Dortmund-themed cast cheers Bartra as recovery continues

27 April 2017 18:40

Marc Bartra is happy with the progress made in his recovery from the fractured right wrist he sustained in a bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund’s team bus and is now sporting a club-themed cast.

The defender was hospitalised and underwent surgery after the vehicle was caught up in three explosions as it made its way to Signal Iduna Park for the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Monaco.

Bartra recently posted a picture of the stitches in his arm being removed on Instagram and issued an update on his condition on social media on Thursday.

“Happy with the progress! And able to start with the hard work soon, so as to be back asap!” he posted, giving the thumbs up with his arm in a black-and-yellow cast.

Contento con la evolución y pronto empezará el trabajo duro para estar de vuelta cuanto antes! Happy with the progress! And able to start with the hard work soon, so as to be back asap! #BVB #Borusse

A post shared by Marc Bartra (@marcbartra) on Apr 27, 2017 at 8:16am PDT

Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said on April 13 that he expected Bartra to be out of action for four weeks.

If there are no changes to the timeframe, the Spaniard could feature in Dortmund’s last two Bundesliga matches and the DFB-Pokal final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

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Liverpool present new kit and crest to mark 125th anniversary

27 April 2017 11:49

Liverpool have presented their new home kit and a redesigned crest to mark the club’s 125th anniversary.

The strip is a darker red as an ode to the famous sides of the 1980s, during which time Liverpool won six domestic league titles, two FA Cups and two European Cups.

There is also a commemorative ’96’ close to the collar, in recognition of the 96 fans who were killed in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.

The kit will be used in the 2017-18 season.

General Manager of New Balance Football, Richard Wright, said: “This kit is a testament to the periods and events that have made Liverpool FC the club it is today. This year’s home kit is the perfect blend of heritage and modern technology, creating a look that is visually stunning and performs at the highest level.”

The badge contains the dates 1892 and 2017 either side of the distinctive Liver Bird emblem, with ‘125 years’ written beneath.

“A pure, uncluttered approach was taken, applying the dates of the anniversary and ‘125 Years’ to the existing crest in a simple format, highlighting the historic milestone for the club,” Liverpool said in a statement.

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Madrid star Isco: This could be the best form of my career

27 April 2017 04:16

Isco feels he is in the best moment of his career after helping Real Madrid to a 6-2 demolition of Deportivo La Coruna.

James Rodriguez scored twice on the road but midfielder Isco stole the headlines on Wednesday with his performance as Madrid stayed level on points alongside LaLiga titleholders Barcelona atop the table.

Isco scored and set up another to ensure Madrid bounced back from last week’s Clasico defeat to Barca in the best way possible.

And afterwards, the Spain international revelled: “It could be [my best form], I am very comfortable and with these players everything is a lot easier, I am very happy with how everything went.

“It was a very complete game from all of the team, on a collective and individual level, and this is shown by the scoreline.”

Isco, who played in the absence of rested duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Toni Kroos while Gareth Bale is injured, added: “It is great to have 23 players in a squad who can all start, and you see that when the team gets rotated. The key thing is that whoever plays we don’t see any respite and for the Real Madrid squad is one of the best in the world.

“I feel really happy here and with this group everything comes easy. I’m thrilled with how things are going. Each club has their starting line-up and it is important that when other players step in that they play well. We work hard to make the most of the chances that the boss gives us.”

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Battle-scarred Arsenal star Sanchez takes to social media following last-gasp win

27 April 2017 00:29

Football may well lack the grit and ferocity of other sports, but do not try telling that to Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean maestro found himself in the thick of it in Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Leicester City on Wednesday, with the Foxes putting in a dogged but ultimately fruitless display at Emirates Stadium – Robert Huth’s late own goal gifting Arsenal the spoils.

It was not all bad for Leicester’s German defender, though, who collided with Sanchez in second-half stoppage time after the former Barcelona man had moments earlier gone to ground clutching his face following Christian Fuchs’ throw-in into the South American’s shoulder.

Referee Mike Jones did not fall for Sanchez’s melodramatics, duly booking Arsenal’s number seven, with the fourth official receiving the brunt of Arsene Wenger’s complaints at the injustice.

Perhaps in order to defend his actions, 28-year-old Sanchez posted two images to his official Twitter feed, with the caption: “Happy for the victory but end up with swollen lip”, although it is not clear in which incident the forward – who hit the crossbar with a venomous effort in the first half – picked up the wound.

Arsenal will be hoping that Sanchez makes a full recovery from his facial injury in time to feature in Arsenal’s north London derby clash with Tottenham on Sunday.

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Chelsea visited by HMRC officers as part of fraud investigation

26 April 2017 18:05

Officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have visited Chelsea as part of a wider investigation into fraud in English football.

Newcastle United and West Ham were the subject of raids from the authorities on Wednesday, with HMRC confirming “several” people were arrested and a number of premises searched during an operation involving 180 officers.

Investigators also visited Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge offices, although Omnisport understands this was a formal process during business hours for the purpose of gathering information.

No arrests were made, no property was seized and there were no allegations of wrongdoing made against Chelsea or any of its employees.

A club spokesperson for Chelsea said: “In connection with its wider investigation HMRC has requested certain information which the club will provide.”

West Ham confirmed they are co-operating with the HMRC after officers were deployed in the north east and south east of England, as well as unspecified parts of France.

Financial and business records were seized, along with some computers and mobile phones.

A statement from HMRC read: “HMRC has arrested several men working within the professional football industry for a suspected Income Tax and National Insurance fraud.”

