ISL final: Past record gives Bengaluru edge against in-from Goa | football

ISL final,ISL,Indian Super League

Bengaluru FC’s Sunil Chhetri. (PTI)

Pipped at the post by a common nemesis in the past, Bengaluru FC and FC Goa will take another shot at glory when they square off in the final of Indian Super League in Mumbai Sunday.

Both the teams made it to the summit clash, to be played at the Mumbai Football Arean, in rather contrasting manner.

Bengaluru had sealed their place in the final for the second successive year with a 3-0 win against NorthEast United FC in the second leg of the play-off, recovering from a 2-1 defeat in the first leg.

Goa, despite a 1-0 loss to Mumbai City FC in the second leg semi-final, made it to the final on better aggregate, having won the first leg 5-1.

Goa were the runners up in 2015, while Bengaluru ended up second best last season. Coincidentally, both the teams had lost to Chennaiyin FC in their respective summit clashes.

Going by history, Bengaluru have edge against Goa. In four meetings between the two teams, Bengaluru have won thrice while Goa’s only win came in a tight clash (4-3) last season, in which Bengaluru were down to 10 men after goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was sent off.

The in-form Goa will pin their hopes on 36-year-old star striker Ferran Corominas of Spain, who is the leading scorer this season, with 16 goals to his name.

Corominas has only got better as the tournament progressed and is in line for his second successive Golden Boot award. A good outing on Sunday will only help his cause.

Apart from the strikes, Corominas has seven assists to his credit. He will be a key player along with compatriot Edu Bedia, who has seven goals to his credit and six assists.

The duo form a lethal pair and can breach any defence on their day, and Bengaluru’s could be no exception.

Two other important cogs in Goa’s wheel are mid-fielders – Moroccon Hugo Boumous, who has five assists to his name, and 26-year old Manipur-born Jackichand Singh.

Added to these names, the likes of Brandon Fernandes, Zaid Krouch and Mandar Rao Dessai make Goa a formidable outfit and the Bengaluru defence could come under immense pressure.

Goa’s defence would be manned by Mourtada Fall, Mohamed Ali, Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes and Lalhmangaih.

It would be also interesting to see whether Goa use the services of experienced custodian Laxmikant Kattimani or opt for Naveen Kumar, who also has been quite impressive this season.

While Bengaluru’s Indian players are in better form, Goa’s game is heavily dependent on their foreigners, especially Corominas, Ahmed Jahouh and Bedia and if they don’t play well, Goa tend to suffer.

For Bengaluru, two important players who have the ability to change the course of a game anytime are Miku and the charismatic Sunil Chhetri.

Chhetri has so far netted nine goals and Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat would want him to be at his best and will expect the same from Miku, who has scored five times.

Bengaluru will also have high expectations from speedy winger Udanta Singh, who has so far struck five goals.

They also have an array of strong mid-fielders and defenders, who will have to be on their toes against an impressive FC Goa forwardline.

The southern outfit also has in its ranks India’s vastly experienced custodian Gurpreet, who has made 59 saves this season. He would be more than keen to maintain a clean sheet, but considering Goa’s form it won’t be an easy task.

First Published:
Mar 16, 2019 15:20 IST

tags

Goa
ISL
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
FC Goa
Ferran Corominas
Indian Super League
Bengaluru FC
Chennaiyin FC

FA Cup: Andre Gray’s winner sends Watford into semi-finals | football

FA Cup,Andre Gray,Watford

Watford’s Andre Gray celebrates after scoring a goal.(Reuters)

Watford reached their second FA Cup semi-final in four seasons with substitute Andre Gray scoring three minutes after coming off the bench to seal a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Etienne Capoue side-footed Watford ahead in the 27th minute at a blustery Vicarage Road as the hosts controlled the first half but Palace responded strongly after the break.

Michy Batshuayi punished a defensive lapse to equalise for Roy Hodgson’s side just past the hour mark and it was Palace who looked to have the upper hand moving into the closing stages.

But Watford secured a last-four date at Wembley when Gray, who had just replaced Will Hughes, volleyed a 79th-minute winner to send their fans home dreaming of a second FA Cup final appearance after they lost the 1984 showpiece.

