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Castle Lower School

Address
Polhill Avenue, Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK41 9DQ
Teams
Male, Female, U9, U8, U7
Telephone
01582 513398
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Football Team News

» Tiger Woods doesn't scare us says Europe's Ryder Cup team captain Thomas Bjorn
Woods completed an epic comeback to win his first title in over five years on the eve of the Ryder Cup
» Frank Lampard admits mentor Jose Mourinho is sackable at Manchester United - just like he is
Under-fire Mourinho goes head-to-head with his former Chelsea kingpin for the first time as rival managers in Carabao Cup
» Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang caught doing 99mph on M1 in £275,000 Lamborghini
The Gabonese star has a number of supercars and narrowly escaped a ban for the offence
» Paul Pogba edging towards Manchester United exit after 'Jose Mourinho blasts star midfielder after Wolves draw'
The World Cup winner has flirted with leaving the Red Devils after shining for France this summer
» How Luka Modric, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo voted as Mohamed Salah misses out on Fifa Best player award
FIFA released the full list of who each international captain voted for in the best player category
» Best FIFA Awards 2018 RECAP: Luka Modric wins best player as Mohamed Salah DOESN'T make the World XI
The trio are all shortlisted for the gong and it will be decided at a glittering ceremony in London tonight
» Jose Mourinho won't wring the changes for Manchester United's must win game against Derby
The Portuguese boss will be in the opposite dugout to his former player Frank Lampard in the EFL Cup
» Mohamed Salah's omission from FIFA FIFPro World 11 leaves fans baffled after making final three for top prize
The Liverpool star was named alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric for the main award of the night
» FIFA The Best Awards winners revealed as Luka Modric beats Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo to top prize
The Real Madrid and Croatia star enjoyed a fine year to win the Champions League and take his country to the World Cup final
» Mohamed Salah's ice cold 'snub' to Gary Neville's Sky Sports team on Fifa Best Awards red carpet
It was all eyes on Salah as he walked the red carpet at the Fifa Best Awards in London where he's up for the Puskas award and overall prize
» Mohamed Salah gets cheeky jibe from James Milner after landing Puskas award at The Best FIFA Awards
The Liverpool star's goal vs Everton was a surprise winner over Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale
» Mohamed Salah wins Puskas goal of the year at The Best FIFA Awards to spark outrage from fans
The Liverpool star curled in a shot vs Everton in the Merseyside derby to beat out Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo
» Chelsea must cut losses with Alvaro Morata NOW and bring in 30-goal striker or they won't get near title
After the goals dried up for him last season he needed to hit the ground running this time out - and that just hasn’t been the case
» Unai Emery reveals what Arsenal need to succeed after five straight victories secures great start
The Spaniard is overseeing a difficult transition at the Emirates after the departure of Arsene Wenger
» Manchester United should sell Alexis Sanchez - they can still get huge money from PSG, Bayern Munich or Juventus
The Chilean has only scored three goals in 23 appearances for the Red Devils after his big-money move from Arsenal
» Nabil Fekir 'targeted by Real Madrid with Spaniards set to beat Liverpool and Chelsea to Lyon star'
The Reds backed out of a £60m move this summer due to fears concerning an old injury
» Arsenal ready to battle Inter Milan for Rennes winger Ismaila Sarr - rated one of Europe's hottest prospects
The 20-year-old Senegal international went to the World Cup and  has been likened to Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele
» Real Madrid release video of stunning plans for new £470million Bernabeu redevelopment
The Spanish giants originally unveiled the plans to transform their stadium four years ago
» Stan Collymore's Team of the Week: Liverpool defensive duo get the nod along with Manchester City pair
Stan's XI also includes two impressive performers from West Ham, a blast from the past on the Burnley win and a potential future England star
» Gary Neville responds to Jamie Carragher predicting Manchester United will finish outside of the top four
The Manchester United legend posted an image of his Sky Sports co-pundit along with a caption taking aim at Liverpool
» Paul Pogba's strange tweet leads to comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo's time at Manchester United
The Frenchman hit out at his critics on Twitter on Monday, and fans couldn't help but spot the interesting word that he used
» Wembley Cup 2018: Team news, ticket information and more ahead of showpiece event
Spencer Owen's Hashtag United saw off fellow YouTubers The F2 FC 6-1 in front of 34,000 fans in last year's final
» Manchester United predicted line-up revealed for Carabao Cup third round clash against Derby
Jose Mourinho is set to shuffle his pack for the visit of Frank Lampard's Championship side to Old Trafford
» Jack Grealish signs new Aston Villa deal as midfielder commits his long-term future to Championship club
The 23-year-old came through the ranks at Villa Park but was linked with a move to Tottenham in the summer
From

Football resources

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

Other sport news:

» Kevin Keegan: 'No, I'm not going to take a compliment from Mike Ashley'

The former England captain shares memories of Bobby Moore and George Best, his regrets about managing Newcastle and England and why if he was a player today he’d like to turn out for Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool

You can feel the energy as soon as Kevin Keegan walks into the room – barrel chest, big biceps, warm smile, small man, tough handshake. His hair is white these days, the perm long gone, and his belly more rounded, but otherwise he is little changed. Keegan is as passionate and outspoken as he ever was.

