Emotional Klopp tells fans ‘I love you to bits’ as his final match with Liverpool ends with a win

They lined the streets outside Anfield to welcome Klopp and his players and produced a paper mosaic of the word “JURGEN”. (REUTERS)
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Updated 20 May 2024
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Emotional Klopp tells fans ‘I love you to bits’ as his final match with Liverpool ends with a win

  • Goals by Alexis Mac Allister and Jarell Quansah secured one last victory of the Klopp era
  • They lined the streets outside Anfield to welcome Klopp and his players and produced a paper mosaic of the word “JURGEN”

LIVERPOOL: The last time as Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp ran over to The Kop and delivered those repeated fist pumps that have been his signature during his transformational spell at Anfield.
The Liverpool fans — many with tears in their eyes, just like some of the team’s players -responded with a series of deafening roars, and then cheered Klopp as he did a circuit of the field.
Soon enough, he had disappeared out of view down the tunnel.
Gone, but never forgotten.
“I’m one of you now — I love you to bits,” Klopp said among his last words as he addressed the crowd inside Anfield after his final game as Liverpool’s manager, a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton on Sunday.
The match on the final day of the Premier League season doubled as a tribute to a German coach who led Liverpool to seven major trophies in his nearly nine years at Anfield and forged such a connection with the city that he has been compared to Bill Shankly — the club’s legendary manager from 1959-74.
No wonder Klopp looked emotional throughout an afternoon that Liverpool fans never wanted to come.
They lined the streets outside Anfield to welcome Klopp and his players, and then produced a paper mosaic of the word “JURGEN” in the stand opposite the dugouts as he emerged for the game.
“People are calling it The Last Dance. So let’s dance,” Klopp told Sky Sports just off the field before kickoff – and Liverpool obliged by strolling to one final victory for Klopp thanks to goals by Alexis Mac Allister and Jarell Quansah.
In some ways, it was business as usual for Klopp.
He touched the “This is Anfield” sign in the tunnel on the way out to the pitch.
He patrolled the middle of the field with his hands behind his back during the warmups, watching his own team — and then, with that trademark glare, his opponents.
He waved to fans behind the Liverpool dugout and tapped his heart just ahead of kickoff, before soaking in an emotionally charged rendition of the club’s anthem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
“This morning I woke up,” Klopp said before the game, “and I was completely in game mode.”
The farewell party really started after the final whistle, which he marked by embracing each member of his backroom staff and also Wolves manager Gary O’Neil. Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk was in tears as he hugged Klopp near the center circle.
The goodbye celebrations reached a crescendo as Klopp walked back out onto the field about 45 minutes after fulltime, wearing a red hoodie with the words “Thank You Luv” on the front and “I’ll Never Walk Alone” on the back, to speak to the crowd one last time.
“It doesn’t feel like an end. It feels like a start,” Klopp said. “Because I saw a football team full of youth, full of creativity, full of desire.
“For a few weeks, I got too much attention and it feels really uncomfortable but this time I realize a lot of things. People told me I turned them from doubters into believers. That’s not true. Believing is an act. You had to do it yourself. You did it. And nobody tells you now to stop believing.”
With Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold now in tears, Klopp continued in his speech to the home fans: “Because we have you, the super power of world football.”
He followed it up by chanting the name of Arne Slot, his likely successor.
“Arne Slot, la la la la la,” Klopp sang, to the tune of “Live is Life” by Austrian band Opus.
Liverpool finished third in the standings, nine points behind champion Manchester City, but at least won a trophy in Klopp’s final season — the English League Cup.


Conor McGregor says a broken toe forced him to withdraw from UFC 303

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Conor McGregor says a broken toe forced him to withdraw from UFC 303

LAS VEGAS: Conor McGregor posted on Instagram on Friday that a broken toe was the reason he had to pull out of his headline UFC 303 bout against Michael Chandler after previously not specifying the injury.
“We had a lapse in concentration and engaged in a training session without wearing the full protective gear and I hit the toe off the elbow and broke the toe clean,” McGregor posted. “It needs a few weeks that’s it. I couldn’t justify to my team, or fans, that I make the walk hindered again. That walk has been seen. This next walk has got to be, and it will be, 100 percent Conor McGregor. The fans deserve it and we are getting close.”
Light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira will face top-ranked challenger Jiri Prochazka in the June 29 main event in Las Vegas in place of the McGregor-Chandler match.
McGregor said he would return to the octagon “Chandler or not.”
He took the X, formerly known as Twitter, to say that Chandler is getting paid 10 times the amount he would have received if he had fought someone else.
“For those saying he could have fought 2 or 3 times by now etc.,” McGregor posted, “He’d need 10 to break even with this cheque.”

