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Football News

» Furious West Ham captain Mark Noble tells team-mates harsh home truths after FA Cup exit
The Hammers crashed out in the fourth round of the famous competition, with Conor Townsend's early strike enough to secure a 1-0 win for the Championship side at the London Stadium
» Jesse Lingard reflects on dismal Man Utd form after ending goal drought
Lingard has been criticised this season for his below-par performances and commercial activities, but hit back with a rare goal as Manchester United thrashed Tranmere in the FA Cup
» Man Utd give troubled season much-needed boost with FA Cup thrashing of Tranmere
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side smoothed over a few of their recent issues with a comprehensive 6-0 win over their League One opponents at Prenton Park
» Tottenham have found their new Christian Eriksen in Argentine thriller Giovani Lo Celso
Lo Celso is 'flying' says teammate Harry Winks - and he's the ideal signing to revitalise Tottenham as Eriksen heads to Inter Milan this week
» Jurgen Klopp won't manage Liverpool's FA Cup replay as he discloses first-team plan
U23 coach Neil Critchley will take charge as Klopp puts trust in Liverpool's youngsters with replay falling during Premier League's winter break
» Shrewsbury Town prove magic of the FA Cup is still alive with Liverpool comeback
The League One side came from two goals down to secure a shock 2-2 draw and set up a replay against the Premier League champions-elect at Anfield
» Jason Cummings' cocky jibe to Liverpool after FA Cup heroics for Shrewsbury
The Shrewsbury Town striker scored twice after being introduced as a substitute to pull his side back from two goals down to force a fourth round replay with Liverpool
» Ronaldinho backs Arsenal sensation Gabriel Martinelli to emulate Brazil icon Ronaldo
EXCLUSIVE: Brazil legend Ronaldinho believes that Martinelli has the potential to become the best player in the world after the 18-year-old's sensational start with the Gunners
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explains what he said to Tranmere keeper after Man Utd taunts
Tranmere keeper Scott Davies, a lifelong Manchester City fan, taunted United ahead of the FA Cup encounter on Sunday
» Neymar dedicates PSG goal to Kobe Bryant after NBA legend's tragic death
Tributes from across sport have poured in to Bryant with Neymar sending his own emotional message during PSG's Ligue 1 match against Lille on Sunday night
» Jurgen Klopp concedes Liverpool capitulation after Shrewsbury seal FA Cup replay
Shrewsbury substitute Jason Cummings scored a brace as Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup
» Verdict on Takumi Minamino as Liverpool held to disappointing draw at Shrewsbury
The forward was in Liverpool's starting lineup for the FA Cup fourth round tie against League One Shrewsbury, but was bullied off the ball and made little impact before his eventual substitution
» Gary Lineker admits being 'caught' out during Liverpool FA Cup clash
Gary Lineker was presenting the BBC's Match of the Day live coverage of Liverpool's FA Cup fourth round clash with Shrewsbury
» Shrewsbury 2-2 Liverpool player ratings as Jason Cummings stars in FA Cup comeback
Liverpool appeared to be cruising into the fifth round for the first time since Jurgen Klopp took over in 2015, but Shrewsbury sub Jason Cummings sealed the comeback
» Shrewsbury 2-2 Liverpool: Curtis Jones on target as Reds avoid upset - 6 talking points
Jones continued his rich form by putting Liverpool in front, followed by a comical own goal, but the Reds were pegged back after Jason Cummings struck twice to spark a Shrewsbury revival
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shows how he's different to Jose Mourinho in FA Cup thrashing
United breezed past their League One opponents with a much-needed morale boosting win after Solskjaer put his faith in his under-fire players
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer snipes at critics after Man Utd avoid FA Cup upset
United easily saw off League One side Tranmere Rovers with a comfortable 6-0 victory and Solskjaer seemed to relish getting one over his detractors
» Pep Guardiola sets sights on another treble after Man City ease past Fulham in FA Cup
First-half goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva were followed by a second-half double from Gabriel Jesus as City comfortably beat ten-man Fulham
» Man Utd player ratings from Tranmere victory as Harry Maguire shines in FA Cup
Manchester United cruised to a 6-0 win against Tranmere, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men scoring five in the first half
» Tranmere 0-6 Man Utd: Red Devils romp into FA Cup fifth round - 5 talking points
Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood all got on the scoresheet as Man Utd smash Tranmere for six
» Lyon star Martin Terrier stretchered off after collapsing during Toulouse match
Terrier fell to the floor without contact and was laying on the turf with his eyes shut, before suffering some form of spasm after teammates and medical staff had rushed to his attention
» Man City 4-0 Fulham: Gabriel Jesus scores twice in FA Cup fourth round stroll
A penalty from Ilkay Gundogan opened City's account against their Championship opposition, before a strike from Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus's brace sealed their progression
» Man Utd fans slammed over 'disgusting' Ed Woodward death chant during Tranmere clash
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was not in the stands for the FA Cup fourth round clash with Tranmere
» Shrewsbury 2-2 Liverpool LIVE score: Team news, TV channel and live stream from FA Cup
Follow all the action from the FA Cup fourth round clash as Liverpool travel to New Meadow. Kick-off at 5pm

Other sport news:

» Jürgen Klopp to field Liverpool youngsters in Shrewsbury replay

• ‘Players need this time off’ says manager after FA Cup draw
• Klopp praises Shrewsbury’s team and crowd after comeback

Jürgen Klopp did not seek to make excuses after his side were held in the FA Cup by League One Shrewsbury, though he did indicate that the date of the replay will be a problem for Liverpool, as senior players have been given time off for a winter break.

