Monthly Archives: February 2018

Injury-time winner sees first Espanyol win over Real Madrid in a decade

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Real Madrid’s La Liga campaign stooped to a new low after an injury-time winner by Gerard Moreno sees Espanyol beat Real Madrid for the first time in over a decade.

Espanyol had not won a single match in 22 competitive games against Real, drawing only three of those in a run that runs back to October 2007.

Although Los Blancos had also won five games in a row ahead of the match, their below-par performance saw Espanyol dominated the game and Moreno having a first-half goal ruled out for a marginal offside call.

Real captain and defender Sergio Ramos was playing as an extra striker by the end of game as Moreno controlled Sergio Garcia’s cross before volleying the ball home.

Team coach Zinedine Zidane had rested Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of next week’s visit to Paris St-Germain in the Champions League last 16, which his side lead 3-1 from the first leg, and selected Gareth Bale at centre-forward in a much-changed team.

“When there’s not long left and it’s 0-0 anything can happen,” Zidane said. “We always look to go for the win and today we didn’t get it. They scored a goal in the last minute, but there’s no need for us to go over it again. We didn’t deserve to win or lose.”

“We were lacking a little bit in all departments. It’s a defeat that hurts and it’s a poor result. I feel sorry for the players.”

“At times, there’s no understanding football. We dropped further back for some spells in the second half but you’ve got to accept these tough times. At no point in the second half did we do well.”

Defending La Liga champions Real remain 14 points behind leaders FC Barcelona, who visit Las Palmas on Thursday in their game in hand.

Neymar set to miss out Real Madrid match due to injury

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Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar will miss the second leg of his side’s Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid on 6 March.

The 26-year old Brazilian striker was taken off on a stretcher during PSG’s 3-0 win over Marseille at Parc des Princes. The Ligue 1 club said later that a scan has revealed a “fissure of the fifth metatarsal” — a bone on the outside of the foot — and a “sprain of the right ankle”.

However, PSG did not reveal how long long the forward will be out for, but the typical expected time for recovery and recuperation from a metatarsal injury is between two and three months.

Gabriel Jesus, a compatriot of Neymar’s, missed out on 10 weeks worth of action for Manchester City last season with a fractured metatarsal.

If the same scenario repeats itself, it would meant that Neymar could miss the rest of PSG’s season.

Neymar’s father had also said that PSG know they “will not be able to count” on his son, saying: “His treatment will last six to eight weeks, whether there is an operation or not.”

Unai Emery’s team are 14 points clear in Ligue 1 at the moment but are chasing a domestic treble. PSG will face Marseille again in a Coupe de France quarter-final on Wednesday, and will play Monaco in the League Cup final on 31 March.

“Neymar wants to play every game — he’s focused on Real,” said Emery. “I think there’s a small chance that he’ll be ready for the match.”

If PSG can overcome a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Real Madrid without him, Neymar could face a race to be fit for the Champions League quarter-finals, which begin on 3 April.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane had reacted to the news of his injury, saying “I don’t like it when a player hurts himself, I am not happy about the injury. We never rejoice when a rival is absent due to injury.”

Samir Nasri handed six-month ban for doping violation

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Former France international Samir Nasri has been banned from football for six months for an anti-doping violation dating from 2016.

UEFA says Nasri has been found guilty of using a “prohibited method” in violation of the World Anti-Doping Code as well as UEFA’s own anti-doping regulations.

The European football’s governing body, which opened disciplinary proceedings against the Frenchman on March 6 last year, said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon: “The player Samir Nasri has been found guilty for using a prohibited method in accordance with sub-section M2, par. 2 of the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) prohibited list.

“In this context, the CEDB (control, ethics and disciplinary body) has decided to suspend Samir Nasri for six months for violation of the World Anti-doping Code and the Uefa anti-doping regulations.

“This decision was taken on 22 February and is open to appeal.”

A Los Angeles clinic, Drip Doctors, posted a photo of Nasri on its Facebook and Twitter accounts in December 2016, saying it provided him with a drip “to help keep him hydrated and in top health during his busy soccer season.”

He was playing at Spanish team Sevilla at the time, on loan from Manchester City, when he received 500 millilitres of hydration in the form of sterile water containing micronutrient components on December 26, 2016, while on holiday.

Wada rules state there is a 50 millilitre infusion limit per six-hour period for active athletes. A request by Sevilla for a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for Nasri was refused in February 2017 by UEFA, whose decision was later upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Nasri is currently without a club after recently having his contract terminated at Antalyaspor in Turkey.

Manchester City strikes thrice for League Cup final victory

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Manchester City won their first trophy under Pep Guardiola after a dominating win against Arsenal to win the League Cup final by 3-0.

City, who saw a shock FA Cup fifth-round defeat by League One Wigan Athletic recovered in style as they swept the Gunners aside at Wembley.

The Manchester club led after 18 minutes when Sergio Aguero took full advantage of Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi’s feeble challenge to latch on to keeper Claudio Bravo’s goal-kick and loft a cool finish over David Ospina.

Despite lagging behind, Arsenal hardly registered any chances of moment in the game except the moment when Kyle Walker stopped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the six-yard area.

However, the contest was effectively over when man-of-the-match Vincent Kompany swept in Ilkay Gundogan’s cross-shot just before the hour, while David Silva’s powerful shot past Ospina before City closed out the most routine of victories.

However, Pep Guardiola remained critical of what he saw as flaws his team had made in the first-half, although he praised the manner in which City bounced back from their disappointing FA Cup campaign while insisting that the trophy was for City.

“The first half was not good — too many mistakes with simple passes,” he said after the game. “But the second half we played with more courage, more personality. That is why we were outstanding after the break.”

“It was so important we won this after going out of the FA Cup. Now we have to focus absolutely on the Premier League and trying to win the games we need to win the title and try and progress to the Champions League quarter-final.”

“This win is not for me, it’s for Manchester City.”

With their first trophy under Guardiola secured, the Blues could now turn their attention to clinching the Premier League and continuing their Champions League campaign.