Daily Archives: August 26, 2016

West Ham ousted by Astra Giurgiu for second year running

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West Ham United was denied a spot in the Europa League after Astra Giurgiu defeated the London club by 1-0 (2-1 on aggregrate) in the qualifying playoffs of the European tournament.

It is also the second successive season that Astra, who have only won once in five league games this season, extinguished the Hammers’ hope of making it into the Europa League.

After a 1-1 away draw last week, West Ham trailed as a counter-attack by the Romanian champions was precisely finished by Filipe Teixeira just before half time.

The Hammers improved after the break, with Jonathan Calleri, Ashley Fletcher and Winston Reid registering attempts. In comparison, Astra converted just one out of two their attempts.

However, their resolve in defense held their opponents at ba; without a goal, West Ham could not force extra time to save their European campaign.

Home fans quickly left the Premier League club’s new 60,000-seater stadium within seconds of the full-time whistle, although a small number of Romanian fans remained to celebrate with their jubilant players.

““I said this is one of the most important games for us this year. This is like a final that you have to win to go through,” said West Ham manager Slaven Bilic. “The disappointment is massive. We didn’t play good in the first half or with desire as a team. We were second best.”

The Hammers’ exit from the Europa league leaves Manchester United and Southampton as the only English sides in the competition; a draw later today will decide who will be their opponents in the group stages, a list that includes Italian giants Inter Milan, Dutch runners-up Ajax and Spanish side Athletic Bilbao.

Marcus Rashford loses place in England senior squad

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Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has lost his place in the senior England international squad.

Rashford had been the youngest player to score on his England debut when he volleyed in after only 138 seconds against Australia in May, aged 18 years and 208 days. He was subsequently named into Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad, making two substitute appearances as the team crashed out against Iceland.

He also scored eight goals in 18 games for United last season but has yet to feature under new boss Jose Mourinho in the current Premier League season. The Portuguese manager had opted to start Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney up front in United’s wins against Bournemouth and Southampton instead.

England Sam Allardyce has spoken to Gareth Southgate, the manager of England’s Under-21s, and the pair has decided that Rashford should not be involved in the senior team when the striker not played in the Premier League this season.

Rashford will instead play for his country’s Under-21 side after Allardyce decided that he does not have a place for the 18-year-old in England’s World Cup qualifying fixture against Slovakia next week.

England’s Under-21 squad:

Goalkeepers: Angus Gunn (Manchester City), Jordan Pickford (Sunderland), Joe Wildsmith (Sheffield Wednesday)

Defenders: Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Brendan Galloway (West Brom, loan from Everton), Kortney Hause (Wolves), Rob Holding (Arsenal), Mason Holgate (Everton), Dominic Iorfa (Wolves), Matt Targett (Southampton)

Midfielders: Lewis Baker (Vitesse Arnhem, loan from Chelsea), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), Isaac Hayden (Newcastle), Will Hughes (Derby), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), John Swift (Reading), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

Forwards: Demarai Gray (Leicester), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Dominic Solanke (Chelsea), Duncan Watmore (Sunderland)

Man City to face Barca in Champions League group stages

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As the 2016/17 Champions League draw is completed, the depth of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squad will be tested almost immediately as the Catalan faces his former cub FC Barcelona in the group stages.

Placed in Group C, the Citizens will also face Scottish champions Celtic and Borussia Monchengladbach in the other group fixtures.

Manchester City had face Barca in the last sixteen in two of their last three Champions League campaigns. They were eliminated from the tournament by Luis Enrique’s team on both occasions.

In group D, last year’s semi-finalist Bayern Munich will face a rematch against Atletico Madrid. The latter had defeated the Bundesliga giants across two semi-final matches before losing to neighbours Real Madrid on penalties, as Los Blancos became European champions for the 11th time.

Zinedine Zidane’s men would have a relatively easier time as they face Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund, Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon and Poland’s Legia Warsaw.

Premier League champions Leicester City also faces less challenging opponents, as they take on Porto, Club Brugge and Copenhagen in their Champions League debut.

“Now the teams have been drawn that excitement is building even more and, although it won’t be easy against great champions like Porto, like everyone, I’m curious to see how my players perform,” Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri said.

He also added cautiously: “Once again I say we are underdogs. For this reason we must fight for everything.”

“I want to see my players fight against the best in Europe. Last season was wonderful but I want more. Now we are in the Champions League and we have another wonderful opportunity to show our quality. We know we have three tough away games but, when we arrive at our stadium, that is when I know we can show something special.”

Premier League runners-up Tottenham will also have a good chance of reaching the last 16 after being drawn into the same group with CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco.