Tchouameni grabs Madrid late win at Las Palmas to top Liga

Real Madrid’s Antonio Rudiger jumps for the ball with Las Palmas’ Marvin Park during their Spanish La liga match at the Gran Canaria stadium on the Canary island of Las Palmas, on Jan. 27, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 27 January 2024
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Tchouameni grabs Madrid late win at Las Palmas to top Liga

  • Las Palmas took the lead through Javier Munoz early in the second half
  • Madrid came back with Vinicius Junior levelling before Tchouameni's winner, on his birthday

LAS PALMAS, Spain: Aurelien Tchouameni's towering header earned Real Madrid a late 2-1 victory at Las Palmas and sent them top of La Liga on Saturday.
Las Palmas took the lead through Javier Munoz early in the second half, but Madrid came back with Vinicius Junior levelling before Tchouameni's winner, on his birthday.
Carlo Ancelotti's side lead Girona by two points at the top of the table with 21 games played each, although the Catalan minnows visit Celta Vigo on Sunday and can reclaim top spot.
Champions Barcelona, third, host Villarreal later Saturday, needing a victory to avoid losing ground on Los Blancos.
Madrid were without leading goalscorer Jude Bellingham, suspended, replaced by Brahim Diaz, while Ancelotti also handed Dani Ceballos a rare start in midfield.
In a first half of few chances, Las Palmas left-back Sergi Cardona was the biggest source of danger.
The defender was lightly clipped by Dani Ceballos in the area but the referee did not point to the spot, and Cardona smashed narrowly over a few minutes later.
Vinicius had a couple of off-target efforts for Madrid at the other end, but Las Palmas goalkeeper Alvaro Valles went largely untroubled.
Promoted Las Palmas, eighth, have exceeded expectations under former Barcelona reserves coach Francisco Garcia Pimienta, and for large periods they gave Madrid as good as they got.
It was a clash between the division's best two defences but the stalemate was broken early in the second half.
Munoz finished a neat counter-attack after Kirian Rodriguez freed Sandro Ramirez down the right with a well-judged pass.
The former Barcelona forward crossed for Munoz, whose low effort deflected in off Nacho Fernandez.
Dani Carvajal had a goal ruled out for offside before Vinicius levelled for Madrid.
The Brazilian fired a good chance over the bar but redeemed himself by levelling in the 65th minute.
Eduardo Camavinga chipped a pass over the defence for Vinicius, who drilled past Valles from a tight angle.
Ancelotti, chasing a winner, sent on Turkish attacker Arda Guler for his La Liga debut and match-winner Tchouameni.
The French midfielder netted only his second goal for the club with a superb header from Toni Kroos' corner with six minutes remaining.


Playing Italy like ‘looking in a mirror’, says Spain’s De la Fuente

Updated 19 June 2024
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Playing Italy like ‘looking in a mirror’, says Spain’s De la Fuente

  • “They’re very similar to us, they have changed coach and they have young players,” De la Fuente told reporters
  • “I think it will be a very high quality match“

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany: Luis de la Fuente said on Wednesday he was struck by the similarities between his Spain team and Italy as the pair aim to secure qualification for the knockout stage of Euro 2024.
La Roja and champions Italy have undergone a change in playing personnel over the last year, and have young blood throughout their squads.
Spain are more direct than under previous coach Luis Enrique while Luciano Spalletti is attempting get Italy to play a high-intensity attacking style with which he won the Serie A title for Napoli.
“They’re very similar to us, they have changed coach and they have young players. They are very competitive,” De la Fuente told reporters.
“It’s almost like we’re looking in a mirror actually. We are a growing, developing team which is working on cohesion and consistency and so are they. I think it will be a very high quality match.”
Spain have faced Italy at each of the last four Euros and meet in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday where both teams can ensure top spot in Group B with a win.
They are locked on three points at the top of the group, two ahead of Albania and Croatia who played out an exciting 2-2 draw earlier on Wednesday.
And De la Fuente, who has a fully fit squad at his disposal, is in no doubt that his team will play to win rather than try to not lose and then attempt to secure top spot in their final group game with Albania.
“Without doubt we want to win. This game most important game for us so far,” he said.
“That is the only thing we’re thinking about... We play all matches to win. I don’t know how to play any other way.”
Fabian Ruiz, who will face his former coach at Napoli in Spalletti, shrugged off talk of Spain being favorites for the Euros despite their blistering debut win over Croatia.
“We don’t see ourselves as favorites but we have confidence in our potential,” said Fabian Ruiz.
“We know we have the quality to get to the final and we’ll do what we can to get there. Maybe if we get to the final I’ll be able to tell you whether we’re favorites or not. But it’s very difficult to win a tournament.”


UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games

Updated 19 June 2024
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UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games

  • Each federation was charged with “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event”
  • UEFA also opened a separate investigation into alleged discrimination by Serbia fans

FRANKFURT: UEFA fined the Albanian and Serbian soccer federations 10,000 euros ($10,700) each on Wednesday for fans displaying banners with nationalist maps at European Championship games.
Each federation was charged with “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event” because they are responsible for the conduct of their fans at stadiums.
Albania fans displayed a banner with a map of their country extending its borders into the territory of neighboring countries. It was shown during the 2-1 loss against Italy on Saturday in Dortmund.
Serbia fans’ banner included the independent territory of Kosovo and a slogan “No Surrender” at a 1-0 loss against England in Gelsenkirchen. A case was prosecuted by FIFA at the 2022 World Cup when players were photographed with a similar banner in their locker room ahead of a game against Brazil.
UEFA also opened a separate investigation into alleged discrimination by Serbia fans. The Kosovo soccer federation field a formal complaint with UEFA.
The Albanian federation was fined a further 27,375 euros ($29,400) for fans lighting flares and fireworks, throwing beer cups and a fan who went on the field.
Fans invading the playing area have been a regular feature in the first week of games at Euro 2024.
UEFA announced the sanctions of its disciplinary panel hours after Albania drew 2-2 with Croatia in their second Group B game.
Serbia’s federation must pay 4,500 euros ($4,800) more for fans throwing beer cups.


Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism

Updated 19 June 2024
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Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism

  • The Three Lions men got off to a winning start, but a 1-0 victory over Serbia attracted criticism for not maximizing the use of the attacking talent on offer to England
  • "My world is a happier place if I shut myself off," Southgate said

FRANKFURT: England boss Gareth Southgate said he will ignore media coverage during Euro 2024 as his joy at winning matches lasts just “45 seconds” due to the scrutiny he is under.
The Three Lions men got off to a winning start, but a 1-0 victory over Serbia attracted criticism for not maximizing the use of the attacking talent on offer to England.
Jude Bellingham stole the show with the only goal in Gelsenkirchen, but Phil Foden and Harry Kane were among those who struggled to shine in a slow start by one of the pre-tournament favorites.
“My world is a happier place if I shut myself off,” Southgate said at his pre-match press conference ahead of facing Denmark on Thursday.
“It’s not good from a global perspective because I haven’t got a clue about politics or (world) events, but for the next month that’s going to be a better place for me.”
Under Southgate England have risen back into contention for glory, reaching a final, semifinal and quarter-final in his three attempts at major tournaments.
However, that record has not sheltered him from a backlash at times due to the wealth of talent he has to choose from.
And Southgate conceded there should be more joy in leading his country.
“We’ve had some good results over the years so maybe even we take wins for granted. I should let the boys enjoy it more than they do,” he added.
“I get about 45 seconds of enjoyment. The whistle blows, I cuddle everybody, walk off the pitch and that’s about it. I hope they have a little bit longer than me!
“There should be more joy in it but that’s not my reality if I’m frank. My focus is to get qualified from the group, two tough opponents and two games to achieve that.”
Manchester City defender Kyle Walker said he is also keen to shut out any outside noise — apart from the opinion of his mum.
“I don’t read it at all,” said Walker. “If you have outside noise, positively or negatively, it can have an impact so I’d rather not see it and concentrate on what it’s in camp, what the gaffer says, and mainly what my mum says. She always tells me if I’ve had a good game.”
Victory over Denmark in Frankfurt will secure England’s place in the last 16 with a game to spare.
Luke Shaw remains the only player unavailable to Southgate as he continues his rehabilitation of a calf injury.
The Manchester United left-back has not played at all for club or country since February, but Southgate remains confident Shaw will have a role to play in the tournament.
“Luke won’t be involved tomorrow. He is actually on track for where he was originally.
“He needs a bit more volume work. There are days he needs to do more than the rest of the group and other days he needs to recover.”


Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros

Updated 19 June 2024
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Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros

  • Musiala struck for the second game running midway through the first half
  • Julian Nagelsmann’s men can wrap up top spot when they play Switzerland in Frankfurt in their final group fixture on Sunday

