Madrid extends Modric’s contract, keeps midfield intact

Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric has renewed for another season, the Madrid club announced on Wednesday. (AFP)
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Updated 08 June 2022

Madrid extends Modric’s contract, keeps midfield intact

  • The 36-year-old Croatian signed a new deal with the Spanish club until June 2023
  • “Very happy to announce that I will continue playing for the best club in the world,” Modric said

MADRID: Real Madrid extended Luka Modric’s contract for another year on Monday, keeping intact the midfield that helped the club win a record-extending 14th European title this season.
The 36-year-old Croatian signed a new deal with the Spanish club until June 2023 and will return to play alongside Toni Kroos and Casemiro, the trio that helped Madrid win five Champions League titles in the last nine seasons.
“Very happy to announce that I will continue playing for the best club in the world,” Modric said on Twitter and Instagram. “I’ve been fulfilling a dream for the last 10 seasons, and I remain with the same excitement and desire from the first day.”
Posing in front of the 14 European titles won by Madrid, Modric held a club jersey with his name and the number 2023.
Modric will be playing an 11th season with Madrid after joining from English club Tottenham in 2012. He helped Madrid win 20 titles, including five Champions Leagues and three Spanish leagues.
Financial details for Modric’s new contract were not disclosed. His current deal was going to expire at the end of this month.
Madrid are keeping Modric but are already looking to refresh their midfield, as Kroos is 32 years old, and Casemiro is 30.
Last season, Madrid signed 19-year-old Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes, and now they are close to announcing an agreement with 22-year-old Aurélien Tchouaméni from Monaco. Camavinga played often this season, as did 23-year-old Federico Valverde, who has been with the senior team since 2018.
Madrid saved money in recent transfer windows and are expected to boost their attack after missing out on signing Kylian Mbappé, the young France forward who preferred to stay at Paris Saint-Germain.
Gareth Bale and Francisco Isco are not staying with the Spanish club next season, and Marco Asencio is also expected to leave.
To boost their defense, Madrid recently signed former Chelsea central defender Antonio Rüdiger on a free transfer. It had added former Bayern Munich central defender David Alaba last season. Veteran left back Marcelo is leaving the club.
Madrid won a record-extending 35th Spanish league title this season.


Liverpool edge Rangers, Napoli underline Champions League credentials

Updated 8 sec ago

Liverpool edge Rangers, Napoli underline Champions League credentials

  • Hakan Calhanoglu fired Inter Milan to a 1-0 win over Barcelona at  San Siro

PARIS: Liverpool eased to a comfortable 2-0 win in the ‘Battle of Britain’ against Rangers in the Champions League group games on Tuesday while Napoli underlined their credentials with an impressive 6-1 thrashing of Ajax in Amsterdam.

On a night when a minute’s silence was held before every match in tribute to the 131 victims of the Indonesia stadium tragedy, Bayern Munich and Club Brugge also made it three wins from three while Inter edged Barcelona in a tight contest in Milan.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool went into their Group A game against the Scottish champions on the back of just three wins in their first nine Premier League and Champions League games of the season.

But they settled quickly when Trent Alexander-Arnold produced a sublime free-kick to put the home side ahead after just seven minutes.

Rangers’ 40-year-old goalkeeper Allan McGregor produced some fine saves, including four to deny Darwin Nunez his first goal for Liverpool, to keep his side in the hunt at halftime.

Seven minutes into the second half, however, Leon King’s challenge caught the legs of Luis Diaz to give away a penalty.

Mohamed Salah stepped up and struck the ball down the middle as McGregor was unable to repeat the penalty-saving heroics he produced against Napoli.

“It was exactly what we needed. It was a super, solid performance,” said Klopp, who switched from his usual 4-3-3 formation to a 4-2-3-1.

“Sometimes you have to change things.”

Napoli stay top of Group A after another impressive victory, coming from behind to hammer Ajax 6-1 to take their tally of goals to 13 from three matches.

Mohammed Kudus put the home side ahead in the ninth minute but Luciano Spalletti’s side bounced back with first-half goals from Giacomo Raspadori, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Piotr Zielinski.

Raspadori added his second two minutes after the restart and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia added the fifth just after the hour.

Ajax’s night was made worse when captain Dusan Tadic was sent off after collecting a second yellow card and Giovanni Simeone closed out the win.

Bayern moved to the edge of qualification with a third successive win, thrashing Viktoria Plzen 5-0 in Group C.

“We were calm, we dominated and we were in total control,” said Bayern captain and Manuel Neuer.

“When everything is going well, we’re almost unstoppable.”

German international Leroy Sane struck twice, opening the scoring from distance after seven minutes and adding a second five minutes after the break.

Between Sane’s two goals, Serge Gnabry added a second on 13 minutes before Sadio Mane posted his first Champions League goal for Bayern with number three after 21 minutes.

Substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting came off the bench at half time and added the fifth just before the hour mark.