They had to survive a late scare though when Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka drilled a low shot wide after a defensive blunder.

Tearful Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was given an emotional ovation at the end in what could be the Brazilian’s final appearance at Vicarage Road.

He has only played in the FA Cup run this season with Ben Foster first choice in the league and the 38-year-old said afterwards he is ‘99.9 percent’ certain to retire to become a pastor at the end of the season when his contract expires.

Watford manager Javi Gracia, in his first full season at the club, said his side had “suffered” in the second half but was confident Gray could make the difference.

“It was a difficult moment when Palace equalised but I was confident we would be able to win the game,” he said. “We are ambitious. We want to achieve the final, that is our target.”

Gomes was the first keeper called into action when he saved low down from Luka Milivojevic’s shot but it was his opposite number Vincente Guaita who was busier.

He saved well from Gerard Deulofeu but was at fault soon after when Jose Holebas’s corner left him in no man’s land and Craig Cathcart prodded the ball back for Capoue to sidefoot high into an unguarded net.

Guaita made amends, keeping out a fierce drive by impressive Barcelona academy product Deulofeu.

Relegation-threatened Palace, without injured Wilfried Zaha, improved after the break and Watford began to look jittery.

In the 62nd minute Adrian Mariappa dithered on the ball and was dispossessed by Batshuayi who advanced before opening up his body and shooting past Gomes.

Roared on by their vocal fans, Palace looked likely to inflict more FA Cup heartbreak on Watford, who they beat in the semi-final three years ago, but they were stopped in their tracks as Hodgson suffered a third quarter-final defeat.

In a rare Watford attack Roberto Pereyra’s superb pass picked out the run of Gray and he got just enough on his stretching volley to guide the ball past Guaita, sealing a hat-trick of 2-1 wins over Palace this season.

“We weathered a storm in the first half and when we equalised I felt good about our chances,” Hodgson said.

“We were looking dangerous and the Watford crowd had gone very quiet.”

First Published:
Mar 16, 2019 22:31 IST

tags

WATFORD
Andre Gray
Fa Cup
Crystal Palace

Premier League: Huddersfield move closer to relegation, Burnley in trouble | football

Premier League,Huddersfield,Burnley

Huddersfield Town’s Tommy Smith reacts after losing to West Ham.(Reuters)

Huddersfield slipped closer to Premier League relegation as the bottom club blew a two-goal lead in their 4-3 defeat at West Ham, while Burnley are in deep trouble after losing 2-1 against 10-man Leicester on Saturday.

Jan Siewert’s side looked to have kept alive their faint hopes of beating the drop as they raced into a 3-1 lead in east London.

But a second-half collapse culminated in Javier Hernandez’s last-gasp winner for West Ham, leaving Huddersfield 16 points from safety with only seven games remaining.

Mark Noble put West Ham ahead with a 15th-minute penalty after 18-year-old Aaron Rowe, making his first professional start, brought down Manuel Lanzini.

Huddersfield were level just two minutes later when Juninho Bacuna headed in from Aaron Mooy’s corner for the Terriers’ first away league goal since Boxing Day.

Karlan Grant gave Huddersfield the lead with a close-range finish in the 30th minute and the January signing from Charlton scored again in the 65th minute with a fantastic 20-yard strike.

But Angelo Ogbonna reduced the deficit with 15 minutes left and Hernandez completed West Ham’s gritty fightback with an 84th-minute header from Samir Nasri’s cross.

Former Manchester United striker Hernandez wasn’t finished yet and he struck again in the final seconds with a header from Felipe Anderson’s cross.

At Turf Moor, Burnley’s survival bid was dented as they were rocked by Leicester.

Leicester defender Harry Maguire was sent off in the fourth minute for a trip on Johann Berg Gudmundsson as the Burnley midfielder ran clear on goal.

It was the fastest Premier League red card in four years, but Leicester weren’t fazed as James Maddison opened the scoring with a superb 33rd-minute free-kick.

Burnley’s teenage forward Dwight McNeil equalised with a fine finish in the 38th minute.

But Leicester snatched the points in the 90th minute when defender Wes Morgan struck after Youri Tielemans’ cross deflected into his path.

Burnley are one place and two points above the relegation zone, with third-bottom Cardiff holding a game in hand.

