Monthly Archives: March 2018

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.

Mauricio Pellegrino: Southampton part ways with Argentine manager

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Southampton have sacked Mauricio Pellegrino after a miserable streak that saw just one win after 17 Premier League matches.

Southampton have won only five league games this season, two of them against the bottom club, West Bromwich Albion. Pellegrino had been expected to bring an attacking brand of front-foot football to St Mary’s but his team have struggled to convince and their conservative style of play has frustrated supporters.

The frustration has clearly embroiled even the hierarchs of the club, as Pellegrino becomes the top-flight’s ninth managerial casualty since August.

Their record left them embroiled in a fight to avoid relegation with nine games remaining, even as the club now targeting a quick appointment for a new manager.

“We would like to place on record our thanks to Mauricio, Carlos and Xavier for their efforts during their time with Southampton, and wish them well for the future,” read a Saints club statement on Monday evening. “The club will look to appoint a new management team as soon as possible.” The assistant manager, Carlos Compagnucci, and the assistant first-team coach, Xavier Tamarit, have also left .

It will be the third manager appointed at St Mary’s in less than two years – which should be done ideally before Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Wigan Athletic. Still, club officials could wait to name the Argentinian’s successor since they would have no league match until the end of this month, at West Ham on 31 March.

Amongst the candidates to replace Pellegrino are Marco Silva, the former Watford and Hull City manager who is now out of work and was once of interest to Saints, and Slavisa Jokanovic, the Fulham manager, who has also previously been linked with the club.

Nonetheless, one could argue that the timing of Pellegrino’s dismissal does not bode well as Southampton, who sits just a point above the bottom three has a challenging run-in ahead. They only have only three home matches remaining, including the visits of Chelsea and Manchester City, the latter on the final day of the season.

Manchester United out of Champions League after home loss to Sevilla

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Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League last-16 after putting on an abysmal performance on home ground that ended in a 2-1 home defeat by Sevilla.

Sevilla substitute Wissam Ben Yedder scored both goals for the La Liga team with a shot from inside the area just two minutes after coming on, and heading in at the back post from a corner.

After posing little threat in the goalless first leg, United again looked second best against the La Liga side at Old Trafford, although Marouane Fellaini’s thumping effort did draw Sergio Rico into a save, and the away goalkeeper was tested again when he kept out Jesse Lingard’s low strike.

Although Romelu Lukaku lashed home from close range with seven minutes remaining, but it proved to be merely a consolation as they would need two more goals to progress after Ben Yedder’s brace by the away-goal rule — in which a draw would have still meant defeat.

The sound of the final whistle meant that Manchester United would exit the competition alongside Tottenham, but Premier League leaders Manchester City and Liverpool progressed to Friday’s quarter-final draw. Defending Premier League champions Chelsea could also join them if they beat Barcelona on Wednesday.

Sevilla would also set a new record as, with three draws and one defeat, they had never won a Champions League game in England, until this match at Old Trafford.

They were also the better side across both legs and thoroughly deserved the plaudits, with manager Vincenzo Montella and his substitutes running on to the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate with the players.

Ben Yedder will be grabbing the headlines for his well-taken goals and he could even have sealed a hat-trick as Manchester United defense essentially fell apart and allowed the Frenchman to run clear, although he shot went straight at David de Gea.

“We were just excellent, very good,” said Montella. “A lot of those players played the game of their lives. In spite of the fact we didn’t create chances in the first half, we were good, very good, up until the final third, and we gave United very little chance near our goal.”

Andre Gomes to play against Chelsea despite Barca ‘hell’

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Andre Gomes could feature in the Barca starting line-up against Chelsea in the Champions League despite the midfielder publicly admitting he is not enjoying playing football and is struggling to cope with pressure.

The 24-year old Portuguese international gave an interview to Panenka magazine in which he described his “hell” at Barcelona.

“I don’t feel good on the pitch,” he said. “I am not enjoying what I am doing. The first six months were pretty good but then things changed. Maybe it’s not the right word to use but it has turned into a kind of hell because I have started to feel more pressure.”

“With [some] pressure I feel fine but with the pressure [I put] on myself I don’t. The feeling that I have during games is bad. My team-mates help me a lot but things don’t work out the way they want them to work out. In training, I am generally relaxed although there can be days when I feel a little low on confidence and it’s noticeable.”

Barca manager Ernesto Valverde has described Gomes as “brave” for speaking out, while Gome’s teammate in midfield Sergio Busquets also pledged himself and the squad to help their team-mate.

“Andre has lots of qualities; let’s see if tomorrow is the day that he shows that,” Valverde said. “Players and coaches are careful not to show any insecurity or weakness but Andre has done so, which is brave, but it is not new and he is not the only one – it has happened to us all in one way or another and we have to find ways of confronting that and carrying on.”

When asked if Gomes was ready to play, Valverde replied: “If the coach believes so, yes.” Gomes’s inclusion may depend on a straight choice between him and Paulinho and could also be dependent on the fitness of Andrés Iniesta, who was able to train after a week out with a hamstring strain.

Busquets added: “We knew something of Andre’s situation but it’s a very personal thing. We have tried to help him, advise him, be at his side but he is the one that takes it home. The background noise at the Camp Nou should be positive now. I think he’s ready. It’s an extra pressure he puts on himself but I am sure he’s prepared and we will help him from the inside, and the fans will help him from the outside. What we all want is what’s best for the club.”