, which the secretary general of the “supreme committee” organising the World Cup, Hassan al-Thawadi, repeatedly denied, denounced and angrily dismissed as anti-Arab prejudice.

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» Qatar 2022: £40 a week to build the World Cup stadiums

Workers from some of the world’s poorest countries are being paid a pittance to deliver the football dream of the world’s wealthiest per capita state

The men employed on building the 40,000-seat al-Rayyan football stadium were having their lunch, in the model accommodation camp of the “supreme committee” organising the 2022 World Cup, when I talked with them about their lives as migrant workers in the wealthiest country on earth. They had come from Ghana, where they said adverts about construction jobs in Qatar were broadcast on the radio, and about 300 of them had taken the opportunity. All four had paid agents, an exploitation that is officially outlawed but is endemic in the recruitment of millions of people from poorer countries to work all over the oil and gas-rich Gulf.

“The agent said to me: ‘Qatar is the richest country in the world; you can Google it,’” one man told me. “He said we would earn a ‘huge salary’. But when we came here, we found it was the opposite.”

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» ‘It’s an honour to be here’: Xavi on a mission to give Qatar a team to be proud of

The Spain legend is seen as central to emirate’s efforts to improve the national side in time for the 2022 World Cup

The gulf between Qatar’s rank in the global football hierarchy and its vaulting, nation-building project to host the World Cup in 2022, is illustrated by the record of its national team. The “supreme committee” organising the World Cup makes the most of celebrating Qatar’s football history, which is a fascinating example of sports having been taken all around the world by British and European workers – here, in the oil and gas industries. Replicating a worldwide phenomenon, local people in the colonies or trading countries were introduced to sports, and clubs were formed on the European model.

It was only in 1970, the year of Brazil’s third World Cup triumph in the celebrated Mexico tournament lit up by Pelé, that Qatar even established a national team at all. That was a year before the country gained independence, under the rule of the al-Thani dynasty, from its status as a British protectorate. When its World Cup bid team, chaired by Sheikh Mohammed, the son of the then emir (ruler) Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, claimed the famous Fifa vote in December 2010, Qatar became the first country since 1934 to host a World Cup without ever having qualified for one.

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» Dress codes, empty seats and Xavi: football in Qatar – in pictures

With four years to go until the 2022 World Cup, our photographer Tom Jenkins has been to check out the preparations and take in a Qatar Stars League game

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» Mollie and Rosie Kmita: the twins 'breaking the mould' for women in football – video

Twitter UK has launched a new #WomenInFootball campaign with sisters Rosie and Mollie Kmita telling the story of how they ‘broke the mould’ to earn respect in their sport. Rosie, a professional footballer at West Ham, and Mollie who plays for Gillingham, believe ‘women’s football is going in the right direction’ and hope to inspire the next generation of female players.

You can watch all four films in the series here.

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» Jacqui Oatley: women's football is generations away from equality, but it's getting there – video

Broadcaster Jacqui Oatley believes it will take 'a couple of generations' to make football a more equal environment, but that change can already been seen in the women's game. In a short film - part of series produced for Twitter UK as part of its support for Women in Football’s #WhatIf campaign - Oatley said she hopes 'the assumption of knowledge is there just the same [for female reporters, commentators and presenters] as it is when a male voice is delivering.'

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» Manchester City win group as Leroy Sané double sinks Hoffenheim – video

‘It’s an incredible success,’ Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says of his team’s 2-1 win over Hoffenheim. The already-qualified English champions, who had suffered their first league defeat in 22 matches at Chelsea on Saturday, needed a point to guarantee top spot in Group F. During the post-match press conference, Guardiola praised Phil Foden as a ‘diamond’ for England but played down an incident where Hoffenheim supporters levelled racist abuse at Leroy Sané.

Match report: Man City 2-1 Hoffenheim

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» Mourinho considers being second in their Champions League group a ‘success’ – video

'To finish second in this group is always a success,' says Manchester United manager José Mourinho. His team missed the chance to finish top of its Champions League group as an understrength team lost 2-1 at Valencia, with an embarrassing own-goal by Phil Jones proving decisive. With first-place Juventus losing 2-1 at Young Boys, United could have jumped above the Italian team in Group H with a win at the Mestalla but manager Jose Mourinho's decision to play a virtual reserve team backfired.