In the day’s other game, Matt Ritchie’s last-gasp equaliser rescued Newcastle in their 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.

Salomon Rondon blasted Newcastle into the lead with his 10th goal of the season, this one a powerful free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

However, Josh King equalised with 48th-minute penalty awarded for Federico Fernandez’s foul on Nathan Ake.

King’s second goal arrived in the 81st minute after good work from Dominic Solanke, but Ritchie had the last word with a fierce half-volley.

On Sunday, Liverpool can replace Manchester City on top of the table if they win at Fulham, while Chelsea look to improve their top four prospects at Everton.

First Published:
Mar 16, 2019 23:22 IST

tags

Burnley
Premier league
Huddersfield
West Ham
Javier Hernandez

FA Cup: Wolves shock ‘poor’ Manchester United to reach semis | football

Manchester United,FA Cup,Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Raul Jimenez scores their first goal. (REUTERS)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Manchester United produced the poorest performance of his reign as Wolves sent them crashing out of the FA Cup on Saturday with a 2-1 quarter-final win.

But United’s interim manager was remarkably upbeat despite his side’s flat performance, saying they had plenty more to fight for as they aim for a top-four finish in the Premier League and look forward to a Champions League last-eight tie against Barcelona.

United were well beaten by an eager Wolves side who scored two goals in the space of six minutes in the second half through Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota, with Marcus Rashford’s injury-time effort a consolation.

Solskjaer had presided over a run of just two defeats in 18 games since replacing Jose Mourinho in December, progressing to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the FA Cup.

But they now go into the international break with back-to-back defeats after losing to Arsenal last week, with Rashford’s goal their only real chance of the game.

“Today was the poorest performance we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Solskjaer.

“It was a big step backwards. There was a lack of urgency going forwards and a lack of forward passing and a lack of regains.

“We felt too comfortable in possession and we never put their keeper under pressure or their defenders under pressure.”

– Solskjaer upbeat –

But Solskjaer delivered a positive message to fans.

“We’re in a great position in the league, we’ve got the Champions League,” he said.

“You can’t sulk for too long. We’ve got so much to play for. Man United in April and May always find their form. We can’t wait for the challenge when Barcelona come.”

Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo was delighted after his side reached the club’s first FA Cup semi-final for 21 years.

“It means a lot of course. The FA Cup is the oldest competition and we played well,” he said.

“We achieved it with the amazing support of our fans believing in us and the noise was fantastic.

“When we achieved it, we achieved it together. Now we have to prepare for the next one.”

Wolves had the best chance of the first half, two minutes before the break. Ruben Neves sent Jota galloping clear for a one-on-one with Sergio Romero, but the United goalkeeper beat his curling shot away.

After the break Romero kept United in the game with two superb saves to deny a bullet header from Jimenez and a rising chip from Joao Moutinho as Wolves got on top.

Wolves scored the goal they had been threatening in the 70th minute.

Jimenez was forced backwards with his back to goal after being crowded out following a superb run by Moutinho, who breezed through three challenges cutting in from the left.

But the Mexican swivelled 180 degrees after getting a lucky bounce off Paul Pogba and drilled a low shot past Romero.

Six minutes later Wolves put the tie beyond United when Neves sent Jota racing clear on the counter and the Portuguese left Luke Shaw in a heap before firing an unstoppable left-foot drive inside Romero’s near post.

Referee Martin Atkinson showed United defender Victor Lindelof a red card for lunging in on Jota but it was overturned by VAR.

Rashford pulled one back with a shot on the turn in the fifth minute of the five added one, but it was too little, too late.

First Published:
Mar 17, 2019 08:53 IST

tags

Fa Cup
Manchester united
Champions League
Marcus Rashford
Barcelona
Raul Jimenez
Diogo Jota
Premier league

FA Cup: Manchester City hit back to reach semis after Swansea scare | football

FA Cup,Manchester City,Swansea

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on the touchline. (Action Images via Reuters)

Pep Guardiola issued a public apology after Manchester City rode their luck to storm back and beat Swansea 3-2 in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday and stay on track for a quadruple.

The City manager’s decision to name Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling among his substitutes at the Liberty Stadium in south Wales looked set to backfire as the Championship side made the most of their absence to surge into a surprise two-goal first-half lead.

