Real Madrid progresses to Champions League final with Benzema brace

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Defending European champions Real Madrid progressed into their third successive Champions League final as they edged out Bayern Munich in a thrilling semi-final second leg.

Trailing 2-1 after the first leg in Germany, Bayern needed a win at the Bernabeu to reach the final but it finished 2-2 as Real clinched a 4-3 aggregate victory.

Joshua Kimmich scored early on for the German champions from six yards out, before Karim Benzema headed in for Real from Marcelo’s fine left-wing cross eight minutes later.

A second for Benzema, after a horrendous mistake from Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, put Real in control, although Bayern’s on-loan James Rodriguez then scored against his parent club to set up a dramatic finale.

Bayern had chances to win it, but Corentin Tolisso and Thomas Muller’s efforts were saved by Keylor Navas and Mats Hummels headed wide as the Spanish side held on.

Muller also mishit a cross on the last second as Real Madrid weathered through the Bundesliga champions’ onslaught.

Real will face either Liverpool or Roma in the final in Kiev, Ukraine, on 26 May with Jurgen Klopp’s side leading 5-2 before Wednesday’s second leg in Rome.

Donald Trump repeats appeal to nations to support US World Cup bid

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Donald Trump repeated his appeal to foreign nations to support the United States’ joint bid with Canada and Mexico for the 2026 World Cup during a press conference on Monday.

“I hope all African countries and countries throughout the world, that we also will be supporting you and that they will likewise support us in our bid, along with Canada and Mexico, for the 2026 World Cup,” Trump said in a joint White House press conference with Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.

“We will be watching very closely, and any help they can give us in that bid we would appreciate,” he said.

The US president was speaking in the Rose Garden alongside Buhari, the first African leader to visit the White House during his presidency, following their one-on-one bilateral meeting and working lunch.

The comments on the World Cup directly followed Trump’s assertion that the United States hopes “to be the economic partner of choice for nations across the continent and all around the world”.

“You see what’s happening with respect to trade and the United States,” he said. “We are being respected again.”

Morocco is the lone competitor in the race to stage the quadrennial tournament to the ambitious three-country bid spearheaded by the United States, which under the current proposal would host 60 games — including every match from the quarter-finals onwards — with Mexico and Canada splitting the remaining 20 fixtures equally.

FIFA will announce the host at a meeting in Moscow on 13 June.

Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes denies confrontation with Lewandowski

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Jupp Heynckes has dismissed reports that he was questioning Robert Lewandowski’s commitment to Bayern Munich and confirmed the striker as a likely starter against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Bild has reported that Heynckes confronted the star striker over an apparent decline in his training standards.

Lewandowski, 29, who has been heavily linked with a move to Madrid, failed to fire in the Champions League loss to Los Blancos last week and was on the bench as Bayern beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

However, speaking after that match, Heynckes reiterated the one-on-one conversation was purely motivational, and insisted Lewandowski would not be overlooked for the semi-final second leg.

“I can only tell you what I also said in the press conference yesterday — that I had a good talk with Robert Lewandowski,” the Bayern boss said. “But I did not say anything about the content of it.”

“For me, Robert Lewandowski is a world-class player and please do not think that I will ignore him for Tuesday. So far he managed to score 39 goals in all competitions. This is a mark of which most of the forwards in Europe are dreaming of.”

“We should, first of all, await the game on Tuesday. It was a very positive talk and he always trains well. That’s why I don’t understand [the report].”

Messi hat-trick seals La Liga title for Barca

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Barcelona were crowned La Liga champions for the 25th time after beating Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 with the help of a hat-trick from Lionel Messi.

Barca needed only a draw to clinch the title and complete an eighth domestic double after winning the King’s Cup last week and they marched into a 2-0 lead with goals from their record signing, Philippe Coutinho, and top scorer, Messi, in the first half. The result also relegated Deportivo.

However, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde praised their consistency he acknowledged they have “lacked brilliance” at times.

“When you chase it all season you say finally ‘the league is very long’” Valverde said. It is not decided only in a match. From the beginning we have been in the lead. In the end we were the best. The hard part is winning and winning.”

Ousmane Dembele, the first player Barça bought after selling Neymar last summer, drove forward before playing in Luis Suarez, who clipped a cross with the outside of his foot that Messi met with a sidefooted volley.

Lucas Perez pulled one back five minutes before half-time and the Turkish midfielder Emre Colak levelled for the Galicians from Celso Borges’ cross in the 64th minute.

They then came close to finding a winner and becoming the first team to beat Barca in the league this season but Messi had other ideas. The Argentinian ace restored Barca’s lead from close range in the 82nd minute before completing his treble with his 32nd league goal of the season.

Valverde’s side have 86 points from 34 games, 11 clear of second-placed Atlético Madrid, who have three games to play.