Tag Archives: League

UEFA suspends Romanian official over racism row which sparked Champions League walk-off

UEFA has suspended Romanian fourth official Sebastian Coltescu until the end of the season after he was involved in a storm of racism allegations during the hot-tempered Champions League game between PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir.

Pierre Webo, the Cameroonian assistant coach of the Turkish champions, alleged that he had been subjected to racist comments by Coltescu after he was sent-off after a touchline spat during the Champions League group stage game on December 8. The game was subsequently abandoned after Istanbul players walked off the field, where they were soon joined by their Parisian opposition.
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The storm was ignited when Coltescu allegedly referred to Webo as “the black one” when he was asked by the referee which member of the Istanbul Basaksehir coaching staff he recommended receive a card, with several players – including former Chelsea striker Demba Ba – reacting furiously. 

Others, including PSG’s Brazilian star Neymar, also appeared angry at the incident.

The match resumed the next day with a different set of officials overseeing the fixture which the French champions would eventually win 5-1.

UEFA announced that they were to launch an investigation into the incident related to a potential violation of Article 11 of their disciplinary code which states that members must “comply with the principles of ethical conduct, loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship.”
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The case was then moved to UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body which recommended that they “conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding the incident and the events that led.”

It was then announced on Monday that Coltescu has been suspended by UEFA for what they described as “inappropriate behaviour during a UEFA match for which he was appointed”. 

He has also been ordered to attend a relevant “educational programme before June 30, 2021.”

Somewhat predictably, the reaction online to Coltescu’s ban has been mixed – with some saying that the suspension was too lenient and others remarking that it was too harsh.

Sack any official involved in Racism and ban any fan or player involve it Racism then we will know the body truly wants to end Racism,” one fan wrote, while another described the ban as a “joke“.

Another wrote that UEFA has gone “full woke” in their decision to issue the official with a ban, suggesting that European football’s governing body are bowing to the PC brigade. 
Also on rt.com Turkish President Erdogan weighs in on racism storm which marred PSG-Istanbul Basaksehir Champions League tie
Immediately following the December game, Coltescu took to his own social media to protest his innocence.

Racism was never my intention,” he wrote online. “In such an environment, people sometimes cannot properly express their feelings and can be misunderstood. I apologise in the name of the UEFA Champions League.”

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Premier League talking points: Man Utd's Rashford risk, Liverpool rebuild, Arsenal boring

Express Sport reporter Matthew Dunn assesses the talking points from the latest round of Premier League action after Manchester United ended Manchester City’s 21-game winning run, Liverpool lost yet again to Fulham and Arsenal drew with Burnley, while Tottenham hammered Crystal Palace.
RASH TO RUSH BACK

Marcus Rashford needed a break. Hopefully he has gotten away with nothing more serious than an ankle sprain.

But the heroic manner in which he injured himself sprinting back 70 yards to defend Manchester United’s lead on Sunday and possibly their Champions League place, was in keeping with the selflessness he has become so well respected for.

The Premier League is a cut-throat world but is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer guilty of taking advantage of that?

It was clear in recent games that the 23-year-old was on his last legs as United literally ran him into the ground.

Solskjaer himself, of course, rarely saw more than 25 minutes or so of action every week, so probably does not appreciate the burden Rashford has been carrying.

It is the other reason, aside from a lack of goals, that United simply must sign a striker this summer. They are in danger of destroying Rashford otherwise before he has had a chance to achieve his full potential.

KLOPP MUST CHOP TO STOP THE ROT

It turns out 2021 is the year when we discover whether Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp is a great manager or just a good one.

The difference lies in an ability to rebuild and evolve a second generation of table toppers.

As Pep Guardiola has built around Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias at Manchester City.

As Manchester United icon Sir Alex Ferguson did on at least four occasions during his two decades of near-uninterrupted success.

As Liverpool legend Bob Paisley did between 1974 and 1983.

Six home defeats in a row suggest that Klopp now needs to do the unthinkable and dismantle his title-winners and start again. Just as Paisley did.

