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Usain Bolt to play charity football match amid pro contract hint

After his retirement from the track, Usain Bolt is making strides towards a new career. The Jamaican sprint great will captain a star-studded side in charity football match and has hinted at a professional contract. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Usain Bolt is set to make a return to the sporting world in a charity football match which has previously attracted such luminaries as Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, Brazilian legend Ronaldinho, actor Will Ferrell and pop star Robbie Williams. The eight-time Olympic gold medallist announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he will be joining the Soccer Aid World XI - a motley crew put together to help raise funds for the United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef. Since retiring from athletics he's also flirted with playing cricket and been pictured at the US Grand Prix. Read more: Untouchable Usain Bolt bows out in London Bolt, long linked with trials at Borussia Dortmund thanks to both parties' relationship with Puma, will captain the side, with Williams skippering the English XI that will line up against them. "Robbie and his England team better watch out as I won't be going easy on them," said Bolt, who also claimed he has a "special celebration" planned should his side win. Thee announcement came hours after Bolt, 31, had sent out a tweet suggesting that he'd signed for a team before South African Premier Soccer League outfit Mamelodi Sundowns put out a tweet of their own featuring Bolt in their training gear and a knowing hint about his future. But it seems Bolt's tweet was only related to the charity match, with the Puma logo on the Mamelodi Sundowns kit probably explaining their part in the somewhat confusing series of events. The Soccer Aid match will take part on June 10 at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium.

After his retirement from the track, Usain Bolt is making strides towards a new career. The Jamaican sprint great will captain a star-studded side in charity football match and has hinted at a professional contract. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Usain Bolt is set to make a return to the sporting world in a charity football match ... Read More »

Deniz Naki: A political footballer in fear of his life

Deniz Naki has gone from one of Germany's most promising footballers to hiding in a safe house after an attempt on his life. Naki's political views have long had a big impact on his career. But how did it come to this? A little less than a decade ago, Deniz Naki was part of a German success story, named in the "team of the tournament" as the country picked up a seventh European Under-19 Championship. Naki lifted the trophy with the likes of Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Ömer Toprak and plenty of others still playing at the top level. But at the start of 2018, Naki is now at the center of a story of a very different kind. The 28-year-old with German-Kurdish roots was shot at while driving down the A4 motorway near his home town of Düren, in the west of Germany, on Monday. He is reportedly now in a "safe place" receiving police protection following the apparent assasination attempt, which is being investigated as attempted murder. He told German media how he ducked before pulling over to the hard shoulder and surviving unharmed before claiming that the attack was of a political nature. "I think that this is about a political issue," Naki told Spiegel magazine's online platform Bento. "I am a continual target in Turkey because I make pro-Kurdish statements." While it was initially reported by numerous sources that Naki was suggesting the Turkish secret service were involved in the shooting, his lawyer told DW's Gezal Acer on Tuesday that this was false and the footballer "thought an ultra-nationalist Turkish group in Germany could be behind it." Even before the latest incident, controversy has never been far from the surface of the forward's career, particularly in recent years. The former St. Pauli player has been a vocal critic of the Turkish government's treatment of the country's Kurdish ethnic group and a supporter of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) - who stand for Kurdish nationalism but are considered a terrorist organization by the European Union. Just last year, after initially being found not guilty less than a year earlier, he was handed an 18 month suspended jail sentence for promoting "terror propaganda" for the PKK on social media channels. Naki tweeted his opinion about a Turkish military offensive against the PKK and a curfew was imposed in seven cities in southeast Anatolia, in the west of Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's treatment of dissidents has been condemned in many quarters but DW's Acer says Naki's case is unique. "Until now it had often been journalists or academics or writers who felt threatened, but we haven't heard of this happening with any other athletes," she said. "So we can't say concretely that athletes or sports figures are feeling under threat or in danger." Whether the threat is from government agencies or otherwise, Naki's political beliefs, and the consequences of those beliefs, have had a significant impact on his career. A tally of eight goals in 12 games this season shows at least some of the ability that shone so brightly as a teenager remains, despite the lowly level at which he now plays. After that European Championship win and a couple of caps for the German under-21 side alongside the likes of Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, Naki left Bayer Leverkusen for St. Pauli, a famously left wing club based in Hamburg. He was, and remains, a popular figure at the club but his stint is probably best remembered for his throat-slitting gesture during St Pauli's 2-0 win over Hansa Rostock in 2009. Clashes between the two had long been dangerously charged, with the right wing elements of Rostock's fan base opposed to the ideology espoused by St. Pauli, and the gesture was considered to incite violence. Naki received a three match ban for that, nine matches less than he'd eventually get for his social media support of the PKK, and, after a brief spell at Paderborn, he moved to Turkey, the country to which he'd pledged his national team allegiance after a pair of caps for Germany's under-21s — though he's yet to win a cap. Soon after his move to Genclerbirligi, Naki was the victim of an attack, the reason for which was thought to be his Kurdish ethnicity. "They were swearing and asking: 'Are you that dirty Kurd?'" Naki told the BBC after the 2014 attack. "Then they said: 'Damn your Kobane, damn your Sinjar'. I tried to calm them down. But suddenly one of them punched me in the eye. Trying to defend myself, I punched one of them back and started running away." He left the country a few days after, citing the possibility of further attacks as the reason for his departure. "There is no tolerance. I would only go back because I love my country, I love my hometown. That's it. I will carry on with my career in Germany," he said at the time. But it was a stone's throw from his hometown of Düren that his car windscreen was struck by a bullet. “I always knew that something like this could happen, but I would never have thought it could happen in Germany,” he told German newspaper Die Welt on Monday. Less than 48 hours after a gunman made him fear for his life, Naki's future — both sporting and otherwise — is unclear, much like his assailant. What has become increasingly obvious is that he is a sportsman doesn't seem prepared to separate his sport and his politics. The cost of that could have been, and still might be, enormous.