STUTTGART, Germany: Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan scored as hosts Germany became the first team to qualify for the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Wednesday after beating Hungary 2-0 in Stuttgart.
Musiala struck for the second game running midway through the first half, much to the anger of Hungary players who felt a foul should have been awarded in the build-up to the goal.
Gundogan grabbed his side’s second on 67 minutes as Germany eased to a second successive win in Group A, making sure they will progress to the knockout phase at least as one of the best third-placed sides.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men can wrap up top spot when they play Switzerland in Frankfurt in their final group fixture on Sunday.
Hungary are staring at elimination after back-to-back defeats and must beat Scotland if they are to stand any chance of reaching the last 16.
Germany unsurprisingly stuck with the same line-up that battered Scotland 5-1 in the first game of the tournament, ending a run of three major finals in which they had lost their opening match.
Hungary coach Marco Rossi made two changes following a disappointing 3-1 loss to Switzerland, bringing Marton Dardai into his three-man defense and starting Bendeguz Bolla at right wing-back.
A dismal first half left Hungary with too much to do against the Swiss and Rossi admitted beating Germany would require a “perfect match” from his team.
Hungary almost struck in the opening seconds as Manuel Neuer raced out to take the ball off the toe of Roland Sallai.
Kai Havertz outmuscled Willi Orban only to be superbly denied by Peter Gulacsi, who thrust out his right hand to deny the Arsenal attacker.
Robert Andrich’s volley from the resulting corner was bravely headed behind by Bolla, but it wasn’t long until Germany’s persistence was rewarded.
Musiala cushioned the ball through for Gundogan and the Germany captain kept the attack alive after jostling with Orban, knocking it back for Musiala to slam in off the crossbar with a touch off Attila Fiola.
Hungary were furious no foul was given for the contact between Gundogan and Orban that knocked the defender to the ground, the goal confirmed after a brief VAR check.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s curling free-kick drew a terrific stop from Neuer soaring to his right, the goalkeeper kicking away the follow-up as Hungary tried to scramble in the rebound.
A key block from Jonathan Tah foiled a second opportunity in quick succession for Szoboszlai, with Musiala then drilling into the side-netting at the other end.
Hungary had the ball in Germany’s net in first-half stoppage time, but Sallai’s effort was ruled out for offside after Neuer palmed away an Orban header.
Gulacsi clawed away a deflected Toni Kroos drive early in the second half before Hungary forward Barnabas Varga, who scored in the loss to Switzerland, nodded narrowly over from an inviting cross.
Germany picked apart the Hungary defense with a patient attack to double their lead just past the hour.
Maximilian Mittelstaedt found space down the left and slid across a pass for Gundogan to sweep home from near the penalty spot.
Niclas Fuellkrug failed to get a finishing touch as Joshua Kimmich powered across the face of goal, with Gulacsi making smart saves to keep out Kimmich and Leroy Sane as Germany sought a third goal.
Julian Nagelsmann withdrew his front three with the game under control to keep them fresh for the Switzerland clash.
Neuer had a nervy moment late on when he spilled a cross, but Kimmich cleared Orban’s shot off the line to preserve the clean sheet for Germany — their first in eight games at the European Championship.


Kylian Mbappé trains at Euro 2024 with bandage on broken nose and social media post causing intrigue

Updated 19 June 2024
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Kylian Mbappé trains at Euro 2024 with bandage on broken nose and social media post causing intrigue

  • “Without risks, there are no victories,” the striker wrote on Instagram
  • “A fractured nose isn’t the end of the world,” midfielder Adrien Rabiot said Wednesday

PADERBORN, Germany: Kylian Mbappé returned to light training Wednesday with a bandage covering his broken nose in the first public appearance by the France superstar since his bloody injury that shook the European Championship.
A cryptic post on social media earlier hours might have provided an insight into Mbappé’s mindset as the world waits to discover how long he will be out of action.
“Without risks, there are no victories,” the striker wrote on Instagram in the only comment so far from Mbappé or the French team management on a day when the Real Madrid-bound player underwent more tests on the nose injury sustained in the 1-0 win over Austria on Monday.
Mbappé emerged for a late-afternoon practice session at the Home Deluxe Arena in Paderborn about 30 minutes after his teammates came out. He was initially seen running with the ball alone, with a trainer, and later speaking to France coach Didier Deschamps, before taking part in a shooting drill with other players.
France’s next match is against the Netherlands on Friday and the team have yet to officially confirm whether Mbappé is available.
Earlier Wednesday, the diagnosis on Mbappé had been fairly encouraging from two of his teammates.
“A fractured nose isn’t the end of the world,” midfielder Adrien Rabiot said Wednesday through a translator at a lunchtime news conference in Paderborn, where France hold their training sessions at Euro 2024, “and Kylian should be with us pretty soon.”
William Saliba said he spoke to Mbappé and reported the striker was feeling a “bit better.”
Mbappé broke his nose when his face collided with the shoulder of Austria defender Kevin Danso. Blood was seen pouring from Mbappé’s badly swollen nose, turning parts of his white France jersey red. He will have to wear a face mask if he plays on at the tournament, his team said.
“I saw him this morning, he was a bit better,” Saliba said through a translator. “I think he was off to do more tests. I don’t know anything more.
“But when I saw him this morning, he was a bit better.”
Rabiot has compared the injury to one suffered by his teammate at Juventus, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The Poland international broke his nose against Torino in April, underwent surgery and was back in the team the following week.
The widespread expectation is that Mbappé will play a further part at Euro 2024, especially since France’s win over Austria means the team are likely to advance to the knockout stage, which begins on June 29.
France will not be playing their match in the round of 16 before June 30.
Rabiot stressed he didn’t know how long Mbappé will be out, but said “playing without Kylian could be tough.”
“He is a very important teammate and he is our captain, so it will have an effect on us, but also for the opponents — it will be different for them to prepare their game,” Rabiot said.
“I’m not going to hide it, we definitely want him to play. (But) looking at who we have on the bench, I think we have what it takes to replace Kylian. If he’s not there, it’s going to be a bit more tough but I trust all the great players we have on the team.”
Olivier Giroud and Randal Kolo Muani are the options to come in for Mbappé, who was nominally a center forward against Austria but was given license to roam to the left or right. It was from the right wing where he played in the cross for the only goal — a header into his own net by Maximilian Wober.