Kevin Keegan, John Toshack, Tommy Smith, Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Ray Clemence, Terry McDermott left and the trophies kept on coming.

Is Klopp brave enough to sacrifice Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum, Sadio Mane and, dare it be said, Mo Salah to put his project back on track?

BORING, BORING ARTETA

Quite rightly, Arsenal fans are worried about their club’s points tally and position in the league. But another stat does not appear to be of concern. And it should be.

The toothless 1-1 draw against Burnley meant that with 11 games to go Arsenal have scored just 38 times.

They have not been more boring than that since the last century.

It is not just that the club seems to be treading water right now, it is that there is nothing to get excited about.

The young players such as Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe may add the occasional youthful buzz to proceedings, but they are not somebody you would pay just to watch them alone.

They were already struggling to fill seats in the Emirates at the end of the Arsene Wenger era. Who knows that the empty stadiums this season are hiding.

One thing is for sure, for all his standing at the club, fail to bring a bit more life to the Emirates after lockdown is over, and the Arteta era may be on a hiding to nothing.

BALE COMES TO THE FORE

For months Gareth Bale struggled to settle back in at home. Instead of a triumphant return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it was a struggle as the Welshman found it impossible to settle back comfortably.

He scored just one goal in his first seven home appearances.

Now suddenly, from February 24, he has been smiling and back to his old self. Five goals in three home games since then.

What could have triggered such a turnaround in his mood in the same week Boris Johnson set a proposed date for the reopening of the nation’s golf courses?

GREAT SCOTT

Remember when Scott Parker bizarrely won the FWA Player of the Year award despite getting relegated with West Ham?

Well could this be the year where he bizarrely does not win Manager of the Year despite keeping Fulham up?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp debunks Fulham theory after dire Premier League defeat

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hit back at Fulham midfielder Harrison Reed after he claimed his team wanted victory more at Anfield on Sunday. Fulham beat Liverpool 1-0 on Merseyside to make it six home Premier League defeats in a row for Klopp’s side.
Mario Lemina’s fine strike late in the first half was the only goal of the game as the Reds once again failed to score at their home ground.

Liverpool are now four points off the top four, with many of the teams above them having at least one game in hand.

Afterwards, Reed told Sky Sports that Fulham wanted to win more than Liverpool.

Reed reflected: “We did want it more and that was evident on the pitch and a big factor in getting three points today.”

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“We never had momentum in the season. You can see it’s still in the boys. They still have it all but at the moment can’t show it.

“It would be a masterpiece to find out how we change that overnight.”

The German admitted the current spell is one of his lowest moments as a manager.

Klopp told BBC Sport: “I would wish to say no but yes it is. That’s not a problem. I don’t always have to have the best times.

“This team is an extreme team. We were extremely successful and now we have an extreme situation as well but we will fight through.”

Meanwhile, Fulham boss Scott Parker says he expected his side would get something from Anfield.

“The first half, we were what I wanted us to look like,” Parker told Sky Sports.

“I had full belief we could come here and get something.

“In the first half we had chances. The boys stuck to the plan and we were well worthy of the first goal.

“In the second half you don’t plan dynamics to go like that. We showed another side to us – character, resilience, doggedness. I’m very proud of the team today.”

Major League Baseball to hold first Lou Gehrig Day on June 2

June 2 marks the 96th anniversary of when Gehrig started at first base for the Yankees, starting his record streak of 2,130 consecutive games played.