Deniz Naki has gone from one of Germany’s most promising footballers to hiding in a safe house after an attempt on his life. Naki’s political views have long had a big impact on his career. But how did it come to this? A little less than a decade ago, Deniz Naki was part of a German success story, named in ... Read More »

US soccer star Hope Solo accuses Sepp Blatter of sexual harassment

Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo has said ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter groped her backside during the 2013 Ballon d'Or ceremony. Sexual harassment wasn't just a problem in Hollywood but in women's football as well, she said. Hope Solo, a star goalkeeper and former member of the US football team, accused former FIFA President Sepp Blatter of sexually harassing her, in an interview published on Friday. "Sepp Blatter grabbed my ass, it was a few years ago at the Ballon d'Or ceremony just before I got on stage," Solo told Portuguese newspaper Expresso. Read more: Louis C.K., Steven Seagal latest stars to face sexual assault allegations The 36-year-old soccer star said that 81-year-old Blatter made the move as she was about to present an award to her teammate Abby Wambach at the ceremony. Solo, a World Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion, said that sexual harassment in sport was "rampant" and that she hoped more athletes would speak out against it. "I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about their experiences," she told the paper. Read more: Kevin Spacey sex assault allegations mount as UK police launch probe "I think it is important to acknowledge that this doesn't just happen with the powerful white men. It can happen all across the board, it can happen between women," she continued. "It's out of control, not just in Hollywood but everywhere," Solo said, referencing the wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations against high-profile men in entertainment and politics, which was triggered by a scandal involving movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Blatter dismissed Solo's claims, telling the Guardian newspaper that the allegation "is ridiculous." Blatter has a history of sexist behavior when it comes to women's soccer. In 2004, he argued that the popularity of the women's game could be boosted if the players wore tighter shorts. In 2012, US forward Alex Morgan said that Blatter failed to recognize her during that year's Ballon d'Or, even though she was one of three nominees for the women's Player of the Year. The former FIFA head was suspended from office and banned from the sport for six years in 2015 following a corruption scandal.

Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo has said ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter groped her backside during the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony. Sexual harassment wasn’t just a problem in Hollywood but in women’s football as well, she said. Hope Solo, a star goalkeeper and former member of the US football team, accused former FIFA President Sepp Blatter of sexually harassing her, in ... Read More »