Swansea looked set to end City’s four-pronged pursuit of honours when they took command of the tie after Matt Grimes converted a 20th-minute penalty and Bersant Celina finished off a fine move by curling a shot beyond Ederson nine minutes later.

The Premier League leaders mounted a stunning recovery to overcome the daunting deficit after Sterling and Aguero entered the fray either side of the hour mark but the win was achieved in controversial circumstances with the equaliser and Aguero’s winner hotly disputed.

After Bernardo Silva pulled a goal back by curling a shot beyond the impressive Swansea goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt, TV replays suggested that City were the beneficiaries of two incorrect decisions by referee Andre Marriner that may have been overruled had the VAR system been in use.

Marriner pointed to the spot after Cameron Carter-Vickers was judged to have tripped Sterling.

– Penalty luck –

Aguero’s penalty struck the post and went in off Nordfeldt while Aguero’s winning goal, a stooping 88th-minute header, should have been disallowed for offside.

“If it is not a penalty, and it is offside like the people say, I’m sorry,” Guardiola said.

“They ask all the clubs about the VAR and all around Europe, the VAR is there and here it’s not. I don’t like to lose games when the decisions are wrong but the referees don’t want to make wrong decisions, but they must be helped.

“It’s centimetres. Sometimes the VAR takes three minutes to make a decision so imagine taking that decision in one second during the game. It is not easy.”

“But, at the same time, we played incredibly well, with the amount of actions, the amount of crosses and the goalkeeper (Nordfeldt) was incredible,” he added.

“We will analyse the game — we deserved to win the game by far — but to win in that way, I’m sorry.”

In the end, Guardiola was left to sing the praises of Aguero, who had the final say in an exhilarating contest as he made up for lost time in dramatic fashion with his late winner.

“He is on top form, he is an exceptional player and he’s enjoying those moments that only the world’s greatest strikers have which is nice for the team,” he said.

Guardiola, whose side have already won the League Cup and are through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, added: “When you fight for all the titles you don’t have rest and every three days there is a game, it is so, so healthy to win these kind of games.

“You need these kinds of situations to go through, because there are a lot of games and different competitions every three days. Our physicality and mental approach is so demanding. We know every game we lose, we lose the competition.”

Guardiola was less impressed with the Swansea fans, who invaded the pitch following the final whistle with substitute Oleksandr Zinchenko appearing to be jostled by one supporter.

“In the future we could have problems. It’s not nice but thankfully nothing happened,” he said.

First Published:
Mar 17, 2019 09:00 IST

tags

Swansea
Manchester city
Pep Guardiola
Sergio Aguero
Raheem Sterling
Andre Marriner
Kristoffer Nordfeldt
Fa Cup

La Liga: Isco and Gareth Bale get Zinedine Zidane’s second coming at Real Madrid off to winning start | football

Isco,Gareth Bale,Zinedine Zidane

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane reacts during their match against Celta Vigo on Saturday. (REUTERS)

Zinedine Zidane’s second spell as Real Madrid coach got off to a promising start with a 2-0 win at home to Celta Vigo in La Liga on Saturday thanks to goals from Isco and Gareth Bale, who had fallen out of favour with previous coach Santiago Solari.

Spain midfielder Isco was handed his first start in the league since October by returning hero Zidane and broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute by tapping in a low cross from Karim Benzema at close range.

Luka Modric had a goal ruled out for offside earlier in the second half and Bale, who had struck the crossbar in the first period, sealed victory with a shot in off the post in the 77th minute, further lifting the mood at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real are third in the league standings with 54 points after 28 games, two behind second-placed Atletico Madrid who visit Athletic Bilbao later on Saturday and nine points behind leaders Barcelona who play at Real Betis on Sunday.

This was not quite as resounding a performance as the 5-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna in Zidane’s first game as Real coach in 2016.

Yet it was still a therapeutic win for a team which had looked lost since the Frenchman announced his resignation after last year’s Champions League final.

Zidane had said on his return that changes were needed at Madrid after haphazard results had seen Julen Lopetegui sacked in October, his replacement Solari dismissed and the team left with no trophies left to fight for this season.

