PSG lose again to Monaco on eve of Bayern Munich visit

Monaco’s French forward Wissam Ben Yedder and teammates Chilean Guillermo Maripan and Senegalese Krepin Diatta celebrate after winning their French L1 match against PSG at the Louis II stadium in Monaco on Feb, 11, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 11 February 2023
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PSG lose again to Monaco on eve of Bayern Munich visit

  • Undefeated in all competitions from August to December, PSG have become fragile
  • Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe were out injured but Neymar played

MONACO: A weakened Paris Saint-Germain lost a second straight game in all competitions to Monaco 3-1 in the French league on Saturday, three days before facing Bayern Munich.
Monaco climbed to second place, seven points behind a rattled PSG.
Undefeated in all competitions from August to December, PSG have become fragile. They lost to Lens and Rennes in the league last month and were knocked out by Marseille in the last 16 of the French Cup on Wednesday.
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe were out injured but Neymar played.
Bayern come on Tuesday for the first leg in the Champions League round of 16.
Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice for Monaco. His blocked shot rebounded for Aleksandr Golovin to beat PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the fourth minute.
Ben Yedder doubled the lead in the 18th as Monaco pressed high up the pitch. Krepin Diatta dispossessed El Chadaille Bitshiabu and Ben Yedder buried an angled strike into the far corner.
Teenage midfielder Warren Zaire-Emery pulled one back for PSG by tapping home a low cross from Juan Bernat in the 39th.
But Ben Yedder restored Monaco’s two-goal lead moments before halftime with a curling shot off the post. He tied Reims striker Folarin Balogun as the top scorer in the league with 14.
Donnarumma prevented PSG being in a bigger hole by halftime. He parried a close-range header from Ruben Aguilar and denied Golovin, who was clean through on goal.
Monaco managed the game in the second half and Donnarumma saved a low effort from substitute Takumi Minamino in stoppage time.
Marseille could take back second place when they visited Clermont later Saturday.


Atalanta stun Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield, Leverkusen beat West Ham 2-0 in Europa League

Updated 12 April 2024
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Atalanta stun Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield, Leverkusen beat West Ham 2-0 in Europa League

  • The loss damages Liverpool’s hopes of a treble of trophies in manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield
  • Bayer Leverkusen got late goals from substitutes Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface to top West Ham 2-0 and extend their unbeaten streak to 42 games

Gianluca Scamacca struck twice as visiting Atalanta upset Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals on Thursday.

The loss damages Liverpool’s hopes of a treble of trophies in manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield.

The Italian visitors went into the break up 1-0 after Scamacca got a low drive past goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher in the 38th minute.

Klopp sent on Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andy Robertson as substitutes for the second half, but Scamacca netted again after Charles De Ketelaere fed him at the far post on the hour mark.

Mario Pasalic finished the scoring seven minutes from time.

Atalanta won at Anfield 2-0 in the group stage of the Champions League in 2020.

Liverpool won the English League Cup and are in a tight Premier League title race with Arsenal and Manchester City. Klopp’s team were eliminated from the FA Cup in the quarterfinals.

The lackluster display Thursday might turn out to be Klopp’s final European game at Anfield. The team needs a big comeback in Bergamo to stay alive.

If Liverpool reaches the Europa League final in Dublin on May 22, it would be Klopp’s final game in charge after nearly nine years.

Bayer Leverkusen got late goals from substitutes Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface to top West Ham 2-0 and extend their unbeaten streak to 42 games in a season that can also end up with a treble of trophies.

Hofmann netted on a rebound in the 83rd before Boniface clinched a well-deserved victory with a header in stoppage time.

With a 16-point lead atop the Bundesliga, Xabi Alonso’s team are on course to clinch their first-ever league title and have reached the German Cup final.

In an all-Italian matchup, Gianluca Mancini headed in a winner off a corner kick from Paulo Dybala to upset AC Milan 1-0 at San Siro.

Mancini also scored the lone goal in the Italian capital derby against Lazio on Saturday in Serie A.

It was the first win for Roma over Milan since October 2019.

Milan, the seven-time European champions, have never won the second-tier Europa League or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup.

Milan have never even reached the final — something Roma achieved twice, losing both in 1991 and last year.

Rafa Silva and veteran forward Angel Di Maria scored in each half for Benfica to beat Marseille 2-1. In an encounter of two former European champions. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back for Marseille, who lost their fifth straight game in all competitions.