Nigeria’s Rohr wants Cameroon to win final, foresaw Leipzig success

Gernot Rohr tells DW that Cameroon would be worthier AFCON winners than Egypt and that his Nigeria side have a newfound spirit to succeed in future. On the Bundesliga, he says he is not surprised by RB Leipzig's rise. Nigeria coach Rohr has managed across Africa and so is well-placed to pick a winner in Sunday's African Nations Cup final. He thinks Cameroon, who have vastly overperformed after some of their top names refused call-ups, deserve it more because Egypt have been too defensive. "This is a very interesting final, it is difficult to say who will win. They are two teams who play different football," the 63-year-old told DW in an interview by the beach in Gabon's capital Libreville. "One team are playing very good collective football and the other team is based on the defensive block, so for the interests of the game it is better that the team who is attacking will win." Cameroon, also embroiled in a bonus row with their federation like so many African teams before them, are four-times winners while Egypt and their 44-year-old goalkeeping captain Essam El Hadary are record seven-times champions. "Here in Central Africa we are close to Cameroon and so I think they will have a lot of people to support them while Egypt has a very good coach, a good strategy but they didn't do so much for the spectacle. But they are here so anything is possible in the final," Rohr added. Missing in Gabon, back on track for the World Cup Nigeria did not qualify for the tournament in Gabon and Rohr, who previously managed Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso, was drafted in to lead the Super Eagles in August. They have since won two World Cup 2018 qualifiers and sit top of their group, with Rohr praising his captain John Obi Mikel among others. "It is an interesting challenge, to have a new team, a young team, to build a team with players who really have the spirit of the country, who want to play, to fight, to give their all, who don't want to speak about material things, but who are here because they want to play for their country," Rohr said. "We have a good captain with experience we have found some defenders to make us stronger at the back and I think the spirit and harmony of the team is very good. But we know the important times come now." An eye still on the Bundesliga Despite living and working for a long time in France before heading for Africa, former Bayern Munich player Rohr has not forgotten his German roots. "I see all the games. The Bundesliga is always one of the most interesting championships in the world with the most goals, with the most spectators in the stadium, always the stadiums are nice and full. Even a team at the bottom has a fantastic stadium," he said. The revelation of the season has been promoted RB Leipzig rising up to second in the table to challenge leaders Bayern for the title. Many pundits have been critical of the Red Bull-backed club, which only came into being in 2009 and counts Red Bull Salzburg and New York Red Bulls as sister sides. Rohr is not interested in the furor over whether they are a "plastic" club and saw their success coming. "RB Leipzig are not a surprise for me. I know how they work, like in Salzburg, New York and in other sports. They want to be first everywhere and now they are second in Germany and they play well. "They are only three points behind Bayern so we have a real big duel between the two teams and it will be interesting for the end of the season." Mark Meadows conducted the interview in Libreville, Gabon.

Gernot Rohr tells DW that Cameroon would be worthier AFCON winners than Egypt and that his Nigeria side have a newfound spirit to succeed in future. On the Bundesliga, he says he is not surprised by RB Leipzig’s rise. Nigeria coach Rohr has managed across Africa and so is well-placed to pick a winner in Sunday’s African Nations Cup final. ... Read More »