We meet in a hotel in Manchester. It’s funny that he’s written another memoir, he says, because he hates looking back. “I don’t like player reunions because all you get is the lads talking about whatever year you won something. A lot of them are just lost in that. Sir John Hall had a saying: ‘If you live in the past, you die in the past.’ You’ve got to reinvent yourself – try to move on.”

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» Luka Modric and Marta win Fifa player of the year awards in London
• Modric beats Ronaldo to men’s prize, Salah wins Puskás award
• 32-year-old Marta wins women’s award for first time since 2010

Luka Modric has been named the Fifa men’s footballer of the year at a ceremony in London, with Brazil’s Marta crowned the world’s best female player.

The 33-year-old Modric won the Champions League for the third time in a row with his club, Real Madrid, in May before leading Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final, where they lost 4-2 to France. He is the first player other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to win the Fifa award since Kaká in 2007.

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» What’s that odd feeling? It’s sympathy for Mourinho amid Pogba’s malaise | Barney Ronay
The dynamic between Manchester United’s manager and star player is doing nobody any good but can anyone really say Pogba is performing at the level of the Premier League’s best?

I know it’s over. And it never really began. But in my heart it was so real. Paul, José. It’s been two years now. There are times in a relationship like this when you just have to take a step back and accept that things aren’t working out. Although, for the sake of the team, who really shouldn’t be asked to choose between you, we could at least try to be civilised about this.

Another Manchester United wobble, another public snipe between José Mourinho and Paul Pogba. United may be listing a little this season but there are some things that do seem certain. The dysfunctional dynamic between manager and star player is not doing anyone any good. And beyond this Pogba in particular might want to think twice about asking people to look any more closely at his own role and his own contribution to an evolving team – because it is not always a pretty sight.

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» Frank Lampard prepares Derby for meeting with mentor José Mourinho | Simon Burnton

The Rams’ manager, still close to his former Chelsea boss, believes the Portuguese’s influence shines as brightly as ever

Frank Lampard remembers watching the press conference in 2004 at which José Mourinho, freshly arrived at Chelsea, announced that he was “a special one”. He says: “I saw it and I liked it. It was something different. British culture is not to walk in and call yourself the special one, I don’t think. That’s the way he was and I admired him for it and actually, if you make those statements, you had better back them up, and he certainly did.”

If many people believe Mourinho’s aura has started to fade, Lampard is not one of them. The Portuguese remains, in the eyes of his former midfielder, as special as ever. “When you’re the manager of Manchester United, when you have the CV and the background of José Mourinho – and this is not ancient history, this is fresh history, the Europa League, the FA Cup – then of course you have it,” he says. “In terms of the special one and that, those are just words. In terms of being a great manager, of course he is.”

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» West Ham need to secure Declan Rice’s signature, says Pablo Zabaleta
• Dressing room needs to keep his feet on ground, Zabaleta says
• Teenage Hammers midfielder holds out for £30k a week

Pablo Zabaleta has urged West Ham to prioritise securing Declan Rice to a new contract following the teenager’s hugely impressive start to the season.

Rice has operated in defensive midfield over recent weeks and contributed heavily to the win at Everton and encouraging draw at home against Chelsea on Sunday which have lifted West Ham from the foot of the league table. Manuel Pellegrini heaped praise on the youngster’s performance in that derby, yet Rice has entered the final 12 months of his deal having rejected a new offer over the summer.

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» Uefa reopens financial fair play investigation into Paris Saint-Germain
• PSG had been cleared in June of breaking FFP rules
• Uefa statement: case reopened ‘for further investigation’

Uefa has announced it has reopened its investigation into Paris Saint-Germain’s finances, having previously, in June, cleared the club of breaking financial fair play (FFP) rules.

European football’s governing body said in July that the decision taken a month earlier would be reviewed, and the case has now been handed back to the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), a body “overseeing the application of financial fair play regulations”, according to Uefa’s website.

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» Sunderland sack Didier Ndong, saying he breached contract by going awol
• Club say he gave no reason for ‘failure to report and absence’
• Sunderland want compensation if record signing joins new club

Sunderland have served Didier Ndong notice that they intend to terminate his contract, saying their record signing went awol in the wake of relegation to League One.

The club have also indicated their readiness to take legal action to recoup the Gabon midfielder’s value should he join another club.

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» Unbeaten records, crises and shinners – Football Weekly

Max, Barry Glendenning, John Brewin and Philippe Auclair discuss the last 100% record in the 92, crises all over the shop, spectacular misses and shinned pearlers

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, John Brewin and Philippe Auclair to look back at the weekend of football just gone, starting with Liverpool, whose 3-0 win over Southampton sees them maintain their 100% record this season – the only team in the 92 yet to leave any points unclaimed.