Aubameyang has 24 goals this season in total.

The second-leg games will be played next week.

EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE

Kostas Fortounis scored and provided an assist to help Olympiakos beat Fenerbahce 3-2 in the first leg of the Europa Conference League quarterfinals on Thursday.

Olympiakos built a 3-0 lead in Piraeus and held on after the Turkish team fought back with two second-half goals.

Fortounis opened the scoring after just eight minutes, netting his fifth goal of the European campaign. He then set up Stevan Jovetić to double the lead before halftime.

Chiquinho made it 3-0 with a precise low drive approaching the hour mark before Dusan Tadic pulled one back from the penalty spot and İrfan Can Kahveci added the second for Fenerbahce.

Olympiakos is one of the two Greek teams in the last eight hoping to reach a home final in Athens.

The other, PAOK, lost 1-0 at Club Brugge.

Ollie Watkins and captain John McGinn scored early in each half to secure a 2-1 win for Aston Villa over Lille for manager Unai Emery, who claimed the Europa League on four occasions — three times with Sevilla and once with Villarreal.

Viktoria Plzen held last year’s runner-up Fiorentina to a 0-0 draw in what was the first European quarterfinal for the Czech club, which hasn’t conceded a goal for seven straight games in the third-tier competition.

As Fiorentina looked in control in the second half, the match was interrupted for several minutes because of flares that its fans threw onto the pitch.


French footballer Bafetimbi Gomis defends ex-teammate Ali Al-Bulayhi in Ronaldo saga

Updated 11 April 2024
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French footballer Bafetimbi Gomis defends ex-teammate Ali Al-Bulayhi in Ronaldo saga

  • ‘He is far from being a bad person,’ says Gomis on X
  • Post attracts over 11,000 likes, 4,500 retweets, more than 1,500 replies

RIAYDH: French footballer Bafetimbi Gomis on Thursday defended Al-Hilal’s Saudi defender Ali Al-Bulayhi following his altercation with Al-Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo on Monday during their Super Cup semifinal showdown.
The Portuguese international was sent off for elbowing Al-Bulayhi during Al-Nassr’s narrow 2-1 defeat.
Gomis, a former Al-Hilal player who turned out for the Riyadh giants between 2018 and 2022, said of his former teammate Al-Bulayhi on X: “An exemplary teammate, first come, last left from training. He gives everything for his country and for his club. Actually, he’s one of the best center-backs in the world and I know a few things from my experience. He is far from being a bad person!!!”

Currently playing for Japanese club Kawasaki Frontale, Gomis’ post has attracted more than 11,000 likes, 4,500 retweets and in excess of 1,500 replies.
One user posted a video of Al-Bulayhi and Gomis hugging, and wrote: “Two historic legends.”
Another user posted a video — which is believed to have been filmed when Gomis left Al-Hilal — of the two players saluting each other and a comment citing the Frenchman as saying “I love you, Bulayhi.”
A user called Yousef commented, saying: “Thank you Gomis for the unforgettable days!”
The Saudi Ministry of Sport denied rumors on Wednesday that its minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki bin Faisal, had held discussions with Ronaldo after his controversial sending off.


Haptic shirts from Sela to allow Newcastle fans with hearing loss to experience live atmosphere in EPL

Updated 11 April 2024
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Haptic shirts from Sela to allow Newcastle fans with hearing loss to experience live atmosphere in EPL

  • NUFC’s front-of-shirt sponsor, Sela, introduces world-first haptic shirts that allow fans with hearing disability to experience live atmosphere during NUFC-Tottenham clash on Saturday
  • Haptic shirts use a technology that transform the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensation

NEWCASTLE, UK: Football fans with hearing disabilities will for the first time ever experience the atmosphere of a live match during Newcastle United’s Premier League home game against Tottenham thanks to the newly-introduced technology of haptic shirts.
NUFC’s front-of-shirt sponsor, Sela, will introduce the world-first haptic shirts that allow deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to experience live atmospheres during a football game at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
Haptic shirts use a technology that transforms the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensation. Fans and the match day mascots, who are deaf or have hearing loss, will be wearing the shirts in the stands.
A leading live events and experiences company, Sela has been the driving force behind the initiative as a demonstration of their commitment to using innovation to provide moments to all fans.
The company has committed to providing this technology at all future Newcastle home games and hopes its actions will inspire football clubs across the Premier League, Europe and beyond to build on efforts to improve accessibility.
Moreover, the match will also see Sela donate its front-of-shirt sponsorship to RNID, the national charity supporting the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.
Sela’s Senior Vice President Ibrahim Mohtaseb said: “St. James’ Park is renowned for its noise and passion. Through this initiative we hope to enable deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to feel a part of this.”
He welcomed the whole football family to join them by adopting the technology.
Peter Silverstone, United’s chief commercial officer, said: “When Sela shared the idea and technology behind the haptic shirts, we supported the concept immediately, knowing it would make such an impact to our supporters who are deaf or have hearing loss.”
He added: “‘Un-silence the Crowd’ fills everybody associated with this initiative with deep pride, from all NUFC, Newcastle United Foundation, Sela and RNID, along with all stakeholders who have helped make this possible.
“We believe that ‘Un-silence the Crowd’ will be truly game-changing for football and expect this campaign will revolutionize the football experience for any fan who is deaf or has hearing loss, regardless of which team they support,” concluded Silverstone.
It is set to be a historic occasion, marking the first time a hearing-loss charity has been promoted on a Premier League front-of-shirt, as well as the launch of the cutting-edge shirts themselves.
Meanwhile, Teri Devine, RNID’s director for inclusion, said: “It’s fantastic to see Sela and Newcastle United leading the way in championing this technology which has the potential to have a real and lasting impact on how people who are deaf and have hearing loss experience live sports.”
Devine expressed excitement to be part of the collaboration and said he hoped this exposure opens up conversations among football fans about hearing loss and encourages other football clubs to raise their game and make sure deaf fans are fully included.


Atletico hold on to keep advantage on Dortmund

Updated 11 April 2024
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Atletico hold on to keep advantage on Dortmund

  • Dortmund could not cope with the Rojiblancos’ high press and De Paul fired the hosts ahead after Ian Maatsen gave the ball away

MADRID: Atletico Madrid earned a 2-1 Champions League quarter-final first leg victory over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, surviving a late onslaught from the visitors.
Rodrigo De Paul and Samuel Lino’s first half goals gave Diego Simeone’s side a commanding lead but Sebastien Haller pulled one back to give the German side a foothold in the tie ahead of next week’s return in Dortmund.
Edin Terzic’s side, fifth in the Bundesliga, improved greatly after a slow start and hit the woodwork twice in the final stages of a match which saw security measures reinforced after the Islamic State (IS) group made threats against stadiums used for last-eight ties.
Atletico Madrid had flown out of the traps, keen to grasp a golden opportunity to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2017.
Dortmund could not cope with the Rojiblancos’ high press and De Paul fired the hosts ahead after Ian Maatsen gave the ball away.
Goalkeeper Gregor Kobel passed the ball to the on-loan Chelsea defender, who panicked under pressure and played a slack pass which De Paul gleefully intercepted.
The Argentina international finished calmly to amp up the already loud Metropolitano stadium crowd.
Atletico have not lost any of their home Champions League knock-out games during Simeone’s 12 years at the helm and continued to flood forward confidently.
Kobel clawed away a brilliant backheel flick by former Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel, a key part of Atletico’s back-line after his move in 2022.
The only negative note from a fine Atletico first half was a booking Lino earned, ruling him out for the second leg.
A few minutes later the Brazilian doubled his team’s lead after another Dortmund defensive mix-up.
Mats Hummels, on his 500th appearance for Dortmund, badly directed a header into Alvaro Morata’s path and he and Antoine Griezmann combined to feed Lino, who slid a low effort past Kobel.
Dortmund carved out their first opening after 35 minutes but Witsel dived in to deflect Karim Adeyemi’s shot on to the roof of Jan Oblak’s net.
The Slovenian goalkeeper kept out efforts from loanee Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho and Maatsen before the break.
Terzic brought on Julian Brandt for Felix Nmecha at half-time in search of more attacking spark.
Missing sick top goalscorer Donyell Malen the Bundesliga side struggled to find a way past Oblak, who saved from Niclas Fuellkrug early in a far tighter second half.
Kobel made a stunning save to deny Lino his second goal from point-blank range and Dortmund swiftly capitalized on it through substitute Haller.
Nahuel Molina made poor contact on a clearance and the ball fell to the towering striker who drove it beyond Oblak.
Despite the visitors finding a foothold in the game, Atletico held on by the skin of their teeth and Dortmund fell to their first away defeat in four months.
Hummels made up for his earlier error with a fine challenge to dispossess Angel Correa as he ran in on goal before Dortmund twice came close to an equalizer.
English winger Jamie Bynoe-Gittens’s long-range drive deflected off Cesar Azpilicueta’s head and hit the crossbar.
Brandt also nodded against the frame of the goal in stoppage time in a frantic finale.
Simeone was able to celebrate his 50th Champions League victory as a coach, becoming the ninth man to achieve the feat.
One neither Simeone or Atletico have yet achieved is conquering the Champions League, but this win is a shaky step toward the semifinals.