“We intend to honour the original idea of the break,” the Liverpool manager said. “We have respect for the players’ welfare and they need this time off. We got a letter from the authorities in April last year asking us not to organise anything during the week of the break and we haven’t. We have given the players the time off, and some are going away. They will still be keeping fit, but they do not have to play football that week and they do not have to come in to Melwood.”

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» Solskjær thanks Tranmere goalkeeper for firing up Manchester United

• Scott Davies gave a critical pre-match interview
• United thrashed their League One opponents 6-0

Ole Gunnar Solskjær sarcastically thanked the Tranmere goalkeeper, Scott Davies, for firing up his Manchester United players ahead of their emphatic FA Cup fourth-round victory at Prenton Park.

Related: Solskjær finds FA Cup respite as Manchester United hit Tranmere for six

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» Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso earns praise for his shining display

• Midfielder flourished in drawn FA Cup tie at Southampton
• Argentinian has adapted to rigours of Premier League

Harry Winks has said Giovani Lo Celso can help soothe the soreness of Christian Eriksen’s imminent departure as Tottenham prepare for a changing of the guard. Internazionale hope to finalise the signing of Eriksen on a four-and-a-half-year contract in the next 48 hours and the Danish midfielder was absent from the Spurs squad at Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, with José Mourinho criticising the Serie A club over the unsettling timing of the transfer.

By contrast Mourinho was effusive in his praise of Lo Celso, who flourished at St Mary’s despite Sofiane Boufal forcing a replay after cancelling out Son Heung-min’s opener, for which Lo Celso was the catalyst. The Argentinian was instrumental throughout and Mourinho revealed that Tottenham plan to activate an option to sign Lo Celso from Real Betis on a permanent basis. Spurs can buy the loanee for £27.2m this month or £34m in the summer.

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» Gabriel Jesus double eases Manchester City past Fulham after Ream’s early red

This was Manchester City’s 19th straight win in domestic cup competition, the holders coasting into the fifth round in a tie that neared a soporific state at times.

Pep Guardiola and his team will not care, of course. They are favourites to reach Wembley once more when facing Manchester United here in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg and it may be unwise to bet against them reaching the FA Cup showpiece again, too.

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» Juventus shocked by Napoli while Real Madrid go clear in La Liga
• Zielinski and Insigne score in Napoli’s 2-1 win over Juve
• Real Madrid win 1-0 at Real Valladolid

The Serie A leaders, Juventus, suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Napoli, with the coach Maurizio Sarri returning to his former club for the first time, though Cristiano Ronaldo still managed to score for an eighth league game in a row for the visitors.

Related: Cummings double stuns Liverpool as Shrews fight back to claim shock replay

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» Saudi £340m takeover of Newcastle ‘90% certain’ but leaks threaten deal
• Shell company created by Amanda Staveley to facilitate deal
• All involved parties admit leak has placed transaction in doubt

A shell company has been registered to facilitate the potential £340m takeover of Newcastle by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund as sources close to the deal claim they are now “90% certain” it will succeed.

It seems the coming week could prove critical as a tipping point has been reached, dictating that the next few days will lead to the club’s owner, Mike Ashley, selling or a takeover first proposed nine months ago founder.

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» Third man arrested over death of footballer Jordan Sinnott

Matlock Town player was found unconscious after being attacked on night out in Retford

A third man has been arrested over the death of a non-league footballer who died after being attacked during a night out.

Jordan Sinnott, who played on loan at Matlock Town, was found unconscious in Retford in Nottinghamshire at about 2am on Saturday.

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» Scottish Premiership: Hearts and Boyce put dagger in Rangers’ title bid
• Defeat leaves Steven Gerrard’s side five points adrift
• Odsonne Édouard helps extend Celtic’s lead

Liam Boyce wrecked Steven Gerrard’s Rangers milestone as the new Hearts striker’s debut goal sealed a 2-1 win at Tynecastle.

Related: VAR seems as far away as ever in Scotland despite Rangers weighing in | Ewan Murray

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» Transfer window January 2020 – every deal from Europe's top five leagues

All the latest deals and club-by-club guides for the top divisions in England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany.

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» Lia Wälti and Katie McCabe sink West Ham and put Arsenal back on track

Arsenal bounced back from their heavy defeat by Chelsea last weekend with an efficient FA Cup fourth-round defeat of last year’s runners-up, West Ham. A stunning side-footed volley from Lia Wälti and a first-half goal from Katie McCabe ensured the Gunners remain in the hunt in four competitions and for a 15th FA Cup title.

“It was important to show a reaction because last week we were not playing the way we want to,” Wälti said, while their manager, Joe Montemurro, said he was proud of the turnaround. “The maturity of this team is that it can slow games up when it needs to; it can control games when it needs too,” he said.

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» PSV angry with Tottenham as Mourinho closes in on winger Steven Bergwijn
  • Player travels to London despite being forbidden by PSV
  • Bergwijn omitted from Dutch team’s game at his own request

Tottenham are closing in on a deal for the PSV Eindhoven winger Steven Bergwijn, having made an offer of ‎€30m (£25.3m) for him. The 22-year-old, who operates off the left flank but can play as a No 10, has travelled to London to finalise his personal terms and undertake a medical.