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

Liverpool may have won on the pitch but off it there are some questions to answer, while Arsenal’s impressive start continues, Chelsea still can’t score and nobody can beat Birmingham’s inspired Berger

Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Brighton came at the end of a difficult week, in which Neil Redfearn quit as manager. Chris Kirkland, who had been the goalkeeping coach, became caretaker-manager but he was otherwise engaged on Sunday so Vicky Jepson took charge. WSL clubs should have a full-time goalkeeping coach and a manager with a Uefa A licence, and soon they might have neither. Redfearn’s departure suggests trouble behind the scenes, and it seems fair to ask whether Liverpool are fully committed to the women’s team. Why, for example, are the girls training at Tranmere? It’s not the end of the world, but it’s odd that they have to pay for training facilities out of their budget when at Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and across the city at Everton they get full use of the club’s own facilities. The team proved at the weekend that their character is not in question, but from what I have heard the foundations are not as they should be at the club. Is the women’s team there because Liverpool feel they should have one, or because they are genuinely committed to women’s football?

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» The heat is on as conflict deepens in fight for Spanish football's soul | Sid Lowe

Temperatures are rising on and off the pitch, with opposition building to that US plan and kick-off times doing little to help

At the one end of the ground that is an end and not just a wall, a small gang of Rayo Vallecano fans in bright high-vis jackets and yellow hard hats started leaping up and down, testing the foundations. Around them, drums beat, flags waved and supporters laughed as they took out their tools to fix the place up, bashing away with inflatable yellow hammers. If it looked silly, it was supposed to – and it was no dafter than the real thing – but at least they were here now. Rayo, promoted in the summer after two years away from primera, hadn’t been home since the opening day of the season. On Saturday, they returned in the way that only they seem to know how – and a way that felt appropriate somehow, this weekend more than ever.

That night, against Sevilla, a small boy fell through a gap and on to some rubble, while above him the stand literally shook. Long denounced by supporters, Rayo’s ground, which had gone six years without a valid safety certificate, was shut down by the council. Athletic Club were next in town and some of them came too – they’d already arranged their travel by the time the decision had finally been made, four days before it was due to be played – but they didn’t see a game and didn’t get compensation either, of course. There had been discussions about Butarque or the Metropolitano, while Getafe said no to using the Coliseum; instead the match was postponed and work got under way.

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» Revamped Roma's rapid decline leaves Di Francesco in line of fire | Paolo Bandini

Summer deals have left last season’s Champions League semi-finalists imbalanced and time is not on the manager’s side

Five games in, and the Serie A top scorers chart has a decidedly unfamiliar feel. Fans might have expected to see Cristiano Ronaldo in first place, perhaps pursued by the man he displaced at Juventus: Gonzalo Higuaín. Or how about reigning joint-capocannonieri, Ciro Immobile and Mauro Icardi, each returning with the same teams?

All but the last of that foursome scored this weekend, yet none of them leads the way. The most prolific player in Serie A is a 23-year-old signed by Genoa from Cracovia this summer for a paltry €4.5m. Krzysztof Piatek’s five goals only look more impressive when you consider his team has played one game fewer than the rest of the division.

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» Petr Cech: Arsène Wenger was more worried about playing style than winning
• Veteran says Arsenal working much harder under Unai Emery
• ‘This is how it should be. We have very healthy competition’

Petr Cech believes that Arsenal have fallen short in recent years because their obsession with playing football in a certain way under Arsène Wenger was more important than victory itself.

The 36-year-old goalkeeper has seen a change of mentality under Unai Emery, whom he suggested was more demanding than Wenger, and he felt it was on display in the 2-0 home win against Everton on Sunday.

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» A-League plan for in-game music hits bum note, but clubs have other ideas

Mariners to allow safe smoke after flare experiment at Usain Bolt game, ground announcers and bands being considered

The prospect of music during corners, goal kicks and substitutions at A-League matches appears dead in the water after clubs distanced themselves from the radical measures.

All but two Australian clubs have categorically ruled out the controversial in-game entertainment.

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» Tommy Wright and two others plead not guilty to bribery offences

Ex-Barnsley assistant manager and two other men granted unconditional bail after brief hearing

Three men including former Barnsley assistant manager Tommy Wright have pleaded not guilty to bribery offences.

Wright, 52, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, denied two counts of accepting a bribe between April and September 2016 in contravention of sections two and 11 of the Bribery Act 2010, when he appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Monday.

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» Paul Pogba calls on Manchester United to ‘attack, attack, attack’ at Old Trafford
• ‘Not enough movement in front,’ says Pogba after Wolves draw
• Midfielder also preaches patience over form of Alexis Sánchez

Paul Pogba delivered a damning verdict on Manchester United by admitting they lacked the desire required to beat Wolves and declaring they need to attack more to restore the fear factor at Old Trafford.