AFCON 2017: Burkina Faso meet Egypt in semifinal full of contrasts

Burkina Faso may look like the surprise name in the last four of the African Nations Cup but they deserve their place with the big boys. Egypt though are record seven-times winners, writes Mark Meadows in Libreville. The Stallions of Burkina Faso have never reached a World Cup finals. They keep their powder dry for the African Nations Cup where on Wednesday (8 p.m. local time and CET, 1900 UTC) they will take on Egypt in the semifinals. Burkina Faso, despite a lack of footballing infrastructure compared to the likes of Egypt and fellow semifinalists Ghana and Cameroon, finished fourth in this tournament in 1998 after losing to the Egyptians and to everyone's surprise were runners-up in the 2013 edition. This time they are aiming to go one better after being undefeated so far in the stifling heat at the 2017 championship here in Gabon. "We are going to win against Egypt. I have been praying everyday and we will win," Sore Hamado, who along with over 100 others has been sent to Gabon by the Burkina Faso government as part of an official supporters club, told DW. They beat former champions Tunisia 2-0 in the last eight and go into the Egypt semi in the capital Libreville in confident mood, despite having played almost the whole tournament without one of their top players Jonathan Pitroipa. The former Freiburg and Hamburg forward, who was named the best player of the 2013 edition, suffered a knee injury in the second group game and was ruled out of the tournament. Prejuce Nakoulma came on for Pitroipa and immediately scored, while he also found the net against Tunisia. Playing away with pride Another former Bundesliga player, Aristide Bance once of Mainz and Augsburg, grabbed the other goal in the quarterfinal. Bance underlines the togetherness the Burkina Faso squad boast. He was actually born in Ivory Coast and plays his club football there too now after traveling the world with an array of clubs, but he is hugely proud to play for Burkina Faso having moved there as a child. Staying humble is the key to the entire project, according to Burkina Faso’s Portuguese coach Paulo Duarte. "It is a semifinal, it is special for me. But it is a collective mission, not an individual mission," he told a packed news conference with journalists from across the world. "We have convinced the public that we have quality and can win matches. We still have humility in our own team and this gives us the willingness to go further and further. "But we come up against a very strong opponent, the strongest in the history of this competition. The maturity and capacity to control a match is there among the Egypt side." Golden oldie goalie Talking of maturity, there is no one in the Egypt side more experienced than goalkeeper Essam El Hadary. He is the oldest player ever to play in the tournament at 44. The keeper thought he might miss his chance at breaking the record after being left on the bench for the opening group game here. But rival keeper Ahmed El Shenawy collided with the post and injured himself in the 0-0 draw with Mali and El Hadary came on to great applause. He has remained between the sticks through the rest of the tournament, pulling off a series of important saves as an otherwise youthful Egypt edged their way through the competition with three straight 1-0 wins. "This new generation is still young and haven’t experienced winning an African Nations Cup, but this is my role," said the keeper, who has won the title four times. "I tell them about our previous success and how we managed to do it." Star quality with Egypt, crowd with underdogs? Meanwhile, Roma winger Mohamed Salah has arguably been the player of the tournament so far and Egypt will look to the former Chelsea player to make the difference again. "They have the spirit to go on winning, I believe in them," said Egypt’s much-traveled Argentine coach Hector Cuper. "I have never seen such modest players who love their country so much." But Burkina Faso fans are expected to vastly outnumber the traveling Egypt support on Wednesday at the 40,000 capacity Stade de l’Amitie, whose modernity contrasts markedly with the close-by poverty of the Gabonese capital. The weight of history points to record seven-times champions Egypt making Sunday’s final, with Ghana and Cameroon meeting in the second semi on Thursday. But the weight of expectation from Burkina Faso fans is so immense that nothing is certain.

Burkina Faso may look like the surprise name in the last four of the African Nations Cup but they deserve their place with the big boys. Egypt though are record seven-times winners, writes Mark Meadows in Libreville. The Stallions of Burkina Faso have never reached a World Cup finals. They keep their powder dry for the African Nations Cup where ... Read More »

South America football confederation awards posthumous title to Chapecoense

Most of Chapecoense were killed on their way to the biggest game in the club's history. Their opponents asked authorities to honor them with the title. South American football authorities awarded the league championship on Monday to an underdog team that lost most of its players in a deadly plane crash. Nineteen players from Brazilian football club Chapecoense died in an air crash just outside Medellin, Colombia, that killed 71 people last week.They were en-route to the first leg of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana final with Colombia's Club Atletica Nacional. The opposition team requested Chapecoense be awarded the trophy, along with the US$2 million prize money, "as a posthumous homage to the victims of the fatal crash that leaves our sport in mourning," the sport's South American governing body CONMEBOL said in a statement. The body council decided to honor Club Atletica Nacional request with all of the "sport and economic prerogatives that entails," the statement said. It also awarded Club Atletico a one-time Fair Play award. "There is no greater demonstration of the spirit of understanding and fair play ... than the consideration and respect shown by Atletico Nacional to its brothers in Chapecoense Football Club," the statement said. Chapecoense had a fairytale rise before the crash,entering their first continental tournament just seven years after leaving the bottom-tier Serie D. As new champions of Latin America's number 2 club tournament, Chapecoense would now automatically qualify for next season's Copa Libertadores, the continent's top tournament. Chapecoense would also automatically play Atletico Nacional, the Libertadores champions, for the Recopa Sudamericana next year. Chapecoesne would be likely to borrow players from other clubs for next year's season. On Saturday 100,000 people gathered in a stadium in southern Brazil to mourn the tragedy. Fifty-one players, coaches and other people associated with the team were killed in the disaster, when a BAe146 regional airliner operated by Bolivian charter company LaMia ran out of fuel and crashed into an Andean mountainside.

Most of Chapecoense were killed on their way to the biggest game in the club’s history. Their opponents asked authorities to honor them with the title. South American football authorities awarded the league championship on Monday to an underdog team that lost most of its players in a deadly plane crash. Nineteen players from Brazilian football club Chapecoense died in ... Read More »

Footballers beware: Heading the ball messes with your brain

Even the most stoic of soccer players would admit that heading the ball can hurt a little. Well, it does more than that. Researchers in the UK say it definitely damages the brain, in the short and maybe even long term. As the seconds tick away in a tie game, you run down the field and find an opening, and the perfect cross comes in from your mate. You burst forward, put a perfect header past the goalie and into the corner of the net, and you're the hero. And also, from a cognitive and electrophysiological perspective, you're dumber. A study that's just come out by a team at a number of UK universities, chief among them the University of Stirling in Scotland, claims to have the first set of concrete evidence of neurological changes due to heading a ball. The "immediate alterations in brain electrophysiological and cognitive function" were demonstrated "by a cohort of healthy, young soccer players," the researchers wrote in the study published in EBioMedicine. Each of the 19 test subjects took 20 headers from a ball machine that shot them out at 30-50 kilometers per hour (18-30 mph), firing perfect crosses designed to resemble corner kicks. Once the players had performed 20 headers over a period of ten minutes, their brains were tested. Seventy-four percent showed immediate neurochemical alteration and decreased cognitive skills, i.e. memory function. With regard to cognitive changes, the players were asked to perform short-term memory tests, and immediately after heading, the results compared to baseline performance showed reduction in memory between 47 and 61 percent. With regard to neurochemical alteration, the researchers were looking for changes in levels of GABA, the main inhibitory chemical in the brain that affects our ability to control our muscles. In other words, the more GABA present in the brain, the less control an individual has over his or her motor functions. Increased GABA levels result in a longer "cortical silent period," or a pause that directly follows voluntary muscle movement. This cortical silent period increased five percent immediately after heading compared to the baseline levels measured before. Researchers viewed the change using electromagnetic analysis - the first time the technology has been used in such an experiment. The players had their brains analyzed immediately after the heading - but also 24 hours, 48 hours and two weeks afterwards. The good news is that the changes seen immediately following the heading disappeared in each of the subsequent tests. There were negligible or no differences with regard to cognitive performance or neurochemical makeup. Does this mean that heading a soccer ball isn't dangerous in the long run? Not exactly, says leading author Magdalena Ietswaart of the University of Stirling. She points out that "there are no known safe levels of soccer heading" and compares the effects of "sub-concussive trauma" to the consumption of alcohol. "The research we have done is just a first step on the journey of finding out what is the true impact of football heading," she writes, stressing that it remains unknown what impact the beautiful game has on brain development and long-term neurological health.

Even the most stoic of soccer players would admit that heading the ball can hurt a little. Well, it does more than that. Researchers in the UK say it definitely damages the brain, in the short and maybe even long term. As the seconds tick away in a tie game, you run down the field and find an opening, and ... Read More »

England boss Sam Allardyce sacked after newspaper sting

Sam Allardyce has been sacked as England manager. The 61-year-old, who has only overseen one match since taking over in July, was caught in a newspaper sting criticizing the English FA. Allardyce was accused of using his position to negotiate a 400,000 pound (460,000 euro, $517,000) deal with a football agency firm and was filmed criticizing both his predecessor Roy Hodgson, who he labeled "indecisive" and England players, who Allardayce said "couldn't cope" with the pressure at Euro 2016. In a video captured by English newspaper The Telegraph, Allardyce told the undercover reporters, posing as representatives of a firm based in the Far East, that it was "not a problem" to bypass rules enforced by his employers that ban companies or individuals from owning a financial stake in a footballer and thus profiting from transfers or new contracts. The FA said in a statement Allardyce's conduct had been "inappropriate" of an England manager and he had accepted making "an error of judgment" and had apologized. Serious nature "However, due to the serious nature of his actions, The FA and Allardyce have mutually agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect," the statement said. Gareth Southgate, the current Under-21 coach, would take charge for the next four games against Malta, Slovenia, Scotland and Spain while the FA begins the search for a permanent replacement. FA chief executive Martin Glenn said it had been a "very difficult 24 hours". "In the light of the media allegations that we have seen we have concluded and Sam has agreed that his behavior has been inappropriate and frankly not what is expected of an England manager," he said. "Discussing a range of issues from potential contraventions of FA rules through to personal comments that frankly just don’t work when you’re the manager of England." A former West Ham United manager, Allardyce said he was aware of agents who bypassed the transfer rules "all the time" and said: “You can still get around it. I mean obviously the big money’s here.” Allardyce, who attended the meeting with his agent, Mark Curtis, and his financial adviser, Shane Moloney on July 22, before he'd taken charge of his first England match, talked about his signing of Ecuadorian Enner Valencia for West Ham from Mexican club Pachuca in 2014. “It’s not a problem… we got Valencia in. He was third party owned when we bought him from Mexico,” Allardyce said. Mr. Moloney made it clear that the ownership arrangement ended when the player moved to England. The 61-year-old, whose salary was about 3 million pounds (3.45 million euros, $3.89 million) per year, also agreed to visit Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador for the phoney agency with a 400,000 pound deal negotiated for the role. He went as far as to discuss dates for travelling to Singapore in a second meeting with the men in a Manchester restaurant. However, throughout the recordings, Allardayce repeatedly made it clear that any agreements would have to be cleared by his bosses at the FA. "I'll have to run it by the powers that be," he said. Not a first for an England boss In echoes of a News of the World sting in 2006 that saw then-England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson make ill-advised comments about David Beckham and Michael Owen, Allardyce also let slip his feelings on some prominent figures in the English game. He referred to Hodgson, who resigned after Euro 2016, as 'Woy', making light of his predecessor's speech impediment and called him “too indecisive” during England’s shock European Championship defeat to Iceland. He also said Hodgson's assistant Gary Neville was “the wrong influence” and should have been told to “sit down and shut up”. The sting was part of a 10-month Telegraph investigation on bribery and corruption in British football and it isn't the first time Allardyce's name has come up in media investigations. In 2006, he was implicated in a report by BBC program Panorama which alleged Allardyce took "bungs." He denied the claims and an independent investigation found no evidence of irregular payments.

