Monthly Archives: January 2017

Real Madrid’s late equalizer sets 40-game unbeaten record

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Karim Benzema’s late equalizer for Real Madrid against Sevilla meant that Los Blancos has now gone unbeaten for 40 games – breaking a record previously set by FC Barcelona.

In the Thursday’s Copa Del Rey round of 16 second leg visit to Sevilla, Real were trailing 3-1 in the 77th minute, but two late goals saw them steal a 3-3 draw, and advanced to the quarter-finals by 6-3 on aggregate.

The home side had taken the lead through a Danilo own goal, before 20-year-old midfielder Marco Asensio equalised after running the length of the pitch following a Sevilla corner.

But the hosts, hoping to match Real’s first leg goal advantage, regained the lead in the 54th minute when substitute Stevan Jovetic volleyed home right-footed eight minutes after coming on.

Vicente Iborra then pounced on a loose ball to add a third for the Europa League champions.

But as is his usual MO, Sergio Ramos roused the troops dragged his team back into the contest with a dinked penalty into the middle of the goal.

With seconds remaining, Marcelo fed Benzema in the area and the Frenchman struck a right-footed shot past the Sevilla goalkeeper David Soria as Real progressed to the quarter-finals with a 6-3 aggregate win.

Real have now won 31 games and drawn 9, scoring 115 goals and conceding 39 in the process. The club has now broke the previous record for a Spanish club of 39 unbeaten games in all competitions, set last season by archrivals Barcelona.

Their last defeat was in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in April – before they went on to beat the Bundesliga club on aggregate score and win the European title eventually.

Real, four points clear of Sevilla at the top of La Liga, will face them again at the same venue on Sunday.

League Cup: United takes advantage into semi-final replay

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Manchester United defeated Hull City by 2-0 in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final fixture, thus taking the advantage of a two-goal cushion going into their replay.

The victory did not come easy for the Red Devils – despite being almost at full-strength, the team struggled to break down Hull’s tight defense, and could only register two shots on target in the first-half.

Visiting Hull registered attempts on target, too – with Robert Snodgrass giving United something to worry about in set pieces.

But as a more intense United team returned to pitch at the second half, they got an easy breakthrough just before the hour with Juan Mata tapping in Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s knockdown.

Marouane Fellaini, subbed in for Mata with 10 minutes left to play, sealed the game with United’s second as the Belgian headed in Matteo Darmian’s cross to put United in command heading into the second leg on 26 January.

For Hull City, who are at the bottom of the Premier League table and are struggling to cope with a growing injury list, were given odds of 20-1 to win. It got worse as one of their midfielders, Markus Henriksen, left the pitch injured just inside 20 minutes.

But with Marco Silva taking charge of the Tigers last week, the team have looked much improved overall. They managed to defeat Swansea in the FA Cup at the weekend and more than held their own for long periods of the game against the Red Devils despite having to field a makeshift defence.

However, Fellaini’s goal means that Hull probably is a goal deficit too far to turnaround in the second leg – although fans could hold out hope that their players could deliver a survival in their relegation battle this season.

League Cup preview: Liverpool vs Southampton

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Southampton will be without their captain Jose Fonte for as Liverpool visit them at St. Mary’s Stadium in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Fonte, 33, had submitted a transfer request last week and Saints boss Claude Puel has indicated that he will not be including the defender in his team until after the transfer window closes.

For Liverpool, key playmaker Philippe Coutinho is set to return after nearly seven weeks out with ankle ligament damage, while captain Jordan Henderson misses out because of a heel injury.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is expected to include a number of first team players for the trip to St Mary’s.

Last weekend, he fielded the youngest Reds line-up in history for Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie with League Two side Plymouth, but the club’s youngsters struggled to impress as they were held to a goalless draw.

Klopp says his side’s disappointing FA Cup display does not mean they are under greater pressure to perform against Southampton.

“There is no more pressure on us,” he said. “It is an opportunity. It is always a new day.”

“I said to the lads last year it would not be the last final they would be involved in and this is the first chance to prove this.”

Prediction: Southampton (0) – (2) Liverpool

Head-to-head

  • Liverpool defeated Southampton by 6-1 at the same venue in the League Cup quarter-finals last season.
  • When they last met in November, both sides drew 0-0 at the same venue in the Premier League.
  • Southampton never reached the League Cup final since a 1979 defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest.

Everton agrees £22m deal for Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin

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Manchester United accepted a £22m bid from Everton for Morgan Schneiderlin, in a deal that could rise to £24m with add-ons.

United manager Jose Mourinho confirmed the deal after United’s League Cup victory over Hull City, saying that the executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, had informed him Schneiderlin is on his way.

“Before the match Mr Woodward told me ‘almost there’, so I have ‘almost there’,” Mourinho said. “So I’m sad, I’m happy. I’m sad because I like him and he could be an option for us in a long season.”

“I’m happy because this is what he wants – he wants to play every game, to be an important player in the team. So if this is what he wants, I am happy for a very good professional, somebody I can only say good things about.”

The deal for Schneiderlin came after Everton manager Koeman demanded “changes” at Goodison Park especially by making signings after their FA Cup third-round exit to Premier League champions Leicester City.

Since then, the Toffees already brought in Charlton Athletic’s 19-year-old forward Ademola Lookman for £11m.

Koeman’s initial offer of £19m for the France midfielder had been rejected last week. West Bromwich Albion also saw a similar offer turned down, as United was keen to recoup the £24m fee they paid Southampton for Schneiderlin in July 2015.

Negotiations continued with Everton hoping to complete the deal in 48 hours after agreeing on a fee.

Schneiderlin’s move also means that he will be working with Koeman for a second spell after spending two seasons with the Dutchman at Southampton. His Red Devil teammate Memphis Depay could yet join him, being another of Koeman’s target.