The World Cup winner echoed José Mourinho’s criticism of United’s lax mentality but also found fault with their forwards for not offering enough movement during Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

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» Gerard Piqué spares Barcelona blushes but Girona end their 100% record

Gerard Piqué got 10-man Barcelona out of jail as their 100 per cent start to the season was ended by battling Girona.

Barça looked to be cruising when Lionel Messi’s eighth goal of the campaign gave them an early lead but the defender Clement Lenglet’s 35th-minute dismissal was compounded by Cristhian Stuani’s equaliser before the break.

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» Stuart Findlay’s late show snatches victory for Kilmarnock over Celtic
• Champions had taken lead through Leigh Griffiths
• Steven Gerrard delighted at emphatic Rangers win

Stuart Findlay’s late header secured 2-1 home victory for Kilmarnock against Celtic in their Scottish Premiership match while Rangers swept St Johnstone aside 5-1 at Ibrox.

Leigh Griffiths gave Celtic a 1-0 first-half lead after Kirk Broadfoot failed to clear Kieran Tierney’s cross after 34 minutes. Greg Taylor hit the post before the Scotland striker found the net with a close-range diving header. Dedryck Boyata came close to adding a second soon afterwards but Jamie MacDonald parried his effort over the bar.

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» Impressive Hertha Berlin finally start to catch the imagination | Andy Brassell

Finishing the weekend in second, with only Bayern Munich ahead of them, will do nicely for Hertha

Pál Dárdai was being very careful with his words and rightly so, given his team travel to unbeaten Werder Bremen on Tuesday before hosting the frankly terrifying Bayern Munich. That is an Englische Woche and a half by anyone’s standards. “I know you’re trying to provoke,” the Hertha coach said with a wry smile to journalists prompting him to show some enthusiasm, “but the Hertha fans know me. We’ve had three years of stability – and now, we’ve a team you can really enjoy. Just stay realistic.”

Even if it’s a coach’s job to be balanced, those supporters who know Dárdai so well – he was a player at Olympiastadion for 14 years before taking his current post three-and-a-half years back – could be forgiven for ignoring him on this occasion. Saturday’s thrilling 4-2 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach is exactly the sort of moment you should get carried away with. It even took Die Alte Dame to the top of the table for a few short hours, before Bayern strolled past Schalke. Finishing the weekend in second, with only Bayern having scored more goals so far this season, will do nicely for Hertha.

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» Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Ramsey needs to discover his inner Lampard, Shaqiri deserved more time and Traoré has become a specialist substitute

Related: Unai Emery’s system beats out a dull rhythm that fails to entrance | Jacob Steinberg

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» The stars come out for the Fifa football awards 2018 in London – in pictures

Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Marta, Mbappé, Noel Gallagher and many more put on their best for the awards ceremony in London

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» Marseille must beat big rivals if they are to return to Champions League

Marseille did not win against PSG, Lyon or Monaco in the league last season. That run of results needs to change soon

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

It was more of the same for Marseille on Sunday evening at the Parc OL, as their frustrating evening ended in yet more dropped points against a rival for a Champions League place. Marseille picked up just two points from 18 against Lyon, Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain last season. Even with the champions operating in another financial stratosphere, it still made for grim reading, especially with the margins for those top three places having been so fine in recent seasons. With a place in the Champions League their aim of the season, last thing Marseille needed was a chastening 4-2 defeat at Lyon in the Choc des Olympiques.

Marseille had no problem running roughshod over the bulk of Ligue 1 last season but they did struggle against high-quality opposition. Things seemed to be changing this season, though. They were at their opportunistic best when they thumped Monaco 3-2 at the Stade Louis II at the beginning of the month. Even with their southern rivals enduring an uneven start to the campaign, the same fixture last year had yielded a 6-1 defeat.

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» Record-breaking Jorginho the beating heart of Chelsea’s mangled midfield | Barney Ronay

Maurizio Sarri’s linchpin saw a prodigious amount of the ball at West Ham yet was most effective in blunting N’Golo Kanté

With three minutes to go here, Jorginho played a nudged sideways pass across the centre circle. Oddly there was no spontaneous ovation, Jorginho did not punch the air or collapse tearfully to his knees or do a dance from Fortnite. It was odd because in that moment Jorginho had broken the Premier League record for passes completed in a game, edging out Ilkay Gündogan’s mark of 165, set this year.

A few minutes earlier a lofted sideways pass to Willian meant Jorginho surged past Cesc Fàbregas’s 144-pass Chelsea record, set against West Brom in November 2014. By the end he was on a sensational 180 passes, not just beating the record but obliterating it, a GOAT-level performance of wiffling the ball about in midfield that may, for all we know, never be surpassed. At least not – it is to be hoped – while this reporter is present.

