Monthly Archives: March 2018

Wales hit six over China as Bale sets new international record

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Welsh star Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 thrashing of China to become the nation’s leading goalscorer.

Wales international coach Ryan Giggs, who was making his debut, watched as the striker put Wales ahead inside three minutes with a fine run and finish clipped into the top corner.

Bale then slotted in a second soon after to move level with Ian Rush’s mark of 28 goals, before Sam Vokes’ flick and Harry Wilson’s excellent whipped effort on his 21st birthday gave the visitors a 4-0 half-time lead.

Vokes then added his second and Wales’ fifth after the break, and then Bale sealed his hat-trick and surpassed Rush’s milestone with a clinical low finish to complete the rout.

“This is right up there, if not the best achievement I have done,” said Bale, who has won three Champions League titles with Madrid. “Anything you do for your country is the pinnacle, it is the biggest honour you can have. It’s not just an individual thing, it’s thanks to the whole team, everyone who I’ve played with and all the managers I’ve had.”

“The most important thing for me and for us was to get off to a good start under the new manager and I thought we played very well. We did exactly what Ryan asked. There are still things to work on, but we’re happy with the way we’re going.”

“It’s a tremendous achievement for Gareth to be the top goal scorer in front of someone like Ian who was a legendary goalscorer and one of the best I have ever seen,” Giggs added.

“Once upon a time his was a record that many people thought would not get beaten, but Gareth has not only beaten it, he will carry on scoring as he is a tremendous talent. It’s a fantastic moment for him and he fully deserves it. It was a great result and a great performance.”

The Wales team will now play in Monday’s final of the China Cup friendly tournament, against the winner of the second semi-final between Uruguay and the Czech Republic on Friday.

Paris Saint-Germain to partially close stadium in next European match

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European football governing body UEFA has told Paris St-Germain to partially close their stadium for their next European match as punishment for fan disturbances during their Champions League last 16 tie with Real Madrid.

PSG lost the match 2-1 earlier this month, which saw defending champions Real progress to the quarter-finals with a 5-2 aggregate victory.

The result also meant that the club has now gone out at the last 16 phase of Europe’s most prestigious club competition for two seasons in a row, which in turn led to disgruntled behaviour amongst their fans.

The match official of the game, German referee Felix Brych, had to stop the game on two occasions due to the excessive amount of smoke on the pitch from the flares, harming the visibility of officials and players during the 2-1 loss to Real.

PSG’s Ultra supporters were also said to have set off flares near the hotel Real were staying at in the French capital the night before the game, prompting a complaint from the Spanish side to UEFA. However, the organization made no reference to this in its statement.

UEFA said on Thursday that the Ligue 1 club has been ordered to shut down the entire North Stand of the Parc des Princes in their next European fixture, with the club also being fined £37,000 by the organization.

Among the charges that led to those sanctions were the setting off of fireworks, the use of a laser pointer and the blocking of stairways. There was also an initial charge of lack of body searches, although UEFA said it had been dropped.

PSG’s Ligue 1 rivals, Olympique de Marseille, were also banned from selling tickets to their fans for their next European away match, which will be at RB Leipzig in the Europa League quarter-finals on April 5, after crowd trouble at their match away to Athletic Bilbao last week.

Buffon hits out at critics as veteran returns to international squad

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Gianluigi Buffon has hit out at his critics as he arrived in England to add to his 175 record cap tally with Italy.

Buffon, 40, had previously announced his retirement from international football after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup last November but later reversed his decision, and was retained as captain by the caretaker coach Luigi Di Biagio who will lead the side out in friendlies against Argentina in Manchester on Friday and England at Wembley next Tuesday.

The Juventus keeper’s decision has attracted some criticism but the Juventus No 1 insists he is still the best man for the job, saying: “I’ve nothing to add to what has been said. Everyone knows the truth. My role in the squad has always been positive and I’ve always brought people together. I’ve always put us before me.”

“I’m not here to showcase, to show myself off. I can still be useful. I might be 40 but I’m the goalkeeper of Juventus. Italy is a funny country where people enjoy controversy but any controversy about me is just sensationalism. After a while all this controversy will just fall away.”

Buffon had also previously hinted that this season could be his last but he does not appear to have any retirement plans yet.

Speaking at a press conference at the Etihad Stadium, Buffon added: “I don’t know if my last match will be with Juventus or an international but it will be low key and sober, normal. I arrived at my first game on a scooter and the only car I have is the one that Juventus make available for me.”

Di Biagio, who has stepped up from duties with the Under-21 side, hopes the four friendlies in the remainder of the season can help Italy move on from their World Cup nightmare. Russia 2018 will be the first finals to take place without four-time world champions Italy for 60 years.

The games also provide a chance for Di Biagio to stake a claim for the job full-time but he insists that is not his focus. “Everything around the team has changed. We need a new start,” he said.

“We have a small world championship in these four matches. It is a chance to test new players. We need patience and consistency, regardless of who is going to be in the driving seat.”

Andreas Christensen: defender sought John Terry advice after slump

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Andreas Christensen had sought out former Chelsea captain John Terry for advice this month after experiencing a first slump since establishing himself in the first team amongst the Blues.

The Denmark international returned from a two-year loan spell with Borussia Monchengladbach last summer and immediately found himself a place in Antonio Conte’s backline, effectively ousting David Luiz.

However, the 21-year-old centre-half, 21, was culpable for Barcelona’s equaliser in the first leg of Chelsea’s Champions League knockout tie last month and for concessions in subsequent defeats by Manchester United and Manchester City.

Therefore, Christensen had duly sought out Terry, now at Aston Villa but a visitor to Chelsea’s training ground this month, for reassurance.

“I try to keep things inside the club, not bringing anything home with me,” Christensen said. “I have had a smaller talk with John Terry: he has also experienced setbacks and it is always nice to talk to someone watching it from the outside and to learn that they have experienced the same.”

“He told me that it is natural to make mistakes and he tried to put it in perspective for me saying that, if a forward misses a chance, he can make it good again by scoring when he gets the next opportunity. But (as defenders) we can’t change a goal scored against us, so when we make mistakes it is more crucial and it is easy for people to point fingers. I have realised it, looked at it and now I have moved on.”

Christensen subsequently impressed in Chelsea’s 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win at Leicester City on Sunday — where he was substituted for Gary Cahill in extra time following his midweek exertions at Camp Nou, and continues to benefit from his head coach’s support.