Monthly Archives: October 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane take top honours at FIFA awards

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Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and coach Zinedine Zidane were named FIFA men’s and men’s coach of the year respectively at the governing body’s annual ‘The Best’ football awards.

Ronaldo will retain the title he won in 2016 — again finishing ahead of Lionel Messi in a vote between national team players, coaches, media and fans — earning his fifth award as FIFA’s top male footballer.

The Portuguese captain took 43.16% of the total vote, earned in a fruitful year in which he won the Champions League and La Liga with Real and extending his form in longevity. He scored two goals against Juventus in the Champions League final to help Real achieve continental supremacy for the 12th time, along with a hat-trick against Atlético Madrid in the semi-finals.

When asked how long he could keep up this level of form, Ronaldo said: “I don’t know, I just enjoy the moment, the moment is great. I feel happy, I’m 32 and have won best player in the world and I’m so glad. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next year. I just try to focus on the moment.”

The was also little doubt that Real coach Zinedine Zidane would claim the award for best men’s coach after concluding last season as the champions of Spain for the first time since 2012 and champions of Europe for the second successive season.

Zidane won the award ahead of Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who won the Premier League title in his first season, and Juventus’s Massimiliano Allegri, who led his team to a league and cup double in Serie A and Coppa Italia.

Meanwhile, Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud was awarded the Puskas for best goal that came in the Premier League match against Palace on New Year’s Day, with the France forward converting a superb ‘scorpion’ kick volley in which he flicked an Alexis Sanchez cross from behind him over his shoulder and into the goal with his left heel.

Also, in addition to awarding the best players and best coaches of different categories the FIFA ceremony also included the Fair Play Award, which recognised the gesture by Togolese player Francis Kone, who performed life-saving first aid on Bohemians 1905 goalkeeper Martin Berkovec during a Czech League game in February.

Jurgen Klopp: I’d have stopped Harry Kane if I was playing

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has insisted that he could defend better than his team after the Reds were thrashed 4-1 by Tottenham at Wembley, with Harry Kane scoring two goals for Spurs.

Despite Kane’s 15 goals for club and country this season, he lacked a record of league goals at Spurs’ temporary home but was able to end the drought in style against Liverpool, first by rounding keeper Simon Mignolet to score and then tapping in another failed clearance by Mignolet.

“If I am involved in this situation on the pitch, then Harry cannot get the ball,” Klopp said. “It wouldn’t happen if I was on the pitch – but I am in the middle of the technical area in trainers. Each job is clear but we couldn’t do it.”

The result saw Liverpool dropping to ninth in the table — 12 points behind leaders Manchester City — while Spurs prepare for a meeting with United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

While Dejan Lovren was considered the worst culprit for the first two goals which Liverpool shipped in a feeble start to the match, Klopp refused to single out the Croatian international, saying instead that most of it was due to Liverpool’s collective defensive failures.

“I really don’t want to blame players. He (Lovren) feels not good. That’s OK. Nobody should feel good. He is part of the squad. That’s all.”

“In all decisive moments we were not there,” he added.

“The first goal was unbelievably easy to defend. The second we miss the moment. The third goal another present. Everything was bad from us. We cannot get results with a performance like today. They were completely spot on and we weren’t. That’s my responsibility. It was much too easy for Tottenham today. Our fault.”

Internazionale ends perfect Napoli start with goalless draw

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Internazionale ended Napoli’s perfect start to Serie A after holding them to a thrilling 0-0 draw on the road, themselves being the only other unbeaten side in the Italian top flight.

Napoli, who dropped points for the first time this campaign, were the better side but could not find a way past Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, who was kept busier than his Napoli counterpart Pepe Reina.

It was also the first time that Napoli failed to win a Serie A fixture since April but they remain top, two points above Inter and three above Juventus and Lazio.

Inter had plenty confidence after Mauro Icardi’s hat trick helped them win last week’s derby against city rivals Milan, but they hadn’t won in Naples in 20 years.

Starting on the front foot, Napoli almost went in front but Handanovic pulled off a stunning double save to deny José Callejón and then keep out Dries Mertens’ rebound from point-blank range.

Handanovic then added to his saves by palming away Lorenzo Insigne’s close-range header and a powerful drive from substitute Piotr Zielinski.

Later, the Milan club got their first chance went close shortly before half-time but Reina did well to fingertip Borja Valero’s close-range attempt over the bar. Mertens should have won the match for Napoli in the final minute but Handanovic was again on hand to keep out his close-range volley.

Meanwhile, Juventus maintained their distance against the leaders although being reduced to ten-men early on.

Mario Mandzukic was sent off early on as he was shown an instant second yellow card for appealing against a first booking, after Stipe Perica gave Udinese a shock lead.

However, Samir’s own goal levelled for Juve, and Sami Khedira headed Juve ahead even before Mandzukic’s dismissal.

Although Danilo levelled for Udinese two minutes after half-time, Daniele Rugani put Juve ahead again and Khedira scored twice to complete a hat-trick before Miralem Pjanic’s last-minute strike.

Everton: Ronald Koeman refusing to bow under relegation pressure

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Everton coach Ronald Koeman has refused to bow under pressure despite seeing his team fall into the relegation zone after a 5-2 loss to Arsenal over the weekend.

Koeman’s tenure had already came under severe scrutiny before Arsenal’s visit to Goodison Park, with a heated defeat by Lyon at the Europa League mid-week saw the Toffees kept an unwanted streak of winning just two out of their previous twelve matches despite having a squad replenished by almost £140m of new talent in the summer.

Wayne Rooney’s fourth Premier League goal of the season — almost 15 years to the day since his first Everton goal against Arsenal — gave Everton the, but goals from Nacho Monreal, Mesut Özil, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sánchez brought Arsène Wenger a deserved first away win of the league campaign on his 68th birthday.

The loss was also Everton’s seventh 11 games in all competitions, with Koeman’s team now falling to third bottom in the Premier League, but the Dutchman insisted that he could still lead the team to a reversal of their fortunes.

“Yes, I think I can [turn it around] but now is not the moment and everybody is so disappointed,” he said after the defeat to Arsenal. “It is how you look to the situation. If you start to think negatively, then maybe there is no solution. I am not like that.”

“All the rumours in the newspapers are normal. The team is underperforming, it is in a difficult situation mentally and confidence are struggling. That is what we need to change. I still believe I can change the whole situation but everybody knows how it works in football. That is all I answer about this situation.”

Everton’s major shareholder Farhad Moshiri, who appointed Koeman on a £6m-a-year contract in 2016, was present at Goodison Park and is expected to speak to the Dutch coach on Sunday in what was considered to be a routine for both club hierarch and coach.

“Normally I have contact after every game, speak or text,” Koeman added. “I understand the position is not good for Everton. I have been working in football a long time, I know what can happen but I don’t think it is too late.”