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» Sir Alex Ferguson gets standing ovation on his return to Old Trafford – video

Sir Alex Ferguson was back at Old Trafford for the first time since he underwent emergency brain surgery in May. He received a huge ovation from supporters before the 1-1 draw with Wolves

Wolves frustrate Manchester United on Sir Alex Ferguson’s return

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» Guardiola 'so happy' as Agüero extends Manchester City contract to 2021

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola could not hide his joy after the Argentina striker Sergio Agüero extended his contract at the club until 2021. The Premier League champions travel to Cardiff City on Saturday as they look to bounce back from their defeat to Lyon in the Champions League during the week

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» 'Don't disrespect my players': Pochettino angry at media after Spurs defeat – video

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has hit back at questions over his squad selection after they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Internazionale, despite leading until the 86th minute. Christian Eriksen put Spurs ahead in the second half before Mauro Icardi’s volley and a Matias Vecino header gave Inter the points.

Pochettino was particularly irked at being asked why Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier were left out, interpreting it as disrespectful to those players who were chosen for the trip to Italy. The Argentinian added he was pleased with his team’s performance, but admitted they are suffering having lost three in a row

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» Benfica women set Portuguese record with 28-0 win over Ponte de Frielas – video

Benfica's women's team enjoyed a 28-0 thrashing on their debut in the Portuguese second division. They opened the scoring two minutes into their match against Ponte de Frielas, were 16-0 up at half-time and went on to set a new record in the country for the largest margin of victory in senior football. Although Benfica's squad features a number of internationals, as a newly-formed team they have been required to compete in the second tier of the women's league.

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» Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores 500th career goal with stunning spinning volley – video

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 500th career goal on Saturday in LA Galaxy's 5-3 loss to Toronto. The 36-year-old Swedish striker has now joined Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the only active players with 500 goals for club and country

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» Footballers push ambulance from pitch in Brazil after it fails to start – video

Players from Flamengo and Vasco da Gama pushed an ambulance from the pitch on Saturday after the vehicle – which was transporting an injured player to hospital – failed to start.

Vasco’s Bruno Silva had been knocked unconscious in an aerial collision and needed medical attention abut after being loaded into the ambulance it needed the players to push it to be able to leave the pitch.

Play resumed after the incident and the match finished 1-1. Silva has been discharged after a night in hospital.

• This video has no sound

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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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» Feyenoord's Steven Berghuis goes down 'injured' after pat on head – video

Feyenoord's Steven Berghuis found himself in the limelight on Sunday, having collapsed to the ground after a gentle pat on the head from Utrecht's Willem Janssen. Feyenoord went on to win the match 1-0 in Rotterdam thanks to a late goal from Robin van Persie

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» Juventus leave it late in unimpressive win over lowly Frosinone
  • Ronaldo on target as Juve extend their 100% start
  • Di Maria, Meunier and Chuopo-Moting score for PSG

Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi scored late goals as Juventus continued their 100 per cent start to the Serie A season with an unconvincing 2-0 win at Frosinone.

Ronaldo, who was sent off in Wednesday’s Champions League win at Valencia, looked set to endure another frustrating evening until he scuffed home a left-footed effort with nine minutes remaining.

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» PSG are not playing Tuchel football. It may not even be football | Jonathan Wilson
Leaving three forwards to float about and occasionally pull off a trick may be enough in Ligue 1 – but not when it comes to elite level. How have PSG not learned?

A net €750m spent in eight years and that’s all you get? Success without money is all but impossible in the modern game, but wealth brings no guarantees. Football still has the capacity to make the richest of men seem very foolish if they pursue glamour at the expense of substance – a heartening moral, so long as you don’t think too closely about the source of the wealth that is paying for Neymar to squander his immense talents in an entitled fug of self-indulgence.

For Paris Saint-Germain, there has been no development. The lessons of last season have not been learned. All the flaws that undid PSG against Real Madrid in last season’s last 16 were there again at Anfield on Tuesday. Leaving three forwards high up the pitch to float about and occasionally pull off a trick may be enough in Ligue 1 – given PSG have begun the season with five successive wins and have scored at least three goals in every game, it demonstrably is – but it is no way to play against proper opposition. The Air Jordan branding may be intended to add an extra shot of glamour, but in context it appears to say little more than: “Please nutmeg me while I appeal half-heartedly for offside.”

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» Mariners sign key duo as Sydney FC survive FFA Cup scare
  • Ross McCormack and Socceroo Tommy Oar return to A-League
  • Sydney FC 4-2 Avondale FC (extra time)

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica has shown his relief and delight at the club’s passage through a tight FFA Cup squeeze.

The Sky Blues led 2-0 but were forced into extra-time by ambitious Victorian National Premier League grand finalists Avondale FC on Wednesday night.

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» Nabil Fekir’s failed transfer and World Cup glory give Lyon much to celebrate
The France forward was so close to joining Liverpool he even conducted an interview with the club’s TV channel. On Wednesday, he lines up for Lyon against Manchester City

The day after Nabil Fekir joined his France teammates and an estimated million supporters on the Champs-Élysées to show off the World Cup trophy, he was invited to attend another celebration. This time, there were only a few hundred people present at the Stade Francisque-Jomard de Vaulx en Velin – where his father, Mohamed, is president – to catch a glimpse of the town’s most famous son as he was made an honorary citizen. “Thank you all,” whispered a nervous-looking Fekir into the microphone as he addressed the crowd. “We did something beautiful.”

