Sevilla down Liverpool on Pozo winner at Fenway Park

Liverpool’s Yasser Larouci, left, after a tackle from Sevilla’s Joris Gnagnon during a pre-season friendly match. (AFP)
Updated 22 July 2019
0

Sevilla down Liverpool on Pozo winner at Fenway Park

  • A crowd of 35,654 filled almost every seat in the ballpark, most of them in red to support Liverpool

BOSTON: Joris Gnagnon took out Liverpool midfielder Yasser Larouci's legs at Fenway Park like a baserunner trying to break up a double play.

The Sevilla defender was sent off in the 76th minute for a reckless tackle near where second base usually is in the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox. Despite finishing with 10 men and facing an increasingly hostile crowd, Alejandro Pozo scored in the 90th minute on an assist from Munir El Haddadi to give the Spanish side a 2-1 victory.

“It’s too early in the season to create headlines by saying things I think in that situation,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said.

“No headlines, ‘Klopp: ...,’” he instructed reporters after the game, tracing the punctuation in the air with his finger. “I want to holiday in Spain again.”

The 18-year-old Larouci remained on the sod that had been laid over the Fenway infield while Gnagnon inexplicably argued the call for several minutes.

“In the locker room, he was fine,” Klopp said, adding that Harry Wilson, who left at the end of the first half after being hit in the face, was also OK.

Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui said he checked with Klopp after the match and was relieved to hear Larouci was not seriously injured.

“He (Gnagnon) was very worried, because he knows it’s a bad tackle. It's not a good decision,” Lopetegui said. “The most important thing is the player is OK.”

With temperatures in the mid-90s, a crowd of 35,654 filled almost every seat in the ballpark, most of them dressed in red to support Liverpool. The Champions League winners and the Red Sox are both owned by groups led by financier John Henry, making the century-old ballpark seem like Liverpool’s Anfield.

The field was laid out from the third-base side to right field, with the home team bullpen removed to make room. The teams had their benches in front of the iconic Green Monster, the 37-foot wall in left field. Much of the baseball diamond itself was covered with sod; the pitcher’s mound was sawed apart and shoveled off after the Red Sox finished their homestand on Sunday.

After the US national anthem, the fans serenaded the Reds with the traditional “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

To deal with the heat, the game was stopped once each half to give the players a chance to hydrate; the Fenway grounds crew also came out with hoses to wet down the infield, and sprinklers took care of the outfield.

The fans didn’t get to see many of their favorites, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino all resting from international tournaments, along with goalkeeper Alisson. Liverpool’s top four goalkeepers were unavailable; Andy Longergan, who spent the last season at Middlesbrough, got the start.

Liverpool dominated early, but it was Sevilla that scored first when a ball deflected in the penalty area to Nolito, who made it 1-0 in the 37th minute. Divock Origi tied it in the 44th minute when a header deflected to him at the post and he buried it.

It stayed that way until the 90th minute.

The players on the field — at least those in Sevilla's white kits — didn’t seem to be persuaded that the game was only an exhibition. A tough tackle in the 12th minute resulted in a foul on Ever Banega, and it was upgraded to a yellow card when he slammed the ball into the ground in protest.

Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson left just before the half after apparently getting poked in the eye. But that was nothing compared to the straight red card given to Gnagnon. He seemed to be the only person in the stadium who disagreed with the call, arguing with the referee while Larouci was attended to.

“We lost 2-1. I hate that fact,” Klopp said. “There are more important games in our history, and hopefully in the future. But I don't want to give the impression that we lost 2-1 and I spoke about hard challenges.”

The teams substituted liberally at halftime, with every Liverpool player except Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced by a substitute. Four Sevilla players stayed in to start the second half.


Neymar future remains up in the air as PSG reject Madrid offer

Updated 23 August 2019
0

Neymar future remains up in the air as PSG reject Madrid offer

  • Paris club said to turn down an offer from Barcelona of €40 million plus Coutinho and Rakitic

PARIS: Neymar remains no closer to getting his desired move away from Paris Saint-Germain amid reports Thursday the French club have rejected an offer from Real Madrid of €100 million($111 million) plus players.

French sports daily L’Equipe said Real had offered cash plus Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, but PSG turned it down because “the overall value of the offer did not match their expectations.” 

Paris paid €222 million to sign Neymar from Barcelona two years ago and their sporting director Leonardo is understood to be determined to only sell the forward for a deal considered to be of the same value.

Real have spent the summer trying to offload Bale, while James is unwanted after returning from a loan at Bayern Munich and Navas is no longer the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, Barcelona remain hopeful of bringing Neymar back to the Camp Nou, but Catalan daily Sport claims an attempt to sign the player on loan with an obligation to buy for €160 million at the end of the season has been firmly rejected in Paris.

Sport claims Barcelona feel “it is very clear that PSG are trying to prevent the Brazilian from returning to the Camp Nou in any scenario.” 

PSG had previously reportedly turned down an offer from Barcelona of €40 million  plus Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic. Coutinho has since joined Bayern on loan.

Juventus are also believed to have stated an interest in signing the 27-year-old, who has not featured in any of PSG’s matches so far this season having been frozen out amid the uncertainty over his future. The transfer window closes in France, Spain and Italy on Sept. 2, meaning time is fast running out for a deal to be done.

Watford loan Sweden winger Sema to Udinese

Watford winger Ken Sema has completed a season-long loan move to Udinese, the Serie A side confirmed on Thursday.

The six-times capped Sweden international only moved to Vicarage Road last summer from Ostersunds FK and made 22 appearances for the English club.

The 25-year-old's departure follows the arrival of Senegal international Ismaila Sarr to the Premier League outfit on a club record transfer of €35 million   ($38 million) from Rennes. The northeastern Italian club and Watford are both owned by the Pozzo family.

Udinese host AC Milan in their opening match of the Serie A season on Saturday.