Sam Allardyce has been sacked as England manager. The 61-year-old, who has only overseen one match since taking over in July, was caught in a newspaper sting criticizing the English FA. Allardyce was accused of using his position to negotiate a 400,000 pound (460,000 euro, $517,000) deal with a football agency firm and was filmed criticizing both his predecessor Roy ... Read More »

Europa League: Schalke win in France, Mainz held, Man United suffer shock loss

Schalke kicked off their campaign with a win over Lucien Favre's Nice, while Mainz were held to a 1-1 draw against Saint-Etienne. Manchester United lost to a late goal at Feyenoord. Nice 0-1 Schalke (Baba Rahman 75’) Abdul Baba Rahman scored his first goal since joining Schalke on loan as the Bundesliga club edged out Nice, coached by former Borussia Mönchengladbach coach Lucien Favre, on the French Riveira. A scrappy first half was followed by a tight second as Nice looked to protect their record of having never lost a home UEFA Cup or Europa League match. The French side included former Bayern and Gladbach defender Dante and ex-Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli. Schalke substitute Max Meyer unlocked the Nice defence with a clever reverse pass, allowing Baba Rahman, on loan from Chelsea, to rifle in a low shot inside the near post and secure the win. Mainz 1-1 Saint-Etienne (Bungert 57’ – Beric 88’) Mainz were held to a 1-1 draw by French side Saint-Etienne, who grabbed an 88th minute equalizer. Coming off the back of their hugely deflating 4-4 draw with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga at the weekend, Mainz looked to make amends on their Europa League group stage debut. Things were going to plan when captain Niko Bungert nodded in the opener just before the hour mark to give the Germans the lead, but with time running out, Saint-Etienne’s Beric restored parity. The result means St Etienne have won only three of 18 matches against German opposition. Feyenoord 1-0 Manchester United (Vilhena 79’) Europa League favorites Manchester United suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat at Feyenoord, with Tonny Vilhena firing the Dutch club to a famous win. Despite making eight changes, Jose Mourinho fielded a strong team that included Paul Pogba, David de Gea and Marcus Rashford, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic introduced as a second half substitute. But the most expensive team in club football couldn’t avoid a second defeat in a week following a painful defeat by bitter rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday. Careless in possession and lacking a cutting edge up front, United paid for their lethargic display in the 79th minute. Exposed down the right flank by a Nicolai Jorgensen's run that beat the offside trap, United's defenders were noticeable by their absence when the unmarked Vilhena swept home from just inside the penalty area. Other Europa League results: Qarabag 2-2 Liberec Zorya 1-1 Fenerbahce APOEL 2-1 Astana Anderlecht 3-1 Gabala Maccabi Tel-Aviv 3-4 Zenit Astra 2-3 Austria Vienna Sassuolo 3-0 Athletic Bilbao Young Boys 0-1 Olympiacos AZ 1-1 Dundalk Plzen 1-1 Roma Rapid Vienna 3-2 Genk Inter Milan 0-2 Hapoel Beer-Sheva Standard Liege 1-1 Celta Vigo Panathinaikos 1-2 Ajax Konyaspor 0-1 Shakhtar Braga 1-1 Gent Salzburg 0-1 Krasnodar PAOK 0-0 Fiorentina Southampton 3-0 Sparta Prague Osmanlispor 2-0 Steaua Villarreal 2-1 Zürich