As summers go, 2018 will take some beating for the player who turned 25 two days after France’s 4-2 victory over Croatia. Despite seeing his proposed £53m move from Lyon to Liverpool collapse days before their opening World Cup match with concerns reported about his fitness following a knee injury, Fekir played a total of 68 minutes in six substitute appearances for Didier Deschamps’s side, including replacing Olivier Giroud in the final.

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» Spain looks north as Real Sociedad and Athletic take giants to the wire | Sid Lowe

Two historic, special clubs battled Madrid and Barça at grounds that embrace traditions rather than turn their backs on it

It’s exactly 100km from Anoeta to San Mamés as the car drives, passing Ipurúa halfway, sitting pretty in the Ego valley. Visible from the road, there was no one at the stadium this time – Eibar were down to Madrid to play Atlético – but there were thousands at each end of the AP8, striped shirts everywhere, flags hanging from bars where old photos hang from walls and they were making a lot of noise, packing Pozas Street in Bilbao, and spilling into the sunshine on Zorroaga Way, San Sebastián. Maybe even more noise than ever before. There’s something special about the Basque Country – 1.4% of Spain’s territory, 4.9% of its population, 20% of its first-division teams – and this Saturday even more so, an expression of its footballing identity, enhanced and offered up for all to see.

Between them, Real Sociedad and Athletic Club have 35 players in their squad who played for them pre-first team level and for four years at the start of the eighties they kept the league title in Euskadi. Those days are long gone – although they were second and third in 1997-98 and La Real really could have won it in 2003 – but on Saturday morning Marca lead with the headline: “The league looks north.” The first day back after the international break, when it feels like the season is properly under way at last, saw Barcelona travel to play La Real, while Madrid went to Athletic that same evening, 100km apart.

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» 'They're either naive or scheming': Özil’s agent hits out at Neuer, Kroos and Müller
  • Erkut Sögüt defends player’s decision to meet Erdoğan
  • ‘Thomas Müller did not understand the whole discussion’

Mesut Özil’s agent has hit out at Germany’s Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos over comments they made in the wake of the Arsenal midfielder’s decision to quit international football.

Erkut Sögüt said the trio were either “naive or scheming” in their responses to the statement Özil issued in July to announce he would no longer be playing for Germany. The agent also strongly defended his client for being photographed with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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» Ronaldo and Costa steal limelight as Dimarco downs parent club Inter | Paolo Bandini

Inter began this season billed as the team most likely to deny Juve another Scudetto, but things already look gloomy

Cristiano Ronaldo’s first Serie A goal arrived right on schedule. Granted, it might not have felt that way to the Juventus supporters who had been waiting impatiently for this moment since July. But by opening his account in their fourth league game, with his 28th shot of the season, he was emulating precisely the start he made with Real Madrid in 2017-18.

Nobody can truly have believed his ‘drought’ would go on forever, yet the relief at its ending was evident even in Ronaldo’s performance. His first goal was a tap-in: described by Tuttosport as “pushed into an empty net from 30cm out”. Yet it felt like no accident that the Portuguese’s second should arrive 15 minutes later, drilled into the bottom corner with a confidence that had hitherto been lacking.

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» Monaco are starting to pay for their mistakes in the transfer window

Monaco are 15th in Ligue 1 and now face the daunting task of hosting Atlético Madrid in the Champions League

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Monaco are not like other clubs. PSG, Marseille and Lyon boast raucous home fans, splurge on marquee signings and all proudly claim to be the biggest and best club in Ligue 1. Monaco, however, averaged the lowest home gates in Ligue 1 last season and, since signing James Rodríguez and Radamel Falcao five years ago, they have based their success on selling their best players rather than haughtily parading big-name signings. Spearheaded by the club’s hardball negotiator-in-chief, Vadim Vasilyev, their unerring transfer policy has long been the basis of their success. This summer, however, they might finally have made mistakes.

Since Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev acquired the club in 2011, when they were floundering in Ligue 2, Monaco have worked in cycles. The plan has been to sign younger players from Ligue 1 and cost-effective overseas markets – primarily Portugal (João Moutinho, Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa). Those bourgeoning talents are then played alongside a sprinkling of older pros and developed over a handful of seasons until an eye-catching achievement raises their market value.

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» Gary Speed’s family will always live with tragedy but football is learning | Daniel Taylor

At times it is hard to read Unspoken, the new book written with Gary Speed’s widow. But at least more of those in the game struggling with depression now feel able to come forward

It is the family stuff, the detail that would usually remain private, that provides some of the toughest passages from the newly released book Unspoken, in which the people who knew Gary Speed the best try to make sense out of a tragedy none of them will ever properly understand.