PSV, however, are furious, claiming that they do not have an agreement with Spurs over the fee. The Dutch club value him at more than ‎€30m. They had forbidden Bergwijn from going to London only for him to travel regardless. Earlier in the day, Bergwijn had called the PSV interim manager, Ernest Faber, to tell him that he did not want to be selected for the home game against FC Twente, which ended in a 1-1 draw. He was immediately stood down. “It’s his choice,” Faber said. “We only need players who are 100% focused on PSV.”

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» Cummings double stuns Liverpool as Shrews fight back to claim shock replay

Liverpool once again approached the FA Cup on economy setting, only to find Shrewsbury much more full of fight than Everton in the last round. The Premier League leaders should never have looked back after being gifted a 2-0 lead through a bizarre own goal right at the start of the second half, but two-goal Jason Cummings led a stirring Shrewsbury recovery and with more composure in front of goal the League One side might even have won the game.

They certainly had the chances in the second half, though Shrewsbury will be happy enough with a replay at Anfield next week. Liverpool will be far less pleased with an extra game in a week designated for rest and must now question the wisdom of leaving out so many regular first-teamers. Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino were sent on before the end in search of a goal to settle the tie, though Shrewsbury were in no mood to allow that and a draw was the least they deserved.

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» Solskjær finds FA Cup respite as Manchester United hit Tranmere for six

Ole Gunnar Solskjær found respite in the mud of Prenton Park where many others, as he duly noted afterwards, were looking for a potentially fatal slip. Manchester United made light of the conditions, the rising pressure on their manager and their own faltering form to cruise past Tranmere into the fifth round of the FA Cup with their biggest victory since the 8-2 defeat of Arsenal in August 2011.

Rovers, 21st in League One and showing the effects of Thursday’s extra-time win over Watford, were outclassed from the moment Harry Maguire drilled his first goal for United into the top corner of Scott Davies’s goal in the 10th minute. Solskjær could not resist the opportunity afterwards to take a petty dig at the Manchester City-supporting goalkeeper for pre-match comments that celebrated the demise of the Old Trafford club. “Thanks for helping us fire up the fans and the players,” the United manager said. His players should not need the jibes of a League One goalkeeper to motivate themselves to win for Manchester United but, if that is what it took, their response was emphatic.

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» European roundup: Ashley Young notches assist on dramatic Inter debut
  • Ex-Manchester United winger supplies pinpoint cross for opener
  • Radja Nainggolan equalises for Cagliari against parent club

Inter Milan were held to a third successive 1-1 draw in Serie A after Radja Nainggolan, a player they loaned to Cagliari for this season, scored a second-half equaliser against his parent club on Sunday.

The Belgian, who was told by Inter coach Antonio Conte that there was no place for him this season, drove in a low shot from outside the area which found the goal via a deflection to stun the San Siro in the 78th minute.

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» David Moyes wanted to make more than three substitutions in West Ham’s defeat

• The Premier League club lost at home to West Brom
• Moyes desperate to make signings this week

David Moyes said he wanted to make more than three substitutions at half-time after West Ham were knocked out of the FA Cup by 10-man West Bromwich Albion, who reached the fifth round despite Slaven Bilic making eight changes against his old club.

Conor Townsend’s early goal sent the Championship’s pacesetters into the fifth round and ensured that Bilic enjoyed a triumphant return to the London Stadium. West Ham, who are battling relegation from the Premier League, were abject during the first half and Moyes reacted by using up all his substitutions during the interval.

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» Michy Batshuayi takes his chance in Chelsea’s nervy win at Hull

The last two men to win the FA Cup as both player and manager have tasted Wembley glory with Chelsea. The class of 2020 will have to improve on this if Frank Lampard is to emulate Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Di Matteo but he could at least savour the sight of Chelsea taking their place in the last 16.

Michy Batshuayi and Fikayo Tomori struck to see off a spirited Hull side as Lampard, a four-times winner during his days in Chelsea’s midfield, was able to make eight changes and advance. “The good news is that we are in the hat,” he said. “The bad news is that it was a small story of our season.”

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» Manchester United rue lack of tech support as City win FA Cup derby

A third meeting of season, with at least one more to come, and instead of creating derby fatigue it has served only to heighten the intensity of a growing rivalry between Manchester United and Manchester City.

“Emma Hayes [the Chelsea manager] said at the beginning of the season, ‘Enjoy the derby because they’re terrible games’ and I agree now, all three have been terrible,” said the City manager, Nick Cushing, after their defeat of United. “No structure, end to end, teams going for it. Maybe that’s what derbies are like, maybe there’s so much emotion and passion in a Manchester derby that it’s always going to be like that.”

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» ‘Inspired by KM’: Mbappé takes aim at hitting his most creative target yet | Paul Doyle
France superstar stays grounded despite the hype and launches project to change the lives of 98 young Parisians

Last week, to a soundtrack of Michael Jackson’s Heal The World, Kylian Mbappé walked on to a stage in a Paris hotel to unveil his new charity called Inspired by KM. Cheesy? If you insist, but even the most cynical onlooker would have found it hard to scoff at most of what followed. Mbappé, at the age of 21, is the football superstar the world needs right now.

On the pitch he showcases a rare amalgam of qualities: extraordinary speed, extreme technical prowess and preternatural awareness. Off the pitch he stands out for his simple decency despite the razzmatazz that could consume him. His father, Wilfrid, has a nice line about him. “Of course he’s normal; most people are.”