Match report: Valencia 2-1 Man Utd

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» Tottenham seal qualification for Champions League last 16 on drama-filled night at Camp Nou – video

Mauricio Pochettino hailed a 'massive achievement' for Tottenham as his side secured a place in the knockout phase of the Champions League with a 1-1 draw against already-qualified Barcelona. Spurs needed to match or better Internazionale's result against PSV Eindhoven on a tense final evening of Group B action; Lucas Moura's 85th-minute goal at the Camp Nou was enough as Inter also drew 1-1 in Milan.

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» Jürgen Klopp 'could fill bottles' with adrenaline after Liverpool's win over Napoli – video

'This game was just amazing,' said a giddy Jürgen Klopp after Liverpool's 1-0 win at Anfield. Mohamed Salah scored a fine solo goal from an acute angle in the 34th minute to seal Liverpool's place in the Champions League's knockout stage at the expense of the Italian side

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» The 100 best footballers in the world 2017

Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017. Click on an individual to read more about their year.

Messi edges Ronaldo to No1 | The data behind our 100 | Watch: our top 10
Meet our panel of judges for 2017 | 2016 edition | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

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» David Squires on ... the A-League's expansion plans

Our cartoonist runs the rule over the two successful applicants – and the four bids that failed

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» 'They are bullies': The American businessman taking on PSG at Bordeaux

Joseph DaGrosa is the latest American to invest in French football. He tells Steve Brenner how he hopes to compete with one of the world’s richest clubs

Joseph DaGrosa, a Miami-based investor and entrepreneur, is no stranger to financial challenges. So competing against one of the world’s richest football teams – whose star player costs twice as much as the entire club he had just purchased – was a task that whet the 54 year-old’s appetite.

Last month, DaGrosa finalized a $114m deal to buy FC Girondins de Bordeaux, the six-time Ligue 1 champions, located in one of the finest wine regions in the world.

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» Zack Steffen is unlikely to ever play for Man City. So why did he join them?

The goalkeeper is one of the US’s most promising players. But he’s more than likely swapping a starring role in MLS for a loan move from City

Pep Guardiola knows what he likes in a goalkeeper. The Manchester City manager has changed the way football looks at the art of keeping. It’s now about more than just making saves, punching clear corners and screaming instructions at dim-witted centre backs. Just ask Claudio Bravo, who lost his starting place just one season after a high-profile move from Barcelona, Ederson, who is almost as good with his feet as he is with his hands, now holds the position, and he is often higher up the pitch than most defenders.

Is this what led Guardiola – or should we say City Football Group (CFG) - to Zack Steffen? The Columbus Crew goalkeeper will leave MLS for City in July 2019. CFG expect a certain standard for their teams and so it makes sense that they want to sign Steffen, who was named the 2018 Goalkeeper of the Year in MLS. He might be raw and prone to the odd blunder, but the 23-year-old possesses a level of technical ability that conforms to Guardiola’s philosophy. He’s not a bad shot-stopper either. Steffen is expected to follow the likes of Kasey Keller, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan as America’s next great goalkeeper.

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» 'His Magnum opus': even for Lionel Messi, this was special | Sid Lowe

This weekend Messi did something unusual: he did something he hasn’t done before, exceeding his own expectations

Sunday morning and military machines rolled down the Castellana, armoured vehicles on the move. Snipers stood on roofs and helicopters circled. Something big was happening. “We’ll know how it feels,” Marca said, which they wouldn’t of course, but like everyone else they hoped to find out. And, like everyone else, they were trying. Politicians packed the place, more even than usual, and people arrived from everywhere, papers dedicating dozens of pages. Florentino Pérez left Real Madrid’s match at Huesca early to be there and the best player in the world was due as soon as he’d finished, his club mates too. The third best was there. And so was the fifth.

Leo Messi boarded a plane bound for the Bernabéu, where he’s scored more than any visitor, but he wasn’t playing this time. This was the weekend when Javi Calleja was sacked as Villarreal manager and a last-minute equaliser for Valencia couldn’t stop Mestalla whipping out white hankies; when Betis defender Sidnei went all Maradona, or so they said, and Eibar and Levante went wild; when Cornellá hosted the Catalan derby and Butarque the “southern derby”, Leganés’s mascot presiding over an on-pitch proposal at half-time against Getafe because nothing says romance like a six-foot cucumber. Yet much of that didn’t warrant a word because this was also the weekend when Madrid hosted the derby; one they tried to make their own, although it’s not.