The story, for example, his widow, Louise, tells of the long, unimaginable battle to start functioning again and the shattering effects of what she describes, more than once, as being put on the scene of a horror film. It was Louise who found her husband in the garage, who had to cut him down and will always have to live with that image. “As time goes on,” she says, “you hope it’s a film that fades.” But there was also a long period when she could not even eat, when she drank to numb the pain and lost so much weight she describes herself as a walking skeleton.

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» Pochettino, respect, and the ‘never kicked a ball in your life’ theory | Barney Ronay

The Tottenham manager betrayed English football’s disdain for the views of those who did not play the sport but when those dry up it will be time to start worrying

Deep down, behind the club loyalties, beneath the professional distance, everyone loves Mauricio Pochettino. You can deny it. But search your feelings, you know it to be true. There is just something very likable about Pochettino: the barking laugh, the pouchy dimples, the way he strides around the touchline looking like the world’s most handsome oil rigger.

Plus of course there is his success as a coach, which has come in the most interesting way, as a developer of players, the author of a style of play. Pochettino has been 100% successful in getting Spurs into the Champions League on a restricted budget over the last three years, which has always been the only realistic goal no matter how many times people keep telling him he has to win the League Cup.

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» Wolves’ Rúben Neves and Diogo Jota: ‘Porto has wine, food but here it’s fine’

The Wolves pair discuss their love of cricket, the perfect pork, sausage and steak sandwich and why they were right to leave the Champions League for the Championship

It is Tuesday afternoon in Wolverhampton city centre and Monica Lopes, the owner of Aromas de Portugal, has just welcomed a couple of regular customers into her coffee shop on King Street. Well, regular in one sense but not in another given it is Rúben Neves and Diogo Jota who are sitting in front of a plate of delicious Portuguese custard tarts – pastéis de nata – talking about cricket.

That the pair managed to arrive unnoticed is an achievement in itself. “Last time [Monica] closed the door and we had to go upstairs,” Jota says, smiling. “There’s a pub right outside, so if someone sees us, takes a picture and goes there, he’ll show the picture and then the other people come to ask for an autograph or a photo. So they don’t come for a coffee but to take a picture and of course that’s not the point.”

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» The Fiver | The crisis klaxon is sounding loudly

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Defeat at the hands of Kilmarnock coupled with the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers’ 5-1 win over St Johnstone means the Queen’s Celtic have now endured their worst start to a season for 20 years. Already out of Big Cup and pondering the accompanying financial vicissitudes, the Scottish champions have dropped eight points out of 18 available this season and the crisis klaxon is sounding loudly. Highly regarded, certainly by himself, for the statesmanlike qualities he has exuded while leading the club to a domestic double treble in the past two years, Rodgers was presented with an opportunity to allay fears of the faithful when asked, post-match, if fans should be concerned. And the Churchillian response from the man who once cited himself as his own biggest influence? An uncharacteristically meek and rabble-unrousing: “Yes, they should.”

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

Your weekend round-up of the best photography from England’s top flight

The Dozen archive

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» Football rumours: Zidane to manage Beckham's MLS franchise?

Today’s tell-all is all about the bass, the bass, the bass

Long rumoured to have his eye on José Mourinho’s job at Manchester United, Zinedine Zidane is today reported to have held “preliminary talks” with his former teammate David Beckham about managing his new Inter Miami franchise. With no players, no stadium and no games scheduled until the 2020 MLS season, the new expansion team won’t take a whole lot of managing at the moment, but Beckham has already said he wants “to create the biggest club in the USA and so that means attracting some of the biggest players”. While a high-profile manager would help attract the kind of marquee signings Beckham is after, it seems implausible to think Zidane won’t get a better offer between now and Inter Miami’s maiden MLS season.

A couple of months ago, Zidane was rumoured to be taking on a new role as technical director at his former club Juventus, but the Serie A side torpedoed the notion by pointing out that the position is already occupied by Pavel Nedved. Today, reports from Italy suggest the Serie A club’s chairman Andrea Agnelli likes the cut of Leroy Sané’s jib and will try to sign him from Manchester City in the next couple of years.

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» Kevin Beattie, Enzo Calzaghe and the best of this year's Vuelta | Classic YouTube

This week’s roundup also includes trick plays, some proper 1980s tennis and a billiards highlight reel

1) “The Beat”, “The Beast”… “Ipswich’s Best Ever”; Kevin Beattie died this week at the age of 64. A player Sir Bobby Robson once called: “The best defensive player who could play forward that this country has produced.” Exhibits A-M can be found here. Beattie was also Michael Caine’s body double in Escape to Victory, beating Sylvester Stallone in an arm wrestle during some downtime in filming (if only smartphones existed in 1981).