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» The Club World Cup is not about football – it's about making the rich even richer | Jonathan Wilson

The tournament will begin in its new expanded format in summer 2021 and already it has forced the Africa Cup of Nations to be re-rescheduled

Tippi Hedren sits on a bench outside the school. Behind her, crows gradually settle on a climbing frame. She smokes, distracted. By the time she finally notices a crow pass above her, it is too late. The frame, the roofs behind, the telegraph pole, the fence are laden with crows and the attack on the children cannot be averted. This is the greatest scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and it is also modern football.

Every week, there comes a new detail, stat or report of an initiative. Individually they can be laughed off. What’s the Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli banging on about this time? Who is Fifa’s Gianni Infantino abasing himself in front of now at Davos? Why has the Spanish Super Cup been rejigged with wildly variant appearance fees to try to put on a Clasico for the people of Jeddah? What’s the point of the Champions League group stage?

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» Eric Cantona and 'the hooligan': the impact of the kung-fu kick 25 years on

Twenty-five years have passed since Cantona launched himself into the crowd at Selhurst Park. It remains his best moment

By Rob Smyth for Nessun Dorma

Eric Cantona scored 82 goals for Manchester United. He won four league titles and two Doubles, and was a catalyst for the most successful period in the club’s history. None of that will keep him warmest in his dotage. “My best moment? I have a lot of good moments but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan.”

Cantona always refers to Matthew Simmons, with a delightful, absent-minded contempt, as “the hooligan”. It’s a neat way of dehumanising the gobby fan he dealt with when he tried to kick racism out of football on 25 January 1995. Twenty-five years later, the footage and images of his kung-fu kick retain an exhilarating power. It was the definitive example of what Alex Ferguson called Cantona’s “defiant charisma”. His defiance that night defined his career, and also his life.

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» Paulo Dybala: ‘You have to put the mask on like gladiators do and fight’

The Juventus No 10 discusses his Polish heritage, nearly giving up on football and interest from Tottenham and Manchester United

Behind the mask is a boy. Just before Christmas 2016, Paulo Dybala missed Juventus’s last penalty in the Italian Super Cup final against Milan. It was still on his mind days later when, watching Gladiator, he had an idea. From that moment, he has celebrated every goal by putting his hand across his face, thumb and index finger extended to imitate a mask. It has been seen often – there have been 64 goals since, starting with a penalty in the next match – instantly identified as his. It is also, he says, “not just a celebration but a message”.

Juventus’s No 10 speaks softly; he is thoughtful and the mask is worn lightly but listening it becomes apparent it goes beyond celebration to become more meaningful, if subconsciously. He says it was inspired by the penalty and the film, that he “didn’t really think about” it as protection or some emotional shield. But in the way he explains it – in everything he says the morning after its latest outing – it is revealed as deeper.

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» Gary Neville asks right questions of Qatar but gets no nearer answers we need | Barney Ronay

The pundit’s documentary is well made but pulls its punches on problems surrounding the next World Cup

“I will be able to get away with anything. The most slippery, unthinkable, Machiavellian things” – Ricardo Teixeira, Fifa executive, World Cup 2022 bid committee member, July 2011.

“Which Conmebol officials were to receive money for their votes in connection with the Qatar [World Cup] selection?

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» Revealed: the scale of Manchester City’s FFP breaches before 2014 Uefa deal

• Accounting rejected and £118.75m of sponsorships questioned
• City could face Champions League ban in second Uefa inquiry

Manchester City were found to have made inadmissible submissions to Uefa over financial fair play in 2014 and were reported for not making their bank statements available, the Guardian can reveal.

City’s submissions for the 2012 and 2013 financial years were questioned in relation to £118.75m in sponsorships from companies in Abu Dhabi, the home state of the club’s owner, and their accounting methods over transfer fees and the formation of two new companies were rejected.

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» Hemel Hempstead keeper takes no chances in getting his angles covered – video

A long-range effort from Bath City's Tom Smith brought about cheers and laughter as Hemel Hempstead goalkeeper Sam Beasant sarcastically dived as the ball flew almost 20 yards off target in their National League South game. The ambitious effort from behind the halfway line from City's top goalscorer was mishit, sending the ball trickling out for a goal-kick. However, the next time Smith had an effort from a closer range free-kick, he cannoned the ball through the wall, as it rose into the net. No laughing matter. The Romans went on to win the game 2-0

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» Tottenham manager José Mourinho: 'Teams are lucky against us' – video

José Mourinho has claimed that whenever sides play against his Spurs side they are lucky. Speaking after Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Norwich, Mourinho said that 'normally, players and teams are lucky against us. [Watford's Étienne] Capoue was lucky, Watford was lucky, [Liverpool's Andy] Robertson was lucky, Liverpool was lucky'

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» Solskjær on Manchester United's latest defeat: Burnley deserved to win – video

Further pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjær after his Manchester United side suffered a 2-0 defeat to Burnley, the first time the Clarets have won at Old Trafford since 1962. ‘You can lose to teams that out play you, but tonight should have been a game we should have won,’ admitted Solskjær. As well as trouble on the pitch, fans off the field could be heard chanting against club owners the Glazers and Ed Woodward

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» Arteta praises Arsenal's 'spirit, fight and leadership' after coming back to draw at Chelsea – video

Mikel Arteta was delighted with Arsenal’s spirit as they twice recovered from a goal down to snatch a point against Chelsea, whose failure to take advantage of David Luiz’s early red card infuriated Frank Lampard. 'When someone makes a mistake, what cannot happen is that we don’t stand up for him. Every single player did it, with belief as well,’ said the Arsenal manager. Speaking after the 2-2 draw Arteta praised the performance of former Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka. 'I didn't know how good he was going to do, but he was going to put everything in there. And and he was great.' Xhaka played in central defence after the early red card to David Luiz.