Hakan Calhanoglu fired Inter Milan to a 1-0 win over Barcelona at the San Siro which took the Italians into second spot in Group C, three points behind Bayern.

Inter had lost five of the previous 10 matches in all competitions but Turkey midfielder Calhanoglu ended the crisis talk when he lashed in the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time.

“It was very important today for us, to show something to our fans who are always with us. We showed that we deserved it,” said Calhanoglu.

Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez, however, was left fuming after two key handball decisions went against his team.

The first saw an equalizer ruled out following a pitch review by referee Slavko Vincic for Ansu Fati’s handball just before the ball dropped to Pedri to tuck home.

Barca were then denied a stoppage time penalty after VAR officials ruled that Denzel Dumfries did not commit a handball offense despite touching the ball in a very similar way to Fati.

“If you ask me I’m outraged... the word is outrage because it makes no sense, it’s an injustice,” Xavi told reporters.

“I think it’s an injustice, I just can’t hide it.”

Club Brugge also claimed a third successive win to continue their surprise charge toward the next round.

Kamal Sowah and Ferran Jutgla were on target as the Belgian side made short work of Atletico Madrid in Group B.

Atletico had their chances with Antoine Griezmann crashing a penalty off the crossbar. They also had a goal ruled out for offside which added to their frustration.

“It’s a very tight group and we will have to fight because we won’t get anything for free,” said Atletico captain Koke.

Club Brugge top Group B, three points ahead of the other three teams after Porto beat Bayern Leverkusen 2-0 with second half goals from Zaidu and Galeno.

Sporting Lisbon’s march in Group D came to a shuddering halt in Marseille where the home side came from a goal down to win 4-1 and get their first win under their belt.

Lisbon still top the group with six points, two ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt and Tottenham Hotspur who played out a goalless draw in Germany.
 


Marseille beats 10-man Sporting after goalkeeper errors

Updated 04 October 2022

Marseille beats 10-man Sporting after goalkeeper errors

  • Marseille ended Sporting's perfect record with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Amine Harit, Leonardo Balerdi and Chancel Mbemba
  • Sporting wasted no time once the game got started, needing less than 60 seconds to break the deadlock

MARSEILLE, France: Marseille recovered from going behind in the first minute to rout Sporting Lisbon 4-1 Tuesday in the Champions League, thanks in part to visiting goalkeeper Antonio Adan making two costly errors before getting sent off.
After not scoring a goal in two opening losses in Group D, Marseille ended Sporting’s perfect record with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Amine Harit, Leonardo Balerdi and Chancel Mbemba.
Adan had a night to forget, as he gifted Sanchez the equalizing goal after dawdling on the ball, made another mistake for the second and then was handed a red card in the 23rd minute after handling the ball outside his area.
The kickoff was delayed by more than 20 minutes after the bus carrying the visiting team’s players was caught in traffic and arrived late at the Velodrome stadium. The delay had been set to 15 minutes by UEFA and as Marseille players waited in the tunnel, coach Igor Tudor looked furious and complained to match officials that their opponents were late to come out of the locker room.
But Sporting wasted no time once the game got started, needing less than 60 seconds to break the deadlock.
With Marseille defenders letting him move forward unopposed, Francisco Trincao went down the right flank and cut inside to fire a left-footed shot into the net.
Marseille needed a blunder from the Sporting goalkeeper to get back in the match in the 13th minute.
Under pressure from Sanchez, Adan kicked the ball straight at the Chile striker as he tried to clear, and it bounced back into the net.
Adan looked destabilized and was again at fault on Marseille’s next goal three minutes later after another poor kick landed at Matteo Guendouzi’s feet. The midfielder was quick to pass the ball to Jonathan Clauss, who crossed it for Harit to finish off the move with a fine header.
Adan then rushed out to clear a ball in the 23rd, only to mistime his run and handle outside the area. Forward Marcus Edwards came off to make way for goalkeeper Franco Israel, who made his Champions League debut.
Israel’s lack of experience was on display on Marseille’s next chance, when he misjudged a free kick from Harit and could not stop Leonardo Balerdi’s powerful header in the 28th.
Sporting could not recover and were repeatedly sanctioned four fouls as Marseille controlled the remainder of the match, with Mbemba adding luster to the win in the 85th minute from close range.
The game was played without fans following the crowd trouble during Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-0 win at Marseille last month.