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball will hold its first Lou Gehrig Day on June 2, adding Gehrig to Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente on the short list of players honored throughout the big leagues.
Each home team will have “4-ALS” logos in ballparks to mark Gehrig’s No. 4, and all players, managers and coaches will wear a Lou Gehrig Day patch on uniforms and may use red “4-ALS” wristbands. Teams that are off on June 2 will observe Lou Gehrig Day on June 3.
MLB said Thursday that the day will focus on finding cures and raising money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the legacy of Gehrig and others who died of the progressive disease that attacks nerve cells controlling muscles throughout the body.
Oakland Athletics outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who lost his mother Gretchen to ALS almost three years ago, said he’s thrilled MLB is honoring Gehrig and raising awareness for the disease.
“It’s something our organization has been pushing for and we’re ecstatic that there’s finally going to be a day,” he said. “And hopefully this can spur further awareness and we can really catch some momentum here and really do some good.”
The A’s have hosted an ALS Awareness Night in recent seasons as a way to honor, among others, Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter and Piscotty’s late mother. She died in May 2018 at age 55 — about a year after being diagnosed.
June 2 marks the 96th anniversary of when Gehrig started at first base for the New York Yankees in place of Wally Pipp, starting his record streak of 2,130 consecutive games played. The mark stood until September 1995, when it was broken by Baltimore’s Cal Ripken Jr., who played 2,632 consecutive games in a streak that ended in 1998.
Gehrig died of ALS at age 37 on June 2, 1941. He was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1939, months after his abrupt retirement.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement that Gehrig’s “humility and courage continue to inspire our society” and “the pressing need to find cures remains.”
MLB’s committee includes Piscotty; Colorado outfielder Sam Hillard, whose father has been diagnosed with ALS; and Milwaukee catcher Jacob Nottingham, whose family includes six people who died of ALS.
Teams and players helped raise millions of dollars in 2014’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The New York Yankees often mark the anniversary of Gehrig’s farewell speech on July 4, 1939.
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Liverpool vs Chelsea: From Drogba’s ghost to Anfield woes, 5 talking points ahead of Tuchel’s toughest Premier League test so far

Are Liverpool about to lose a fifth home game in a row? Are Chelsea too defensive to outgun their rivals and bring the best out of the likes of Timo Werner? Here are five factors ahead of the Premier League showdown on Thursday.

Five to forget at non-fortress Anfield?

Liverpool could lose five consecutive home matches for the first time in their history tonight. Since Mohamed Salah’s 90th-minute winner at home to Tottenham – one of only three teams they have beaten in the league since early December – the club have gone almost three months without a home win, making all that talk of their 68-match unbeaten home run until their shock defeat by Burnley seem more like a curse than a cause for celebration right now.

Even the defeat that ended the run seems unsurprising now, followed as it has been by losses to Brighton, Manchester City and neighbours Everton, alongside a loud echo of collective laughter from the clubs that had considered them title rivals just a few months ago.

That said, there is little doubt that this is, on paper, Thomas Tuchel’s toughest league match of his time as Chelsea manager so far. Everyone is expecting Liverpool to shift from wounded animal to restored predator at some point soon, and their six-match winless run at home still seems pretty extraordinary considering the firepower they have within their title-winning ranks. Chelsea’s first league away match under Tuchel was an impressive win at Spurs – tempered by the fact that Tottenham were entering a dire run of form at the time – and they have not entirely convinced since, recording a narrow, hard-fought victory at bottom side Sheffield United and a draw at struggling Southampton on their travels.

Klopp sees more danger in Chelsea

Reading between the lines of Jurgen Klopp’s comments about Chelsea, the Liverpool boss could be interpreted as sensing more of an all-round threat from the visitors under Tuchel. Two quickfire second-half Sadio Mane goals gave his side a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge when Frank Lampard was in the opposing technical area earlier this season, and Klopp’s conclusion that Chelsea have “changed maybe slightly” since then sounds like an expectation of a much stiffer test to those familiar with his coded diplomacy.

“It’s quite difficult to get more possession than Chelsea,” he said, perhaps with one eye on the elements of tactical mastery deployed by Tuchel in the superb 1-0 win his side earned at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. “The full package is required, let me say it like this.” Sensibly, Klopp expects Chelsea to use a deep block and then remain patient when they have the ball, looking for counter-attacking opportunities and, if Tuchel has his way, showing a ruthless touch at the right moments in the final third.