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» Ancelotti recalls Champions League final defeat after Everton's late collapse – video

Carlo Ancelotti shared sympathies with his Everton players after they gave away a 2-0 lead to Newcastle in the final minute of injury-time. ‘I lost the Champions League final after winning 3-0, it happens,’ said the Everton manager after the 2-2 draw. In 2005, Carlo Ancelotti managed a Milan side into the Champions League final to face Liverpool. Despite being 3-0 to the good at half-time, his side would infamously go on to lose on penalties to Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool

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» Beating Manchester United 'one of the best' says Klopp as Liverpool go 16 points clear - video

Liverpool took a further step forward to their first title in 30 years with a 2-0 victory over Manchester United. Jürgen Klopp's side now sit 16 points ahead of Manchester City, with a game in hand over Pep Guardiola's side. A header early in the first half from Virgil van Dijk opened the score before a stoppage-time goal courtesy of Mo Salah sealed the result

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» Hardworking and humble: Robbie Fowler’s Roar seize on football’s fortunes | Richard Parkin

Small moments can change seasons, but big turnarounds more often have deeper wellsprings

In football, games – even seasons – can turn on the tiniest of incidents. A missed chance. A moment’s recklessness. A second’s quick thinking. These are the inflection points that can haunt players or coaches for decades in retirement. Often the significance is apparent in the moment. Steven Gerrard’s slip. A failed offside trap as Ali Daei releases Khodadad Azizi. But more often than not, they’re not.

In round 12 of the A-League, 47 minutes in, a ball strikes Aaron Amadi-Holloway’s arm inside the box. A referee twirling their spoon through the alphabet soup that is IFAB + VAR could easily have spelt “penalty”. This time, they didn’t. In the 80th minute, Angus Thurgate burst through one-on-one on goal, only to spurn the chance as the ball sat stubbornly inside the teenage striker’s gait. In the 90th minute, Jamie Young’s big left hand denied a goal-destined header from Ben Kantarovski. A save of the season.

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» Erling Braut Haaland's scoring run continues as Dortmund thrash Cologne
  • Teenager takes tally to five goals in two substitute appearances
  • Milan beat Brescia 1-0 in Serie A thanks to Ante Rebic goal

Erling Braut Haaland came off the bench to score twice as Borussia Dortmund thrashed Cologne 5-1 to move up to third place in the Bundesliga. Haaland had started as a substitute despite scoring a hat-trick on his debut at Augsburg last Saturday.

But the Norwegian, who had been linked with a move to Manchester United, made a dramatic late impression with a brace in the final 13 minutes to seal an emphatic win. Raphael Guerreiro had put Dortmund ahead inside the opening minute after a neat cut-back by Jadon Sancho, and Marco Reus doubled the lead on the half-hour mark.

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» Olyroos end barren streak, but risk trailing rising Asia | Richard Parkin

Australia’s men’s football team are back at the Olympics - now the challenge is to stay there

As Mohammed Abdulla’s whistle sounded around the Rajamangala stadium in Bangkok, Australia’s players slumped to their knees – exhausted, relieved, delighted.

They’d done it the hard way. Their semi-final loss to Korea meant another 100 grueling minutes – a sixth game in 17 days – amid the sapping heat and humidity of South-East Asia.

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» 'I’ve had setbacks in my life': Ali Abbas tries to find relaxation in football | Emma Kemp

The A-League cult hero opens up on his secret satellite dish, post-Asian Cup threats, when Iraq tried to recruit Graham Arnold and his own comeback hopes

Ali Abbas was 17 when he told Saddam Hussein’s men to go home. Warned them, rather, that US troops had taken Baghdad. The Abbas family was driving back to the capital they called home, having fled to the neighbouring Diyala province once the bombs started falling in early 2003, and on the way encountered the inevitable roadside congregation of uniformed figures.

The future A-League star and Iraq international’s initial instinct was to disclose what they knew, that Hussein’s shackled statue was toppling and the symbolism was about to get very real for the overthrown dictator’s allies.

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» David Squires on … the comings, and ultimately goings, of Markus Babbel

Our resident cartoonist looks at the departure of a man who promised much as Wanderers coach but delivered little

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» Pass masters Barcelona deliver first glimpse of the Setién manifesto | Sid Lowe

Against Granada it was very Setién. It was also very Barcelona, in a move driven by nostalgia, but with a glimpse of the future

Nine hundred and ninety-eight … 999… 1,000. And still it went. Jordi Alba played the ball to Riqui Puig, who played it to Sergi Busquets, who played it to Arthur Melo, who played it to Sergi Roberto, who played it to Gerard Piqué. Who, finally halted on 100, didn’t get the chance to play it to anyone else. Half an hour before his first game as coach of Barcelona, Quique Setién had sat on the bench alongside his assistant Éder Sarabia, empty seats rising around them, still barely able to believe they were here, and silently contemplated the players – his players – warming up with a ball at their feet. Two and a half hours later, standing now, collar turned up against the cold, when the final whistle went it was still there.