The Frenchman’s line-up showed he was serious as he brought back goalkeeper Keylor Navas, as well as Isco and Marcelo into the side, players who had all started in the Champions League final win over Liverpool but had been cast aside by Solari.

Navas was called into action early to palm away a goal-bound header from Maxi Gomez, but Madrid had the better of the first half and nearly took the lead when Bale smashed against the bar, while Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos also came close.

Madrid looked to have gone ahead when Modric’s shot bounced into the net, but the goal was ruled out after a pitchside Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review ruled Raphael Varane had been offside and obstructing Celta goalkeeper Ruben Blanco’s view.

Isco soon brought a smile back to the Bernabeu faithful by guiding Benzema’s cross into the net after an impressive run by Marco Asensio.

Much has been said about whether Zidane’s return could mean the end of Bale’s career in Madrid, but the Wales forward capped a strong display by sealing victory, making it three goals in his last two games under Zidane and further adding to the celebratory mood.

First Published:
Mar 17, 2019 09:09 IST

tags

Zinedine Zidane
ISCO
Gareth Bale
Real madrid
Karim Benzema
Santiago Solari
Bale
Luka Modric

French parents barred from naming baby Griezmann Mbappe after 2018 World Cup heroes | football

Griezmann,Mbappe,Griezmann Mbappe

France’s Antoine Griezmann (L) and Kylian Mbappe kiss the 2018 World Cup trophy. (AFP)

A football-mad couple in south-west France have been barred from naming their son “Griezmann Mbappe” after two of the stars of France’s World Cup-winning team.

A family judge in the central town of Brive-la-Gaillarde stripped the infant of his two first names, nearly five months after his birth, the local town council told AFP.

His parents have decided to call him Dany Noe instead.

French families are now free to choose first names — up until 1993 they had to pick from an approved list — but local authorities can still refer parents to prosecutors if their choices are seen as damaging for the child.

A local official who deemed that “Griezmann Mbappe” — after Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann and Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe — was “contrary to the child’s interest” referred the case to the public prosecutor.

Other names to have run afoul of the law in France in recent years include “Jihad”.

Best known in France as the term for an Islamic holy war, “jihad” can also mean a personal and non-violent struggle against sin for Muslims.

First Published:
Mar 17, 2019 10:09 IST

tags

FRANCE
Brive-la-Gaillarde
Danny Nee
Atletico Madrid
Kylian Mbappe
Paris Saint-Germain
Antoine Griezmann
baby Griezmann Mbappe

Wolves loss is ‘step backwards’ for Manchester United, says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer | football

Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks dejected after the match with Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira.(REUTERS)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described his side’s 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday as the worst performance of his four months in charge.

Wolves produced a hugely impressive display in both halves at a rocking Molineux, reaching the last four of the FA Cup for the first time since 1998 with second-half strikes from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota.

Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back deep in added time but there was barely a minute left for United to find an equaliser and they fell to a second consecutive defeat after losing 2-0 at Arsenal in the Premier League.

“Quite a lot was missing today, it was the poorest performance we’ve had, it was a big step backwards “ Solskjaer told a news conference.

“We never had the urgency and quality on the ball even though without the ball in the first half we did ok.

“We felt too comfy in possession, we never managed to put their keeper or defenders under pressure. We had a couple of balls in behind for Rashford but not enough quality.”

READ: Ricky Ponting has a surprise pick for India’s No. 4 at 2019 World Cup

There was little sign of the fighting spirit United had shown in their miraculous 3-1 win over Paris St Germain in the Champions League or the attacking flair of most of their performances since the former striker succeeded Jose Mourinho in December.

But Solskjaer dismissed suggestions United had lost momentum, praising Wolves, who picked up another prize scalp in a memorable season in which they have also dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup and beat Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the Premier League.

“I think it’s something natural, you cannot perform to the top of your level every single time,” he said.

“It’s still against a good team, they’ve done really well against top teams, don’t take anything away from them even though we under-performed, so I don’t think that’s part of it at all.”

United have two weeks off for the international break before resuming their push for a top-four finish with a home game against Watford and they also have a Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona to look forward to.

“You can’t sit down and sulk too long, we’re disappointed, everybody is disappointed but we’ve got to look forward and put the result today behind us,” Solskjaer added.