Klopp could really do with solving the puzzle, though: a win would move Liverpool into the coveted fourth position that is needed to guarantee Champions League football via the league next season, and a point would take them level with fifth-placed Chelsea, trailing only on goal difference.

Dreams of Didier Drogba

Timo Werner’s statement this week that he wants to emulate Chelsea great Didier Drogba might seem as laughable as a comparison between a Ferrari and a kart, but it isn’t the Premier League newcomer’s fault that he is destined to be asked questions about Drogba once in a while. Tuchel acknowledges that inevitability, and also thinks that being a striker for Chelsea is difficult, which might come as a surprise to forwards around the world who don’t have the privilege of playing in front of creative players worth hundreds of millions of dollars every week.

We shouldn’t over-exaggerate how ineffective or otherwise the Germany forward has been during his debut campaign in England so far, though. Ten goals in all competitions and five in the Premier League far from justifies his huge price tag, yet there has been enough to suggest he will succeed at the club, including his acceptance of his need to improve and his willingness to work for the team.

In fact, Werner has scored one league goal more already this season than Drogba managed in his first at the club, and has already played one more game than the future Chelsea legend did during that campaign. Drogba hit double figures in the Premier League the following season before nearing a goal a game, on average, as he reached his peak in his third year.

Patience and loyalty with strikers is even more precious a commodity now than it was in Drogba’s heyday. At 24, Werner has plenty of time to aim for those heights and remains an investment rather than a finished article.

Are Chelsea too defensive under Tuchel?

If Klopp is more worried about revitalized Chelsea, it isn’t necessarily because of the attacking prowess being shown by Werner and friends. A conservative approach was required to secure that marvellous victory over Atletico, coming as part of a run that has seen Tuchel oversee little more than a goal a game across his tenure to date. No surprise, then, to see Tuchel on the defensive about being on the defensive in the build-up, and emphasizing that Werner – or whoever else plays as his No.9 – can expect an even more difficult task than usual against Liverpool.

“Whoever expects us to create 10 big chances and go out of this match with six expected goals has a high possibility to be hugely disappointed,” warned Tuchel, perhaps providing another reason for fans not to be desperate at being kept away from Anfield this evening. “Do we train always defensive? Not at all. We train always offensive and still we are a super-solid team, defensive-wise. It is very complex – how to be solid and still be capable of scoring, how to not just be offensive-thinking and open up three or four big chances for any opponent. We are on it and it is not so easy. If we find a solution, hopefully everybody will see it.”

Suffice to say, the approach under Lampard that was sometimes perceived as cavalier would be most likely to yield a repeat of the reverse fixture.

Allison tragedy again reminds that there is more to life than football

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has spoken about the importance of contextualizing the pressures of the Premier League in the aftershock of goalkeeper Alisson’s father drowning in a terrible incident in Brazil last week. “It is easy to talk about team spirit when the victories are flowing and it almost becomes natural to feel good about one another,” reflected Henderson. “But it matters most at times like this and every single one of the lads has given Ali the kind of love and solidarity that he needs so much right now.”

Klopp has acknowledged how difficult it is to find any words to adequately express his own thoughts on the tragedy. “The world has experienced too much loss recently,” said the philosophical coach, pledging ardent support for Allison as a “wonderful, loving, soulful teammate”. “We have other members of our club who have suffered it. In the city of Liverpool, throughout this country and around the globe, too many have had to deal with the agony of losing a person they love so much. Bereavement is too common just now.

“We must all give Ali as much time as he needs and we must give him space in the appropriate moments also. Our supporters should know that he feels their love and their compassion. I’ve used this phrase, or a version of it, many times previously: football can feel like the most important of the least important things in life. It feels appropriate again tonight. For Ali and all others who have suffered loss, this wonderful game of ours can still bring escape, energy and joy.”

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Tuchel makes it 10: Chelsea’s run goes on as Premier League champions Liverpool lose five in a row at home for the first time ever

Thomas Tuchel has started his tenure as Chelsea boss by going 10 games unbeaten after his side won at Liverpool on Thursday, condemning the reigning champions to a fifth straight home defeat for the first time in their history.