“I’ve seen some of the things I wanted,” Setién said afterwards and others had too, although not all of them. Above all, he had seen the thing he says all players want and always have, right back to the playground: the ball. Barcelona won 1-0 on his debut against Granada but there were other numbers that occupied everyone. Piqué was one of four players to reach 100 passes, 98 of them accurate. Rakitic had only been two away from making it five; Lionel Messi was seven away. Puig had played more passes than all of Granada’s players – and he had only been on the pitch 22 minutes. Busquets had played more than all of them put together. His 157 was a record this season.

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» Former Osasuna official says club fixed La Liga matches in 2013 and 2014
• Ángel Vizcay says Getafe and Real Betis were paid to lose games
• Former president Miguel Archanco denies any match-fixing

The Spanish top-flight club Osasuna fixed football matches in an attempt to avoid relegation over two seasons, a court heard on Tuesday.

The club’s former secretary said Osasuna had paid Getafe and Real Betis to lose against them in 2012-13 and 2013-14 respectively and had made a further payment to Espanyol in return for a draw. Ángel Vizcay testified in the case led by the investigating judge Fermín Otamendi and brought against 11 men: six former Osasuna directors, three former Betis players and two estate agents also accused of being involved.

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» LA Galaxy confirm signing of Javier Hernández from Sevilla
  • Mexico striker says it is ‘the right time’ to join MLS
  • Hernández’s deal reported to be for three years

Sevilla have agreed a fee with LA Galaxy for the Mexico striker Javier Hernández. In an interview published on Tuesday with the Los Angeles Times, the 31-year-old said it was “the right time, the right opportunity” to make the move to the MLS club.

The Galaxy confirmed the move on Tuesday morning, and a photo of Hernández in the club’s shirt appeared at the top of their Twitter page. Reports say the Galaxy paid €8.5m ($9.4m) for Hernández, and he will earn around $6m a year under the terms of a three-year deal.

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» La Liga president criticises Fifa and says richest clubs are ‘danger’ to game

• Javier Tebas hits out at Club World Cup expansion
• ‘One of the major issues is financial doping’

The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, was in London last week. Recently re-elected for a further four-year term, the controversial 57-year-old was in the capital for the launch of his TV channel, La Liga TV; but he had other things to say too, lots of them.

La Liga, like the Premier League, is in competition for global eyeballs. It wants to grow its audience around the globe and get them to spend more time watching Spanish football year on year. Hence the new TV station launching in the UK one year after the collapse of Eleven Sports. As an administrator, however, Tebas has other concerns; the one that plagues him most being the proliferation of football competitions, the most problematic of those being Fifa’s expanded Club World Cup, a 24-team competition set to be held in China in the summer of 2021.

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» Aston Villa job feels right and I hope it helps other women into leading roles | Eni Aluko
Villa’s women are going places and guiding them to the WSL in the city where I fell in love with football is an exciting challenge

Next week it will be two months since my last game of football, and in that time my life has changed significantly. I have left Juventus and moved home to London from Turin. I have announced my retirement, and this week I joined Aston Villa as their sporting director for women’s football. It’s a full-circle moment for me: I grew up playing football in Birmingham and now I will start the next phase of my career in the city where I met the game.

I always had a niggling feeling that this was going to be my last season in football. When I was first approached by Villa I was still at Juventus, and I thought it was something I would consider at the end of the campaign in Italy. But the more I thought about it the more excited I became, and in the end I felt my decision was between a role that can launch me into a second career on the executive side of football that might last for a decade or more, and at best another one- or two-year playing contract with Juventus or another club. In many ways, this opportunity pushed me into making the decision to retire.

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» Gabriel Martinelli shrugs off Arsenal’s shackles and lets hope fly again | Jonathan Liew
Such is the Brazilian’s swagger that his solo goal at Chelsea seemed predestined; he could be the perfect fit for Mikel Arteta

“I’m not the Messiah!” “I say you are, Lord, and I should know – I’ve followed a few.” – Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Has a goal ever looked so breathtakingly easy and ludicrously difficult all at once? As Gabriel Martinelli gathered the ball in his own half on Tuesday night, he found himself all on his own, 80 yards from goal, with N’Golo Kanté blocking his path. And yet within a few seconds the ball was rolling past Kepa Arrizabalaga into the Chelsea net, the 18-year-old Martinelli having simply run the length of the field in a very fast straight line, dumping perhaps the world’s best covering midfielder on his backside in the process. You know, as you do.

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» Manchester United’s Ed Woodward: admired by Glazers, despised by fans
Frontman for the unpopular Glazer family is target for hateful chants now the manager no longer doubles as a human shield

On Wednesday night Ed Woodward discovered another problem with the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjær as Manchester United’s manager. The Norwegian, the hero of the Camp Nou in 1999, is all but unimpeachable even if his team play lumpen football and a series of ill-conceived decisions have exposed an unsuitability for top-level management.

And so United’s fans’ ire must be directed elsewhere, and while the club’s executive vice-chairman has been in the firing line for much of his near-seven years running the club, Solskjær is not David Moyes, Louis van Gaal or José Mourinho, a hired hand who doubles as a human shield for Woodward. “He’s gonna die, Ed Woodward is gonna die”, as sung during the 2-0 home defeat by Burnley, is a repurposed chant historically aimed at Manchester City, less a threat than a vivid, unseemly expression of hatred.