Barcelona beat PSG in thriller to seize edge in Champions League tie

Updated 11 April 2024
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Barcelona beat PSG in thriller to seize edge in Champions League tie

  • That second leg will be played at Montjuic, the Catalan club’s temporary home, rather than the Camp Nou

PARIS: Andreas Christensen came off the bench to head in the winning goal as Barcelona won 3-2 away to Paris Saint-Germain in a remarkable first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday.
Raphinha had earlier scored twice for the Catalans at the Parc des Princes, slotting in the opener late in the first half and then volleying in an equalizer to make it 2-2 just after the hour mark.
In between, PSG had turned the game around as they awoke from a poor first-half display by starting in electrifying fashion after the restart with two goals in six minutes, neither coming from Kylian Mbappe.
Ousmane Dembele struck against his old club, and Vitinha briefly put the French giants in front, only for Barcelona to recover in stunning fashion to take control of the tie.
Christensen’s goal, which came just after he had been introduced as a substitute on his 28th birthday, ended PSG’s 27-game unbeaten run and gives Barca a lead to defend at home in the return next Tuesday.
That second leg will be played at Montjuic, the Catalan club’s temporary home, rather than the Camp Nou, the scene of Barcelona’s incredible 6-1 win over PSG in 2017 and of a lethal Mbappe hat-trick in a 2021 meeting of the teams.
The Parisians were widely seen as the favorites coming into this tie, in large part thanks to the presence of Mbappe and Dembele in attack.
Security measures were reinforced at all of this week’s quarter-finals after the Daesh group made threats against stadiums.
But the story of this game ended up partly being about the selection decisions of PSG coach Luis Enrique, who was missing the banned Achraf Hakimi but also omitted teenage prodigy Warren Zaire-Emery and gave Marco Asensio a surprise start.
The importance of the occasion for PSG, back in the quarter-finals having been eliminated in the last 16 in five of the previous seven seasons, was clear with Ronaldinho — a former star for both clubs — doing a lap of honor ahead of the game and home fans putting on a Star Wars display as the teams came out.
But Paris struggled to live up to it, with Mbappe for once unable to deliver in a big game.
Appearing in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in four years and since the departure of Lionel Messi, Barcelona grew into this game and almost went ahead on 20 minutes.
Home goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma came to try to punch away a corner but Robert Lewandowski got there first, only for his header to be cleared off the line by Nuno Mendes.
That was the first wobble from Donnarumma, who did not cover himself in glory as Barcelona went ahead in the 37th minute.
The Italian came out to meet a low ball in from the right by Lamine Yamal but only succeeded in helping it into the path of Raphinha, who gratefully fired into an unguarded net for his first ever goal in the competition.
PSG sent on Bradley Barcola at the break for Asensio, with the substitute going to the right wing and Dembele moving across to an inside-left role close to Mbappe.
The tactical change paid off at once, as PSG drew level three minutes after the restart when Ronald Araujo failed to properly clear Mbappe’s cutback from the byline, the ball dropping to Dembele who rifled a shot high into the net while slipping.
It was just his second PSG goal since moving to the French capital from Barcelona last August.
The home side then went ahead in the 51st minute, Barcola and Lee Kang-in combining on the right before Fabian Ruiz supplied Vitinha, who controlled and prodded in.
Xavi responded with a double change just past the hour mark, as Pedri and Joao Felix entered and Yamal and Sergi Roberto came off, with Raphinha now on the right.
Pedri’s first contribution saw him float a ball forward for Raphinha, who arrived in the middle to meet it first-time on the volley, his shot beating Donnarumma to make it 2-2.
It was breathless stuff, and Dembele almost scored again, sending a shot off the far post just before Barcelona won it.
Donnarumma stayed rooted to his line as Ilkay Gundogan delivered a corner and Christensen headed in.