Owner Roman Abramovich and his board of directors increasingly look to have found the right manager in Tuchel for their gifted and expensively assembled squad, although how much of a masterstroke the move can be considered on their part is debatable given that the 2020 Champions League finalist is thought not to have been their first choice to replace Frank Lampard in January.

Neither they nor the tactician will care after Chelsea earned a fifth clean sheet in sixth and a seventh win in nine in all competitions. There were murmurings on social media about his decision to leave Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz on the bench, only for the mainstay of Chelsea’s midfield this season, England midfielder Mason Mount, to score a superb opener three minutes before half-time.

Collecting possession outside the Liverpool penalty area on the left, Mount pushed the ball to his right, outpacing the uncomfortable-looking Fabinho with apparent ease before bending an unstoppable shot into the left-hand corner of goalkeeper Allison’s net, ensuring that Liverpool would not build on the first clean sheet in eight they secured by beating bottom side Sheffield United on Sunday.

“It’s a massive win. Every win now is big,” a jovial Mount told Sky Sports afterwards, admitting that he had been pleased to score because of Chelsea’s concerns over not producing enough goals.

“We had to be brave, push forward and try to win the ball back up high. Most of the time their defensive line is quite high, and we tried to explore that.

“Me, Timo [Werner] and Hakim [Ziyech] tried to run in behind and in the end that paid off. I’m not the quickest but I have a yard of pace.

“We want to keep pushing. We’re in and around [the top four] and these are the games we want to win.”

Liverpool never really threatened. Home boss Jurgen Klopp emerged for the second half with his arms around Sadio Mane, hoping the livewire striker would recapture the kind of form that saw him score both goals when his side won 2-0 at Chelsea in September.

As it was, they did not have a shot on target all night, and Werner, who was denied a goal by a VAR decision and looked lively in attack with clever movement and rapid running, came closest to scoring a second, breaking free inside the penalty area on the left to shoot against the onrushing Allison’s legs during the second half.

“We had moments where we needed to suffer but we never lost the discipline, attitude, desire to defend, and also courage to defend upfront,” said Tuchel.

“When you play at Anfield, you cannot overthink. You have no time to think so we told the players, ‘we need your best performance but we need nothing extra, super-special.

“‘We need to do things on the highest level – precision in passing and distances, where we want the ball. We need to have courage if we want to escape the pressure.’

“We knew that we had to be top in all aspects of the game. They ask you a lot of questions and we needed to have the answers.”

Asked about the impact he has had in his early days at the club, Tuchel said: “I feel a big part of this group, of the whole club, from the first moments.

“We try to help in the best way possible and we are happy when the team show their qualities.”

Reds fans who feel they have missed out on the joy of congratulating their title-winning team at Anfield now have the consolation of knowing that they have not watched the worst run of home defeats in the club’s history.

Had they been able to attend home games this year, they would have seen one goal in six matches – a Mohamed Salah penalty in the 4-1 drubbing by Manchester City – as part of a run of more than 10 hours without a goal from open play.

Top scorer Salah failed to find the net for a third league match in a row, shaking his head in a visible show of frustration as he sat in the stands after being substituted with little more than 20 minutes of the second half played.

Having seen Liverpool slump from being eight points ahead of Manchester City at one stage to now sitting 22 points behind the league leaders, a jaded-looking Klopp said: “The individual quality of Mason, in that one situation, made the difference. It was a tight, intense game. Both teams had to invest a lot. That’s it, pretty much.

“I’d have to watch [the goal] back. I think we had enough players there, we were just too deep. When Mason comes inside, you cannot defend inside the box or around the six-yard box.

“You have to be in the area where they finish these situations. [Tottenham’s] Son does it like that, Mason does it like that, Sadio Mane does it like that. We didn’t do well there and the details decide these kind of games.

“It’s the quality of Chelsea, it’s the first time in a while that Fabinho played. A lot of things are there that you have to consider but… in the end, we conceded a goal, we made a mistake.