Bayern routs Plzeň 5-0 to set CL group-stage unbeaten record

Updated 04 October 2022

Bayern routs Plzeň 5-0 to set CL group-stage unbeaten record

  • Bayern recorded 2-0 victories over Inter Milan and Barcelona already in Group C
  • They had to face Plzeň without Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich due to coronavirus infections

MUNICH, Germany: Leroy Sané scored twice as Bayern Munich set a Champions League record by extending their unbeaten run in group play to 31 matches with a 5-0 win over Czech champion Viktoria Plzeň on Tuesday.
Bayern maintained their perfect start to this season’s campaign to break Real Madrid’s mark of 30 straight group-stage matches without a loss, a streak stretching back to September 2017.
Bayern also haven’t lost at home in Europe’s premier competition since a 3-2 defeat to Manchester City in December 2013. Since then, the Bavarian powerhouse has won 25 games and drawn one in Munich.
Bayern recorded 2-0 victories over Inter Milan and Barcelona already in Group C, but they had to face Plzeň without Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich due to coronavirus infections.
No matter.
Sané opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he coasted past several defenders before unleashing a shot inside the top left corner, and Leon Goretzka pushed the ball through for Serge Gnabry to make it 2-0 in the 13th.
Adam Vlkanova had just tried his luck for Plzeň, but Manuel Neuer safely gathered the shot. It was the visitors’ only real chance in the first half.
Sadio Mané turned on the style to flick the ball over a defender, then breezed past two more before firing in his first Champions League goal for Bayern in the 21st.
Jamal Musiala thought he had added the fourth in the 37th after a well-worked team move, but the goal was ruled out through VAR as Mané was adjudged to be just offside before playing the final pass.
Coach Julian Nagelsmann took off the impressive Musiala for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting at the break, perhaps to rest the 19-year-old Germany international for Saturday’s Bundesliga “Klassiker” at Borussia Dortmund.
Sané displayed a good first touch to control Mané’s cross with the outside of his boot, then wasted no time in sending the ball with his next touch past the helpless Marián Tvrdoň in the Plzeň goal for Bayern’s fourth in the 50th. It was Sané’s 16th goal in his last 12 games in the competition.
The Germany winger had endured a difficult start at Bayern, with injuries hampering his impact amid high expectations since joining from City in 2020.
But the fans that once whistled him showed their appreciation Tuesday as Sané went off to thunderous applause in the 58th with Nagelsmann bringing on the 17-year-old Mathys Tel.
Choupo-Moting got the fifth goal a minute later.
Substitute Fortune Bassey provided a rare highlight for Plzeň by going close late on.


Vardy must pay up to $1.7 million after losing UK ‘WAGatha Christie’ libel case

Updated 04 October 2022

Vardy must pay up to $1.7 million after losing UK ‘WAGatha Christie’ libel case

  • Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, had sued Rooney for libel after being publicly accused of leaking stories about her
  • On Tuesday, Vardy was ordered to pay 90% of Rooney's legal costs of about 1.67 million pounds

LONDON: Coleen Rooney, wife of ex-England soccer captain Wayne Rooney, will receive up to 1.5 million pounds ($1.7 million) in legal fees from the spouse of one of her husband’s former teammates after winning her high-profile libel case, a judge has ruled.
Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, had sued Rooney for libel after being publicly accused of leaking stories about her to the Sun tabloid.
In July, Judge Karen Steyn ruled that Rooney, 36, had proved her allegation was “substantially true” and that Vardy, 40, knew and condoned private details being leaked to the Sun by her agent.
On Tuesday, Vardy, who said the judge had got it wrong, was ordered to pay 90 percent of Rooney’s legal costs of about 1.67 million pounds, with 800,000 to be paid by the middle of November.
The case has drawn in the public and media with its mix of glamor, soccer, and amateur sleuthing with Rooney turning detective to track down the culprit behind the leaks.
She said she had blocked everyone from viewing her Instagram account except one person and then posted a series of false stories to see whether they leaked out, which they did.
“It’s ... Rebekah Vardy’s account,” she posted on social media, which saw Rooney dubbed “WAGatha Christie,” a reference to the “WAG” moniker given to the glamorous group of footballers’ “wives and girlfriends.”
During the trial, the court was shown message exchanges between Vardy and her agent, which included derogatory remarks about Rooney and talk of leaking stories.
Rooney’s lawyer said Vardy deleted other media files and messages, while the agent’s phone ended up at the bottom of the North Sea after she said she accidentally dropped it over the side of a boat.
“In my judgment, what takes this case out of the norm in a way which compels the conclusion that I should make an order for indemnity costs is that in my judgment following the trial I found that the claimant (and also her former agent) had deliberately deleted or destroyed evidence,” Steyn said.


Spain says would support Ukraine joining its 2030 soccer World Cup bid with Portugal

Updated 04 October 2022

Spain says would support Ukraine joining its 2030 soccer World Cup bid with Portugal

  • Ukraine is set to join Spain and Portugal in their bid to host the soccer World Cup in 2030

MADRID: Spain would support Ukraine joining its 2030 soccer World Cup hosting bid with Portugal, government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez said on Tuesday, asked about a report in The Times.
The Times reported on Monday that Ukraine is set to join Spain and Portugal in their bid to host the soccer World Cup in 2030.
The soccer chiefs of both Spain and Portugal will hold a news conference at European governing body UEFA’s headquarters in Switzerland on Wednesday, authorities said.