2) Boxing and British sport as a whole also mourned the loss of champion trainer Enzo Calzaghe, the guiding light behind his son Joe’s rise to the very apex of the sport. The modest but magnificent Newbridge boxing club was were it all began and this film offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse from 2011. The fight that helped launch Joe to stardom was his win over Chris Eubank in 1997 to claim the WBO super-middleweight strap. And as for the Welsh duo’s greatest win, take your pick between Jeff Lacy in 2006 and Mikkel Kessler a year later.

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» What is the highest combined shirt number in a football substitution? | The Knowledge

Plus: most international debutants, ugly strips (2) and the largest country never to compete at the European Championships. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“In the recent Burnley v Olympiakos match, the away team replaced No 56 with No 66, meaning the substitution had a combined shirt number of 122,” notes Paul Hawkins. “Is this the highest shirt ‘value’ in a substitution ever or has it been beaten? And what is the lowest?”

For the highest, we start in the Mexican lower leagues. “The rule here is that every player registered by a team at any level has to have an unique number,” explains Jason Maxwell. “So the senior team has standard one/two-digit numbers, the reserve team has numbers starting with 100, the youth teams go 200, 300, etc. So in a youth game you’ll have 312 replacing 307 or something. Even at the senior team level, if a player has been called up from the reserves or youths they keep their number, so it’s possible to see something like 208 replacing number 19 (especially in a friendly). In July’s friendly between Tigres U-20s and the MLS Homegrown all-stars, every player subbed on for Tigres had a number of 281 or higher, and the highest number subbed off was 304. So at minimum that’s 585 combined.”

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» David Squires on … Champions League big guns getting ready for action

Our cartoonist on the return of European club football’s premier competition (outside of the Anglo-Italian Cup)

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» Liverpool impress, Ronaldo ridiculousness and cows, cows, cows – Football Weekly Extra

Max is joined by Barry Glendenning, Lars Sivertsen and Jonathan Wilson to discuss the Champions League, Ronaldo’s red, the timekeeping skills of cows and Mark Hughes’s elusive smile

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Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Lars Sivertsen and Jonathan Wilson to discuss the first round of Champions League group stage fixtures, starting with Manchester City’s shock 2-1 defeat to Lyon.

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» The Joy of Six: footballers who can take or leave football | Nick Miller

Some players are happy to live their lives and not let careers on the pitch dominate their existence. Here are a few of them

Of all the players who seemed to play football with a passion and joie de vivre, Batistuta seemed among the most passionate and joiest de vivrest. Those lusty shots, those screaming celebrations, those goals. But, it seems, he wasn’t especially keen on football. “I do not like football, it is just my profession,” he once said in an interview with Argentinian TV.

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» Ivan Gazidis leaves Arsenal just as his biggest challenge was about to begin | David Hytner
The Arsenal chief executive is departing after nearly a decade and says he is energised by a move to Milan. Did he decide the gap to the top at the Emirates was too big?

Ivan Gazidis loves to talk about process, about journeys, about minutiae, and he was in his element at Emirates Stadium on the day that Unai Emery was unveiled as Arsenal’s new manager.

It was 23 May and the chief executive went into extraordinary detail about how Emery had been chosen to succeed Arsène Wenger. He brought up challenging discussions, long lists, short lists, detailed personal references, outside perspectives and the analysis of “tens of hours of video tape on the three finalists that we eventually narrowed it down to”.

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» Are Manchester City so drilled they cannot think enough on their feet? | Jonathan Wilson
City’s shock defeat by Lyon in the Champions League raised concerns regarding the team’s leadership and capacity to think independently, as well as a susceptibility to pressing

It is one game, at the beginning of the group stage. There is plenty of time to recover. For Manchester City, a 2-1 home defeat by Lyon is likely to be no more than a blip. Even in an underwhelming display, they had more than twice as many shots as their opponents and, more often than not, would probably have won. There is no reason to panic but that is not to say there are no reasons for concern.

What will be most worrying are recurring problems. Pep Guardiola, we are told, has worked on new patterns of play for this season’s Champions League, different ways of breaking down obdurate teams. City had begun each of the five league games this season in a different shape. The aim appears to be even more flexibility, a greater range of options for matches against the elite. Perhaps it is natural that it will take time for those to be assimilated and given that Guardiola teams have had a tendency to peak early and blow themselves out by March, it is not necessarily the worst sign if they are not quite yet at their best.

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» Rotherham’s Paul Warne: 'Players we sign have to be amazing people'

Paul Warne is hoping that his values and the squad’s hard work will help the club stay in the Championship

It is almost two years since Paul Warne was lounging in the foyer of Rotherham United’s stadium when the chief operating officer walked in and gently suggested to the fitness coach that a swift costume change might be necessary given that he was about to be named the caretaker manager following Kenny Jackett’s surprising resignation. “I was literally sitting in an elf’s outfit,” Warne says, laughing. “It was for a promotional video for the club shop. I’d gone from probably one of the best elves this side of the North Pole to having that dream taken off me and becoming the manager.”

Related: The English managerial success story shunned by the Premier League

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