Daily Archives: March 16, 2018

Antonio Conte: Lionel Messi made the difference for Barca

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Chelsea coach Antonio Conte believed that Lionel Messi made the difference for FC Barcelona as the Catalan team knocked the Blues out of the Champions League with 3-0 home win (4-1 on aggregate).

After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Conte saw his team fell behind after just 128 seconds as Messi shot through the legs of Thibaut Courtois from a tight angle.

The Argentine then set up Ousmane Dembele to hammer home, before collecting his 100th Champions League goal — after a mistake by Cesar Azpilicueta — took the hosts out of sight.

Marcos Alonso, who nearly scored with a free-kick was then denied a penalty after a challenge by Gerard Pique as Barcelona joined La Liga rivals Real Madrid and Sevilla in Friday’s quarter-final draw.

Conte, who sought out Messi at the final whistle to express admiration at his display as they made their , said: “I have to praise the commitment of my players, and be proud because they gave everything. But Messi made the difference and, when you have the opportunity to make a great compliment to Messi, it’s right to praise a super, super, super top player.”

“A player who is able to score 60 goals in every season. Not only for one season. We are talking about an extraordinary player, the best in the world.”

The former Italian International coach also believed that his team was also unfortunate to exit the Champions League after striking the woodwork four times in the two legs.

“We were a bit unlucky because we created many chances to score,” he added. “I think there was a penalty on Marcos Alonso [after a challenge from Gerard Piqué] at the start of the second half and, if you make it 2-1, you can put a bit of pressure on Barcelona. At the end, I repeat: I must be pleased with the commitment of my players. I saw great work from my players.”

Red Bull Salzburg digs in to send Borussia Dortmund out of Europa League

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German giants Borussia Dortmund were eliminated from the Europa League after a goalless draw in Austria saw Red Bull Salzburg won their quarter-final tie by 2-1 on aggregate.

The visitors was even on the defensive, with keeper Roman Burki forced to make an excellent save to deny Salzburg’s Duje Caleta-Car in the first half and further chances fell to Hwang Hee-chan.

Although Dortmund themselves came close through Michy Batshuayi and Marcel Schmelzer, they needed to score at least twice to go through and that never came to pass.

Since Salzburg became runners-up in the old UEFA Cup in 1993-94, no other Austrian side has reached the last eight of the Europa League before.

Meanwhile, Dortmund’s Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig knocked out Roberto Mancini’s Zenit St Petersburg squad with a 1-1 draw in Russia and progressed by 3-2 on aggregate.

Like Salzburg, Leipzig had won the first leg by 2-1 before leading ahead through Jean-Kevin Augustin, although Zenit leveled through Sebastian Driussi’s back-post volley. Yet the German club would advance to Friday’s draw despite Timo Werner having an 81st-minute penalty saved.

Premier League club Arsenal FC picked up a 3-1 victory over AC Milan at Emirates Stadium thanks to two goals from Danny Welbeck to go through 5-1 on aggregate.

However, the Gunners were given a scare when Hakan Calhanoglu fired in from long range but Welbeck converted a penalty he had won controversially to level the score shortly afterwards.

Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma’s error later on allowed Granit Xhaka to find the net in the second half before Welbeck added a third.

Besiktas charged by UEFA after cat wanders into pitch

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Besiktas have been charged by Uefa after a cat was allowed to run on to the pitch during their Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Bayern won 3-1 on the night and 8-1 on aggregate to progress to the quarter-finals, with fans of the German club humorously voting the cat as their man of the match.

The match was stopped early in the second half after the animal jumped from an advertising hoarding and ran to near a corner flag, just off the playing area, before leaping back into the stand.

The exact charge alleges “insufficient organisation” and was among three issued against the Turkish club by UEFA, and the case will be heard by UEFA’s disciplinary body on 31 May.

The other two relate to the throwing of objects and blocked stairways during Bayern’s 3-1 win, which took the German club through 8-1 on aggregate.

It was not the only UEFA issued in the Champions League this week, with Roma being charged for time-wasting by a ballboy who was pushed over an advertising board by Shakhtar Donetsk’s Facundo Ferreira. The player shoved the ballboy in response to a delay in returning the ball late in Roma’s 1-0 Champions League win on Tuesday.

Players clashed after the incident and Ferreira was booked, although the player apologised on Shakhtar’s Twitter account after the game.

Roma went through on away goals (2-2 on aggregate).

UEFA added that the case related to disciplinary rules governing ethical conduct and sportsmanship by club staff, with Roma also charged for fans lighting and throwing fireworks.