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» Jadon Sancho's stock rises higher and higher after a derby to remember | Andy Brassell

After a difficult week, the English teenager scored the winner against Schalke as Borussia Dortmund continue their charge

It was dark when Borussia Dortmund’s bus arrived back at the club’s training ground in Brackel but it couldn’t get in. It was blocked by several hundred supporters, chanting and lighting the winter night with pyro. A couple of the players, Axel Witsel and Achraf Hakimi, got off the coach and joined them.

This may already be shaping up to be a special season for Dortmund but if you wondered what this dream start – unbeaten in the Bundesliga, soaring above champions Bayern Munich having beaten them in Der Klassiker last month, through to the Champions League last 16 – was missing, then here was the answer. They had entered Saturday afternoon’s match already 19 points clear of rivals Schalke but winning the Revierderby, whenever, however, always means so much.

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» River Plate claim Copa Libertadores against 10-man Boca with Quintero goal

• River Plate 3-1 Boca Juniors (aet; 5-3 on agg)
• Pratto 68 Quintero 109 Martínez 120 | Benedetto 44

It may be marked with an asterisk and there could be more chapters to come in this extraordinary story, soaked in symbolism, sport and society, drama and emotion too, raw and exhilarating to the last, but River Plate are the Copa Libertadores winners – clinching a title they and Boca Juniors, their great rivals from across Buenos Aires, always knew would be forever.

The game that would never end, reached the very, very end. “It’s been almost 60 days since this started and there is tremendous sadness,” said the Boca manager, Guillermo Schelotto. With 120 minutes gone and River 2-1 up, he watched as Leonardo Jara hit the post, the tension clawing at nerves as never before. That left Boca with one last chance: a corner the referee seemed determined to delay, as if clinging to this game, not wanting to let it go, and their goalkeeper Esteban Andrada in attack where he had been for seven or eight minutes already. It also left them exposed.

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» First test of new FFA board delivers an outcome in its own image | Richard Parkin

With financials a major consideration, the decision on A-League expansion appears an eminently sensible one

With the announcement of Western Melbourne and Macarthur-South West Sydney as the two new A-League expansion clubs, we have our first real glimpse of the new-look Football Federation Australia board and chairman Chris Nikou in action. And like pets that resemble their owners, Thursday’s outcome is one that mirrors the decision-makers themselves – a touch cautious, explicitly political, but eminently sensible.

With his deadpan homage-to-Hannah-Gadsby delivery, CEO David Gallop opened his preliminary address by stating: “Today is a great news day for Australian football.” The only suggestion to the contrary being the funereal face that accompanied it – but as anyone who witnessed Clive Palmer’s ill-fated launch of an alternative governing body can attest, sometimes colour and pageantry is overrated.

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» Afghan football officials suspended over sexual and physical abuse allegations

• Country’s attorney general acts against six Afghan FA members
• Allegations relate to abuse of the Afghanistan women’s team

The Afghanistan attorney general, Farid Hamidi, has suspended six members of the Afghanistan Football Federation, including the president, Keramuddin Karim, after reviewing allegations of sexual and physical abuse of the Afghanistan women’s national team by AFF staff.

Related: Fifa examining claims of sexual and physical abuse on Afghanistan women’s team

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» 'The wisdom was you needed a Beckham': What can Atlanta’s rise teach MLS?

Graham Parker speaks with Atlanta United president Darren Eales on continuing their improbable rise and learning from their peers

It could have been so different.

As the second-half wore on, and it became increasingly obvious that Atlanta were going to win their first MLS Cup on Saturday night, it was possible for thoughts to drift to other phantom versions of this final in other cities and stadiums.

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» Sunderland ‘Til I Die shows all that is right and wrong in English football | Barry Glendenning
A sense of loss is all-pervading in a Netflix series chronicling Sunderland’s relegation into League One but, throughout, a sense of optimism shines out from most fans

It’s the hope that kills them, Sunderland fans can handle the despair. And it is a prevailing sense of hope that percolates throughout all eight episodes of a behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling the club’s relegation to the third tier of English football last season. Throughout a preposterously chaotic campaign, even by the standards of a club long considered utterly dysfunctional, Sunderland’s fans remain surprisingly upbeat, despite having grown wearily accustomed to coping with apparently bottomless levels of crushing disappointment.

Related: Sunderland's hall of shame: club's (mostly bad) signings under Short

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» If every racist at football was silenced stadiums would still be full of racists | John Barnes

In times of stress, like the period we’re living through, people look for ways to communicate their superiority over others

I wasn’t surprised to see white people allegedly shouting racist abuse at Raheem Sterling and I don’t blame racists for holding those beliefs. We all discriminate, consciously or subconsciously. To be angry at a few people is a distraction. When it happens, the problem is not that people shout racist abuse, it is that they want to shout racist abuse. If every racist who came to football was silenced, football stadiums would still be full of racists. Racism is everywhere in our society, it is inside every one of us.

The next day Sterling turned the spotlight on to how the media portrays young black footballers, compared with how they report similar stories about white players. It was right of him to do so, and it has started a debate on black representation in the media. But we can’t just focus on particular groups, on trying to get more black people into the police force, or running football clubs, or into journalism. Talking about what any one section of our society has to do to combat racism just stops people outside that group asking difficult questions of themselves. We keep looking at symptoms and not treating the cause.

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» Mo Salah, Liverpool’s kangaroo, looks ready to bounce through winter slog | Barney Ronay

The Egyptian just keeps on keeping on, and does so with a rare lightness, hinting at what may be to come in the next months

Just past the half hour at a chilly, angsty Anfield Mo Salah was suddenly free in space on the edge of the Napoli box, scampering in on goal in that bouncy style, hair flapping, legs whirring like a cartoon kangaroo. Salah had time to look up, pause and nudge a doomed pass across the six-yard box in the vague direction of Sadio Mané. There was a groan from the stands, but not much of a groan. The one thing they know for sure about Salah around here is that he just keeps on keeping on. Some footballers are relentless in a pained kind of way, tied to the rack, teeth clenched, head down. Salah has a lightness to him. He keeps coming because he knows in the end the game will open up, that his ability to glide and spring sideways with preternatural speed will find the right pocket of space.

Related: Salah and Alisson heroics ensure Liverpool qualify at Napoli’s expense

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» David Squires on … the mistreatment of Raheem Sterling

Our cartoonist on why it’s hard to exaggerate the vilification Raheem Sterling has been subjected to in recent years

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» Football transfer rumours: Ben Chilwell to Manchester City for £50m?

Today’s fluff is on the up

With Benjamin Mendy still sidelined through injury, Manchester City are ready to bid for Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell in January. A summer spent in the company of a personal trainer doing sprints in a Milton Keynes park have yielded rich dividends for the youngster, who told one interviewer: “I feel like this season needs to be the season I push on”. Having done exactly that, he may earn himself a move to the reigning Premier League champions to further his education under Pep Guardiola. £50m is the fee being mentioned.

Related: Tottenham’s manager Pochettino tips his hat to ‘hard-working’ chairman Levy

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» What is the smallest football ground a European champion has lost at? | The Knowledge

Plus: the longest delay for any new stadium in history and the worst goal difference you can get away with and still qualify in the Champions League. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“Real Madrid recently lost 3-0 to Eibar in a stadium that holds just 7,000 people,” begins Robin Tucker. “That got me thinking: have any former European champions lost a competitive match in a smaller stadium? This would be only counting results after their first European success, so games such as Liverpool’s 1959 defeat to Worcester City would not count.”

A fine question, but it’s not even the smallest stadium a former European champion has lost in this season. The 1986 winners Steaua Bucharest, now snappily known as FCSB, have suffered plenty of turmoil recently, including a defeat earlier this month to Sepsi OSK. That was in front of an estimated 2,500 at the 5,200-capacity Stadionul Municipal.

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

Manchester City keep pressure on Arsenal in the WSL, while Manchester United lose for the first time in the Championship

This has been a pivotal period for Manchester City. After showing that Arsenal can be beaten last week, they backed it up by grabbing a tight win over a stingy Birmingham side. Arsenal have company at the top of the table, although they do have a game in hand. Still, this was an important victory for City, who had to work hard against Marc Skinner’s side. Birmingham are an efficient outfit and are always difficult to break down. But they like to play out from the back and City targeted that, with Nikita Parris leading their high press. It brought a reward when Birmingham’s young goalkeeper, Hannah Hampton, made the error that led to Georgia Stanway scoring the game’s only goal. City closed it out from there, making themselves solid in midfield, guarding the ball well and showing that their game management skills are maturing. They will have to keep doing that in order to keep up with Arsenal.

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» The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

Our picture editors choose their favourite images from the weekend’s Premier League action

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» Sports quiz of the week: Luka Modric, Deontay Wilder, Pelé and long hair

Who has ‘one skill’? Who bunked off? Who swung and missed?

Deontay Wilder threw 430 punches in his fight against Tyson Fury. What percentage of them landed?





Luka Modric won the Ballon d'Or on Monday night and became the first player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award in a decade. Who won it in 2007 before Messi and Ronaldo started to dominate?


Thierry Henry

Fabio Cannavaro


Ada Hegerberg was awarded the first ever women’s Ballon d’Or at the ceremony in Paris. Which of these statements about her is false?

She plays for Lyon and her sister Andrine plays for PSG

She has won the Champions League for the last three years in a row

She has won Ligue 1 for the last four years in a row

She has scored 10 goals for Norway this year

Kilmarnock are top of the league in Scotland. They have only won the title once in their history in 1965. How did they do it?

By the drawing of lots

On goal average

On goal difference

By the toss of a coin

Crystal Palace were beaten by their big rivals Brighton this week. What other setback did the club face?

They had to stop selling Christmas cards with the words “holidays are coming” as it is a Coca-Cola trademark

They had to apologise after their mascot, Alice the Eagle, tripped up Brighton manager Chris Hughton

They had to reschedule their Christmas party after they spotted it clashed with a league game

They had to close their training ground canteen as it was infested with mice

According to Pelé, which footballer “only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well”?

Diego Maradona


Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo

Stefan Kiessling has admitted that he skipped some pre-season training while he was playing in the Bundesliga. How did he get away with it?

His mum wrote him sick notes

He sent the club footage of his identical twin doing gym work

His wife did the drills wearing his Fitbit

He left a motorbike near the club and used it to do his cross-country runs

Who said: “I think there is a bit of jealousy there. Maybe he can’t accept the fact that he chose to go back to short hair”?

David Luiz

Mattéo Guendouzi

Edinson Cavani

Gareth Bale

Southampton sacked Mark Hughes this week while they were 18th in the Premier League. Which club sacked him in January while they too were 18th in the Premier League?



Stoke City

West Bromwich Albion

Brothers Paul Gleghorne and Mark Gleghorne will both be on the pitch when Ireland play England at the Hockey World Cup this weekend. What is unusual about that?

One plays for Ireland and one plays for England

They were both born in Scotland

Paul is Ireland's player manager and Mark is his player-coach

The manager is Zoe Gleghorne – their sister

1 and above.

You're not fit to wear the shirt

2 and above.

You tried

3 and above.

You tried

4 and above.

You tried

5 and above.

A respectable score

6 and above.

A decent score

7 and above.

A fine score

8 and above.

An excellent score

9 and above.

You are amazing

0 and above.

You're not fit to wear the shirt

10 and above.

You are awesome

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» Ada Hegerberg, a dog's goal-line clearance and vomit in Madras | Classic YouTube

This week’s roundup also features a British boxing love-in, a jazzy hockey song for the World Cup and Kevin Keegan singing

1) Let’s have a look at the first ever women’s Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg being really good at football, rather than concentrate on some whopper asking her to twerk. Here’s more on the Lyon and Norway star.

Related: Ada Hegerberg: first women’s Ballon d’Or marred as winner is asked to twerk

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» Football quiz: identify the stadiums pictured from a distance

Twelve football grounds in a dozen spectacular landscape photos. But how many can you name?

We'll start with an old-school English ground. But who plays there?

Birmingham City


Blackburn Rovers

Leicester City

Moving to the continent – can you name this Serie A stadium by the sea?

Stadio Olimpico (Roma and Lazio)

Stadio Luigi Ferraris (Genoa and Sampdoria)

Stadio San Paolo (Napoli)

Stadio Sant'Elia (Cagliari)

Staying in Europe – where is this?





Which Championship ground is lit up here?

Elland Road

The Hawthorns



Which of this summer's World Cup venues is pictured here?

Rostov Arena

Krestovsky Stadium

Luzhniki Stadium

Kaliningrad Arena

Back to Britain, and whose ground sits at the centre of this picturesque shot?


Oldham Athletic

Scunthorpe United


Which London venue is this, pictured from a nearby train station?

The Den

Loftus Road


Selhurst Park

Which La Liga side play in this sun-kissed stadium in Spain?


Athletic Bilbao

Real Sociedad

Celta Vigo

Which European national side play here?





Which English riverside ground is this?

Nottingham Forest's City Ground

Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough

Sunderland's Stadium of Light

Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium

Which Premier League ground can be seen in this scenic view?

Cardiff City Stadium

Etihad Stadium

John Smith's Stadium

Amex Stadium

Finally, which South American crucible is pictured here at sunset?