“We know we’ve played well against Arsenal last week and didn’t get what we deserved, but today we got what we deserved because we never deserved to win this game.”

First Published:
Mar 17, 2019 11:44 IST

tags

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER
Manchester united
Fa Cup
Raul Jimenez
Diogo Jota
Premier league
Arsenal
Marcus Rashford

Liverpool survive Fulham scare to go top of Premier League | football

Liverpool,Fulham,Premier League

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates a goal with his teammates.(Reuters)

Liverpool usurped Manchester City to take top spot in the Premier League but needed a James Milner penalty nine minutes from time to see off lowly Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The in-form Sadio Mane put the visitors in front midway through the first half, but a rare defensive mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker allowed Ryan Babel to give his former club a huge scare 16 minutes from time.

Fulham’s awful defending all season is the reason they are heading back to the Championship after just one season back in the top flight, and the hosts gave Jurgen Klopp’s men a much-needed gift when goalkeeper Sergio Rico bundled over Mane and Milner secured all three points from the spot.

Liverpool now hold a two-point lead over City, but the champions have a game in hand.

“Average game, sensational result,” said Klopp of his side’s performance.

“City don’t look like they will drop a lot of points, so we have to win and win and win. That’s our job to do.”

Liverpool completed a clean sweep of four English sides into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a highly impressive 3-1 win at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

But they nearly suffered a very costly European hangover against a Fulham side still 13 points adrift of safety.

“We had to run a lot in a week where we ran a lot,” added Klopp to justify an at times lacklustre display at such a pivotal stage of the season.

ALSO READ: Indian Super League: Rahul Bheke’s extra time goal helps Bengaluru FC lift their first title

Most of the visitors’ attacking threat came down their left side through Mane and the Senegalese proved the source of the breakthrough on 26 minutes.

Mane scored twice in Munich in midweek and took his hot streak to 11 goals in 11 games with a simple finish after exchanging passes with Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool started the second half with greater intent to try and put the game to bed.

Andy Robertson was the provider as Georginio Wijnaldum headed a good opportunity over at the far post before Rico was called into action to deny Van Dijk.

However, as a torrential rain shower swept over the banks of the Thames to make playing conditions hazardous, Liverpool’s slender lead proved a dangerous one.

Floyd Ayite was rightly flagged offside as he headed a deflected shot past Alisson before the Brazilian number one got down well to save from Andre Zambo Anguissa.

ALSO READ: Cristiano Ronaldo rested as Genoa inflict Juventus’ first Serie A defeat

Mane was inches away from securing the points and doubling his tally for the day with a deft header from a corner that clipped the top of the crossbar.

Disaster seemed to have struck for Liverpool when Van Dijk’s header back towards Alisson didn’t have enough purchase and Babel stepped in with the break of the ball to tap into an empty net.

“I am not giving excuses. I should have handled it better,” admitted Van Dijk.

However, the league leaders showed why they are in the running to end a 29-year title drought to get a vital three points with the help of some erratic goalkeeping from Rico.

“I saw the reaction of my players and I’m really pleased with that,” added Klopp. “After the equaliser we were much clearer than before the equaliser.”

Mohamed Salah’s goal drought continued as the Egyptian has scored just once now in his last 10 games, but it was his shot that Rico spilled before the Spaniard unnecessarily pulled down Mane.

Milner took responsibility instead of Salah from the penalty spot and calmly sent Rico the wrong way to restore Liverpool’s lead, which this time they never looked like letting go.

First Published:
Mar 17, 2019 23:32 IST

tags

Liverpool
Fulham
Premier league
Alisson Becker
Jurgen Klopp
Ryan Babel
Sadio Mane
Virgil van Dijk

FA Cup: Brighton stage great escape to reach semi-finals on penalties | football

FA Cup,Brighton,Penalties

Brighton’s Matthew Ryan celebrates winning in the penalty shootout during the during the FA Cup quarterfinal match against Millwall.(AP)

Brighton came from 2-0 down and were then behind in a shoot-out before they beat Millwall 5-4 on penalties to reach an FA Cup semi-final with quadruple-chasing Manchester City on Sunday.