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» The Fiver | The sort of creativity Manchester United have been crying out for

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Before Manchester United set off for Tranmere Rovers as part of their quest to find a team from Merseyside that they can beat, Ole Gunnar Solskjær held a press conference. It may only be the FA Cup but when Solskjær speaks, everyone listens. Then they laugh. But that’s just how things are: nobody really exists these days unless they’re being trampled by sheep on at least one social media abomination. We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day. So let’s start giffing.

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» Football transfer rumours: Carlos Tevez to rejoin Manchester United?

Today’s fluff is searching for the light

There’s a desperation at Manchester United to return to the Fergie days and, in order to hasten the process, they’ve been linked with bringing back a 35-year-old Carlos Tevez from Boca Juniors. No news on the availability of David Bellion and Kleberson, mind.

Some would say United need to get in new players whatever the cost. Ed Woodward, unfortunately for United fans, does not agree and will apparently not meet Sporting’s valuation of Bruno Fernandes. Matías Vecino will also not be arriving at Old Trafford after Internazionale batted away a loan offer for the midfielder.

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» Football managers sacked when their teams were top of the league | The Knowledge

Plus: booked benchwarmers, special trophy lifts and Shoot magazine’s hardest shots

“With Barça sacking Valverde,” tweets Gordon, “when was the last time a manager was sacked at the top of the league?”

William Hogg can recall one Halloween horror show. “Scot Symon was told – through an intermediary, though this was typical of Rangers at the time – that his services were no longer required at Ibrox on 31 October 1967, when Rangers were a point ahead of Hibernian and three clear of Celtic at the top of Division One. It should, of course, be remembered that 1967 had been a difficult year for Symon. Rangers had fallen out of the Scottish Cup at the first hurdle the season before against the mighty, er, Berwick Rangers, while hopes of a Cup Winners’ Cup win to stand alongside Celtic’s European Cup triumph in Lisbon were dashed by Bayern Munich in the final.

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» David Squires on … the resurrection of Nigel Pearson at Watford

Our resident cartoonist recalls the myths and legends surrounding Watford’s renascent manager

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

Chelsea’s imperious win at Arsenal makes them title favourites although Manchester City are unlikely to fade away

During Chelsea’s remarkable win at Arsenal I sent messages to a couple of people at the FA who have been involved in women’s football for many years. I told them how proud I feel about where the Women’s Super League is at the moment. It is the best product in the world, in my opinion, and the showcase fixture on Sunday showed that once again. We saw a celebration of quality goals and fine football, epitomised by the way Chelsea got hold of Arsenal and simply pinned them up against the wall by their throats. Arsenal definitely had an off day but Emma Hayes’ side were sensational in their attitude, work rate and application.

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» The Dozen: Pickford flies and red skies – best Premier League photos

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

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» Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 top scorers 2019-20

Keep up with the top scorers in European football’s leading five leagues, updated throughout the season

17 Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)

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» Football quiz: career paths of the past decade – can you guess the player?

These well-travelled footballers have been around the block more than once in the past 10 years - see if you can name them

Portsmouth > Burnley (loan) > Leicester City > Middlesbrough > Derby County > Preston North End.

Jimmy Bullard

David Nugent

Dean Windass

Kevin Phillips

Barcelona > Roma > Milan (loan) > Barcelona > Ajax (loan) > Stoke City > Mainz 05 (loan) > Alavés (loan) > Montreal Impact.

Tuncay Sanli

Jordi Alba

Bojan Krkic

Stefano Okaka

Tottenham Hotspur > Toronto FC > Tottenham (loan) > Sunderland > Bournemouth > Rangers (loan).

Peter Crouch

Luka Modric

Rafael van der Vaart

Jermain Defoe

Blackburn > QPR > Doncaster Rovers > Market Drayton > Carlisle > Arles-Avignon > Washington > Ashton Town.

Morten Gamst Pedersen

Chris Samba

Pascal Chimbonda

Steven Nzonzi

Liverpool > Galatasaray (loan) > Sporting CP > Atlético Madrid > Rayo Vallecano (loan) > Stuttgart.

Jay Spearing

Fabio Aurelio

Daniel Ayala

Emiliano Insua

Portsmouth > Milan > Schalke 04 > Milan > Las Palmas > Eintracht Frankfurt > Sassuolo > Barcelona (loan) > Fiorentina.

Kevin-Prince Boateng

Niko Kranjcar

John Utaka

Nwankwo Kanu

Chelsea > QPR (loan) > Wolves (loan) > Hamburg > Nottingham Forest > New England Revolution.

Adel Taraabt

Michael Mancienne


José Bosingwa

Arsenal > Barcelona > Roma (loan) > Vissel Kobe.

Vito Mannone

Thomas Vermaelen

Alexander Hleb

Marouane Chamakh

Birmingham City > Stoke City > Crystal Palace (loan) > Norwich City > Derby County > Goztepe.

Jordon Mutch

Gary McSheffrey

Cameron Jerome

Marcus Bent

Fenerbahce > Toulouse (loan) > Galatasaray > Olympiacos (loan) > Blackburn Rovers (loan) > Bursaspor > Feyenoord (loan) > Feyenoord > Celtic > Coritiba > Corinthians > Lobos BUAP (loan) > Veracruz.


Colin Kazim-Richards

Amine Linganzi

Jamie O'Hara

10 and above.

You're the best! Lionel Messi-level quizzing. Congratulations!

9 and above.