La Bombonera

El Monumental


12 and above.

A full house!

9 and above.

Almost at capacity

5 and above.

A decent turnout

0 and above.

Plenty of empty seats

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» Next Generation 2018: 60 of the best young talents in world football

From Lilian Thuram’s son to Real Madrid-bound Rodrygo and the ‘Croatian Neymar’, the Guardian picks 60 of the most talented players born in 2001. Check out the progress of our 2017 class | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

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» Raheem Sterling shouldn’t have to educate the media about racism | Musa Okwonga

Sterling should be free to do his job – play football. But he’s right that the British media needs to tackle racism, head on

Raheem Sterling is busy. He is busy being a world-class forward for Manchester City and England and he is busy being a parent. It is therefore confusing as to why, on top of these considerable responsibilities, he is now apparently expected to educate Britain – including a cluster of journalists who claim to know no better – about the media’s role in the racism he experiences both in and on the way to his place of work.

Following a Premier League match against Chelsea, during which he stated that he was subjected to a racist tirade from a nearby fan, Sterling took to Instagram to express his concern about the vastly different treatment that white and black players receive from certain sections of the British media. Sterling drew a connection between the negative coverage that black players constantly receive and their treatment by the public.

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» Sponsorship milestone shows women’s football is now big business | Suzanne Wrack
Backing by Visa indicates women’s game has value and is the biggest sign of its potential to be self-sustaining to date

Sponsorship deals are routinely mocked, from Manchester United’s mattress partners to Everton’s Angry Birds sleeves, with some companies all too keen to get themselves associated with Premier League clubs. And we roll our eyes at the latest madcap scenarios players find themselves in at launch events.

However Uefa’s announcement that it has agreed a seven-year deal with Visa as the first sponsor of Uefa women’s football deserves the celebratory tone with which it was unveiled. Because, for a change, it actually is a groundbreaking deal. Why? Because as Nadine Kessler, Uefa’s head of women’s football, said, the aim is “to assign a clear value to women’s football”.

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» Ada Hegerberg’s Ballon d’Or reactions echoed class she shows on pitch | Eni Aluko

The Norwegian’s powerful, inspiring speech gave me goose bumps and the award’s worthy winner dealt with Martin Solveig’s casual sexism magnificently

When I was a young girl I had to deal with people calling me weird and strange because I spent so much time around boys playing football. However I am not alone – that seems to be a regular theme when you speak to many of the great female professional footballers in the world about their journey to where they are now. It is not free of adversity and it is challenging having to justify your talent in what has been considered a man’s sport for centuries.

I think the quicker we tell young girls who dream of playing professionally that they should believe in themselves, the more prepared they will be for the world of pro sport. Which is why Ada Hegerberg’s speech at the Ballon d’Or ceremony on Monday was so powerful.

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» Celtic 1-2 RB Salzburg: Europa League – as it happened

Celtic were deservedly beaten by a markedly superior Salzburg side in the Europa League, but went through anyway because RB Leipzig slipped up

And with that, I’m done. It’s been memorable. Bye!

Rodgers also says that they haven’t yet ascertained the severity of Ryan Christie’s injury. He’ll presumably be off for x-rays.

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» Arsenal 1-0 Qarabag: Europa League – as it happened

Alexandre Lacazette scored the winner on a night when Laurent Koscielny returned from injury an Saka, Maitland-Niles and Nketiah impressed

Related: Alexandre Lacazette points the way in Arsenal’s Europa League run-out against Qarabag

A beaming Koscielny tells BT of his joy at returning after seven months out through injury: “It was very important for me. Now I start a new chapter in my career ... For a football player to miss the pitch is very difficult but not it’s the end of that and now I can smile and enjoy myself.”

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» Rapid Vienna 1-0 Rangers: Europa League – as it happened

Dejan Ljubicic scored late on as Rangers meekly left the European stage

Related: Rangers crash out after Dejan Ljubicic fires late winner for Rapid Vienna

A sad night for Rangers, then. Connor Goldsen will see that header coming back of the crossbar again and again as he goes to sleep tonight, while Steven Gerrard may reflect that he could have brought Kyle Lafferty on earlier to help the often-isolated Alfredo Morelos. But Rapid were simply better tonight, beating Rangers for the first time in their history and deservedly progressing to the knockout stage. Still, once the pain subsides, Gerrard and his men will take succour from an improved showing on the continent, even if they’re not quite the finished product yet. They’ve come a long way since Progrès Niedercorn. Nighty night.

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