It seemed Championship strugglers Millwall were on the brink of delighting their home crowd at the Den at 2-0 up with just two minutes of normal time left after second-half goals by Alex Pearce and Aiden O’Brien.

But Brighton pulled one back through Jurgen Locadia and then, in the fifth minute of added on time and the last act of regulation play, Solly March’s seemingly harmless free-kick into the box left Millwall goalkeeper David Martin flapping at the ball before it settled in the top corner to send the tie into extra-time.

Millwall were reduced to 10 men a minute from the end of extra time when likely penalty-taker Shane Ferguson was sent off for a petulant stamp on Lewis Dunk.

At the very end of extra time, Brighton thought they had a winner only for Martin Montoya, in a match without VAR, to be incorrectly flagged for offside as the tie headed to spot-kicks.

Further drama followed when Brighton’s Glenn Murray struck the opening penalty of the shoot-out onto the crossbar.

ALSO READ: Indian Super League: Rahul Bheke’s extra time goal helps Bengaluru FC lift their first title

Both sides then found the back of the net until Brighton’s Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan blocked Mahlon Romeo’s effort with his legs to leave the shoot-out level at 3-3 before ‘sudden death’ came into play at 4-4.

Brighton skipper Dunk then powered a penalty low to Martin’s right before, with Millwall needing to score to keep the tie alive, Jake Cooper saw his shot clear the goal.

“It’s about character,” Brighton manager Chris Hughton told the BBC. “I think at 2-0 down with the thought of going out of the competition, we had a group of players that decided they desperately wanted to stay in the Cup.”

Turning to March’s bizarre equaliser, Hughton added: “A little bit of fortune (went) our way. But you have to give our lads credit.”

Hughton made no secret of the fact he’d rather the Seagulls faced either top-flight rivals Watford or Wolves, the other semi-finalists, in the last four at Wembley next month.

“I don’t think it is any surprise that all three teams didn’t want to draw Man City but at this moment we’re so pleased to go through,” he said.

“If in any way we don’t think we can win the semi-final there’s almost no point going into it.”

Millwall manager Neil Harris tried to console his goalkeeper.

“David Martin is one of the best pros I have come across.

“He was outstanding for the whole game barring one moment. That is football.”

ALSO READ: Cristiano Ronaldo rested as Genoa inflict Juventus’ first Serie A defeat

Harris had no sympathy for Ferguson, though. “Shane Ferguson is our best penalty-taker and wasn’t on the pitch because of a moment of stupidity,” he said. “Missing the chance to lead the team in an FA Cup semi-final is a huge frustration for myself, staff, players and fans.”

Brighton, beaten FA Cup finalists in 1983, had the best chance of a lacklustre first half, with Beram Kayal volleying straight at Martin.

South London side Millwall, defeated in the 2004 FA Cup final by Manchester United – Brighton’s conquerors in 1983 – were rewarded for a strong second-half showing with two goals in nine minutes.

They opened the scoring in the 70th minute when Pearce headed in at the back post and doubled their lead when O’Brien nodded in Jed Wallace’s cross.

Brighton substitute Locadia’s left-footed shot appeared a consolation goal before March broke Millwall hearts.

First Published:
Mar 17, 2019 23:53 IST

tags

Brighton
Fa Cup
Millwall
Penalty
Semi-final

France lose Martial, call up Lemar for Euro qualifiers | football

Anthony Martial,Lemar,Euro qualifiers

File image of Anthony Martial (AFP)

A knee problem has forced Manchester United forward Anthony Martial to withdraw from the France squad for this month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Iceland, the French Football Federation (FFF) said on its website on Sunday.

Martial, who is struggling with his right knee, would be replaced by Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Lemar, it added.

The 23-year-old’s pull-out followed talks between national team doctors and United, for whom he played in a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup sixth round on Saturday.

The FFF said Martial felt “severe pain” after the game and would miss France’s first two Euro 2020 qualifiers, away to Moldova on Friday and home to Iceland three days later.

He was recalled for the first time in a year after scoring 11 goals in 30 games in all competitions for United this term.

First Published:
Mar 18, 2019 08:46 IST

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MARTIAL
Thomas Lemar
FRANCE
Atletico Madrid
Iceland
Moldova
Manchester united
French Football Federation