Schalke kicked off their campaign with a win over Lucien Favre’s Nice, while Mainz were held to a 1-1 draw against Saint-Etienne. Manchester United lost to a late goal at Feyenoord. Nice 0-1 Schalke (Baba Rahman 75’) Abdul Baba Rahman scored his first goal since joining Schalke on loan as the Bundesliga club edged out Nice, coached by former Borussia ... Read More »

Champions League: Aguero masterclass seals Man City win over hapless Gladbach

Pep Guardiola tastes victory for the first time against Andre Schubert. After rain postponed Tuesday's fixture, Man City were ruthless, scoring four goals on the night against Gladbach. Borussia Mönchenladbach were soundly beaten by Sergio Aguero and Manchester City in their Champions League group C opener on Wednesday night, as the Argentine struck a hat-trick in a 4-0 win. Lining up with a three-man defense, Andre Schubert's men afforded their hosts far too much time and space in the first-half and never looked like recovering after falling behind within ten minutes. Aguero doubled City‘s lead from the spot before half-time before completing his hat-trick in the final quarter of an hour. By the time substitute Kelechi Iheanacho made it four in stoppage time, the Foals had long since conceded defeat. David Silva picked up a knock in the 24 hours since Tuesday's original fixture was postponed due to inclement weather and was replaced by German international Ilkay Gündogan who made his debut for the Blues. Gladbach however remained unchanged and started with attacking intent in a 3-4-3 formation but they switched off defensively as early as the ninth minute. Nico Elvedi allowed Raheem Sterling time to cushion the ball back to Aleksandar Kolarov from a throw-in and his low cross was pounced upon by Aguero at the front post. It was a classic striker's finish from the Manchester City predator, who could have doubled his tally three minutes later. Fernandinho spotted a hole in the German midfield and found Kevin de Bruyne on the right. The Belgian crossed to Aguero in yards of space but, rather than shoot, the Argentine opted to play in Gündogan whose shot was saved. Christoph Kramer and Mahmoud Dahoud were allowing Fernandinho far too much space in midfield and the Brazilian looked left, drawing in Elvedi before finding Sterling but the Englishman shot straight at Sommer. In typical Guardiola style, City were pressing high but Gladbach did break dangerously in the 25th minute. Dahoud drove in from the right and found Oscar Wendt in space on the left who cut the ball back, but Raffael's shot was deflected behind for a corner. A second goal was inevitable however and it came just before the half hour mark. Kramer brought down Gündogan just inside the 18-yard box and Dutch referee Björn Kuipers pointed to the spot. Agüero made no mistake. Schubert finally acted, replacing the hopelessly overwhelmed Kramer with right-back Julian Korb and switching to four at the back, as Stindl dropped deeper into midfield. The change seemed to stem the flow somewhat. City continued to press and dominate in central areas as the second half got underway but Gladbach looked more solid, although sloppy handling from Yann Sommer almost presented Agüero with his hat-trick just before the hour mark. The Swiss stopper redeemed himself with a good save. City seemed content to control possession in classic Guardiola fashion but chances were harder to come until the 73rd minute. The brilliant De Bruyne suddenly shifted up a gear in midfield to bypass Dahoud and thread a perfectly weighted pass into Sterling, but Sommer saved again. The England man turned provider in the 77th minute. Receiving the ball in space in the centre, he turned and played in Agüero. Although marginally offside, the Argentinian made no mistake and rounded Sommer to complete his hat-trick. Substitute Iheanacho completed the scoring in injury time by which time it was clear that Tuesday night's Manchester weather had merely postponed the Foals‘ fate.

Pep Guardiola tastes victory for the first time against Andre Schubert. After rain postponed Tuesday’s fixture, Man City were ruthless, scoring four goals on the night against Gladbach. Borussia Mönchenladbach were soundly beaten by Sergio Aguero and Manchester City in their Champions League group C opener on Wednesday night, as the Argentine struck a hat-trick in a 4-0 win. Lining ... Read More »

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