Very, very good. If this quiz was a stadium, there would be a statue of you outside.

8 and above.

Congratulations on an exceptional performance. You've earned yourself a testimonial at the very least.

7 and above.

Well done! You missed out on the title but you're in the Champions League, at worst.

6 and above.

A very respectable effort. You are the James Milner of quizzes.

5 and above.

Not bad, not great. A mid-table season in the Championship.

4 and above.

Definite room for improvement. The board have issued a public vote of confidence.

3 and above.

Disappointing. Knocked out in the qualifying rounds.

2 and above.

Two better than zero, you are still destined to end up on loan at Trabzonspor.

0 and above.

Your career never even began. But you probably still lie about having a trial with Stoke City.

1 and above.

A one-hit wonder. You are being sent on loan to a non-league club in Siberia.

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» Flat Earth FC: the football club who represent a conspiracy theory

The Flat Earth FC chairman says he is ‘using the club to make sure that people reconsider their lives’

Javi Poves was a promising young footballer. Having risen through the ranks at Sporting Gijón, the Spanish defender made his La Liga debut in 2011 on the final day of the season. He retired that summer having made that one appearance for the club. He was 23 years old.

“What I’ve seen from within makes it clear: professional football is only money and corruption. It’s capitalism, and capitalism is death,” said Proves. “I don’t want to be part of a system based on people earning money at the expense of the deaths of others in South America, Africa and Asia. To put it simply, my conscience will not let me continue with this.”

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» David Luiz’s red card leaves Arsenal pondering philosophical matters | Barney Ronay

An encouraging display at Chelsea poses a question: is no David Luiz a more effective defensive tool than David Luiz?

They laughed at the idea David Luiz might bring spirit and a fighting mentality to this Arsenal team. Well, he found a way here.

Not the orthodox way. Rather, in a way that involved removing himself from the pitch for 64 minutes of this slightly wild 2-2 draw, the opening act in one of the more robust and indeed quietly encouraging Arsenal performances at Stamford Bridge of recent years.

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» Yes, social media and video games really can hurt footballers' decision-making | Sean Ingle

Study of footballers in Brazil shows spending time on a smartphone or console before a game causes mental fatigue

Could spending too much time on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram affect a footballer’s performance? Manchester United appear to think so. One report before their trip to Anfield claimed the club were “consulting leading experts” about how to help their stars deal with the negative mental effects of social media and also suggested there were concerns that players were suffering dips in form as a result of being abused online.

Some may suggest the players should just “man up”. But scientists are increasingly scrutinising how mental fatigue – the lack of energy we feel from long periods of purely cognitive activity – can influence sporting performance, often with startling results.

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» Ole Gunnar Solskjær is not the right manager for Manchester United | Jonathan Wilson

There has been little sign of improvement since Solskjær took over and he looks ill-equipped to turn things around

O n Friday 5 March 1909, Manchester United went to Burnley for an FA Cup quarter-final. The pitch was frozen, there was heavy snow and with 18 minutes remaining the referee, Herbert Bamlett, decided the match couldn’t go on. For United, the abandonment was fortunate: they had been 1-0 down but won the rearranged game 3-2 and went on, for the first time, to lift the FA Cup.

Bamlett, having refereed the 1914 FA Cup final, turned his hand to management, taking charge of Oldham, Wigan Borough and Middlesbrough, guiding the latter to the verge of promotion when, in April 1927, he was named manager of United.

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» Next Generation 2019: 60 of the best young talents in world football

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s son, the new Paul Pogba and Barça’s Ansu Fati are among our 60 most talented players in the world born in 2002. Check the progress of our 2018 picks | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by DZfoot, BackpagePix, Club Atlético Belgrano, EFE, EPA, Getty Images, Uwe Gruen/Hoffenheim, AMA/Getty Images, Rex/Shutterstock, Zuma Press/PA, FIFA, Tigres, Damir Krajac/CROPIX, Alamy, Daniel Reyes/Ecuafutbol, Reuters, Atromitos, Imago/PA, fotoBERNAMA, New Straits Times, José Alonso Paredes Sánchez, Agencja Gazeta, David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty, AP, Asian Football Confederation, Danubio FC and Championat Asia

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» Next Generation 2019: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

The Guardian selects the best young players at each club born between 1 September 2002 and 31 August 2003, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by David Price/Arsenal/Getty Images, Neville Williams/Aston Villa/Getty Images, AFC Bournemouth, Paul Hazlewood/BHAFC, Paul Dennis/TGS/Shutterstock, Clive Howes/Chelsea/Getty Images, Danny Loo/PPAUK, Emma Simpson/Everton/Getty Images, Nick Taylor/Liverpool/Getty Images, Manchester City/Getty Images, Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images, Jason Dawson/Jasonpix, James Wilson/Sportimage, Simon Bellis/Sportimage, Robin Jones/Digital South/Southampton FC, Tottenham Hotspur/Getty Images, Alan Cozzi/Watford, Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United and Sam Bagnall/AMA

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» Next Generation: after five years, how has our first full class of picks fared?

From Rashford to Tielemans, we check in on how our initial Next Generation players have got on before the 2019 ones are announced this week

In 2014 we decided that it would be interesting to pick the best young players from each Premier League club – as well as 40 from around the world – and follow them for five years to see how they progressed.

The idea was to try to get a sense of how difficult it is to become a professional footballer despite being one of the best in that country at the age of 16 or 17.

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