“Everything was really good until the final pass. You are close, but if you are not close enough then it’s not even a chance.

“I know we have lost a lot of games now. We know [that]. It’s not about Anfield or whatever. It happens too often in general. In the decisive moments, we have to improve.

“It’s a massive blow. If you lose that many games, you don’t have the right to go to the Champions League. That’s how it is: we have to win football games.”

Defender Andy Robertson did not sugar-coat Liverpool’s form. “We can’t rely on the past,” he warned. “Last season’s done, the season before is done. We’ve not been anywhere near good enough, the way a Liverpool team should be playing or picking up the results that we should be picking up.

“We need to sort that, we need to start winning games. If we do that, we might start climbing the table. It’s simply not good enough and, right now, games are running out.

“We need to start getting points on the board and putting pressure on the people above us. People will think we’re down and out and we need to start picking up results to show them that we’re not. Just now, we’re not doing that.”

Liverpool had gone 68 matches unbeaten at home before Burnley beat them in January. They are now seven without a win at Anfield, and their crisis is such that even third-bottom Fulham, battling to stay up and narrowly beaten by Tottenham earlier on Thursday, pose a conceivable threat when they visit on Sunday.

Only an early Tosin Adarabioyo own-goal gave Spurs victory after they survived late pressure from the hosts, and that will have been enough for manager Jose Mourinho, whose side have improved on a dire run of form with three wins in a week.

Elsewhere, Everton continued their fine season and temporarily went above Chelsea by winning 1-0 at second-bottom West Brom.

Brazil international Richarlison headed the 65th-minute winner for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, keeping them firmly in contention for the fourth-placed finish that Chelsea are chasing in pursuit of guaranteed Champions League football next season.
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Europa League last 16 draw in full: Man Utd face AC Milan while Arsenal take on Olympiakos

The Europa League last 16 draw has been conducted with four British teams in the next round of the competition, but none of them will face each other. Manchester United’s showdown with AC Milan is the highlight of the eight ties drawn out.
United, in the Europa League after crashing out of the Champions League group stages, cruised past Real Sociedad in the last 32, winning 4-0 on aggregate.

Their reward for getting past the La Liga outfit is a two-legged showdown with Italian giants AC Milan, who sit second to rivals Inter in Serie A.

That will see the Red Devils reunited with their former frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic after Milan got past Red Star Belgrade.

Arsenal meanwhile left it late on Thursday night to get past Portuguese opponents Benfica, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 87th-minute winner securing a 3-2 win and a 4-3 aggregate success.

The Gunners know a top-four finish is beyond them in the league and so have put extra focus on this tournament, and will face Olympiakos next up.

Those two teams met in the last 32 a year ago when the Greek side prevailed on away goals at the Emirates after extra time.

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham are in a similar predicament to their north London rivals and after hammering Wolfsberger, take on Dinamo Zagreb in a favourable draw.

Rangers remain unbeaten in the Scottish Premiership and in Europe this term and got the better of Antwerp 9-5 over 180 minutes after two breathless affairs, winning 5-2 last night.

Steven Gerrard’s side have been handed two matches against Slavia Prague, who knocked out Leicester 2-0 on aggregate in the previous round.

You can see the full round of 16 draw below.

Europa League last 16 draw in full

Ajax vs Young Boys

Dynamo Kiev vs Villarreal

Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Olympiakos vs Arsenal

Dinamo Zagreb vs Tottenham

Manchester United vs AC Milan

Slavia Prague vs Rangers

Granada vs Molde

When will Europa League last 16 ties take place?

The first legs for the tournament’s second knockout round will take place on Thursday March 11.

The return fixtures will then take place a week later on Thursday March 18.

Matches on both days will be split across two kick-off times, 5.55pm and 8pm.

It remains to be seen whether teams will be able to host their matches at their own stadiums or be required to play across Europe.

Arsenal played the two legs of their tie with Benfica in Rome and Athens, for example.

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