Daily Archives: December 7, 2016

Champions League: Arsenal finishes as group winners

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Arsenal finished top of Champions League Group A thanks to a Lucas Perez hat-trick in Basel and Paris St-Germain’s draw with Ludogorets Razgrad.

PSG would have sealed top spot with victory, with anything less allowing in the Gunners, who took control through two tap-ins from Perez.

Perez drove in his third from the edge of the box and Alex Iwobi rolled in a fourth before Seydou Doumbia cut through for a Basel consolation, ending the game at 4-1.

While there is the unwelcome possibility of meeting Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund in the last 16, Arsene Wenger took heart from ending as section winners.

“We can still have a difficult draw, so it will still be difficult, but you go forward with less guilt when you finish first,” said the Arsenal manager.

The result also left Basel rock bottom in the group, concluding their European journey prematurely. Ludogorets Razgard, who drew with PSG in thrilling fashion, would move to play in the Europa League.

PSG needed to win or match Arsenal’s result, but trailed twice after goals from Virgil Misidjan and Wanderson. Edinson Cavani’s overhead kick levelled at 1-1, and a 92nd-minute strike from Angel di Maria rescued a point at 2-2.

But the French champions squandered 25 shots and 63% of possession to finish behind Arsenal, allowing the Bulgarian team, who finished third in the group, to continue their presence in Europe.

Man City & Celtic play out low-key draw amidst crowd trouble

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Manchester City and Celtic played out a low-key 1-1 draw as both teams concluded their Champions League group stage amidst crowd troubles at the Etihad Stadium.

Although City is guaranteed of second place in Group C and Celtic eliminated with no chance of Europa League football, Celtic started in impressive fashion and on-loan winger Patrick Roberts gave them a fourth-minute lead against his parent club with a crisp finish – an advantage that lasted four minutes before Kelechi Iheanacho drove an angled drive high past Craig Gordon.

The goals seemed to slow the game down, as both teams clearly looked satisfied to let it conclude with the goals. Celtic almost lead, but substitutes Leigh Griffiths and Gary Mackay-Steven wasted late opportunities.

On the other hand City could face fresh sanction from UEFA after crowd trouble in their Champions League group game against Celtic on Tuesday night – fighting broke out among several supporters in the 73rd minute before it was contained by a heavy security presence.

It had occurred in the lower tier of the home section closest to Celtic’s fans and is likely to prompt an investigation by European football’s governing body, who last season fined Manchester United £44,342 and Liverpool £43,577 for disturbances during their Europa League meeting at Old Trafford.

There were reports that 13 people were arrested in total. Earlier, Greater Manchester police confirmed a Celtic fan had been arrested in Piccadilly Gardens for throwing a hamburger at a police horse.

However, Superintendent Craig Thompson said the game passed “largely without incident” even as about 30 people were ejected from the stadium – mostly away supporters for sitting in the home end.

Firmino’s Liverpool contract contains anti-Arsenal clause

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Roberto Firmino’s contract with Liverpool has a €98 million release clause that can be triggered by any club – save the exception of their Premier League rivals Arsenal.

The bizarre specification could perhaps be attributed to the Reds, who were so unhappy with the Gunners’ £40m+£1 bid for Luis Suarez back in 2013 that they appear to have taken revenge in the terms of the Brazilian forward’s deal.

Gunners officials clearly believed that their actions back then would trigger the buy-out clause in the striker’s contract, which prompted Reds owner John W. Henry’s tweet in response: “What do you think they’re smoking over there at the Emirates?”

Now, Liverpool appears to have taken retributive action by specifying in Firmino’s deal that he can be bought for €98m (£82m) “if the interested club is not Arsenal”.

Firmino made the switch for Liverpool from Hoffenheim in June 2015, with the Brazilian forward already agreed to a “long-term” contract at Anfield.

After scoring 10 goals in 31 games in his debut season in the Premier League, he has established himself as one of the division’s top attacking players in this season with five goals and three assists in 13 matches. His current form – and his combination play with compatriot Philippe Coutinho – has helped Liverpool into third place in the English top flight.

The disclosure of his contract comes as part of the latest series of releases by Football Leaks, who have exposed substantial amounts of information in the contracts of top players and clubs over the past year.

The most recent leaks include claims that clients of Jorge Mendes’ agency Gestifute – such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and Mesut Ozil – have evaded taxes owed to the countries in which they play. Gestifute have strongly denied any wrongdoing, and Real Madrid has also since shown support by backing Ronaldo himself.