CONCACAF to investigate after Canada’s Bombito was targeted on social media with racist messages

Updated 8 min 53 sec ago
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CONCACAF to investigate after Canada’s Bombito was targeted on social media with racist messages

ATLANTA: CONCACAF says it will investigate racist messages directed at Canadian soccer player Moise Bombito on social media after he made a tackle on Lionel Messi during a 2-0 Copa America loss to Argentina on Thursday.
The Canadian National Team issued a statement on social media late Thursday night about the messages without mentioning Bombito by name.
“Canada Soccer is aware of and deeply disturbed by racist comments made online and directed at one of our men’s national team players following tonight’s game,” the statement said. “We are in communication with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL about this matter.”
CONCACAF said it stood with Canada Soccer “in condemning the disgraceful social media posts.
“We are now working with the federation and with our colleagues at CONMEBOL and FIFA to seek ways to investigate the accounts which posted racist material. We will continue to use our reach to promote unity and respect.”
Bombito, a 24-year-old from Montreal who plays for the Colorado Rapids in MLS, made an Instagram story post that didn’t reference anything specifically but said, “My beautiful Canada. No room for that bs.”
Bombito caught Messi while attempting a tackle in the 82nd minute after his pass was intercepted by Lautaro Martinez. Messi, clearly in pain, went down in the penalty box after Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau saved an ensuing shot from Martinez.
Replays showed a sliding Bombito getting a foot to the ball and then making contact with Messi’s right ankle. There was no foul called.
Messi walked off the field gingerly after receiving treatment but returned to action and set up Argentina’s second goal in the 88th minute.


Energized Austria win and put Lewandowski’s Poland at risk of elimination from Euro 2024

Updated 21 June 2024
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Energized Austria win and put Lewandowski’s Poland at risk of elimination from Euro 2024

  • Gernot Trauner, Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic scored for Austria while Krzysztof Piatek had Poland’s first-half equalizer
  • Robert Lewandowski came on in the second half but failed to make an impact

BERLIN: Austria picked up a crucial win at Euro 2024 by defeating Poland 3-1 in their second group match and leaving the Poles on the brink of elimination on Friday.
Gernot Trauner, Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic scored for Austria while Krzysztof Piatek had Poland’s first-half equalizer.
To avoid a group stage exit, Poland need the Netherlands to beat France in a later Group D match on Friday.
Robert Lewandowski, who missed Poland’s first match against the Netherlands due to an injury, came on in the second half but failed to make an impact, and was booked after just five minutes on the pitch.
Austria came out blazing and took the lead within 10 minutes when Trauner headed in a cross from Philipp Mwene.
The Poles clawed their way back and levelled just before the half-hour mark, with Piatek slotting in a rebound from close range.
Polish fans roared as their record goal-scorer Lewandowski rose from the bench 15 minutes into the second half to make his Euro 2024 debut, replacing Adam Buksa in the attack. However, the captain had a disappointing evening in Berlin, receiving a yellow card almost immediately after a tough challenge on Philipp Lienhart.
Baumgartner picked up an excellent pass from Alexander Prass to make it 2-1, and this time Poland didn’t have the energy to reply.
Arnautovic sealed the win for Austria from the penalty spot after Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny brought down Marcel Sabitzer in the penalty area in the 77th.
Austria, after a loss and a win, next face the Netherlands on Tuesday.
France await two-loss Poland in the final round of the group stage.


Iordanescu challenges Romania to make ‘history’ at Euro 2024

Updated 21 June 2024
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Iordanescu challenges Romania to make ‘history’ at Euro 2024

  • Romania powered to a 3-0 win against Ukraine in their Group E opener on Monday
  • The Belgians slumped to a shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Slovakia

COLOGNE, Germany: Romania boss Edward Iordanescu urged his team to make “history” at Euro 2024 as they bid to seal a place in the last 16 with a victory over Belgium.
Iordanescu’s side will be guaranteed to reach the knockout stage if they follow their impressive win against Ukraine with an even more surprising success when they meet star-studded Belgium in Cologne on Saturday.
Romania powered to a 3-0 win against Ukraine in their Group E opener on Monday, while the Belgians slumped to a shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Slovakia.
Inspired by their first win in a major tournament since beating England at Euro 2000, the Romanians have their sights set on making the competition’s knockout stage for the first time in 24 years.
“It would mean history. It would be a fantastic example for what football and sport means in Romania,” Iordanescu said on Friday.
“After the first game, the whole country was behind our team. It really helped our people. I can feel happiness and hope for all Romanians. That motivates us even more.”
Belgium wasted a host of chances to score against Slovakia and were denied a late Romelu Lukaku equalizer by a controversial VAR decision.
Iordanescu knows Kevin De Bruyne and company will be desperate to make amends against Romania as the talented underachievers fight to avoid another flop at a major tournament.
“Obviously the opponent is amazing. But we are going into the game trying to win it. Why not get the points that would mean qualification?” he said.
“We have to keep the context in mind. They are number three in the world, with great players, and they really need to get a result.
“That is a really difficult challenge for us. We are waiting for it. This is the Euros, the best players and coaches. These are incredible experiences.
“We have to elevate to another level. We have to be very exact and very efficient.”
Ukraine’s 2-1 win against Slovakia on Friday raised the prospect of all four teams having three points heading into the final round of matches if Belgium beat Romania.
Iordanescu acknowledged a draw would be a good result against Belgium as he insisted his players would not lose focus after their memorable start to the tournament.
“The qualification is the most important thing for us. If a point would be enough, then we would take it,” he said.
“Of course we had euphoria on the pitch (after the Ukraine game). That needed to be enjoyed, then we relaxed and started preparing for tomorrow’s game. It is a new challenge.”


Nortje and De Kock star as South Africa edge England in T20 World Cup

Updated 21 June 2024
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Nortje and De Kock star as South Africa edge England in T20 World Cup

  • The Proteas were well-placed at 92-1 after losing the toss
  • England, chasing a seemingly modest 164 to win, slumped to 61-4

GROS-ISLET, Saint Lucia: Anrich Nortje held his nerve as South Africa remained unbeaten at the T20 World Cup after defeating reigning champions England by seven runs in a thrilling second-round Super Eights clash in St. Lucia on Friday.
England, chasing a seemingly modest 164 to win, slumped to 61-4 thanks to fine South Africa bowling and fielding before a partnership of 78 between Harry Brook (53) and Liam Livingstone (33) took them to 139-5 in the 18th over.
But, with England needing 14 off the last over, Brook chipped a slower ball from fast bowler Nortje and South Africa captain Aiden Markram held a brilliant diving catch over his shoulder as he ran back from mid-off to end a 37-ball innings featuring seven fours.
Two balls later, Sam Curran struck a four but then refused a single, as that would have left lower-order batsman Jofra Archer on strike.
England now needed nine off two balls but Curran could only manage a single, leaving Archer with an impossible task off the final ball as England finished on 156-6.
It was a fine display under pressure by South Africa, often accused of ‘choking’ at major events.
Earlier, the Proteas were well-placed at 92-1 after losing the toss, with De Kock hitting fast bowler Archer for 21 in the fourth over, including two sixes off successive balls.
De Kock, however, was brilliantly caught by leaping England captain and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler off Archer for 65 to end a 38-ball innings featuring four fours and four sixes.
England, however, thought they had dismissed De Kock for 58 only for the third umpire to rule Mark Wood had grassed a low catch in the deep — a key decision in a tight game.
De Kock’s exit sparked a collapse that saw South Africa lose three wickets for 21 runs, with the big-hitting Heinrich Klaasen brilliantly run out by Buttler’s direct hit on the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
But David Miller’s rapid 43 helped take South Africa to 163-6 — and that was just enough.