Daily Archives: January 17, 2018

Leicester City eases past Fleetwood town thanks to VAR-awarded goal

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Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho became the first player to score a goal awarded by a video assistant referee (VAR) in English football as the Foxes beat Fleetwood in an FA Cup third-round replay by 2-0.

After the Nigerian striker opened the scoring with a routine strike from Islam Slimani’s pass, Iheanacho subsequently had a goal initially disallowed for offside from Riyad Mahrez’s through ball.

However, after referee Jonathan Moss liaised with the video official Mike Jones — who told him Nathan Pond’s trailing foot was keeping Iheanacho onside — the goal was finally awarded 67 seconds after it hit the back of the net.

This is the third time the VAR has been used as a trial in English football, all this month, after Brighton v Crystal Palace in the FA Cup and Chelsea v Arsenal in the League Cup; however, while the video referee was consulted in those games, they never used to reverse a decision.

Moss had already briefly spoken to the video official when Iheanacho had an earlier goal ruled out because the ball had crossed the byeline before Demarai Gray crossed it.

There were also a number of discussion regarding in-game incidents between both Moss and Jones such as when Leicester’s Vicente Iborra was pulled back in the box — which they decided not to award a penalty for — before Moss initially disallowed a second goal by the Nigerian for offside.

For the latter, Jones decided — correctly — that Pond was actually keeping him on-side, a decision that was easily missed in real time by the officials.

Moss has the option to watch the case again on a screen on the side of the pitch, had he wanted to — but in this case, he utilized the freedom to trust the video official.

Brazil legend Ronaldinho retires from professional football

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The Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho has retired from professional football, according to his brother and agent Roberto Assis.

Ronaldinho, 37, who also won the Champions League and Ballon d’Or in a trophy-laden career, has not played for a professional team since leaving Fluminense in 2015, and said on the sidelines of a friendly in Chechnya that was he was “too old” to return to action last July.

Roberto Assis confirmed the news of his brother’s decision in a column for the Brazilian media outlet O Globo and revealed plans for farewell tribute events after the 2018 World Cup — three years after Ronaldinho’s last club game.

“He has stopped, it is ended,” Assis said. “Let’s do something pretty big and nice after the Russia World Cup, probably in August. We will do various events in Brazil, Europe and Asia and, of course, we are arranging something with the Brazilian team as well.”

Ronaldinho is best known for his versatility and excellence as an attacking midfielder, winger and forward throughout his career. He began with Gremio in his home country, before moving to Europe with Paris Saint-Germain in 2001.

His subsequent performances alongside fellow legends Ronaldo and Rivaldo at the 2002 World Cup drew interest from Europe’s elite clubs, and he joined Barcelona in 2003, where he spent five years at the pinnacle of his club career — a time which saw him winning two La Liga titles, the 2005 Ballon d’Or and the 2006 Champions League.

However, after a period of huge success, Ronaldinho reportedly lost focus at Barcelona and was sold to Milan as Pep Guardiola replaced Frank Rijkaard as manager. He also experienced disappointment on the international stage, disappointing at the 2006 World Cup and missing out on selection in 2010, despite a resurgence in form that helped Milan win the Serie A title in 2010-11.

After his stint at Italy, Ronaldinho returned to Brazil at the end of that season, and wound down his club career at Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro and Fluminense, as well as spending a brief spell in Mexico with Querétaro. He earned the last of his 98 Brazil caps against Chile in April 2013.

Manchester United closes in on Jose Mourinho contract renewal

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Manchester United are close to reaching an agreement with manager Jose Mourinho over a new contract with both parties confident an agreement can soon be reached.

Talks have progressed well between the manager with the executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward and it is now just a matter of time before Mourinho commits to remain at Old Trafford beyond the expiry of his present deal in 2019.

Since his tenure as United manager which began in 2016, Mourinho’s apparent unease over transfer budget and his refusal to move out of the hotel he stays in led to speculation over his future.

However, 55-year-old Portuguese described those reports about his future as “garbage” in a pre-match press conference in early January; when he asked about a possible departure from Old Trafford last month, Mourinho added: “I am going to leave when the club wants me to leave because I have no intention to leave at all. My intention is to stay and to work and to improve and to bring the club to where the club belongs.”

In the 2016-17 season — his first in charge at United as Mourinho claimed two trophies in the League Cup and Europa League, with the latter securing a return to Champions League football after a season out of the competition.

Although United finished only sixth in the Premier League, they are second at present, and if they remain there at the end of the season it would be their highest Premier League finish since Sir Alex Ferguson claimed a 20th title in May 2013.

Still, winning United’s 21st championship remains Mourinho’s chief ambition at the club and as his side trail Manchester City by 12 points after 23 games he is conscious that the club’s wait for another title is set to reach half a decade at the end of the campaign.