“180 HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today. Investigators have searched a number of premises in the North East and South East of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.

“The French authorities are assisting the UK investigation, have made arrests and several locations have been searched in France.

“This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences.

“As this is an ongoing investigation HMRC is unable to provide any further detail at this time.”

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David Moyes charged by FA over reporter ´slap´ comment

26 April 2017 11:30

Sunderland manager David Moyes has been charged by the Football Association after being caught on camera commenting that he would slap a female reporter following a post-match interview.

The incident occurred following the Black Cats’ goalless draw at home to Burnley on March 18, when Moyes was asked by BBC reporter Vicki Sparks whether he felt under additional pressure given the attendance of chairman Ellis Short at the game.

After the interview, Moyes was caught on camera saying: “Just getting a wee bit naughty at the end there so just watch yourself.

“You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman.” 

A smiling Moyes then added: “Careful the next time you come in.”

Moyes later stated that he regretted his comments and had contacted Sparks to apologise, which was confirmed by Sunderland and the BBC.

However, the FA has taken a dim view of the incident and has charged the Sunderland boss.

A statement read: “David Moyes has been charged in relation to comments made after the game against Burnley on 18 March 2017.

“It is alleged the Sunderland manager’s remarks were improper and/or threatening and/or brought the game into disrepute, contrary to FA Rule E3(1). 

“He has until 6pm on 3 May 2017 to reply to the charge.”

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Copa Libertadores Review: Iquique beat Zamora in seven-goal thriller

26 April 2017 05:07

A pair of goals in stoppage time saw Deportes Iquique come from behind to stun Zamora 4-3 in the Copa Libertadores, while San Lorenzo won for the first time.

Trailing 3-2 in the 90th minute, Rafael Caroca and Diego Bielkiewicz scored as hosts Iquique prevailed in a seven-goal thriller on Tuesday.

It was a topsy-turvy Group 8 clash in the second half after Alvaro Ramos had given hosts Iquique a 14th-minute lead at Estadio Zorros del Desierto.

Venezuelan Visitors Zamora scored twice in 15 minutes via Ricardo Clarke’s penalty and Erickson Gallardo to hit the front 2-1 just past the hour-mark.

Caroca then headed past Carlos Salazar in the 82nd minute before Anthony Uribe equalised for Zamora three minutes later.

The drama was not over however, as Caroca completed his brace in the 92nd minute with a stunning strike from outside the penalty area and Bielkiewicz sealed the comeback by rebounding his own effort three minutes later.

Iquique are third in the group after back-to-back wins – a point adrift of Gremio and Guarani – while Zamora are yet to register a point following four matches.

San Lorenzo finally opened their Libertadores account, edging Universidad Catolica 2-1 in Group 4.

Without a win in three matches, San Lorenzo posted their first victory thanks to Nicolas Blandi and Cristian Barrios against Catolica, who ended the game with 10 men following two yellow cards to Benjamin Kuscevic.

Meanwhile, Atletico Tucuman defeated Wilstermann 2-1 in Group 5.

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Carrasco suffers collarbone injury in Villarreal defeat

26 April 2017 00:19

Yannick Carrasco suffered a collarbone injury as Atletico Madrid suffered a rare home defeat in LaLiga on Tuesday, with Roberto Soriano’s late goal snatching a 1-0 victory for Villarreal.

Carrasco damaged his right clavicle and had to be replaced just 16 minutes after coming on as a substitute for Nico Gaitan, with Fernando Torres replacing the Belgium international at the Vicente Calderon.

The winger will need to undergo further tests before a prognosis can be confirmed and midfielder Koke accepted Villarreal’s game plan worked to perfection as Atletico’s 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions was ended on Tuesday.

The hosts dominated the match with 23 shots compared to the six managed by Villarreal, but they could not find a way past goalkeeper Andres Fernandez, who was in inspired form, and Koke insisted Atletico’s Champions League fate remains in their own hands, with Diego Simeone’s men having a three-point cushion from fourth-placed Sevilla.

“I think we tried absolutely everything, playing long balls and keeping it on the floor,” Koke said. “We didn’t find the space and they hit us on the counter. When they got ahead it became more difficult.

“We’re still third and we’ve got to play Sevilla. Nobody said it would be easy and we have to keep working, and there’s a big game [at Las Palmas] on Saturday.

“In recent years when they have come here Villarreal play their game and things work well for them. Sometimes you have to accept the defeat.”

Villarreal had just two shots on target but recorded their fourth straight clean sheet against Atletico, with Soriano hailing his side’s strong defensive display at the Vicente Calderon after he turned home Cedric Bakambu’s right-wing cross with eight minutes to play.

“We didn’t have many chances – I had a few chances – this one came at the right time and it was a good cross from Bakambu,” said goalscorer Soriano. “I don’t really know how I put it in but I like to help the side. 

“Against a team like Atletico it is very difficult and it is important for us to win this game – we stay in the places for Europe.”

Soriano felt his side’s tactical approach worked perfectly as Fran Escriba’s men completed the double over Atletico following a 3-0 home success earlier in the campaign.

“The plan was to look for the counter-attack. Normally they wait for you and hit you on the counter,” the forward said. “They have a lot of quality and players who can cause problems but the team knew how to suffer and we’re happy with the result.

“We have to be in Europe and I think today we showed we are a team that can play football against the big clubs, huge clubs like Atletico. 

“We’ve shown all season we can beat top teams if we are at 100 per cent. We have a few games left and we have to give everything we’ve got to ensure we get that European place.”

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